It was fifty years ago today

The Invisible Circus was one of the defining moments in the emerging counterculture of San Francisco. It was the Digger answer to the Human Be-In which was a magical event for many, and yet replicated the same stage-star-syndrome that was so antithetical to the Digger-do spirit of personal autonomy. The Invisible Circus was the opposite. There were no stars, just venues. Rooms and hallways and sanctuaries to “do your own thing”—whatever the creative impulse would inspire. Billed as a 72-hour happening, the event started at 8pm on Friday, February 24, 1967 at Glide Church in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, the site of one of the Free Fairs that the Artists Liberation Front had organized the previous Fall. By Saturday morning (2/25/67) things were getting a bit out of hand. The ministerial leadership of Glide called it quits. But the stories about the Invisible Circus would circulate for years (decades). Here’s the Dave Hodges poster that announced the event.invisible_circus_poster_hodges

During the brief existence of the Invisible Circus, Chester and Claude set up the John Dillinger Computer instant news service in one of the backrooms at Glide Church with their Gestetner mimeograph machine and Gestefax scanner, and they churned out dozens of bulletins all night long. When I started collecting Communication Company broadsides in 1971, a friendly soul let me xerox his collection of Invisible Circus printouts. Unfortunately all the copies in the Digger Archives are now third generation copies. There are several which are iconic of the times but are now too faded to scan. I made a facsimile of one, “Dear mom and dad … from Emil”  (see below). Such a gest, so typical of Com/Co’s style.

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Script for Digger Events

With all the talk about event planning (and permit applications, Commission refusals etc) for the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to look back at how the Diggers planned their street events. Here’s a Digger street sheet from 1967 that outlines an event for Haight Street on April 2, 1967: “Gentleness in the Pursuit of Extremity is no vice” and it’s the perfect encapsulation of Digger-Do.

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Petition in support of Free Music

Sign the petition to: SAVE the Summer of Love

[Hoping for 2,000 signatures by Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017]

To be delivered to Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco

Save the Summer of Love 50th Anniversary concert from cancellation by the City of San Francisco Park and Rec Department which refuses to allow a permit to the PEOPLE. This is a community grassroots event organized by volunteers years in the planning. Larger corporate events, which pay large fees are given permits—the commons are for the people and we demand access!

St. Valentine’s Day Missive

The Diggers published a “virtual street sheet” on St. Valentine’s Day (2017) about the controversy involving the San Francisco Recreation & Park Commission’s denial of Boots Hughston’s request for a permit to hold a Free Summer of Love 50th Anniversary event in Golden Gate Park. Feel free to forward this new Digger sheet to anyone who might be interested.

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Songs of Love and Haight

Ashleigh Brilliant was a college professor who dropped out of the academic world after taking LSD in 1965. He moved to the Haight-Ashbury in Spring 1967 and took up a career as an itinerant troubadour. This is from a collection of his songs that he published later that year. The Digger song is one of two he devotes to them.

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