Button, button, who’s got the button?
Back when I was in grade school, kids had a mostly favorable view of the counter culture and emergent youth culture thanks to The Monkees, Yellow Submarine and the phenomenal popularity of Peter Max’s artwork. We were all going to have long hair and sideburns when we grew up; live in California; be in a band; wear striped trousers, and flip a coin to decide which of our gang was going to constantly wear a knit cap no matter the weather. We would have whacky adventures with the endless approval of a canned laugh track. Girls in hand-embroidered outfits would dance barefoot in our rumpus room. Life would be good.
Of course, there was also the dark side of that time. There were cautionary tales and urban legends that spread like wildfire particularly in that era before the internet’s ability to immediately debunk horse puckey. For every story about a kid’s older brother or sister who had a really boss time at some arena rock show, there were ten stories about the two girls who were friends of a friend’s cousin who went to score some dope before a concert and were never seen again! Just like the story of the chicken restaurant chain who served up a deep-fried rat, there were stories about the girl who got slipped the LSD in her soda and DIED or is now in an asylum! The book that collected all of these lurid urban legends in one place was Go Ask Alice. It is purportedly the real-life daily diary entries of a typical suburban girl who hooks up with the wrong crowd. The wrong crowd introduces her to drugs and debauchery, and her life spirals out of control. Snopes.com has some serious doubts about the book’s authenticity, but I remember all of the girls from grade school into junior high carrying either a copy of it or a copy of Carrie by Stephen King.
Go Ask Alice was turned into a made-for-television movie.
To my friend’s and family’s horror, I actually own a DVD of this movie. It’s not a bootleg. It’s a genuine, commercial release! It’s a hoot. It features William Shatner during the valley in his career between the original Star Trek television series and the big budget, big screen version of the that show. In Go Ask Alice, he plays Alice’s dumb-founded dad who sports fake eyeglasses and a faker mustache. He is a liberal college professor and he is trying to be understanding of what his daughter is going through. He tries to be modern and permissive and speaks in earnest platitudes about trusting his dope fiend daughter as he adjusts his glasses. It doesn’t work out for him. It’s hysterical watching him try to contain his hyperactive predilections as an actor. He’s kind of wedged in between Captain Kirk and Promise margarine commercials, and he looks fit to burst.
The hippie freak-out poster at the top of the post is from SGT. Fury and His Howling Commandos No. 93 which was published in 1971. I don’t know how many hippies read the WWII adventures of Nick Fury or bought decor for their crash pads via comic books. The ads were probably there to tantalize every teen-aged boy’s desire to have a funky attic bedroom like Greg’s in The Brady Bunch. I wonder how many packs of seeds or greeting cards he’d have to sell in order to score the Lava Lamp®.