Paul Krassner, founder of The Realist and co-founder of the Yippies kindly gave us this essay for publication on Boing Boing.
Spoiler alert: Please don't read this if you haven't seen the May 13 episode of The Sopranos but
you still plan to.
The Sopranos Meet The Hippies by Paul Krassner
I usually watch The Sopranos at 9 p.m. on HBO, but this time I watched the East Coast feed at 6 p.m., so that I could also catch a two-hour documentary about hippies on the History channel at 8 p.m.
Paul Brownfield, one of the best TV critics around, wrote in his review of The Sopranos in the Los Angeles Times:
"Tony Soprano offed his nephew Christopher [in the wake of a car wreck, by squeezing his nose so that he would choke on his own blood], and in the nephew's dying eyes our beloved protagonist became, finally, despicable and lost, beyond empathy….He dialed the numbers 9 and 1 on his cellphone before deciding that his own life would be easier, all in all, without the kid, whose drug addiction was bound to get them all ensnared by the feds….Sunday night's episode concluded with Tony in the Nevada desert, loaded on peyote after an all-nighter with one of Christopher's goomahs, screaming, 'I did it!' His face was a riot of tears, torment and unbidden glee."
"That's funny," I e-mailed Brownfield. "I thought Tony peformed a mercy killing, putting Christopher out of his misery, as well as getting him out of the way. At least he did it BEFORE taking peyote."
"Yeah," he replied. "By the way I fucked up: Tony screams 'I get it!' at the end, not 'I did it!' I think 'I get it!' is probably more in the spirit of peyote buttons."
"I agree," I responded, "although I also thought it was 'I did it!' and in fact I compared it to the time when Abbie Hoffman was in a Las Vegas hotel room while he was on the lam, shouting 'I'm Abbie Hoffman!'–when 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' was a practice if not yet an advertising slogan."
As for The Hippies, I asked a couple of fellow participants for their reactions.
Ken Babbs, sidekick of Ken Kesey in the roving band of Merry Pranksters:
"The reviews are in. The show sucked. I'm glad we don't get that channel so I don't ever have to watch the show. Zane [Kesey's son] said he was ashamed to have had anything to do with it. Further disinformation–that picture of a bus, calling it the Ken Kesey prankster bus. I suppose it doesn't do any good to point out that it is not Further but someone else's bus, for as time goes on whatever anyone portrays as reality works just fine, for anyone who was there is probably dead by now, if not in body then probably in mind. Or as that girl shouted for a couple of hours at the Watts acid test, 'Who cares?' Yes, who. Who indeed."
And Carolyn Garcia aka Mountain Girl, former wife of the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia:
"Peter Coyote should be publicly stoned for participating [as narrator] in this bash-fest. Could more negative terms be found? I must have turned it off 5 times. Having it sponsored by AARP is additional irony, hard to digest. If I had known the bias of the piece I would have abstained. Well, what can one do? I hate being blamed for Manson and riots and people bleeding. What a nasty raft of crap."
The History channel presented a blatant slur on countercultural history. I had been interviewed for a few hours and was dismayed to see that the one quote they used–beginning "It was fun"–immediately followed a scene of police indiscriminately beating young demonstrators at an antiwar rally.
The Sopranos and The Hippies–ordinarily on opposite ends of the subculture spectrum–now had something in common. They were both engulfed in a context of sadistic violence. You'd think you were watching the evening news. But allow me to be the first to wish you a merry sweeps month and happy ratings.
FROM THE GUY WHO SHOT THE FOOTAGE THAT WAS MORPHED INTO PREJUDICED PROPAGANDA:
what can I say?? Hippies by the Hitler Channel. I know that the executive producer Scott Reda said in a newspaper article the day before that it was sad story and he would probably watch The Sopranos.
I guess he knew what I had to watch to find out . Hippies was not what I had hoped , if you watch my clips from interviews I did as tribute to Hunter S Thompson you will get another view and vibe. Go to www.happytrailershd.com and click on Gonzo Utopia .
I feel like the guy (Frank Whaley) in Pulp Fiction who said it best "We went into this with the best of intentions." Then Samuel Jackson shoots him in knee.
Scott saved money by not having a director and his editor who had to tell the story was not qualified to . He fired anyone who objected to his cost effective vision of what the Hippies were about . I supplied him with enough real first hand information from those who were there , they chose to ignore or manipulate it to a dirty story about dirty hippies .
I am sorry to all of you who allowed me into your life , so the HC could present you in such a slanted misunderstood view
The code of Bushido says I must commit Harri Kari. Thank God I am a recovering Catholic .
As for Scott although he was alive in the 60s I think he did two 50s and went right into the 70's
My deepest apologies to all.