Another Summer of Love

I lived the “Summer of Love”.  Saw it play out in the East Village and on MacDougal Street, at the demonstration outside the Pentagon and the Haight Ashbury and Berkeley.  Hippie men were the heroes, hippie women for the most part were the supporting cast.  The feminist movement was mid-term just waiting to be born.

Women musicians, poets, artists, photographers etc were considered cute but never as good as men who could produce crap and have everyone praise it because after all they had dicks.

I think it is great that the women who played music, wrote and were artists are finally getting attention.  Too little and fifty years too late but still nice.

From The Tablet:  https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/286743/another-summer-of-love

A half-century after its founding, the pioneering all-women rock band Ace of Cups is back—with a Jewish grandma leading the way

By Andrea Cooper
July 5, 2019

Denise Kaufman can’t help smiling as she belts out her lyrics on stage. “There’s a whole lotta people tryin’ to mess with your mind,” she sings, in “Feel Good.” “When you were just a little child they filled you in with every sin they could find/Tellin’ you it’s wrong to want my good lovin’/One way for you to know for sure/Does it feel good baby? How does it feel?”

She nods in time as bass licks propel the song forward. As she bobs her head, her long, curly, gray hair moves around her face. Kaufman is 72 years old, on tour with her septuagenarian band mates. In November 2018, they released their self-titled, long-overdue first album, and they already have plans for a second. Kaufman is a joyful singer, an unstoppable rocker, a Jewish grandma.

The band is Ace of Cups, which Kaufman helped found in 1967, during the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco. Deeply in the countercultural mix, Ace of Cups opened for Jimi Hendrix at Golden Gate Park and shared stages with the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. But they had disbanded by 1972: No studio would offer a recording contract to an all-female group, and music gave way to the need to earn a living.

But Kaufman and Mary Simpson Mercy (vocals, electric and acoustic guitar), Mary Gannon Alfiler (vocals, ukulele, bass, percussion), and Diane Vitalich (vocals, drums) never stopped playing, though, all of them gigging over the years with other bands. Now, more than 50 years on, Ace of Cups has reunited, with their double album featuring such guest artists as Taj Mahal, Peter Coyote, and Buffy Sainte-Marie.

“What a debut it is,” Morgan Enos wrote in Billboard, “brimming over not only with great songs, but a formidable guest list … It’s the sound of four maximum-eclectic musical lifers, unfettered by old frustrations in the biz and purely ready to jam.” The band is touring, too, through Aug. 17, when they conclude with a benefit in San Francisco with headliner Jason Mraz. Next year, the band is slated to release another double album, three-fourths of which is already recorded.

It’s been a heady time for Kaufman, a guitar, bass, and harmonica player whose Judaism has “always been central” to her. Her father’s father founded a small synagogue in Boston. Her mother, Golda, born to a Jewish family in London, sailed to the U.S. to visit but ended up staying because England had entered WWII during her voyage, and London was being bombed. In her new country, Golda, a trained soprano, fell in love with Hank, a graduate of Harvard. They settled in San Francisco, where they enthusiastically supported their young daughter’s musical education. There were piano lessons and Pete Seeger concerts and years of Denise’s performances in a teen light-opera company. Golda and Hank were also social activists in Jewish and civic causes.

Kaufman drew upon that foundation of activism when she was arrested as a freshman at Berkeley as part of the Free Speech Movement. She spent the next year crossing the U.S. on the bus with the Merry Pranksters, a group of friends led by author Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) who some credit with launching the psychedelic era. The Pranksters would stop in a community, rent space, and create light shows and music events. “The Grateful Dead would play—that was our band,” Kaufman remembered. On hand were vats of “electric Kool-Aid and not-electric Kool-Aid,” the former seasoned with LSD. In Tom Wolfe’s book about that journey, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Kaufman is “Mary Microgram.”

Kaufman says her ’60s experiments with then-legal LSD and psychedelics allowed her to reach an understanding of the oneness of all people and our common humanity: “It was a deeply spiritual opening for me. I felt like I had tapped into the divine.” The rest of her life, she added, “has been integrating and living from that.” Kaufman had returned to San Francisco by 1966 and recorded a single, “Boy, What’ll You Do Then.” At a New Year’s Eve party, she heard someone playing blues guitar in an upstairs bedroom. It was “this blond girl with shoulder-length hair”—Mary Simpson Mercy—and Kaufman pulled out her harmonica. Mercy soon invited Kaufman to join some female friends who jammed together.

Continue reading at:  https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/286743/another-summer-of-love

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The Battle for People’s Park, Berkeley 1969: when Vietnam came home

I was already on hormones and in transition when I participated in the Battle For People’s Park in 1969.  I went full time between its wind down and Stonewall.  For me People’s Park and the idea of “The Commons” have always played an important role in shaping me.

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jul/06/the-battle-for-peoples-park-berkeley-1969-review-vietnam

A year before Kent State, police shot at protesters in California, killing one. A new oral history of the clash is a searing read


Sat 6 Jul 2019

On 4 May 1970, the Ohio national guard shot at hundreds of students protesting against the invasion of Cambodia, wounding eight and killing four. Kent State was seared into the national consciousness. The US government had authorized the killing of its own (white) children.

But what many might not know is that a year earlier in Berkeley, California, police opened fire with buck and bird shot on a large crowd of young protesters seeking to keep open People’s Park, an impromptu community garden on land UC Berkeley wanted to use. Fifty people were hit.

James Rector, a 25-year-old visitor from San Jose, was killed. Alan Blanchard was blinded. Donovan Rundle was shot point blank in the stomach and almost bled to death. After two dozen surgeries, he would live with chronic pain for the next 50 years.

“Bloody Thursday”, 15 May 1969, was the day the Vietnam war came home. The streets of Bohemian Berkeley, the New Left’s west coast HQ, became a bloody war zone. Martial law was declared, a curfew imposed and national guardsmen with unsheathed bayonets and live ammunition occupied the town. A military helicopter doused the campus with tear gas. Many members of the Alameda county sheriff’s department had just come home from Vietnam. Some later admitted that they treated antiwar students like Viet Cong.

This pivotal event in 60s history comes back to life in an excellent new oral history, The Battle for People’s Park, Berkeley 1969, by Tom Dalzell. The book recounts the chaotic 40 days and nights from 20 April to 30 May 1969 with detail that reads like a gut punch. A large-format book, lavishly printed with hundreds of never-before-published color photographs, it is a hybrid oral-visual history that reads like watching a documentary.

People’s Park evokes haunting memories of Kent State. Republican governors in California and Ohio were running re-election campaigns and rallying their base by demonizing the student movement. The chancellors of UC Berkeley and Kent State were out of town on the days of the shootings, contributing to disorder, handing law enforcement greater rein.

In his foreword to People’s Park, Todd Gitlin explains that California’s governor, Ronald Reagan, ran his 1966 campaign on making welfare “bums” go back to work and cleaning up “the mess in Berkeley”. By the time he was running for re-election he had all but granted the national guard and law enforcement officers permission to shoot to kill: “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with, no more appeasement.”

Continue to read at:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jul/06/the-battle-for-peoples-park-berkeley-1969-review-vietnam

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