Tuesday, June 05, 2007

An Open Letter: Hippies

Dear Hippies.

I spent this last weekend in what I can only imagine is your natural habitat: a music festival. After observing you fairly intensely over the course of three days, I have a few questions about your lifestyle. Specifically, a number of aspects don't seem to jive with the ideology. For instance:

The clothing: There is almost a hippie uniform. Long flowy skirts, cargo shorts, or corduroy patch shorts, tie dye t-shirts, bajas, and so on. But there is an issue here. Either you pay a lot of money for something handmade, or of natural fabrics, or you pay very little, and it is the result of sweatshop labor. Neither of these options really seems to fit with the hippie ethos of not caring about possessions. Also, the fact that there IS a uniform seems to contradict the whole idea of non-conformity.

A hippie clothing store... it seems oxymoronic.

The food: organic food. Ok, so it might be better for you, but you know who it isn't better for? Local farmers. Field Maloney wrote a great article in Slate about Whole Foods and the organic food movement. You should read it. Basically it says that organic foods aren't, on balance, better for the environment, as they are mass produced, mostly in foreign countries, and then have to be shipped to their destination. The environmental impact is greater than if you just bought from local farmers who use pesticides. Also, since organic food is more expensive to produce, it is taking market share away from poor, local farmers and giving it to big bad farming conglomerations.

Organic food: mmm, from Chile.

The drug culture: While I don't really get drugs in general, it seems particularly silly for hippies to do them. Not only are they expensive, but the drugways (are they called that? Like foodways, but for drugs?) take advantage of low-income people, expose them to danger and legal action, and are for no productive purpose.

I have a lot of other questions, like why you would use organic soap, because organic just means origin, not how it impacts the environment (so if you use it, it could still be polluting just as much). And why all of the vendors used paper products to serve their food, and plastic bags to hold their merchandise. Wouldn't these seem to be obvious issues?

Last, but not least, the festival itself: it costs between $130-150 to attend and camp for three days. It requires specialized camping equipment which is not cheap... unless you go to Walmart, which as we know is pretty much the antithesis of the hippie lifestyle (NB lots of people had Walmart brand tents). It requires that you have disposable income, and free time. So it seems that to be able to be a hippie that attends festivals, you have to be fairly affluent, or be supported by someone who is.

This is not to say that I dislike hippies or their ideology, I am just confused by the seeming inherent contradictions. Please advise me on how you engage with these issues.




The Pedant said...

Also, why does the Hippie uniform have to be so ugly? Can't they dress in something more Shanghai Tang-countercultural?

Jack's Shack said...

Long flowy skirts, cargo shorts

I always wear my cargo shorts with long flowy skirts because the leather look went out years ago. ;)

Anonymous said...

Being a hippie is still being a conformist, just being a conformist to a different group of people. They don't think about their actions, they just do what other hippies do.

DK said...

What about the non-alcohol based deodorant? It just doesn't work that well.

More importantly, there is the hippy-speak. It doesn't work in terms of communication. It's seriously hard to reach these people. They have this peace and love armor. Why? Do they talk to their parents like this? Especially Jew-hippies. I mean, who are we kidding? We're all in pain and we're all neurotic. Own it, why pretend otherwise? Look what it gets you? Now you can't even have a conversation!

Annie said...

Pedant: I like the Israeli hippie look, actually, the pretty print wrap skirts are nice.

Jack: but of course.

Anon: I like to say that it is "conforming to non-conformity." It all just seemed a bit silly.

DK:to paraphrase Tamar Fox, "hippies are like people who wear leggings. I don't understand their choices, but it doesn't keep me up at night."

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of modern day hippies, but I think the real hippies of the 1960s represented the last burst of humanity before the oppressive forces of modernization sucked our souls dry.

Anonymous said...

You missed the whole point of the jam band culture.. relax. just relax and have a good time. theres a time to intellectualize and time to take off your shoes and dance in the mud. you'll meet some of the greatest people and most obnoxious people when on tour/festivals/etc. but dont criticize a culture you just dont understand. and you are right.. north mississippi allstars are just ok. listen to tea leaf green. i think you might like them. they have great singers and tight jamming. good shit

The Pedant said...

I disagree with the 10:59AM anonymous who said that hippies represented the last burst of real humanity. My parents weren't hippies, but they're not Richard and Lynn Cheney, either.

Sarah said...

People buy organic for all different reasons, only one of which might be that it's better for the environment. If your interest is only in eating food grown without chemicals, who cares if it's grown far away? People who care about food grown locally may try to buy local (which is often cheaper), or join a co-op, or a CSA, where organic food is cheaper for everyone. And there are many other issues--labor, for one, and monoculture, for two. Yes, lots of people buy organic at WholeFoods because of some sense that what they're doing is "right," but plenty of us grow a lot of our own food, work on farms, or only buy organic that's also local. In New York, we have a lot of organic farms, and it's not too difficult to only buy local, at least for produce. Also, many non-local mass production organic farms use only union labor. Everyone's choices have some contradiction, and not all organic comes from WholeFoods.

Bluelighttime said...

I see that you say that organic is not any better for the environment. That may be true. Humans are not good for the environment, but in response to organic soap. I make organic soap www.londonsoapfactory.com and people buy my soap because they are not bad for them! They don't contain funky chemicals and mass produced ingredients. They are handmade and do not produce any bad environmental conditions besides what you would need to make anything (electricity, water, etc.). Most people don't want bad things in them, but unfortunately, as long as we build, ship, and all don't start growing our own food, there will always be environmental damage.

Jack's Shack said...

but I think the real hippies of the 1960s represented the last burst of humanity before the oppressive forces of modernization sucked our souls dry.

That's nonsense.

Annie said...

