Saturday of Love: Haight-Ashbury to Babylon

Saturday, July 8

On Saturday, my fun-filled weekend with my niece Courtney continued.

After strolling down to Trader Joe’s around noon for some groceries, we went to her place and put them away.

Did I say ‘strolling’? Let me correct that–after she speed-walked with me trying to keep up with her, and her long legs that are adapted to the San Francisco hills, we went and put the groceries away.

We had gone back and forth during the week about what we wanted to do Saturday afternoon and both decided on the same thing- we wanted to visit the The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll at the deYoung Museum.

A far out time to be in San Francisco, during the “50th anniversary celebration of the adventurous and colorful counterculture that blossomed in the years surrounding the legendary San Francisco summer of 1967”.

We took an Uber, but the park where the museum is was so crowded and so much traffic, we got out and walked the last part of the way.

Arriving at the deYoung, it was in a beautiful setting and I grew even more excited to see the exhibit.

Standing in line for our tickets we talked about what the Summer of Love actually was. I loved when Courtney timidly asked, “Aunt MaryLee, were you alive then?”

I smiled and told her I was three during this monumental time of revolution!

We both laughed when she responded, “Well, I’m sure you did your part.”

In the exhibit hall, we meandered room to room. One space was covered ceiling to floor in event posters from those summer months. In other areas, photographs of Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick and others beckoned from the walls, taking you back to a very different, or not so different, time of unrest.

Descriptions of how the ‘Summer of Love’ came to be and stories of some of the events and people involved were hung in various locations alongside images of the women with flowers in their hair and hippies hanging out in the park and on the front stoops along Haight-Asbury.

In almost every room stood mannequins adorned in the out-of-this-world clothing styles from the time. This has always been my favorite era of fashion. The chunky boots, the floppy hats, the halter dresses, the hip-hugger jeans, flowy skirts. Did I mention the chunky boots?

At one point Courtney and I stepped into a room with no displays. Loud music blared and psychedelic lights spun and flashed throughout. There were bean bag chairs around the room so we plopped down on one and enjoyed the scene. I particularly liked watching the expressions of surprise on people’s faces as they’d walk into the colorful environment. I captured some of it in time-lapse video and as I was filming became elated when I heard Janis’s voice singing Piece of My Heart, a favorite of mine since forever.

The Summer of Love exhibit was an amazing step back into history and I thought it was so cool that Courtney wanted to see it.

Finished at the museum, we went back to the apartment to meet Matt, her fiance, and get ready to go out that evening.

Dinner and a show.

After a Lyft to the North Beach district, we had dinner at a little Italian restaurant. My spinach ravioli in an herb sauce was delicious.

Then we strolled through the neighborhood and decided to stop in Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe for a drink. We shared a bottle of Chianti and chatted with the bartender.

And for our evening entertainment, Matt and Courtney had purchased tickets to Beach Blanket Babylon.  A crazy-fun musical revue. As described on the show’s site, ”Celebrating over 16,000 performances, Beach Blanket Babylon has become a world-renowned record-breaking success. Seen by over six million people from around the world, this internationally acclaimed musical revue continues to delight audiences with its hilarious spoofs of pop culture, spectacular costumes and outrageously gigantic hats!”

Indeed, it was hilarious. And when they say “gigantic hats”, they mean gigantic. A cool thing about the show is that although the general storyline remains the same, the show changes constantly to reflect the world’s current events. So even though Courtney and Matt had seen the show about a year ago, much of it was new and different for them.

If you are ever in San Francisco- see this show!

After the show we wandered out into the neighborhood and made our way down to the renowned Tony’s Coal-fired Pizza and Slice House for a late night slice. We were fortunate to get three of the last slices available before they ran out and closed for the night.

At first I wasn’t going to get anything, but seeing the big cheesy slices on the pan I couldn’t resist! The three of us sat outside in front of Tony’s enjoying our yummy late-night treat, as the crew inside began cleaning up inside and sweeping the walkway around us.

Then we caught an Uber and went home where I washed up and had no trouble falling asleep after all the walking and partaking in more of what San Francisco has to offer.

What a wonderfully full day!

Gratitude, Day 16:
I am grateful for being able to, in one day with Courtney and Matt, get an important view into history at the Summer of Love exhibit, as well as experience a zany, though often true, reflection of our current world at the musical show.

I wonder how the summer of 2017 will be looked back upon in 50 years.


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