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Psychedelic Glossary

acid rock: also called psychedellic rock; loud music that is associated with LSD and the use of deafening electronic amplification. Acid rock was meant to provide a stimulus for the total experience of the people involved, musicians and audience alike. The music is meant to be felt rather than just heard.

acid test: series of impromptu parties throughout California, organized by author and LSD advocate Ken Kesey, in which he invited the uninitiated to pass the "acid test." Handbills were created to advertise these events.

Art Nouveau: translated from French as "new art." Art Nouveau evolved in the late nineteenth century and is characterized by long, ornamental, sinuous lines that are reminiscent of creeping plants. Its aim was to separate pure visual appeal from the restraint of meaning.

Avalon Ballroom: large dance hall in San Franscisco, holding more than one thousand people, where the Family Dog staged their events.

Beatnik: member of the Beat generation that emerged after World War II, especially in the late 1950s, and that espoused mystical detachment and relaxation of authority and social inhibitions. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were famous Beatniks.

Berkeley: the political epicenter of the counterculture (the artistic epicenter was the Haight-Ashbury). The purpose of the Human Be-in (held January 14, 1967 in Golden Gate Park) was to bring these two factions, the political and the artistic, together.

color lithography: process used to create concert posters in the 1960s. Essentially the same process as basic lithography, except that each color is printed separately with careful alignment.

communal living: hippie lifestyle that advocated living together in communes. In rural settings, this often involved growing their own food and enjoying nature, in urban settings, hippie "crash pads" provided places to live for young people who had run away from home.

countercultures: groups who sought alternatives to the accepted ways of doing things; they thrived in the 1960s in the search for personal and political change.

Deadhead: devoted follower of the band The Grateful Dead.

Diggers: activist group in San Francisco that tried to create a political movement out of the communal lifestyle. They sponsored free food, clinics, legal assistance, and even free housing.

Family Dog: collective group of one-time tenants of a rooming house in San Francisco which, under the leadership of their owner Chet Helms, would go on to promote San Francisco's musical dominance and fuel the rise of the rock poster.

Fillmore Auditorium: San Francisco auditorium where promoter Bill Graham presented his music events.

flower-power: sixties slogan that emphasized a return to nature, peace, and love. Flower children were more into art than political activism.

free love: a kind of sexual experimentation which condoned multiple sexual partners; it became popular with the availability of the birth control pill.

garage band: a band of unprofessional, often adolescent musicians who typically practice in a member's garage. The term implies a lack of musical sophistication.

Haight-Ashbury: San Francisco neighborhood, named for its principal intersection. Filled with beautiful Victorian mansions, it had once been a fashionable area but became neglected when its families moved to the surrounding hills. It provided convenient and cheap housing for San Francisco State College students and became, with its warm climate and liberal atmosphere, a Mecca for those who wanted to live outside the mainstream.

heads: slang term for people who regularly take LSD.

head shop: place that sells drug paraphernalia, underground newspapers, hippie attire, rock concert tickets, and similar items.

hippies: slang term first coined in 1965 to refer to a person who rejects established institutions and values and seeks spontaneity, expanded consciousness, and unconventionality. The term is derived from the 1950s term "hipster," which referred to a person with a strong sense of alienation from traditional societal norms.

Human Be-in: a gathering of twenty thousand people that occurred on January 14, 1967, in which political activists and artists joined in Golden Gate Park. According to a press release issued a few days before the event, its purpose was to "powwow, celebrate, and prophesy the epoch of liberation, peace, compassion, and unity of mankind."

Jugenstil: the German termn for Art Nouveau.

LSD: the strongest hallucinogenic drug known, lysergic acid diethylamide is a synthetic product that heightens the senses and was accepted by hippies of the sixties as a "consciousness expanding" tool. LSD was made illegal in 1966.

Merry Pranksters: a group of psychedelic guerrillas, led by author Ken Kesey, eager to spread the word about the new wonder drug, LSD. They openly used psychedelic drugs, wore outrageous clothes, and performed bizarre acts of street theater. They traveled in a battered Day-Glo bus full of Beats, poets, and various miscreants, often accompanied by the Greatful Dead.

mods: dapper style of dress including suits, ankle boots and mop-top hair, typified by the first wave of British invasion bands of the sixties, especially the Beatles.

Op art: geometric patterns of lines and waves that create optical illusions of movement.

Owsley: LSD manufactured by Augustus Owsley Stanley, who produced "good" LSD in San Francisco from 1965 to 1972. It was usually in tablet form, the colors of which were changed regularly to prevent bogus acid from being sold as "Owsley" acid.

peace symbol: common hippie name for the nuclear disarmament symbol coined by British philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1958. It is the shape of a jet plane enclosed in a circle. It actually represents the composite of semaphore flag signals for the letters N (flags to the sides) and D (one flag up and one flag down) for nuclear disarmament.

Pop Art: art that focuses on popular subject matter.

psychedelic: term used to describe the state of being on LSD. Literally meaning "mind manifesting," the term was coined by an early LSD-experimenter to describe the drug's effect.

San Francisco sound: acid rock, that is, music that relies on tremendous amplification so that it can be felt as well as heard.

Summer of Love: summmer of 1967, during the height of the hippie movement.