Put Your Body on the Gears: In the Words of Mario Savio

18 Aug
Mario Savio Free Speech Movement 1964

Mario Savio and members of the Free Speech Movement, circa 1964
image from npr.org


My last post delved into the life of Mario Savio, an inspirational, but oft-overlooked figure of the 1960s. Below, I’ll explore five quotes by and about Mario Savio that stood out to me while reading Seth Rosenfeld’s Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power. Continue reading

Mario Savio: The Voice of the Free Speech Movement

4 Aug
Mario Savio under arrest during his participation in the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkley, circa 1964

Mario Savio under arrest during his participation in the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkley, circa 1964
Image from chronicle.com


In between shocking exposures of unconstitutional surveillance and harassment, Seth Rosenfeld’s 2012 book, Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power, offers a fairly comprehensive biography of everyone from Ronald Reagan and Herbert Hoover to University of California president Clark Kerr. In fact, Rosenfeld has a habit of launching into the life story of every figure he introduces. Although this was at times tedious, it helped illuminate one of the most fascinating figures of the 1960s: Mario Savio, the UC student who helped lead the Free Speech Movement (FSM) at UC Berkley at the age of 22.

On October 1, 1964, a man named Jack Weinberg was arrested on the Berkeley campus while attempting to distribute political literature. He was put into a police car, but never made it to the station. As many as 3,000 students sat down to block the car from leaving, refusing to budge for more than 32 hours until the charges against Weinberg were dropped. During that time, students stood atop the car to advocate for the right to free speech on campus. Mario Savio was one of them. Continue reading

Bob Dylan at Americanarama: The Never Ending Tour Lives On

18 Jul
Bob Dylan Americanarama 7-12-13 at Toyota Park2

The man himself.
Photo taken by Joshua Mellin


“Tell Bob…I’ve given him a lot of money over the years,” my dad said, wishing me well just hours before my first Dylan concert. Last Friday, I followed in my dad’s footsteps, dropping a good chunk of change to see a legend in the flesh. Fresh off my intensive Dylan research, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Would he be hiding behind a hat and wig? Would he mumblingly phone it in? Will all his songs be unrecognizable to me? Continue reading

One Legendary Party: The Hell’s Angels and the Merry Pranksters Meet at Kesey’s

7 Jul
Hell's Angels Group with Jackets

Guess who’s coming to dinner.
Image via nostalgiaonwheels.blogspot.com


WARNING: This post contains descriptions of alleged sexual violence. 

For the last six years or so, one party has been haunting me. It wasn’t any soiree I’d attended—this party took place on Saturday August 7, 1965 at Ken Kesey’s LSD-laced ranch in La Honda, California. It was a fete that epitomized the West Coast psychedelic movement’s embrace of drugs, music, and above all, the outlaw lifestyle. What made this party special wasn’t its mix of intellectuals—poet Allen Ginsberg and Harvard psychology professor Richard Alpert (aka Baba Ram Dass) among them—and countercultural icons such as Hunter S. Thompson and Neal Cassady; it was the 15-foot-long, red white and blue sign strung up outside the ranch: THE MERRY PRANKSTERS WELCOME THE HELL’S ANGELS. Continue reading

Baker’s Break: Big Lebowski White Russian Cupcakes

24 Jun
The Dude Drinks a White Russian - Big Lebowski

The Dude in his natural habitat
Image via drinkinginamerica.com


So I’ve been busy with decidedly non-countercultural writing, and I thought I’d jump back into this blog with a delicious post based on my favorite countercultural movie, The Big Lebowski. Instead of delving into why The Dude represents the antihero of 1960s counterculture who was left behind by mainstream society and dragged into the morally bankrupt malaise of a post-‘Nam, pre-Desert Storm America, I’m going to show you how to make white russian cupcakes.

Trust me, you’ll thank me when you get the munchies at your next Big Lebowski party.

White Russian Cupcakes Recipe Step 1

Here’s whatall you’ll need

Continue reading

The Bloody Beast in Its Tracks: Divorce Through The Eyes of Bob Dylan and Josh Ritter

1 Jun
Bob Dylan "Blood on the Tracks" vs. Josh Ritter's "The Beast in Its Tracks"

Two Men. Two Divorces. Two Albums.


Nearly 40 years separates the release of Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks and Josh Ritter’s The Beast in Its Tracks, but the themes are still familiar: divorce, heartbreak, introspection, and cautious optimism about new love.

I was raised on a timeless mishmash of Dylan’s greatest hits, so it wasn’t until recently digesting his discography that I heard Blood on the Tracks in its entirety. It’s a phenomenal album, but I couldn’t stop comparing it to Ritter’s The Beast in Its Tracks, which came out only a few months ago. The two albums portray men at roughly the same age (Dylan at 35; Ritter at 36) reacting to their crumbling marriages and starting their lives anew. Continue reading

Authenticity is a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan Defines Hip for a Generation

9 May
1960s Bob Dylan Embodies Cool

“He has a visionary’s eyeball that could x-ray all that was corrupt and phony, and who knows what he sees when he looks at you.” -Dalton
Image from soundonsound.com


“He has to have the oldest, most authentic songs. He begins a rabid, quasi-spiritual quest for the obscure, the rare, the core sound.” -David Dalton

“This was the Beat ideal—a community of intellectual outsiders. But it was an ideal that the mass bohemianism of the ‘60s would blow up and wreck because, for one thing, it wasn’t going to be a secret too much longer, and it wasn’t the small elite group of insiders anymore. Two, three, years, it would all be gone. And Bob would be one of the major causes of its demise.” -David Dalton

If anyone embodied authenticity or the ephemeral concept of “IT” in the 1960s, it was Bob Dylan. David Dalton shines a light on Dylan’s hipster persona (among his many others) in Who is that Man? In Search of the Real Bob Dylan. He reveals Dylan as a vehicle for the pop-culturification of the Beat movement (frequently comparing him to Kerouac, both in literary style and lifestyle), and also exposes, yet again, the sheer unsustainability of Beat ideals. Continue reading