This must be said in hushed tones: I’m slowly getting back to normal after my recent flare-up. No don’t say it any louder lest the gods of cuntery hear you and decide I need to continue to feel like a piece of infectious human waste. Softly, softly, speaky recovery.
My task and my aim now is to remain in decent health over the next two and a half months so that I feel physically well enough to cope with the excitement and the adrenaline levels of my trip to San Francisco in November.
I’m currently reading Season Of The Witch by David Talbot which is part history of the sixties counter-cultural revolution and its knock-on effect on SF politics and part love letter to a city Talbot was not born in but which became home to him in the days after the Summer of Love. I’ve also lined up Henry Miller’s account of his time around Big Sur as there will be an excursion to Carmel and Monterrey while I’m in California.
The practicalities of such a trip have to be assessed alongside the sheer romance of leaping into the unknown with a youthful abandon and joy I’ve been trying to reclaim in recent years. My health issues mean travel insurance can be a nightmare when travelling to a country which steadfastly refuses to acknowledge universal healthcare as a basic human right. Fortunately an internet exists and it is easier now to shop around for cover than it has ever been.
My teenage fascination for mod music and style led to a wider appreciation of the sixties in terms of music, film and cultural impact. You can’t delve in to that period for long without coming up against the influence of San Francisco’s free spirited loons and lovers. Scott McKenzie may have simply jumped on a bullshit bandwagon with his paean to the city’s flower children but, as Talbot tells it, plenty of genuine alternative figures spread enough free love, free food, free music and free information to confirm that some in SF truly were reaching for a new collective consciousness.
Fifty years is a long time and cultural revolutions have come and gone since 1967. Echoes of the past abound in any city and I will no doubt recognise buildings, street names, even a certain ethos when I visit San Francisco. My focus will be less on the city than on my host anyway, of which more (perhaps) nearer the time.