the Human Be-In
and The Anti-War Movement Unite The Human Be-In developed out of the
success of the Love Pageant Rally, the first San Francisco outdoor rock
and roll celebration that Allen Cohen and Michael Bowen and a collaborative
circle of friends produced on October 6, 1966, the day LSD became illegal
in California. We had realized that the change in consciousness and culture
we were experiencing had to be communicated throughout the world. We
felt that the ideals of Peace, Love and Community based on the transcendental
vision could transform the world and end the war in Vietnam. In short,
we wanted to turn the world on and to do it we would need to attract
the spotlight from center stage Washington and Vietnam to center stage
Haight-Ashbury. Michael Bowen centered much of the organizing energy
for the Be-In from his pad at Haight and Masonic. In addition to his
expressionist painting and drawing, he was friends with the Beat poets
from the North Beach era, and had spent time with Tim Leary at Millbrook.
He was a mystic hustler who Allen Ginsberg had called the most convincing
man he had ever known. He could charm the press and turn on a square.
And he did. He invited Leary and the Beat poets to the Human Be-In, and
arranged for it to be a worldwide media event.
Bowen and I had become concerned about the philosophical split
that was developing in the youth movement. The anti-war and free
speech movement in Berkeley thought the Hippies were too disengaged
and spaced out. Their influence might draw the young away from
resistance to the war. The Hippies thought the anti-war movement
was doomed to endless confrontations with the establishment which
would recoil with violence and fascism. We decided that to strengthen
the youth culture, we had to bring the two poles together. In order
to have a Human Be-In we would have to have a powwow.
met with Jerry Rubin, Max Scheer and other Berkeley activists,
and shared our ideas about directing magical and conscious energy
towards the Pentagon in order to overcome its impregnability as
both the symbol and seat of evil. We had developed this magical
concept to exorcise the Pentagon from the writings of Lewis Mumford
and the visions of Charlie Brown, the peyote shaman. The idea to
exorcise the Pentagon would be realized in the March on Washington
in October where we warned that we would form a ring of hippies
with joined hands around the Pentagon and raise it 15 feet in the
air and turn it orange. Rubin and Jack Weinberg were invited to
speak at the Be-In, and Max Scheer agreed to announce and support
the Be-In in the Berkeley Barb.
Gathering of the Tribes in a "union of love and activism" was an
overwhelming success. Over twenty thousand people came to the Polo
Fields in Golden Gate Park. The psychedelic bands played: Jefferson
Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Poets Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti,
Lew Welch, and Lenore Kandel read, chanted and sang. Tim Leary
told everyone to Turn on, Tune in and Dropout; the Diggers gave
out free food. The Hell's Angels guarded the generator cables that
someone had cut. Owsley Stanley gave out free acid; a parachutist
dropped like an angel from the sky and the whole world watched
on the evening news. Soon there would be Be-Ins and Love-Ins from
Texas to Paris, and the psychedelic and political aspects of the
youth culture would continue to grow hand in hand everywhere.