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Everything's Coming Up Hippie

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We've all heard it by now: "Green is the New Black" or "Green is the New Red, White and Blue." Being environmentally sensitive, sustainable, or eco-friendly is officially a trend, and everyone from Wal-Mart and H&M to Dow Chemical and Apple computers are doing their best to get folks to believe that they are part of the new, Earth-loving coterie (whether they actually are or not is up for discussion).

Throughout the building of the new enviro-cool there has been a regular 'this ain't no hippie sh*t' refrain. Eco-fashions (clothes made with sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, soy and bamboo) were presented in every fashion editorial on the subject as the antithesis of hippie muumuus and Birkenstocks. Organic, free-range, biodynamic cuisine is pointedly not the 1960s standby, lentil soup, or bland and terrible tofu. The clean food people insist that your organic vittles can be healthy for you and the planet, and deliciously gourmet, too! It's not about dropping out and living simply, it's about beating the technology geeks at their own game, powering up your iPod with solar panels because it's cool.

But now the perception of hippie is changing. Underneath this new 'chic eco' is a theme: Once the domain of potheads and vegetarians, the once-derided hippie has just now become hip, as even corporate honchos and The Man realizes the peaceniks with flowers in their hair actually had it right.

The new Eco Green hipsters are going back to their roots and hippie cool is sprouting. There's accessories pages in Vogue and New York magazine highlighting how to get your groove on, DIY crafts for the anti-authoritarians, and the amazing Summer of Love exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York City, featuring psychedelic art in all its colorful, sexy, joyous glory. There we see the original hippie ideals: peace, love and harmony among people. Respect for spaceship Earth. Laughter, music, and some really great drugs too. Sounds good to me.

Too bad we didn't listen to the counterculture 35+ years ago; in the interim since 1969, the hippies, who only wanted non-polluting energy, an end to war, and meals that didn't come from tortured animals, have been mercilessly mocked by the mainstream. The Flower Children have been blamed for everything from body odor to bad fashion, from the demise of the good ole missionary position to the rise of lax parenting.

Because of their revolutionary ideas, they were reduced to caricatures of the 'crazy hippies,' because those ideas clashed with the right-leaning politics and ideologues that have gotten us further into the global-warming, contaminated food, energy shortage, gridlocked nightmare that we live in now. The hippies and their ideas were a genuine threat to the capitalist greed that made up the bulk of the 80's, 90's (and continues today), and so they were made fun of by the powers that be, reduced to ridiculousness like the schoolyard bully who can only maintain his position through mockery of the smart kids.

One of the best ways to discredit someone's ideas is to make fun of them, to belittle them until they are no longer meaningful. And that's what our culture has done for years in regards to the hippies, most of whom were looking to try to create a world that, quite sensibly, would be more equitable and environmentally friendly. Who looks crazy now?

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