The Summer of Love, Woodstock, hippies, protest, peace and love, drugs, long hair and bare feet. These are some of the stereotypes that come to mind when I think about the 1960s in the United States, a volatile time for that nation.









The volatility sprung from a disaffected, post-WWII youth that weren’t afraid to hold mass protests, embrace free love and challenge an oppressive status quo–“The Man”. Drugs, but more importantly music and political thought shocked the States into an expansion of the national consciousness. The ’60s fostered a youth culture that refused to accept the antiquated, racist, patriarchal and conservative views held throughout the 1950s.

Change did not come over night, it required struggle and possibly only holds significance in hindsight—40 years later in front of a computer, cracked out on coffee and Red Bull™.

In the States lawful segregation ended, people burned their draft books, protested the war in Vietnam and listened to trippy music that begged listeners to question authority. Festivals mobilized the masses and the Cuban missile crisis made Americans wonder if this whole Cold War business was really such a good idea. The youth of the ’60s challenged the perceptual limits of their parents and the ruling elites. ‘Should we really live in fear and hatred of each other?’ ‘What is this whole human game all about?’ ‘How are we going to bring about lasting change?’ thought the youth. Consciousness expansion, for some important thinkers, was the solution.

Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, and Ken Kesey, not to mention The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Jim Morrison of The Doors all contributed significantly, along with thousands of others to the enlightenment of the 1960s. They were different from the Martin Luther Kings, John F Kennedys, Malcom Xs and Che Guevaras of the day but no less important. When they were at their best they did not seek direct political ends but instead made the people reflect on the society that they lived in.

Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas questioned the contemporary validity of the ‘American Dream,’ juxtaposing antiquated values with the hedonistic world of Vegas and his own skull. Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test chronicled the movement of early acid freaks that deliberately shocked the nation in an attempt to startle people out of their small minded trips—jobs, homes, mortgages and, most importantly, social norms. Finally, Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest illustrated the confining nature of institutionalism, that to be crazy is a hallmark of sanity and manliness comes only from one’s ability to assert individuality. Drugs are important but original thought, aided or otherwise, is what people respond to; it is the spark that lights the fires of change.

Collectively known as the Beat generation, or beatniks, the authors of the 1960s reflected their world through challenging works, often invoking humour and drug use to pound home their message to readers. The times were serious and the issues were important, war, love and the Art of Living. These exceptional men were able to stand back from The Edge and clue the rest of in to their respective worlds. Time moves relentlessly forward, trapping and encompassing all of us. The past holds the key to the future because it is all we have to understand. There is no way that things could have been besides the way they are. Today’s time is no less important than theirs and the war rages on.
The latest issue of one small seed, Issue 24: ‘Listen to My Colour and Look at My Sound’, features an exclusive interview with great illustrator Ralph Steadman, the man responsible for the iconic images in Hunter S. Thompson’s work (featured above). Check out the full preview of Issue 24 HERE.
Bob Dylan- The Times They Are A Changin’


Images: hiphappy, pixelvulture,,,
Words: Connor Leech