I think I am what my mother would have called “a dreamer”, and my father frequently referred to as a “dead loss”, and what decades later would be termed a “slacker”. I was also never quite at home, though I had a capacity to be luxuriantly at home in the most squalid of chance moments. I never felt young when I was young, and people could tell it. Everything was kinda back to front. Truly I was a geek of which it could be said: “something just ain’t right with that boy”.
As a child I liked the hippies, and I wanted to be one, but that was something out of reach for an 11 year old in 1970, at least in our family. I loved their flowing clothes and head bands, their stoned Jesus style, their radical pacifism, their exotic touches and all the beads and pendants and incense, and their mysticism and their protests, and their being totally out of conventional ideas of manhood. I caught the scent of their dream, and it was an enormous one that took up an entire generation it seemed. I was also pretty crazy about the NASA Moon shots.
The 70s were really not the groovy hang out zone that some imagine. The 60s had happened, and sure there was a sizeable section of younger (and not so younger) people who were wondering “ok, when does it arrive around here?”. But there were great plains of naffness for most people to navigate, backwardness and inertia like it was just past World War II or something, unfunny comedy, the Black and White Minstrel Show and similar Saturday night great traditional entertainment that now boggles the mind, seemingly stretching on forever. More than this, there was a monochrome of largely unchallenged bigotry and prejudice; racist, morally vitriolic towards “homosexuality”, only slowly ceding a place to women outside of motherhood and housekeeping. Boys were expected to match up to a blighted and thoroughly usable “masculinity”. But throughout this wasteland little islands of the bright, bizarre and free spirited would explode, reminding you that sanity, or at least a bearable life, could be found somewhere: gay liberationists, women’s lib, things about the Black Panthers, Yuri Geller bending spoons and expectations, Witches appearing on TV and in coffee table books at high street stationers, the odd TV play that stood out, Yogis and meditation, protests and John and Yoko. And film was happening, that wasn’t Hollywood, that you’d see glimpses of on TV.
And then Glam happened, in its British manifestation half “gender bending” freak-out and half old time vaudeville, with David and Angie Bowie its high priest and priestess, accompanied transatlantically by Lou Reed and Alice Cooper, and the lost legend of Iggy Pop. We were believers – and then it just vanished, like a mirage swept away as the mid seventies ground on and seemed to forget that it was actually real for us 14 – 16 year olds. But we had our incense and nail varnish and black candles, our tarot cards and occult books we could get hold of, and our hushed conversations about Aleister Crowley, tales of LSD and amateur necromancy. And finally it kinda broke with the DIY attitude of Punk. Punk just broke invisible chains and disregarded the script and gave everyone the mike, at least in principle and spirit. Forget the fashions and the tabloids, it was totally content and meaning over form. Spirit masquerading as material force. The freaks democratized their creative rebellion.
It strikes me though, that many things I believed in and enacted as an inspiration, they didn’t come to fruition for many years. Some things are just imbued with the energy of the future, which is why they burn so very bright at their arising, why they appear rebellious by simply standing in that light, yet they may only really get answered with a fully embodied manifestation years later. Gay liberation was like that for me (not that it is actually realized yet!), only starting to manifest its blessings with the bear movement for me personally, which itself was the promise of a future that is not yet complete. As many futures as there are people to dream them with their hearts. No “scene” can get it, but people do. Magic was like that, as it inter-weaved with punk for me as a young Thelemite, only reaching a more spacious and heart centred place in the 90s. And Punk, well it took me years to remember what was so very good about it, and see how important it had been for me, and how wondrously life affirming and full it had grown.
Once upon a time there was freaks in what looked like a wasteland. Freakdom changes wastelands, that’s its power.
Eventually we come home to our dreams in our physically shared life. But we’re still freaks, and geeks and queers. Only now we’re fat and way happier. Fat doesn’t just mean more weight and substance in my lingo, it also means more depth and interest. Fat is good.
We make homes for ourselves, and for our multitude of futures.
And my freaky kid got to be a hippie as well, after all.