|Aspen no. 4, item 3|
|The TV Generation|
The Tribal Stomp at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom Hundreds of hippies, freaking out with beads and bodies to the vibrations of Big Brother and The Holding Company.
The mass media are turning the globe into a village and catapulting 20th century man back to the life of the tribe.
The machine and the motorcar released the horse and projected it into the plane of entertainment, so does automation with men. We are suddenly threatened with a liberation that taxes our inner resources of self-employment and imaginative participation in society. This would seem to be a fate that calls men to the role of artist in society.
The mark of our time is its revulsion against imposed patterns. We are suddenly eager to have things and beings declare their being totally.
McLuhan, Understanding Media
Reprinted from the New York Times' Art Notes column, "New Mix for New Mex," by Grace Glueck, March 26, 1967.
Kiva! Shiva/shakti! Bucky Fuller! Brook Farm! USCO! McLuhan! Back-to-the-tribe!
Dig those terms? If so, you've a grasp on Solux, slated to be the newest pueblo in the Southwest, and certainly the hoppingest since the heyday of the Hopi.
The construction of Solux, a "spiritual retreat away from the intense psychic vibrations of large energy centers," is planned by USCO, a tribe of McLuhan-oriented poets, artists, engineers and filmmakers, whose current headquarters is an old church building at Garnerville, N.Y. USCO earns its bread by way of "media mixes" eye-popping, mind-blowing electronic environments that make use of films, tapes, slides. In the Garnerville building, USCO also runs the Church of the Tabernacle, whose multimix, brotherly-love theology taps a gamut of philosophies ranging from A(merican Indian) to Z(en).
"The old family unit father, mother, children doesn't function very well today," says Gerd Stern, the bearded poet who serves as USCO's spokesman. "There's no intergeneration tribal feedback, for example no tribal elders to offer experience and advice. Solux (Latin for'sunlight') anticipates a radical change in current social structures, envisioning a cooperating, self-supportive, multi-family tribal union, created through the release of love by spiritual awakening."
Plans for the new USCO commune, to be built on 115 acres of land west of Taos, New Mexico, call for a giant adobe "kiva" (a Pueblo Indian term referring to an underground chamber for religious and other ceremonies), topped by one of Bucky Fuller's spaceage geodesic domes. Inside, there'll be accommodations for 12 "tribal units" a 5 room spread for each t.u. plus access to the kiva's core, containing communal facilities and services. Six wedge-shaped rooms in the dome will provide for "intertribal activities."
The Solux community will support itself, as it's been doing, on what Stern calls "the hardware and software of current technologywith maybe more emphasis on electronic educational aids." There'll also be some farming on Solux's arable land. Camping and cottage facilities may be provided for guests and, say, visiting anthropologists.
"We hope," says Stern, "to start work on the summer solstice (June 22). And, given the experimental nature of the project, we also hope to attract the help of architectural students, engineers, artist-builders and those on the path."
Excerpted from a taped interview with Allen Cohen, editor of the San Francisco Oracle, voice of the Haight-Ashbury hippy scene, by Edmund O. Ward.
San Francisco: Haight-Ashbury is like a huge Indian nation made up of smaller tribes. Indeed, many people see us as descendants of the American Indians trying to win back our country. A community like the Haight-Ashbury is a halfway house where people can turn on, find gurus, find tribes to belong to and produce a beautiful tribal flower within this constricted, scientific, bureaucratic, orderly death-machine.
We didn't plan it this way. It wasn't pre-meditated. It just happened. Over the last few years, people started moving here because of the cheap rents and the large Victorian flats eight rooms or so. Five people would get together, put up $30 apiece and have a nice single room, share a kitchen. People started finding each other to get these flats different people from different backgrounds from all over the world getting together in a cavernous flat in the Haight-Ashbury trying to work out all of their different insecurities, dreams, visions, suffering together, turning on together, developing after a while a great sense of loyalty to each other, love for each other, because they had tested each other under the most severe conditions they were journeying together.
