JUST THINKIN’ ABOUT JANIS & THE SUMMER OF LOVE

It’s the 50th anniversary of The Summer of Love and because I was there in Golden Gate Park, whose entrance opened like a rabbit hole at the end of Haight Street, I’m thinking about Janis Joplin this morning. I saw her with Big Brother and The Holding Company many times. But the first time I watched her do her thing on the back of a flatbed truck seems like the day before yesterday. Maybe even yesterday!

Here’s an excerpt from my book, Under A Tie Dye Sky, showing (as opposed to merely telling) you Janis. The following passage is written about the day I arrived in San Francisco, with flowers in my hair of course.

“Standing on the corner of Haight and Ashbury, I realized people were migrating in the same direction. “Hey, Kurt,” hailed a few passers by, “you coming down to The Panhandle? Happy Sunday, man. Janis is singin’!”

Janis belonged to a band named Big Brother and The Holding Company. My friend took my arm, to stop me from turning in circles. He led me down the street to that part of Golden Gate Park known as The Panhandle.

We entered the outskirts of a crowd staring up at the flat bed of a long truck. Looking for where the noise came from, I picked out a whirring generator next to the truck. As we walked closer, I turned my head to see what was on the improvised stage.

Under no circumstances will I forget my first look at Janis Joplin. She stood there in back of a microphone, a funky grand lady, small, but commanding. She wore a short scruffy blue jeans skirt with a peasant blouse hanging off one shoulder. Scores of bracelets encircled her wrists and arms, scores more necklaces around her neck. Her mop of hair had a life of its own. Long, frizzy, untethered, it moved and shook around her broad face. This mane was on a leave of absence from standard hair care.

Freedom drenched her persona. Freedom from what? From tired norms. From lies. From fear. From despair. Freedom from hate. Freed to find individuality, where truth, faith, hope, and Love stood a chance.

Grinning and jiving with the company, this outlandish Raggedy Ann became my new groundbreaking off–the–wall hero of girldom.

Love saturated the soft candied air in the globe. The congregation breathed it in and blew it into the open when Janis hit her first note. Somehow she gathered that Love and sang it out to us in a way that changed lives.

Janis, charitable to a fault, held nothing of herself back, saved nothing for some future rainy day.

I said Janis Joplin changed lives. Her willingness to give till she collapsed added new meaning to the concept of selfless generosity.

Of course I’d been exposed to selfless generosity in reading true stories and hearing about saints on earth like Mother Teresa and in the Bible. My mom and dad were my supreme examples in this world.

But Janis was visceral and in my face.

I stood in front of a living extreme, a real person in front of my eyes. I’d never seen anything like this before. Nothing even close. ACCESSIBLE, she let us enter her soul, as she reached into ours. Turning herself inside out, raw and vulnerable along with graciousness, she returned our overwhelming Love.”

OH, JANIS . . .

Janis-Joplin

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Comments

    • an excellent plan. imagine me next to you, both of us together soaking up the sun and janis. smiling large.
      love
      suzee B

  1. Hey Suz…oh the memories for you! I can’t. imagine what the anniversary will be like. I was in Madison, Wi in 1967. It wasn’t the counterculture capital, but it had its share of little communities of “flower children”. I was not a flower child, but did experience the love and freedom, by enjoying their company occasionally!! In 1967, off the top of my head, my favorite music was by the Beatles, Stones, Turtles, Byrds, Doors, Lovin Spoonful, Simon&Garfunkel. I still listen to all the great music of the 50’s and 60’s. Those were the best of times….at least for me. Love with a hug and a kiss. BILL.

