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The Death of the Hippies

In the late 1960s, counterculture youth known as hippies swelled the population of San Francisco and surrounding areas. They were rebelling against the middle-class life and sensibilities of their parents and looking for a new way to live. In 1969, photographer Joe Samburg moved there to join his brother Frank in Berkeley.

When they pulled into Berkeley, the hippies were everywhere—standing on every corner, lining every avenue. Joe had never seen anything like it. “People don’t really understand this now, but at that time, in most of the country, you couldn’t have long hair and not be in danger of being beaten up,” Joe explains. “In Boston, cars used to come screeching to a halt and guys would jump out and want to kill me. I’d have to run.” Even in New York, whenever he left Greenwich Village, “I was continually harassed, spit on, and shoved around.” And Joe wasn’t even really a hippie. “I was hip,” he says. “That meant boots, black jeans, a black t-shirt, a leather jacket—the kind of thing you’d maybe see the Rolling Stones wearing.”

In California, the flower-child style was at its apex. “People had really developed their individual looks,” he says. “They were no longer trying to figure out what being a hippie meant. I found that really stimulating. It made a great subject for a photographer—even though, by any middle-class standards, these people were living totally miserable lives.”

They banded together for acceptance and unity, but when a population reaches a critical mass, it will share problems as well as benefits. And the biggest problem the hippies shared was drugs. Read an account of those days from photographer Joe Samberg (who is, incidentally, comedian Andy Samberg’s father) and see his photographs of the era, at the Atlantic. -via Daily of the Day

(Image credit: Joe Samberg)


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