Let Us All Now Praise Hippies
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," one foot firmly planted in the previous century, and cool with it! If you can't remember the twentieth century very well, you're either a whippersnapper, or you had one hell of a good time prior to 1999.
Do the math. If you were 20 years old in 1969, you are now ... emmm. Oh, look at the pretty azaleas! I think the rain has made them especially beautiful this year, don't you?
In all seriousness, the original hippies and beatniks are forging toward senior citizenship, full steam ahead. But they have blazed a beautiful trail. Hippies never represented the majority of people their age. Nor do today's young tie-dye Summer of Lovers represent their generation. But they're out there, in numbers. Personally I think Goth may come and go, but hippie is here to stay.
Today I attended the annual Maypole celebration at Woodstock Trading Company. As its name implies, Woodstock is a store where time stopped in 1975 and has never resumed. If what you need is a Bluetooth, look elsewhere. But a Hendrix t-shirt? Ten styles, small/medium/large/x-large.
Woodstock doesn't just have a Maypole. They have an iron Maypole, about 15 feet tall, that screws into the ground with intricate pipe fittings. They have probably a mile or more of ribbon all told. And they always engage a hippie band of some sort to provide music for the event.
The attendees of Woodstock's Maypole are not Pagans. They're original hippies and new generation hippies, swathed in tie-dye and hemp jewelry. For them, Maypole has no religious significance, it's just a colorful, fun way to spend a few hours on a sunny afternoon.
Today I got to thinking. If not for the original hippie generation, Maypole might have been lost. During an era when there were far fewer Pagans than there are now, hippies celebrated May Day and danced Maypoles ... just danced in general in a way seen nowadays at drum circles.
The owners of Woodstock Trading Company didn't turn a flagpole into a Maypole, they deliberately set out, 15 years ago, to construct a very sturdy Maypole. (It's so sturdy that we needed to borrow a pipe wrench from a nearby auto shop just to get it pulled apart after the dance.)
This tiny little snapshot shows a Woodstock Maypole from, I think, 2006. I must have been there, because I've been a regular Woodstock customer for awhile.
It's always refreshing to go to Woodstock for Maypole, or any other outdoor concert, and see all the young kids who seem to have fallen out of a time warp, straight from 1970 into 2009. Perhaps it's the universal, unending love of the Beatles, perhaps there's a remnant of rebellion in the mix, but hippie ain't going away.
If you can find the line between hippie and faerie, show it to me. As far as I can discern, the faeries love these exuberant young folks in their bright colors, skipping pell-mell around a Maypole to Grateful Dead covers.
As someone too young to have been an original hippie and too old to be a newbie hippie, all of this is great fun. Welcome, May. And excuse me while I kiss the sky.