Isaiah Wolfe, who goes by the name Orange, spends his nights under a bush outside Golden Gate park and his days on the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets, soaking up the love. Love from his wife, his dogs, his buddies and everyone else who calls this part of San Francisco home.
“We’ve come here to experience the love this place has,” said Orange, 20, sporting a beard, piercings and multi-coloured sweater. “I heard the summer of love was the best thing to ever happen.”
It happened in 1967 but Orange, a Minnesotan who has criss-crossed the United States sleeping rough for three years, could feel the glow 50 years later. “People here treat you as an actual human being unlike anywhere else in the country.”
Sunshine Powers, an artist with a passion for glitter, also sensed the ethos of that summer, when 100,000 hippies turned this neighbourhood into a counter-culture citadel. “We’re bringing back the colour, the creativity, the consciousness. What happened here 50 years ago transformed who we are as a society.”
Stroll around Haight-Ashbury this week and it was easy to believe that. Young people with backpacks lounged on benches, some holding flowers. Stores selling handmade jewelry, vintage clothing and Tibetan-themed knick-knacks lined the streets. The aroma of pot mingled with incense. Across the city posters with psychedelic swirls proclaimed a summer of love. The perpetual bay area fog lifted, bathing it all in sunshine.
It resembled a minor miracle, or time capsule. The spirit of the Beat poets and flower children who gathered here to create a new paradigm of sharing and community, alive in 2017.
It was an illusion.
If you’re going to San Francisco by all means wear some flowers in your hair but be sure to bring a credit card and acceptance that the summer of love is history. The bohemian idyll of Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters no longer exists.
Read more at The Guardian.