Last night I was searching for something to watch on TV. Fed up with cable news programs and no Yankee baseball to watch, I resorted to my DVR library of movies I had recently recorded but, as yet, had not watched.
I came across a goodie. Monterey Pop.
In the Summer of Love, a precursor to Woodstock, Monterey Pop was a three-day music festival featuring artists, who already were or soon would be, Rock and Roll Royalty members.
Many of us were introduced to Janis Joplin and Jimmi Hendrix for the first time. The Animals and The Byrds, as well as The Jefferson Airplane, were there with a host of others.
We were admonished by Scott McKenzie to be sure to wear some flowers in our hair if we were going to San Francisco.
In 1967 we all wanted to go to San Francisco.
The Mamas and The Papas set our mood as they complained about a winters day on the east coast where trees had leaves of brown if they had any leaves at all, and the skies were always gray. They lamented that they would be safe and warm if they were in LA.
Everyone wanted to go to LA.
Sadly, I never got to San Francisco or LA until the lure of California had withered like the brown leaves of which John Phillips sang. Both California and I had grown old, and the aging process ravaged the American Ideal California had become after World War II.
California no longer inspires visions of a carefree, artistic gathering of like-minded souls searching for Eden or the Fields of Elysian. Skies clogged with thick acrid clouds of smoke that make the air unbreathable have replaced a counter-culture vision that would create a new world order of peace, love, and rock and roll.
California has become the Three Mile Island of States.
Out of control wildfires. Persistent drought eventually followed by mudslides brought on by torrential rain. The ever-present danger of earthquakes, one of which, many fear, will be The Big One. Now you add COVID to the mix, and few are dreamin about California these days.
Back in the Summer Of Love, many of us in New York believed that anything new happened in California first. Whatever fad caught on in LA or San Francisco would surely arrive in New York and Boston.
California was America’s barometer, which told us of the changes that would be coming our way.
It might be wise to remember that as we see California burning and struggling to survive.