I noticed that Jentri Anders chimed in with a comment a couple of weeks ago. I’m flattered that Dr. Anders took the time to read my column, and write a comment, even if she only did it to promote her book. I’m happy to recommend Beyond Counterculture: the Community of Mateel, by Jentri Anders to everyone, and to every pot farmer hoping to cash in on “the Humboldt Brand,” I can assure you that Beyond Counterculture is worth it’s weight in gold.
My column advocated using the archetype of “The Hippie” as a marketing tool, to propel the Humboldt Brand to commercial success in the newly emerging legal market for cannabis products. The Hippie is a marketing goldmine, and Jentri Anders staked our claim to it when she wrote Beyond Counterculture. Someone has got to reprint that book. We should treat Beyond Counterculture like the bible, meaning that we should point to it, thump it, wave it in people’s faces, and even illiterate people should carry it piously wherever they go. If you can read a little of it, and remember a couple of quotes, so much the better. And, finally, when the economic storms ahead have proven me right about this, we should erect a bulletproof statue of Jentri Anders on the Town Square in Garberville.
Beyond Counterculture describes the hippie phenomena in the formative years of the “back to the land” movement in Southern Humboldt. This book, written as a scholarly work of social science, explains what hippies were, how they got that way, and describes what they were doing here in Southern Humboldt, before the marijuana industry took over. She portrayed hippies positively, because she could see what they aspired to, and understood what they were attempting. In other words, she was one of them. Even if hippie culture has gone extinct here in SoHum, we still have its fossilized DNA in the form of Beyond Counterculture.
By no means, is Beyond Counterculture about drugs, and it’s been a long time since I read the book, but I’m pretty sure there’s a page, early on, where she acknowledges that many of the subjects in her study reported that they had been influenced by their experiences with psychedelics. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Big Deal! Hippies took acid. Everyone knows that. At the time, however, psychedelics were perceived as a serious threat to national security. People took these drugs, and whatever they experienced, shook their belief in The System, and made them want to try something else.
Psychedelics, including, perhaps especially, marijuana, became a threat to political control, which is why Richard Nixon declared war on them. Meanwhile, corporate interests co-opted the psychedelic movement, reducing it bright colors, flashing lights and hypnotic images drained of meaning. Products and price-tags replaced psychedelic values and ideas and what once looked like a social revolution, collapsed into fad and fashion.
The hippies were probably doomed from the beginning, for a lot of reasons, but the black-market demand for marijuana changed the dynamics of Southern Humboldt, as people discovered that big piles of cash could influence them even more than psychedelic drugs. Dr. Anders describes some of those changes in her book, including how the War on Drugs, and the emerging black market for California sinsemilla that it fueled, undermined the hippie experiment going on here.
Of course, in the ensuing years, wave after wave of stupid, greedy, ethically challenged social parasites invaded SoHum to exploit the injustice of cannabis prohibition. Still, SoHum remained one of the last strongholds of hippie culture, and you could still find old hippies around here as recently as the turn of the last century. Some say there’s still a few hippies out in those hills, but they say that about Bigfoot too.
The story is all that matters now. Once upon a time, kids got so high they thought they could change the world, and they came here to do it. They tried to live differently. They gave us solar power and micro-hydro, organic gardening and permaculture, straw-bale and cobb buildings, geodesic domes and tree houses. And, they gave us California sinsemilla. Although much of the hippie experiment failed on its own, hippies succeeded in scaring the shit out of the government, who crushed them brutally. That really happened, and it really happened here. Jentri Anders’ book, Beyond Counterculture: The Community of Mateel testifies to it.
Why is that story important? Try to imagine, I know it won’t be easy for a lot of you, but try to imagine what it is like to be someone who likes to get high, but doesn’t want to make a career of it. Around here, when people see cannabis, they see dollar signs. They see profit, because that’s what greed sees. People get so used to equating cannabis with money, that they forget that the people who buy the stuff, value it differently.
Cannabis, along with other plant and fungal agents, alter our perception. When we see things differently, we sometimes feel differently about the things we see. When we feel differently about things, we may choose to act differently, based on how we feel about what we see. That’s what made hippies into hippies in the first place. The pot has only gotten stronger since then, and it continues to alter consciousness in the same way.
Sure, people have gotten dumber in the ensuing years, but the dominant culture has gotten uglier, harder and crueler as well, so even though today’s kids have been brainwashed more thoroughly than their grandparents, they know, even more painfully, how bad the dominant culture sucks. In our hearts, we all know that the dominant culture is killing us, and it’s killing the planet. We’re all still looking for a way out, and “The Hippie” remains a symbol for that quest.
That’s why “The Hippie” continues to inspire young people in a way that dope yuppies do not, and that’s why “The Hippie” remains a marketing goldmine for cannabis. No matter how stupid, ridiculous and foul smelling you find hippies, they’re a lot more attractive than the marijuana industry, believe me.
Industrial agriculture is just too ugly to look at, and too boring to care about. Once we make the transition to a legal market, even the mystique of our outlaw status disappears. Legalization eliminates the last exciting, illegal and subversive aspect of the marijuana industry, while it sheds light on this whole festering disease that hid in the shadows for so long. No matter how you look at the marijuana industry it all boils down to this: the greed, the boring and the ugly. Nobody wants to see it or hear about it.
So, don’t remind people that it’s all about pounds of weed and piles of cash. Instead, you’re selling a lifestyle, an aesthetic, and an attitude, steeped in history. Beyond Counterculture: The Community of
Mateel, preserves that history, so that Humboldt’s dope yuppies can cash in on it today. Thank you Jentri Anders.