Sunday, March 21, 2010

Musings: The '60s Dream

Lying on lava rock, looking up, I saw the thin white moon high in the sky, holding its own as fluffy fleece breezed by on the bright-cool afternoon of Saturday’s Spring Equinox. But by nightfall, it had succumbed, and its snuggle up with Pleiades was blotted out by clouds that perhaps had some relation to this morning’s rain.

Fortunately, we’ll get another chance to see Pleiades, which the Hawaiians know as Makalii, connect with a crescent moon on April 16. It’s my favorite cluster of stars, home base of the light workers, according to Barbara Marciniak and the subject of extensive mythology for peoples all over the world.

I witnessed another bit of mythology last night when I watched John Wehrheim’s movie “Taylor Camp,” about the place of the same name in what is now Haena State Park. But it’s really more about an experience than a place — or more specifically, the memories of that experience — and the official website refers to it as “living the 60s dream.”

I am not of that generation, so I never dreamed that particular dream, but I was alive on the planet and living near the San Francisco Bay Area during the hippie heydey, so I certainly was aware of it, and curious about it, though not curious enough to drive somewhere and pay money to watch John’s depiction of how that dream played out on Kauai.

But about a month ago, John lent me a copy of the book and DVD, and last night I finally got around to checking out his creation. While I can’t fault John’s photography, which is remarkable, or even the way he put together the documentary — aside from its re-created bits, which felt like fill, and the aerial footage of Na Pali and the North Shore, which felt like a plug for the visitor’s bureau, and the superficiality of the interviewees’ reminisces, which were utterly devoid of any reflection on the fallout of their actions — I was extremely bothered by what Taylor Camp and its inhabitants ushered in.

After seeing the movie and reviewing the book, I must say I share the sentiments of Farmer Jerry, expressed in a previous blog post, that Taylor Camp was the beginning of the end for Kauai, especially the North Shore. Because the campers reflected an attitude that was sharply at odds with local culture, an attitude that still persists to this day.

Those who came to Taylor Camp didn’t care that no one else on the island wanted them here, except others like them who had arrived earlier and spread the word, encouraging more to come. And when they were told to leave, they cried out indignantly, “This is America, we have rights,” in much the same way the mainland transplants now claim they have the right to build atop burials or right smack on the beach.

They didn’t care that locals were offended by their nudity and lifestyle, or that they largely lived apart from the locals, literally lost in their own little world, just like the mainland transplants of today who stick to themselves and don’t care that locals are offended by the extravagant eyesores they construct in the view planes. The campers with their treehouses were essentially no different than those who build mansions that are similarly occupied by transients who are just passing through, removed from the larger workings of the community.

I was struck by how the campers, with few exceptions, gave nothing back to the place that they supposedly loved so much. Instead, they just took: food stamps, welfare, the time and patience of Clorinda, the longtime Hanalei postmaster who had to pass out their mail through general delivery, rides from people who had the cars they couldn’t afford or eschewed, fish from the ocean, water from the streams, schooling for their children, medical care. They were skimmers, folks who came in and took the cream off the top, much like the land speculators and Realtors and vacation rental operators who continue to exploit “Paradise” today, leaving their trash and doo doo and houses behind.

I was also annoyed by the campers' deluded belief that they were “living off the land” with their plastic-enclosed houses and furniture scrounged from somewhere and food and booze and propane purchased from Ching Young Store. It’s not unlike the folks who pretend they are living sustainably now with their veggie garden and solar panels imported from somewhere else.

But what really jumped out was the campers' selfishness, their insistence on doing what they wanted with no thought to how it affected the locals or this place, their overall lack of respect. One example was how they started living on the beaches, which prompted county officials to shorten the shoreline camping period from one month to two weeks, so locals ended up getting screwed. They also gave fake names like “mermaid’s pool” to places that already had perfectly good names conferred on them from ancient times. Amazingly, not one person interviewed in the film expressed one word about the Hawaiian culture or history. Instead, it was as if the place never existed until they arrived.

And unfortunately, that disrespect, whether through obliviousness or disdain, is an attitude that characterizes the mindset of so many mainland transplants living on Kauai today. That, and projecting all their fantasies onto the island to make it into something they want it to be, rather than taking the time to know and appreciate what it is.

I did enjoy hearing the observations of locals on the phenomenon, and putting faces with names. I also liked seeing the footage of old time Hanalei, which brought to mind the mournful refrain from a Shilo Pa song: “Whatever happened to Hanalei?”

