David Peel: The Dope-Smokin’ Pope of the New York City Hippies

Jul 25, 2016 | 5077 Views | 7 Comments

Hello, ma'am. I'm working to clean up the neighborhood from parasites. Do you mind if I take a quick look around your house? I'm afraid you may have hippies. If you're familiar with the darkly funny animated series "South Park," you know there's nothing that tubby 9-year-old Eric Cartman hates more than hippies. In the 2005 episode "Die Hippie, Die," he gallantly waddles from house to house with an exterminator tank, hell-bent on ridding the neighborhood of the bad-smelling, peace-preaching stoners. Well, in my small hometown in the late 1960s, we had but one authentic hippie, and we intended... Read More »

The Fireworks are Hailin’ Over Little Eden Tonight: Bruce’s Boardwalk Lullaby

Jul 4, 2016 | 4761 Views | 2 Comments

When the cops finally busted Madam Marie, the young ne'er-do-well knew it was time to leave the seaside carnival life forever. Riding Tilt-a-Whirls and chasing factory girls underneath the boardwalk…cruising the circuit with switchblade lovers and open-shirt casino boys…it was all kid's stuff. Someday he'd look back on those barefoot slacker days and sex-seeking nights, and rage against the dying of the pier lights that once cast a protective cover, like a soft beach blanket, over his body and hers. But now, as the fireworks hailed over his Little Eden on that 4th of July, he determined it... Read More »

Love Amid the Rubble: Ronnie Lane’s Tender Ode to His Dad, Saint Stan

Jun 19, 2016 | 4196 Views | 1 Comment

I heard your footsteps at the front door, and that old familiar love song. ‘Cause you knew you'd find me waiting there, at the top of the stairs. Those lyrics weren’t written by a heartsick bloke waiting for his lover to come home. They were composed by an artist recalling his boyhood days in a working-class London neighborhood, waiting for his tireless dad to return from his Sunday morning trudge to the local junk market. You were sorting through the odds and ends, You was looking for a bargain. Ronnie Lane, the artist once described by Mojo writer Wayne Pernu... Read More »

You Score an Ounce, Olé — Paul, Pot, and the Petition of ’67

Jun 18, 2016 | 5150 Views | 3 Comments

Even if Bob Dylan hadn't introduced The Beatles to marijuana at New York's Delmonico Hotel, the boys would have lit up soon enough. From that August 1964 night onward, "let's have a laugh" quickly became their code phrase for "let's have a toke." And laugh they did. At least until the infamous Sgt. Norman Pilcher and his drug-sniffing dogs Yogi and BooBoo came snooping around their London abodes. The cop and his canines found 12 grams of cannabis in a binocular case in John and Yoko's apartment in October 1968, and a few months later discovered a... Read More »

What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?

May 30, 2016 | 5704 Views | 2 Comments

“What did you do in the war, Daddy?” That’s a question most kids eventually get around to asking when they learn their fathers served in the armed forces. Almost all of my childhood friends had dads who served in either World War II or the Korean War. In those days it wasn’t uncommon for veterans to keep their war stories to themselves, especially those who fought in battle or witnessed atrocities. The men who went to war back then were of a generation steeped, for better or worse, in silent suffering. They shared a collective stiff-upper-lip consciousness.... Read More »