Need You — Baby

But let’s not be so quick to dismiss these concerns as the cluelessness of a bunch of hopeless squares. We love & miss you very much and want you to come home. We can tell you how to resist it. In a similar vein, if not quite as ambitious, is Where to Score, a booklet-sized collection of classified ads culled from the pages of the newspaper The Oracle of the City of San Francisco (more commonly known as the San Francisco Oracle) during the momentous period of 1966 to 1968. Information exchange for hip businesses. All expenses paid write — enclosing photos. with the possibility of a prolonged relationship. We are constructing data processing machines to be used by community institutions like the Oracle & the Hip Job Co-op. Jim. Desires healthy, discreet, lusty woman looking for excitement. Hippi-Kits: Flowers – bells – chants – flutes – headbands – incense burners – skin sequin-feathers. The number of these ads outweighs any other type in the collection, and whether this was the editors’ choice or not hardly seems to matter, since there were clearly a lot of them in the Oracle:
MINA — Please call us or Art at work. We love you. Today it’s remembered as much for its revolutionary rainbow-colored printing (an early harbinger of the Bay Area’s tech obsession to come?) as for its editorial content, which was a fairly representative slice of the LSD-fueled mystico-psychedelic culture around the Summer of Love. Summerhill School to be started. More significantly, in the largely unknown new world that Haight-Ashbury represented in 1966, the paper served as a central hub around which denizens of that world virtually gathered. BLOW YOUR MIND, BABY! Will you trust me enough to call collect and let me know you’re alright? The paper, sometimes referred to as “Haight-Ashbury’s newspaper of record,” operated as a worker-owned cooperative with a typically unorthodox distribution network and was a founding member of the Underground Press Syndicate (which included the East Village Other, the Berkeley Barb, and Detroit’s anarchist paper Fifth Estate). A book-length compendium of the column, first published in the 1970s, today gives a valuable glimpse into the not-necessarily-mundane social and cultural struggles that this hugely significant wave of American immigration had to contend with: How much of my modest salary should I send to my blind father back in Russia? The hippie/leftist politics of the Haight surface in various forms:
FOOD: Bishops Cafe, 315 Divisidero, S.F., will be feeding people for 25¢ & free if they don’t have it. Donations of land [and] money cheerfully accepted. Its staff helped organize the legendary Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in January 1967, and it sponsored events and symposiums featuring the likes of Zen evangelist Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, and Allen Ginsberg. Obviously no parent is going to be thrilled about their son or (especially) daughter running away from home, and from a mother or father’s perspective the reputation of Haight-Ashbury circa 1967 was reason enough to be doubly concerned. Send 10¢ for “Uptight with the Draft?”
Summerhill was an extremely free, democratic, student-centric school model started in the United Kingdom. Allen Cohen addressed the issue of the Oracle’s less confrontational politics in a look back at the paper years later:
Some writers have seen an escapist gap between the Oracle’s point of view and the antiwar movement, but the Oracle was as committed to the movement as anyone else. Nothing will upset us if we could only hear from you. We can’t tell you how to dodge it. DECEMBER 30, 2018
HISTORY, ESPECIALLY in times of revolutionary change, never progresses as assuredly and purposefully as accounts written decades after the fact would have us believe. BETSEY EPSTEIN: Need you — baby. WANTED: Debbie & Vickie, contact mothers at once or Dee. Join me in a pastoral sojourn, euphoric wonder, a trip into Yosemite…beautiful girl, poetic soul…My social identity: male student history classics, UC Berkeley age 20. Psychedelic black lights for the wildest psychedelic lighting. These characters have certainly always existed, but were perhaps emboldened by the Haight’s libertine atmosphere, and the presence there of any number of kids who were lost, lonely, or broke:
girl wanted, natural type preferred
Drop out of time out of myth into mystery. Even contemporaneous newspaper stories tend to hide the more shambling moments of human doubt and indecision that make up the bulk of real daily life during even the most exciting times. Daisies to you. If you are interested in starting up an out-of-town colony, or if you already have one going, contact — — ,. Some aspects of hippie or “alternative” culture that surface in the classifieds anticipate the Whole Earth Catalog–inspired DIY/utopian movement that was to blossom in the area a few years later. For our fantastic free list of Underground buttons, posters, and psychedelic goodies (wholesale & retail), write Underground Enterprises…then freak out. Love Mother. One now-famous example is “A Bintel Brief,” a section in the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper that ran starting in 1906. Write “Chuck” …
American age 27 would like to correspond with girl interested in God, yoga, LSD, etc. […] In the end we [Harrison and Beatles press officer Derek Taylor] just said, “Let’s get out of here.”
