Hippies can be traced back to a late 19th century German naturmenschen countercultural movement that embraced nudity, paganism, and natural foods. Gordon Kennedy wrote a good photo-filled book about the movement called Children of the Sun. Here's an article he co-wrote with a lot of the same info and photos.
The movement spread to California in the early 1900s, where a few young men grew long hair and beards and lived in primitive cabins in the Palm Springs area. The most famous of them was William Pester, the “Hermit of Palm Springs.” Both photos of Pester shown here were taken in 1917.
Over at Harp Guitars, Gregg Miner has written a lengthy and fascinating article about Pester and his influence on the "California Nature Boys" who lived in Los Angeles in the 1940s.
Kennedy summed up Pester thusly: “The many photos of Pester clearly reveal the strong link between the 19th century German reformers and the flower children of the 1960s…long hair and beards, bare feet or sandals, guitars, love of nature, draft dodger, living simple and an aversion to rigid political structure. Undoubtedly Bill Pester introduced a new human type to California and was a mentor for many of the American Nature Boys.”
The “California Nature Boys,” as they were soon dubbed, were young Americans who hung out at Eutropheon, a health food store on Laurel Canyon Blvd in Los Angeles, adopting owner John Richter’s “transcendentalist philosophy, wearing long hair and beards and eating only raw fruits and vegetables.” Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac wrote in On the Road that he saw “an occasional Nature Boy saint in beard and sandals” while passing through L.A. in 1947. Soon, one of these “Nature Boys” – eden ahbez – would become quite famous after writing a song based on this name.
eden abhez (right) wrote the song "Nature Boy," (a Nat King Cole hit) and also made his own album, called Eden's Island, which I love. You can listen to the whole album on YouTube.
I’m honored that in the latest issue of The Burning Shore, Erik Davis, scholar of West Coast counterculture, reviewed The Family Acid: California, Roger Steffens’s far-out photo album I published with my Ozma Records partner Tim Daly! Erik’s excellent essay is a double review, also focusing on the Anthology Editions reprint of Dennis Stock’s striking […]
After 22 days of being hospitalized with symptoms of COVID-19, and developing pneumonia, singer and counter-cultural icon, Marianne Faithfull, has been released from the hospital. Her official Facebook page writes: We are really happy to say that Marianne has been discharged from hospital today, 22 days after being admitted suffering from the symptoms of Covid-19. […]
Ram Dass — counterculture icon, psychedelic pioneer, and spiritual guide — has died at age 88. After turning on with his Harvard psychology colleague Timothy Leary in the early 1960s, Ram Dass (formerly Richard Alpert) became an intrepid explorer of higher consciousness and dedicated his life to teaching what he learned to the world. From […]
As the summer surges forward, grilling and evenings in the backyard may be the only serious outdoor excursions many of us take this season. Yet even with all of our current problems, there’s one group who doesn’t care a bit about COVID-19 and will still look to make any trip you make outside into an […]
With all due respect to our vegetarian friends, there might be nothing more intrinsically linked to the 4th of July holiday than a big ole cookout. Sure, fireworks and celebrating the birth of a constitutional republic are great too, but showing off your cooking prowess with a brilliantly seared, mouth-watering slab of grade-A American beef […]
We’re at the midway point of 2020. So…how’s the year going for you so far? Yeah…we can guess. But while there’s a lot about 2020 we can’t directly control, maybe a little retail therapy can help make you feel better. Sure, the 39 items we gathered together can absolutely bring a smile to your face. […]