Hippies in Paradise

As my artist pal Daniel used to say, affecting his best Southern cop twang, “We got a hippy problem.”

Topanga Canyon was ground zero for hippies in the 1960s, and it never quite shed the mantle. Back then, the Manson family was camped out in their psychedelic bus down at the Rodeo Grounds, Neil Young was couch surfing and Gram Parsons and Bernie Leadon twanged out new songs while Jim Morrison “let it roll, baby, roll” up at The Corral roadhouse (yes, that roadhouse).

Hippies having fun

Hippies having fun

Today, the canyon much like Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco is more of a destination attraction for young hippies, the way affluent yoga students travel to Mysore, India, to pretend they like being ogled by old gurus. You see them walking barefoot and braless along the boulevard, guitars slung over the shoulders, sipping their chai teas and smiling a lot. Sometimes they even still hitchhike and carry signs like “Make love, not war.” More

The Myth of 27

It’s always been a symbolic number in my life — 27.

I remember sitting with my best friend, Dan, at his house in Topanga close to my 28th birthday. Dan was a few years older than I. “27 has been a really hard year,” I said — tired and disillusioned. “Oh man,” he replied, “I’m just getting over 27.”

Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons in Topanga, 1969

27 is, of course, the year that so many talented young artists perish. Browse the obits, and it truly is astonishing — Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Gram Parsons, Brian Jones, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Heath Ledger, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse. It’s often morbidly referred to as the “Forever 27 Club.” More