Contributions to Hippie Culture Fail to Make the Cut

Article excerpt

Byline: Susan Palmer The Register-Guard

John Bassett McCleary forgot to check in with Eugene before he wrote the "Hippie Dictionary."

Big mistake.

At 58, McCleary's an aging hippie who spent the tumultuous '60s photographing the musicians and social unrest that marked the decade. So give him proper respect for being there then even if it was the "be here now" generation.

But his 650-page tome on the era's cultural and political landscape fails to note our local contributions.

The author includes the Rainbow Gathering, but makes no mention of the Oregon Country Fair, a hippie institution that started in 1969 and is still a peace, love-beads, back-to-the-earth event of the first order.

Not cool, man.

The book lists hodad - an obscure insult aimed at nonsurfers and the kind of term a California boy like McCleary would know - but not Hoedads, the Eugene reforestation cooperative that helped replant the West's clear-cuts for two decades.

Dude, where was your head at?

Chalk up the local slights to typical Sunshine State regionalism, said Doug Green, also a Californian, but one who makes the yearly trek to Veneta to work as a back-up manager - or BUM - at the Country Fair. "We're a well-kept secret," Green said.

A book such as McCleary's - and the fair for that matter - celebrates the good that came out of the '60s, Green said: a consciousness about healthful food and the environment.

"The values of the '60s flowered; we didn't go away. A lot of people got married and raised a family," said Green, who at 58 is a grandfather.

"The Hippie Dictionary" isn't the sort of book a grandpa would necessarily want to leave out for the grandkids to see, however, considering the number of entries concerning drugs - bindle, bam, chase the dragon, grasshopper - not to mention sex - merkin, root, leg over, plow - to name a handful we can list in a family newspaper.

The music of the era - Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones - gets plenty of play as do the writers - Ken Kesey and environmental essayist Edward Abbey - who inspired the EarthFirst movement.

And McCleary doesn't short-change readers in the things-that-make-you-go-huh? category.

How come "Tonight Show" host Jack Parr's trademark phrase, "I kid you not," was included? The guy was over 30, someone not to be trusted. But the book omits the eerily prescient "vast wasteland" reference to television by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton Minnow.

Then there's an odd little side-trip commentary in the definition of the "me generation," a group dinged for self-indulgence.

"Cocaine became the drug of choice of the late 1970s and '80s. Cocaine is a very selfish drug; it could be called a right-wing drug," McCleary writes.

So marijuana and LSD were, what, the drugs of a selfless generation? …