Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hippies & Why They Failed

The term “hippie” derives from the 1940’s slang term “hipster.” Oddly enough, the 1940’s usage of the word “hipster” is not all that dissimilar from modern usage, only it wasn’t as trendy or popular in the 40’s. The common thread between original hipsters, hippies, and modern hipster-douchebags are the hallmarks of drug use, sarcasm, and self-imposed poverty.

The Hippies took the counterculture inherited by the Beatniks and, quite frankly, fucked it up in ways completely unimaginable. Largely urban and suburban white kids believed they could get close to nature and become farmers while on acid. They ruined the idea of socialism for everyone by organizing into failed economic units they called “communes,” which served only to facilitate group sex.

My wife is a self-styled Hippie. She even listens to awful Hippie bands that just drone on forever like elevator music. I went to a Hippie festival a couple weeks back, where I spent the majority of the time silently observing the scene.

The most trivial comment I can make is that the music is far too loud. The genre is not one which lends itself to very loud amplification; it is merely jazz with too many effects pedals and crappy lyrics about loving one another. The amplifiers should be turned down and the drums should be unamplified. This would create a more “mellow vibe.” It would also allow for people to actually have conversations.

I went to an event called {name withheld at the request of my wife}. If one looks at the website, one can see something strange:

“We grew tired of the over-priced tickets from companies who keep treating patrons with less and less respect. So, in the ever changing face of the music industry, we started our festival by live music phans for live music phans.”

[The use of “ph” is in reference to the jamband Phish, a central figure in the scene that developed during the tours of the Grateful Dead.]

This festival (or phestival…*barf*) is a sub-subculture. The Hippie jamband scene became so big that small, offshoot festivals are economically viable. The guy running this festival organized the first one a couple years ago to cover rent (how I imagine 90% of the businesses in America start). Not only is this counterculture an economic windfall for the enterprising, they have taken on the role of “the man” with startling swiftness.

These festivals are drug bazaars. Cannabis is everywhere, sold and used openly, and several venders sell pipes, bongs, one-hitters, grinders, vaporizers, and scales. A walk through shakedown alley will usually net one or two offers for mushrooms or acid. Cocaine even floats around between old friends.

However, if you should be so unlucky as to have a hankering for some nitrous oxide, you can expect to be thrown out of events like this.

For those unaware of nitrous oxide, it is a gas that is inhaled to experience a high. It is also called laughing gas. Its chemical symbol is N2O, but most uneducated morons think it’s NO2 and even call it “nos” for this reason [NO2 is nitrogen dioxide, a toxic pollutant]. Nitrous oxide is commonly used in dentistry and is found to be very safe in moderate usage under supervised conditions.

The primary cause of injury from nitrous oxide use is due to falling, so doing the drug while sitting eliminates the majority of harm. There are also long-term side-effects that are associated with the lack of oxygen during prolonged inhalation sessions over months of chronic use. So basically, as with most things, occasional responsible use isn’t a problem.

If I had to rank the drugs I saw present at the festival from least harmless to most harmful, I would have ranked them cannabis, nitrous oxide, acid, mushrooms, alcohol, “Molly” (pure MDMA), cocaine. However, the festival organizers came down hard on the nitrous venders. Why?

There is quite a history to this. At some point, myths of the evils of nitrous became public. Festivals began issuing strange, cryptic warnings in their rules: “No illicit drugs, ESPECIALLY NITROUS!!” Seems redundant, but the “no drugs” rule is an insurance technicality, and the all-caps warning about nitrous was a way of selectively targeting nitrous.

So what happened? Did nitrous disappear from the scene? Prohibition policies have taught us one thing: banning something does not make it disappear; it makes it cooler and more profitable.

The creative nitrous purveyors (probably in a scheme to pay for rent) went to the camp grounds weeks before a festival would open. They would bury tanks so that when their car was checked upon entering, the tanks would not be confiscated. When the festival started, they would retrieve the tanks, whip out a bag of balloons, and start selling.

A balloon full of nitrous ran about two or three dollars a few years ago. Today, one can expect to pay roughly fifteen dollars for a few minute high and irreparable brain damage. What’s worse, “nitrous mafias” have formed. They violently oppose rival sellers who attempt to undercut them in price. Tanks have been thrown through car windshields. People have been beaten up. They’re hippies, though, so no one has died yet.

What made festival organizers initially ban nitrous? Stories… baseless stories… tales of tanks exploding, for which there is no evidence. That and the toothless grin of the nitrous user, having lost them in falls because he is too stupid to sit in a chair before sucking down a drug that makes one pass out.

Hippies are nothing special. They aren’t revolutionaries; they are digressionists. They wish to devolve society to a point where they can comprehend it, then they wish to complicate it with their own misconceptions and ignorance. Every single one of the people at this event could have talked your ear off about why marijuana should be legalized, but where was their tolerance for another equally harmless drug?

The Hippies failed because they are culture and society builders in a world where we have more than enough culture and society. The Hippies tried to re-invent the wheel. They saw a system that was indeed inefficient and wrong, and they traced it back to its origins to attempt to restart it. The problem is, they went back a little too far, to a time before baths, and the plans they have for the future are worse than what we have.


  1. Digressionists, huh?

    Neat point. Never heard or considered that before.

  2. I really enjoyed your anlaysis of the nitrous oxide incident. It definitely reflects the way in which the hippie movement was somewhat hypocrtical. I also think that the reason it "failed" (or did not achieve all it wanted to) is because hippie culture was a change in style but not really a revolution. I think this can be shown in the way hippies were brought into the fold of consumerism after they intially rejected it, i.e. businesses convinced them that the market could deliver the change they wanted.


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