Sarah and BluelightTime both make good points about why someone would buy organic. I agree that those are great reasons, but I think that in the case of this specific soap that the concert-goers were under the misapprehension that organic soaps (and maybe also produce) is not just better for you, but also for the environment.

Pedant and Jack- yeah I don't really think that hippies represent the last burst of humanity either.

RoadRunnerBill said...

Being a child of the 60s, I feel it cool and poignant to point out that the whole deal of the "hippie movement" was a direct result of the move towards freer lifestyles due to a more original and vibrant music (with the flame lit by Chuck Berry and that crew)! Also, the Beatles had quite a "little" bit to add. Yet, it was, also, a social conscious thing which began with the perception of governmental lies, illegal government activities, along with the contradictory approval of a Civil Rights Bill in 1964. With improvements in the media, a whole new world was opened up to the youth of that time and, quite frankly, it opened up our minds to hope that we could make a better world. Some idiots though thought that they could do it through anarchy and chaos (Jerry Rubin any one). The sad part of it all is that most of the so-called "hippies" weren't and they ended up prostituting values for hypocracy. As for me, "I was lost but, now I am found!" And, always remember, don't take life seriously because it is going to kill you anyways!!!" Gotta love it :-). Peace and Love! You can find what you've lost; I did!!!!

Anonymous said...

Every movement has its original starters, those who are sincere about what they believe, and a good majority who just follow because a higher level of brain functioning causes them the discomfort of not belonging and needing to fit in somewhere because humans by nature are social. I try to be eco friendly, like patchwork clothing, eat organic, and i do not drink of do drugs. We are so overpopulated on this planet, that until you spend a few minutes talking to a person, no matter how they look, it is easy to judge them. I am sure there are "hippies" who don't use drugs, just as there are people who recycle and care about the environment that don't where patchwork clothing. I have spent a lot of time judging others who I do not understand and overtime have found it is a huge waste. Unless one plans to map out every reason every person does anything, or plans an intense research project, these questions will not lead to any results.

I sympathize with the dislike of hypocritical individuals, which I am sure some of these people who observed are.

AS for the hippies of the 60s, when one reads comments of individuals of 60s icons like R Crumb, one will find there were plenty of hippies who were just following trends. There will always be individuals who follow trends. The hippies of the 60s were no different.

Anonymous said...

well i agree with ur drug theory some people say that hippies only sit around and smoke pot. but its not hippies..just idiots who think they are all cool wasting their brains away. Take some advise people, get off ur ass and make something out of yourselves. learn from my. spent almost a year locked up cause of drugs. They will not get you anywhere.

Alice said...

I identify as a modern day hippie so I hope I can clear some of you confusions up a bit.

As for hippie cloths, what you're talking about are people who want to look like "hippies" because the style is in right now but don't actually hold the ideology. I make my own cloths, many of which come out to look like your "hippie uniform" because that is the style I find attractive and comfortable.

I don't buy organic food. I do however buy from a local market and eat hoards of fruits and veggies because they taste good and are good for me. They're also biodegradable for the environment. Yes, I recycle too. I save and reuse plastic bags, use reusable anything at every chance I get.

I don't do drugs. A lot of people tell me that since I'm a hippie I have to do drugs and I tell them that's not the point. "hippie" doesn't mean a drug-doing-skirt-wearing-vegetarian-flower-child. It's a belief in peace and that people should get along with one another. VIolence isn't necessary and love is the most important thing.

And just for the record, I'm with you on the festival thing! I wish I could afford to go to those festivals because they look like fun but unfortunately the people who are behind them are more corporate than hippie and things are expensive nowadays that's just how it is. I just stay home with my radio and blast music while enjoying the comfort of the grass on my front yard. =)

Hope this helps!

Haley said...

First of all, to be a hippie, you don't have to wear a certain 'uniform' or eat something specific, or smoke. That's extremely stereotypical of you. And, the 'ugliness' of the "uniform", as to which you speak of, is your opinion... Maybe nerdy clothing looks ugly to the people that wear patchwork dresses and peasant skirts.

Second of all, not all "hippie shops" are expensive. A few of them are, and those are the ones that are rather stereotypical of 'hippies'. If one wanted to buy something in the 'hippie uniform' section, check out a local thrift store -- they have tons of that.

And, third of all, what are you, thirteen? This entire post was based purely off of stereotypes and whatnot. Music festival as a natural habitat? How about I go and blog about nerds in 'their natural habitat: an office'. Anybody could go to a music festival, you could've been looking at anyone: a "hippie", a kid in a costume, anyone.

Lastly, hippies aren't people that dress a certain way, they're people that stick up for what they believe in; they fight for free love and peace. Not those little preppy thirteen year olds that have a tie-dye tee shirt, peace earrings and designer jeans.

So, here's to you and the stereotypical kids that send out the wrong image.

McKenna said...

I think you should probably just take a break.... you can't categorize all "hippies" as the same. And when someone who has nothign to do with the "festy" scene enters it it much the same as someone from a state level society entering a band society and doesnt understand why they all look and talk the same, its a matter of emmersion, you need to spend some time with more "hippies" and not just the drug-crazed young kids who live to get fucked up and party at a festival. Hippies arent the only group of people to contradict themselves, and within that group there are many people who share different ideals. i think you have to take a moment step back and look at all the evidence. "hippies" arent the only people buying clothing made by exploited peoples, or eating food harvested by them. In fact, most REAL "hippies" do the opposite, and arent all "poor". Infact being self-sufficient and making your own clothes, trading items for them or food is often how the true hippie survives. Peace, equality, tolerance, small steps, sustainability, love, compassion, and of course good music, thats how "hippies" so take your boirguise, intolerant, uninformed opinion and stick it up your ass, you might find some enlightenment through a new sexual experience.

McKenna said...

bourgeois i mean