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Volume 77, Number 15 | September 12 - 18, 2007

Villager photos by Jefferson Siegel

This page top: At the 1967 Be-In in Central Park, a man with a cross drew a blissed-out crowd. This page bottom: A.J. Weberman, left, and Dana Beal talked about the 1960s at the 40th anniversary Be-In at the Central Park Bandshell two weeks ago. Opposite page: A much smaller crowd than in ’67 enjoyed music at the anniversary Be-In; a woman listened to the Minetta Creek Bluegrass band playing ’60s classics.

Be-In anniversary: What a long, strange trip it’s been

By Jefferson Siegel

On Jan. 14, 1967, 20,000 San Franciscans gathered for a Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park. Less than two months later, on Sun., March 26, 1967, between 5,000 and 10,000 people gathered in Sheep Meadow in New York’s Central Park for “Be-In: A Central Park Happening.”

It was the first large-scale opportunity for anyone to let “their freak flag fly,” as Jimi Hendrix put it. One man dressed in a suit and tie and wearing a headdress stood playing a flute. People gathered around another man dressed in white robes standing under a cross. For the most part, people just wandered around, intrigued by the scene.

Flash forward four decades to Fri., Aug. 31, when the new Yippie Museum hosted a 40th anniversary Be-In. Dana Beal, of the museum, which is located at 9 Bleecker St., and A.J. Weberman, known as the “garbalogist” who famously sifted through Bob Dylan’s refuse, stood on the band shell stage before several dozen people and recounted their experiences of the ’60s.

“This is our commemoration of the Summer of Love, to show the spirit is still alive,” Weberman said. Beal recalled seminal events of the period, including an antiwar protest that attempted to levitate the Pentagon, the Diggers and their free store and the Provos, who coined the word “Yippies.”

The Minetta Creek Bluegrass band played ’60s classics, including the Grateful Dead’s “Hello, Mary Lou,” Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice” and The Youngbloods’ “Get Together.”

Occasionally, a certain sweet scent wafted through the air. As the afternoon progressed and the music played, dog walkers, cyclists, families and tourists stopped to listen.

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