But mostly, it just made me feel kind of sad – sad for Kauai, sad for the North Shore, sad that the campers’ true legacy is such a far cry from what they fantasized it would be, sad that the '60s dream is expressed as a narrow world of self-indulgent, narcissistic, destructive escapism. I always thought, as the generation that came after and looked up to the one that came before, that it was supposed to be so much more.

34 comments:

Andrew Cooper said...

Hmmm, I was wondering about checking out the film. The commentary you give adds another whole dimension to the issues portrayed, many of which we observe today on all of the islands. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Agreed, as to disrespectful hippies. Ironic how many of them bought houses with pakalolo money, cut their hair and now deem selves community leaders ("locals") today. Although on the other side, change is inevitable and you can't seriously claim that locals have any special insight into how the world should operate. Many local people are the product of Christian brainwashing 150 years earlier. The Hawaiians weren't so offended by nudity before bible thumpers taught them to be.

Maria said...

guess you didn't like it, eh?
would that be one or two thumbs down?

Anonymous said...

My brown eyed German Shepard thinks my blue eyed Husky is the devil.

Joan Conrow said...

Actually, Maria, I would give it one thumb up. It was disturbing, informative and thought-provoking, as documentaries should be, but it would have been much more compelling if John had explored some of the broader themes that were merely touched upon and avoided the temptation to romanticize.

Anonymous said...

"Those who came to Taylor Camp didn’t care that no one else on the island wanted them here [because there is freedom of movement in this country]."

but an interesting review of the movie/camp/people. sounds like its probably accurate too


"Many local people are the product of Christian brainwashing 150 years earlier. The Hawaiians weren't so offended by nudity before bible thumpers taught them to be."

-- totally


dwps

Anonymous said...

that the '60s dream is expressed as a narrow world of self-indulgent, narcissistic, destructive escapism.

That is exactly what the 60s dream always ever was. There was never anything else to it.

Anonymous said...

that the '60s dream is expressed as a narrow world of self-indulgent, narcissistic, destructive escapism.

That is exactly what the 60s dream always ever was. There was never anything else to it.


That's for sure. Demonstrations against the Vietnam war evaporated in 73 when the draft was ended...not in 75 when the U.S. actually got out of the war.

Anonymous said...

Your 'expert' "Farmer" Jerry is full of it. Always taking a contrarian view at community meetings, etc.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the kids who grew up in Taylor camp were sexually abused and neglected. The movie doesn't mention any of that either.

Anonymous said...

Joan..When you use the word "locals" you are defending racism..I thought you where better than that."Locals" have no more rights than anyone else.This is The USA not the "Local" Nation.

Joan Conrow said...

Your 'expert' "Farmer" Jerry is full of it. Always taking a contrarian view at community meetings, etc.

I'll be sure to let him know he needs to get with the program. Enuf already of those pesky appeals on behalf of ag land, water and the silent majority of locals.

Anonymous said...

Joan Said, "They didn’t care that locals were offended by their nudity" and "Because the campers reflected an attitude that was sharply at odds with local culture, an attitude that still persists to this day."

These statements lack historical perspective. 1960 the beginning of the end? Give me a break!

Oh and the comment "Demonstrations against the Vietnam war evaporated in 73 when the draft was ended...not in 75 when the U.S. actually got out of the war." Is absolutely FALSE. I know for I was in Many protest from 73 thru 75.



Pardon my analysis but the "locals" were not always offended by nudity. It was the "missionaries" who imposed Puritan practices on the Hawaiians who had a far more healthy perspective about the human body and sexuality than the colonialists who imposed their beliefs on the host culture.

The hippies were naive but not vicious. The US was slaughtering people in Vietnam at the time, an "inducting" their young to do the killing. I personally know that some of those "hippies" were victims of this war and Taylor Camp was a refuge for them.

The beginning of the end were the "isms" colonialism, militarism, tourism. To put the blame on people from a 10 year period is as simple-minded as blaming Bubba Free John.

Really disappointed in you lack of empathy Joan. You don't see any relationship at all in the simple, peaceful, non-consumer lifestyle you seem to be living and advocating and what these damaged, naive and idealistic people were about? They were "living the dream", but unfortunately that's what it was -- a dream.

The current nightmare is just keep buying more stuff and slaughtering more innocent people, but hey "blame it on the Rolling Stones", or as Kekuni Blaisdell one told me "somebody is a victim. Blame them!

Anonymous said...