    • those bands you mentioned? killer bands!! they spoke for us, didn’t they though?
      thanks for the hug and a kiss, charming billy.
      love
      suzee B

  2. people comment privately to me through the “contact me” on the upper tool bar. here’s one i’ll share:

    “She was something else! Great photos. Taking me back to Family Dog days. First saw the Grateful Dead at City Park in Denver in Sept. of 1967. Felt a lot like you did when seeing Janis. The Freedom! The Love! The kindred spirits! Some special times.”

    right on!

    love
    suzee B

  3. Who else would be writing about Janis and the Big 50 of the Summer of Love. Yes, that’s right, her younger twin sister, the Queen of Everything. If someone didn’t know what you look like they would never know you’re her spitting image. Strange I should open my email and see you beloved missed blog (really do miss it) cus I was just thinking about it and the Big 50 in Golden Gate Park. (Must be the full moon.) Must be those ol’ cosmic blues again. Miss you little sister.
    Alice forever in the palace
    P.S. What size wrist do you have? What about Strawberry Duck?

    • darling palace alice, dallas alice? linda ronstadt?

      i miss my blog, too, well not the blog, i miss THE PEEPS, the faithful ones who stood by me adding their comments that i so looked forward to reading.

      i was thinking about you yesterday and emailing or calling you, but got distracted! i’ve started my next book. it’s got one page! that’s a feat. this one is going to challenge me to the max.

      but anyway, right now i’m waiting for the full moon to rise. IT’S CALLED THE FLOWER MOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      how does one know ones wrist size dear alice?

      i love you
      suzee B

  4. Who else would be writing about Janis and the Big 50 of the Summer of Love. Yes, that’s right, her younger twin sister, the Queen of Everything. If someone didn’t know what you look like they would never know you’re her spitting image. Strange I should open my email and see your beloved missed blog (really do miss it) cus I was just thinking about it and the Big 50 in Golden Gate Park. (Must be the full moon.) Must be those ol’ cosmic blues again. Miss you little sister.
    Alice forever in the palace
    P.S. What size wrist do you have? What about Strawberry Duck?

    • two two two mints in one

      ha ha hahhahhah hahah ha!

      doesn’t exactly fit but hey.

      miss you too A LOT.

      me
      xoxooxooxooxoxoox

  5. That was wonderful I can always see u with flowers in yor hair and you were the one that put flowers in my hair!!!

    • just waiting to happen, you made for a beauoooooootiful flower child my dear dear dear motherfinch!

      love
      suzee B

  6. Geez Louise,
    Take a tape measure and wrap it around your wrist or if you don’t have one take a string wrap it around and then lay it (the string ) on a ruler.
    This is very important information that I must have asap if possible.
    Same Alice same palace and still twice as fun

    • copy that, alice-twice-as-fun

      but i have to get home first! i’ll be home in 2 days. gwenn is in colorado without internet till end of may, however, i can sometimes reach her by phone so i shall try to obey in getting wrist measurements to thee a.s.a.p.

      i promise!

      i wonder why you need them? i bet it’s a very good reason so i’m more than happy to oblige.

      love and kisses
      suzee B

  7. Hi Suzee, nice flashback on drawing designs on you at the park listening to the music, hells angels stoned a few feet away. If you ever get down to mid florida there’s room at the inn. I’m in new smyrna beach. I’ve been making art jewelry since ward days. Evolving always. Phillip

  8. phillip!!

    bloody hell, is that really you!!!!!!

    it’s been a trillion years, well maybe not QUITE a trillion, but a long long long ol’ time.

    hey, thanks for checking in.

    were you drawing designs on me or that cast i had on my leg?! coulda been either. i tried to soak the cast off down by seal rock (didn’t work) and then marty mcclimon had to saw it off on the kitchen table at stanyan street! did not you also live there with us all for awhile?

    our captain, craig mcfarlin aka captain cornflake just left us. RIP craig. i’d been seeing him on a yearly basis for many many years in moline.

    i like florida, the east coast only 🙂

    love
    creamcheese

    • I had forgotten about the cast. I think it was both. A middle-aged couple came up and were so concerned for you. They must have been on the hippie tour. I also had a good memory of going with you to the beach. You were prtty high and we just sat there for a very long time until everything evened out and we could grab the bus back. Sorry to hear about Craig. With his notebooks of everything he had watched and all the details , he was a true eccentric. I did stay at the stanion st house for awhile. Met Charlie and all the folks from the Moline area. Like you I had so much faith in what we were all doing. It was hard to see it all go so quickly.

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