True, in part these may have been the grousings of an exhausted rock star who was just looking for an excuse to ditch the material world and shove off to India, but there’s also a certain astuteness to Harrison’s impressions of the Haight: among other developments during this short period, drug use in the neighborhood shifted unfortunately but steadily from hallucinogenics to heroin and other hard drugs, with a concomitant shift in atmosphere from Love and Peace to something uglier. Freedom with or without home base. Debbi, please contact us collect. He hosts the radio show World of Echo at WFMU and plays the bass guitar in various groups. I will pay their fare out here. I thought it was going to be all these groovy kind of gypsy kind of people with little shops making works of art and paintings and carvings. But flipping through Where to Score, the classifieds that are impossible to avoid, and which add more than a tinge of sadness to the entire project, are the ads from parents and other relatives in various stages of desperation seeking contact from their runaway children. It’s notable that many Oracle classifieds seeking some kind of response were placed by people in other parts of the country (or Canada) — some of them ready to make the move to the Haight, others simply seeking contact with other freethinkers, in a place where such people were known to congregate. Kevin & Kerry ask about you too. Healthy, discreet, male, 37. Call collect anytime. PIONEERS WANTED. Historians have the benefit of knowing how the story ends, and can gently rearrange events in such a way as to show how all signs pointed more or less inevitably to the now-familiar outcome. Can be temporary or permanent escape from concrete desert. We miss you very much. But that aside, what’s most striking, and most valuable, about this collection is seeing the Haight’s residents simply going about their business in their own voices, free of adornment and self-consciousness, and certainly never dreaming that their words would show up as part of the historical record 50 years later. The mass movement against the war had equal parts of LSD vision, marijuana sensory delight, political ideology, and moral rage. Reasonable, reliable. And, of course, there are the hippie entrepreneurs — a group that, for better or worse, turned out to be one of the most enduring legacies of this time and place. How do I respond to my new progressive friends, who mock me for going to synagogue? The draft-resisters ad was, notably, placed by the New York City–based War Resisters League, which raises an interesting point: the editorial content of the Oracle was generally nowhere near as capital-P political as the fiercely confrontational writings of, say, Up Against the Wall Motherfucker, the Youth International Party, the Black Panther Party (based in nearby Oakland), Students for a Democratic Society, or the White Panther Party. Mom & Dad. So, via the classifieds, it seems the War Resisters League and their more overtly militant politics slipped in through the paper’s side door. Room salary and commission. (The very existence of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic may in fact have been a canary in the coal mine.)