The Haight-Ashbury started to develop a tribal sense. People living in small tribes together was happening not for any premeditated purpose. That's just the way it happened. People started living in a tribe. They raised children in common, they lived together, loved together, very, very close intimate relationships began developing not between two people, but between eight people, ten people. Already you have a different setup for a social structure. Everybody was working on a tribal culture, although nobody knew it. It happened because the old relationships were dead, and people began being aware that the mass society needed a more intimate social arrangement. They needed to break away from the mass society and have their total lives made up of human, beautiful, loving personal intimate relationships because all of the rest of it was a drag.
There were people who had farmhouses and wilderness houses where they had their own tribal culture going. Everybody opened up their house and their heart to each other.
Haight-Ashbury is even developing its own economic forms: The Diggers give free food, shelter and clothing to people. Others are forming nonprofit organizations in order to share what used to be called profits together. It's a community of artists, writers, musicians, dancers, actors, craftsmen, leather makers, everyone is involved in creating, beautifying, extending their vision into the outer world. We realize that the real problems are not money, are not keeping your broken marriage together, your next job, your last job. They are how to make life more meaningful and beautiful for those around you.
One of the most beautiful paraphrases of what I'm saying is a recent statement by Gary Snyder. He said, "We are not interested in things any more, but in states of mind." We are opening up the true potentialities of the mind, the full evolutionary possibilities of man, exploring those states of mind so that we can create new environments together.
Excerpted from an article by Dropper Ishmael in Inner Space, No. 4 (Box 212, New York, N.Y. 10011).
Drop City, Colorado: In Drop City we have attempted to create a total living environment outside the structure of society, where the artist can remain in touch with himself, the universe and other creative human beings.
Each Dropper is free. Does what he wants, when he wants and how he wants. No rules, no duties, no obligations.
Anarchy. But as anarchistic as the growth of an organism. Has its own internal needs and desires; fulfills them in a natural simple way, without compulsion.
The need to work: out of guilt, emptiness.
Need abandoned: desire (hopefully) arises. No longer work, but pleasure. As gratifying as eating or loving. Work play.
Doing nothing is work.
We are based on the pleasure principle. Our main concern is being alive.
None of us is employed or has a steady income. How do we make it? Food? Materials?
At mercy of the gods.
But most of the time we don't worry about it. Drop City was begun without money, built on practically nothing.
Things have come to us.
Somehow we haven't gone hungry. Or done without materials. Yet.
America, affluent waste society. Enough waste to feed and house ten thousand artists, enough junk to turn into a thousand thousand works of art. To the townspeople (Trinidad, Colorado, 5 miles away) we are scrounges, bums, garbage pickers. They are right. Perhaps the most beautiful creation in all of Drop City is our junk pile, the garbage of the garbage pickers.
We are sensualists.
There are thousands of undiscovered, unnamed senses. We attempt to nurture every one.
Drop City is six acres of abandoned goat pasture.
We live in geodesic domes, structures built along molecular principles, basic energetic building blocks of the universe, the strongest, most efficient use of enclosed space. Following certain dynamic structural laws, the dome helps provide its own heat in winter, its own air conditioning in summer. Psychologically it creates an atmosphere of inner harmony and freedom. An expansive structure: no corners to hide in, no vertical-horizontal rigidities. Simplest to build. Cheapest. A 25-foot diameter dome costs less than $200, sometimes much less.
Drop City is the first attempt to use domes for housing a community.
Five geodesic domes have been built, mostly from "waste materials." The largest, still under construction, has a 40-foot diameter. When completed it will serve as studio space and as a total involvement light music sound environment. The interior over 2,000 square feet will be a painting.
Droppers come in all sizes, shapes and colors: painters, writers, architects, panhandlers, filmmakers, magicians, gluttons, musicians, wizards, unclassifiables.
But we all have this in common whatever art we each produce is not separated from our lives. Each of us is the pigment in his own life-painting.
We are the recipients of R. Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Award for 1966.
A psychedelic community? Chemically, no. We consider drugs unnecessary. But etymologically, perhaps.
We are one spark of a great chain reaction.
Original format: Poster, 15 by 22 inches, folded into quarters; text on reverse. Photo by Steve Schapiro.