"I'll be sure to let him know he needs to get with the program"

-- nice one!


"It was the "missionaries" who imposed Puritan practices on the Hawaiians who had a far more healthy perspective about the human body and sexuality than the colonialists who imposed their beliefs on the host culture."

-- agreed. and not to go off topic, but there was a PBS thing back a while ago RE the views of sex by different cultures...i for one was blown away: native americans....old africa...jungle pygmy tribes...pretty much across the board the "indigenous" had a much more sound and healthy take on it. seems that particular aspect of their culture at least was then and is today still superior


dwps

Anonymous said...

On the Taylor Camp poster it says, "There is a certain period in our lives where we possess youth The rest we spend living in those memories"

This film is a homage to a historical epoch, a self-reflective dissociation from present actions to revel in a land of lost dreams.

Those were indeed the days, but reality is again upon us.

Anonymous said...

the comment "Demonstrations against the Vietnam war evaporated in 73 when the draft was ended...not in 75 when the U.S. actually got out of the war." Is absolutely FALSE. I know for I was in Many protest from 73 thru 75.

Sure, you might have attended some little sign waving events. But you did not converge with your comrades by the thousands as your comrades had been doing regularly prior to the end of the draft in 73. As soon as the draft ended, the anti-war movement as a huge, vocal, angry, organized, active movement evaporated.

Anonymous said...

Ending the Draft was the end of the war...simple.

Anonymous said...

"As soon as the draft ended, the anti-war movement as a huge, vocal, angry, organized, active movement evaporated.'


What is your point! After the government stopped forcing people to go off and kill other innocent people of course people stopped protesting. There is a difference between me being forced to commit murder and paid mercs doing it. I am opposed to that as well, but trying to make me kill people well I might as well declare war against them!. That war was unsustainable without a draft and it was not like people were itching to go. Also it was an unwindable war for the Vietnamese people would have fought to the last child.

In the course of this war, some 58,000 US soldiers were killed in action, as well as 304,000 wounded. But these figures pale in insignificance beside the horrific casualties suffered by the Vietnamese. Almost 1,400,000 North and South Vietnamese were killed in action. Do the math.

Finally there were thousands of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (among about 15,000 people) at the 1974 DC march to impeach that war criminal Nixon.

The fact that one must argue that invading another country without cause and killing their citizens without is wrong is indicative of how brainwashed US citizens have become. On Feb 23, 2003 1 million people protested the Invasion of Iraq AND THERE WAS NO DRAFT! So what was your point? People don't want to get killed or be killed. Well DUH!

Thx for the news flash

Anonymous said...

Were Baaakkkkk! March 22 "WASHINGTON — Thousands of protesters — many directing their anger squarely at President Barack Obama — marched through the U.S. capital Saturday to urge immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

At least eight people, including activist Cindy Sheehan, were arrested by U.S. Park Police at the end of the march, after laying coffins at a fence outside the White House. Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

“Arrest that war criminal!” Sheehan shouted outside the White House before her arrest, referring to Obama.

At a rally before the march, Sheehan asked whether “the honeymoon was over with that war criminal in the White House” — an apparent reference to Obama — prompting moderate applause."

Anonymous said...

What is your point! After the government stopped forcing people to go off and kill other innocent people of course people stopped protesting. There is a difference between me being forced to commit murder and paid mercs doing it.

give it up, grandpa. After raging about the immorality of how many kids LBJ killed today you selfish punks went back to your dope and skipping class and free humping I mean love as soon as there was no danger of your white ass being shipped off to that hellhole. Your phony moral outrage was nothing but self-indulgent, narcissistic, entitled, destructive escapism.

Anonymous said...

"In the course of this war, some 58,000 US soldiers were killed in action"
They didn't have to go. There were choices.
We were young and had to make real decisions quickly. Go and chance dying for a stupid cause or figure a way out and live.

Anonymous said...

"give it up, grandpa. After raging about the immorality of how many kids LBJ killed today you selfish punks went back to your dope and skipping class and free humping I mean love as soon as there was no danger of your white ass being shipped off to that hellhole. Your phony moral outrage was nothing but self-indulgent, narcissistic, entitled, destructive escapism."

Except you are totally wrong. I did go and when I got out joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. I'm not white, graduated in the top of my class, but it is true I do not pay my wife for sex so your accusation of "free humping" is the only correct thing you said, but hey even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Anonymous said...

"They didn't have to go. There were choices."