So it seems likely that Mom and Dad were onto something. We have no magic answer to the draft. The Oracle’s focus was more on mind-expansion than “pigs” or the Vietnam War. Many of the classifieds reproduced in Where to Score — which was, incidentally, the tongue-in-cheek name of the section for the Oracle’s first few issues — are typical classified fare:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHANE
SMITH BROTHERS, basement – attic – cleaning – hauling, reasonable rates. It’s hard to imagine that anyone taking a serious look at the Oracle at the time would even have mentioned them: their completely utilitarian function would have been overwhelmed by the higher-wattage writing by and about Leary, Ken Kesey, and Buckminster Fuller, among other counterculture luminaries. The Reno, Nevada, address in that ad suggests that while black-velvet artists may have been popping up all over the country circa 1966, the market for their work was still geographically limited. HEAD CLEARING HOUSE. Who knows? Want to build Drop City type geodesic domes in Mendocino. But a look below the surface — at diaries, letters, and other unscrubbed, under-the-radar communication — will always fill in essential pieces of the big picture that received history has little room for. Need young female to take care of and help in finding peace & truth in Nature, Sierras, free to pursue varied interests. Again, this is more tuning in and dropping out than taking up arms against Amerikkka’s oppressive racist government:
THE ELECTRIC GARDEN OF EDEN could use any discarded electronics you might have. We emphasized the unity of political and transcendental ideals, and we had a preference for nonviolence. He was the longtime music editor at The Brooklyn Rail and an editor at Semiotext(e)/Autonomedia. Quite a few of these denizens were literally still kids, “lost” in various ways. We really care
Linda-Kim or Mari L. If any of these parents had the power of time travel, they may also have seen the interview George Harrison gave near the end of his life, where (though it should be noted that he made a generous donation to the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic during his Beatle days) he describes his summer 1967 visit to the Haight as decidedly different from the blissfully far-out picture we usually get:
I went to Haight-Ashbury expecting it to be this brilliant place. For info write …
DRAFT RESISTERS–YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Like the new arrivals to New York’s Lower East Side in 1906, many of them had recently made the life-changing move to a happening but strange new place promising unlimited riches, whether material or spiritual — now what? Though the Oracle, founded by poet Allen Cohen, only published 12 issues in a run of less than two years, its importance to the seminal Haight-Ashbury hippie and acid scene — with its plentiful drugs, free love, underground book and record shops, alternative businesses, explorations of non-Western culture and philosophy, and general disdain for the straight world — should not be underestimated. A girl that is looking for a good home, in the beautiful land of NM in Santa Fe, all girls interested should please send photos of themselves. Freelance artist needs work, illustration, fashion, lettering, signs, etc. “A Bintel Brief” was an advice column that aimed to help Forward readers (mostly Yiddish-speaking immigrants to the United States from Eastern Europe) who were attempting to navigate the manners and customs of their newly adopted home, often with great difficulty. ¤
Dave Mandl’s writing has appeared in The Wire, The Believer, The Register, The Comics Journal, The Rumpus, Volume 1 Brooklyn, and other publications. Love, Mother and Dad. But instead it turned out to be just a lot of bums. Need materials: 2×4’s, sheet rock, tools, electric shears, chicken wire, cement, tar paper, sheet aluminum, insulator. But what the classifieds provide that the editorial content of the Oracle doesn’t, is a look at the real community surrounding the paper — that is, its readers. Should I accept a proposal of marriage from a friend of my dear deceased husband, whom I loved more than anything in the world? And then there are the classifieds. Since we can assume that at least some of them skimmed the occasional copy of the Oracle, they would presumably have seen the numerous ads in the very same classified section from men who appear to be located at various points on the creep/perv scale. with the object of having her spend some time with him in Ecuador, S.A. But we also see twists that are more or less unique to this time and place:
ARTIST: Experienced in black velvet. Most of these Haight-Ashbury denizens may have been eager to learn about the discussions of philosophy held in Alan Watts’s Houseboat Summit — a discussion about drugs, governmental systems, and the underground; with Leary, Ginsberg, Cohen, “Zen monk” Gary Snyder, and others — after the fact, but certainly wouldn’t have attended the summit. How many of these were well-meaning hippies just trying to make a buck, and how many were cynical businesspeople looking to cash in on the latest craze? Drop City was an artists’ community in Colorado organized largely around Fuller-style domes, which were to figure prominently in the utopian city-planning schemes of many Whole Earth Catalog disciples. But what information can we glean from this apparent outpouring of “please call home” classifieds? It’s worth noting that none of these parents panicked and called the police, though no doubt plenty of others did.