Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Last Hippie Standing

Last Hippie Standing (2001) is a 45 min. documentary by the German filmmaker Marcus Robbin about Goa, India. The film compares the sixties and seventies hippie era with the situation in 2000. The film works without commentary and consists of documentation of the ongoing party culture in Goa, as well as private and previously unreleased Super 8 footage from the sixties and seventies in Goa, filmed by Cleo Odzer. This material is the only existing contemporary film document of the hippie days in Goa. Furthermore, interviews with hippie veterans like Goa Gil, locals and the former chief minister of Goa, Francisco Sardinha, describe the clashes that occur between the party culture and Indian conservatism. The last part of the documentary is shot at the Berlin Love Parade, where the protagonists reflect about their own spiritual development and the changes that have happened since the hippie movement had started. The film was shot in December 1999 and January 2000 with an estimated budget of $20.000. Since 2004, it has been distributed by Nowonmedia (Japan). Despite the refusal of many TV stations and film funding institutions to cooperate, the documentary became very popular on the Internet.

"Anjuna’s psychedelic trance scene cannot be understood outside its hippie legacy. There are clear continuities between Goa’s psy-trance scene and the legendary fluorescent Furthur bus of the Merry Prankster, which brought Ken Kesey’s delirious multimedia “acid tests” across the United States and into Mexico. These continuities express what this book is about: psychedelic whiteness. In an essay on the American hippies, Stuart Hall usefully summarized the eclectic practices and attitudes that defined them. Hippie culture literally held together through the adoption of black slang and what Hall calls “assumed poverty”; enacting Jack Kerouac’s On the Road; an identification with American Indians and India; hallucinogenic mysticism; slogans about “togetherness”; a yearning for childhood innocence; and a new brand of hedonistic anarchism do your own thing. Each of these meant a redefinition of what it meant to be white and middle-class in the America of the fifties and sixties, challenging its politeness, suburban consumerism, hometown nostalgia, the Protestant work ethic, and white supremacism." - Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race by Arun Saldanna p11

According to lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower, the terms hipster and hippie derive from the word hip and the synonym hep, whose origins are unknown. The words hip and hep first surfaced in slang around the beginning of the 20th century and spread quickly, making their first appearance in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1904. At the time, the words were used to mean "aware" and "in the know." In the late 1960s, African language scholar David Dalby popularized the idea that words used in American slang could be traced back to West Africa. He claimed that hipi (a word in the Wolof language meaning "to open one's eyes") was the source for both hip and hep. Sheidlower, however, disputes Dalby's assertion that the term hip comes from Wolof origins.

During the jive era of the late 1930s and early 1940s, African-Americans began to use the term hip to mean "sophisticated, fashionable and fully up-to-date". and the word hippie is jazz slang from the 1940s. Reminiscing about late 1940s Harlem in his 1964 autobiography, Malcolm X referred to the word hippy as a term that African Americans used to describe a specific type of white man who "acted more Negro than Negroes". In his autobiography, Harry Gibson claims to have coined the related term hipster in the 1940s for use in his stage name. In the 1970s, Gibson remade his act to appeal to contemporary hippies, and is known as the 'original hippie'.

In Greenwich Village in the 1960s, New York City, young counterculture advocates were named hips because they were considered "in the know" or "cool", as opposed to being square. In a 1961 essay, Kenneth Rexroth used both the terms hipster and hippies to refer to young people participating in African American or Beatnik nightlife.

In 1963, the Orlons, an African-American singing group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania released the soul dance song "South Street", which included the lyrics "Where do all the hippies meet? South Street, South Street...The hippest street in town".[8][9] Some transcriptions read "Where do all the hippist (sic) meet?" Nevertheless, since many heard it as "hippies", that use was promoted.

"The Hippies" was also the name of a mixed African American and white soul singing group on the Orlons' record label, Cameo-Parkway. Another use around the same time was on the 1963 Freddy Cannon single on Swan Records, "Do What The Hippies Do".

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