Since I wrote original article, a 60s luminary I wrote about, writer and cultural trail blazer Jose Arguelles has passed on. The other Latino writer and trail blazer I wrote about was Carlos Castaneda.
Politicized Nahautlacos on this side of the border shun both Castaneda and Arguelles, electing to identify them with New Age ideology. I don’t believe that Castaneda and Arguelles are similarly perceived throughout Mexico and Latin America. I grew up in an America when anything having to do with “Indians” was all feathers, tomahawks and tepees. It’s a different meme now. I believe Castaneda and Arguelles played seminal roles in changing the perception of ancient America and in the renaissance of Mayan and Nahuatl knowledge we are witnessing all over the world. One day, an enterprising Ph.D candidate somewhere will document this history.
Too Late to Turn Back
(continued from Part Four of the original article) Within days, I was cruising up Pacific Coast Highway. I listened to the Beatles and the Headhunters and everybody else on the way up and I saw the beautiful California coastline for the first time.
In my youthful naiveté, a nice way of saying, pendejismo, I thought the “action” I had heard about was an ongoing happening.
The hitchhikers I picked up in Big Sur told me that everything had ended, but it was too late for me to turn back. I remember one of them, a real fine hippie ruca inviting me to join her and her friends up in Los Padres National Forest. They had their own summer of love happening up there in the coastal redwoods. I’m glad now that I didn’t accept her offer. I found out later that travelers were being waylaid at that camp.
Oh, did I mention that throughout these years I did not know that the big happening I drove up to find that summer was . . . THEE Summer of Love?
My fate was to find my way back into el Movimiento and to participate in our own Chicano renaissance — our own political, cultural and spiritual reawakening — and the rebirth of our historical consciousness. It was happening all over the country. Throughout the late sixties and early seventies, African Americans, Native Americans, women, Pacific Islanders, minorities everywhere experienced the rebirth of interest in their history. The revision of American history with a diverse perspective began in the 60s.
Yes, it was too late to turn back.
Although I missed the Summer of Love, the counterculture’s fallout did not miss me. The counterculture was exploding everywhere in the 60s and 70s, at all levels. It was happening on university campuses and in the minds of intellectuals and artists as well as workers and musicians.
Latino rockers and R&B artists were there, creating their own renaissance at the same time they were riding the wave of the larger counterculture. With the new consciousness, the East L.A. Group the V.I.Ps morphed into El Chicano and went on to become a national and international success. Los Lobos independently released their first album, their statement on behalf el Movimiento, taking a title borrowed from a United Farm Workers slogan, Si Se Puede.
Outside the Eastside Sound orbit, Joan Baez was well into the forefront of her genre. Carlos Santana fused rock with R&B and Latin sounds, taking off into new musical territory. Other artists like Coco Montoya and Linda Ronstadt were in training for careers that would blossom in the later 70s.
In another cultural arena, there was another Carlos, a Latino counterpart to Timothy Leary. Carlos Castaneda challenged fundamental perceptions of reality with the Toltec path with heart he had learned from the Yaqui sorcerer, Don Juan.
Then there was Jose Arguelles who participated in the founding of Earth Day in 1970. Initiating the Harmonic Convergence, he laid a foundation that helped to extend the New Age into the eighties and to the present and has continued since as career activist for peace and the planetary transformation of consciousness.
There are always consequences. Not all the gurus, cultural revolutionaries and musical trailblazers – and certainly not all foot soldiers made it beyond the 70s or the 80s. They fell to corruption, infighting, drugs, alcoholism and politics. Some just finally aged and passed on. Well, I survived it all. I earned my B.A. and went on to get a graduate degree. I got a job and a career like everybody else. I lived the 60s and the 70s and survived the counterculture and now as an Elder, I can tell you and my daughters all about those crazy days before and after the Summer of Love of 1967. There are many tales to tell.
My sources for my references to Chicano Music History were Benjamin F. Hernandez, Mark Guerrero and artists’ websites.