The choices were, 1) escape the country, 2) go underground, or 3) take up armed resistance against those sending you off to the killing fields. I suppose you blame the Holocaust victims as well, after all the had "choices."

Try think!

Anonymous said...

Joan: "I always thought, as the generation that came after and looked up to the one that came before, that it was supposed to be so much more."
Well blame yourself for not making it so instead of the useless foam from the mouth devoid of action. The error comes from the absence of something “to say,” so she doesn’t say anything, but just goes on talking and talking and talking. We have an excess of talk devoid of meaning and veracity. We are satiated with electoral and political speeches (which we are sure say absolutely nothing), with false conversations, and with books paid by the word (some find it necessary to write, and so become writers by trade!). In spite of the lack of anything to say, the speaker continues as if he were a wordmill moved by the wind, and she becomes responsible for the fact that no one can any longer take any word seriously. No word can be taken seriously, because the rush of these words prevents us from discovering the one which, in the midst of the torrent, has meaning and deserves to be listened to.

To say the word is to change the world only if followed by action.

Praxis

Anonymous said...

Except you are totally wrong. I did go and when I got out joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. I'm not white, graduated in the top of my class, but it is true I do not pay my wife for sex so your accusation of "free humping" is the only correct thing you said, but hey even a broken clock is right twice a day.

9/10 of the fun of anonymous commenting is getting to make up characters. It's like a role playing game. "Today I'm a non-white Vietnam War vet/anti war activist who graduated at the top of my class."

Anonymous said...

"9/10 of the fun of anonymous commenting is getting to make up characters. It's like a role playing game. "Today I'm a non-white Vietnam War vet/anti war activist who graduated at the top of my class."

Sounds like you are calling me a lair, but actually you are taking your own character flaws and ascribing them to others (Me) without any proof (you make it all up). No one believes anything without proof, but we now know more about you because your foundation-less comments.

Please get off dope, don't be afraid, and for god's sake stop paying for sex!

Stop externalizing your own violent psychopathology onto others and perhaps you too may find a loving relationship with others. Peace out!exkmatergadiour

Anonymous said...

"The choices were, 1) escape the country, 2) go underground, or 3) take up armed resistance"

Actually many more choices. My choice was a face to face with the draft board explain my position and walk away with a 4F and go surfing...

Anonymous said...

Oh Gawd,, LIGHTEN UP........ these people were very young, and they were looking for alternative life styles....... IS THAT A CRIME.

If you were not there, then you obviously are a poor judge. I notice that the people who came "after" are the ones who enable the system, (then and now) that is so broken, because they are too lazy and self absorbed to get out of their comfort zone. THE DO NOTHING GENERATION who lives in moms basement, plays video games and blogs all day, the X generation that stands for nothing.

Anonymous said...

Taylor Camp was the beginning of the end for Kauai, especially the North Shore. Because the campers reflected an attitude that was sharply at odds with local culture, an attitude that still persists to this day.

Those who came to Taylor Camp didn’t care that no one else on the island wanted them here


The same could be said about the Tahitians who came and displaced the Marquesans.

Anonymous said...

"THE DO NOTHING GENERATION who lives in moms basement, plays video games and blogs all day, the X generation that stands for nothing."

That's a bit harsh as well. Some of the `utes are acquiring skill sets to pilot drones so we can make the world safe for democracy by slaughtering people without endangering `marikan lives.

jwehrheim said...

Thanks Joan! No publicity is bad publicity? Please have a go at the TAYLOR CAMP book. I believe it addresses a lot of your criticism and concerns in greater detail that the film. john

Anonymous said...

In spite of the lack of anything to say, the speaker continues as if he were a wordmill moved by the wind,

Well that explains your own wordy comment.

shannon said...

Well jeeezus - I LOVED "Taylor Camp"!!! I think they did an outstanding job!

Anonymous said...

firstly- haters- learn how to write.. secondly- there's a do-nothing-generation going on all the time- kids in front of tv, games- getting brainwashed, living in basements, etc.. also- graduating at top of the class means nothing- just that you do what others tell you to- so good job for you.. be young self-taught and attempt to make a sustainable community in a modern ruthless world with no guide and conscious support- trying to be conscious is a constant practice- and as you're typing from non-biodegradable, lithium/etc. using computers and saying how others are disrespectful- what about the native indiginous folk all over the world- on every continent-.. marx couldn't even do it so why dont you try and prove the world wrong- or right... and anyone can post shit on the internet- do something useful with your time