My take on the generation gap

Hey, Steve, I see you have a lot of books out and that’s really cool. But there’s so much material, where’s the best place to start?” —Longtime Fan

Depends on what you want to read about. My best book right now is probably the one on the Kennedy assassination, and after that the one on the Lincoln assassination. But if you like Hip Hop, then the best book is my complete archives on that subject, and the paperback costs under $12. But if you want to delve deeply into my development as an author, the best place to start is with 1966, which contains my earliest work as a writer. It’s all fiction and a wonderful introduction to the real story of the 1960s. From there, I’d suggest reading Magic, Religion & Cannabis, which contains my autobiography from that period and will explain a lot about where my head was at the time. My first short story was titled East Village, and written at age 17. It takes place in New York’s East Village in 1966, a very important year in counterculture history. That’s when thousands of male teenagers began pressing their parents to discontinue the ritual of visiting a barbershop once a month, so they could display locks like their rock role-models. For many parents, however, having a well-shorn male child was just as important as having a well-trimmed lawn. The biggest battles may have taken place in the fall— many could escape haircuts during the summer, but not when school started.

My friends Bugsy and Maarten pulled off a daring escape for a few weeks, landing in a crash-pad in the East Village, which was experiencing an explosion of teenage runaways, and celebrating up a storm, all of which came to a sudden halt when a society teen was found murdered in a speed-freak shooting-gallery. Their adventures inspired me to write my first short story.

Next, came The Steam Tunnels, which takes place in 1966 and involves my climactic confrontation with my parents. After this day, I’d never be forced to get another haircut. I soon moved down into the basement and transformed it into a psychedelic play-land. It became the rehearsal studio for my band, The Knight Riders, my art studio, and a clubhouse for all my friends. My mom called it “The Den of Iniquity,” so I painted a sign on the entrance: “Are you sure a nice person like you belongs in this Den of Iniquity?” I was exploring the steam tunnels at the same time, and actually did consider moving down there permanently for a second. One night we thought we’d been caught by the University police when the lights came on unexpectedly. It turned out to be Guy Maynard, lead singer of the Seeds of Doubt, and a friend of his. I had to run away from home twice before I could negotiate a livable arrangement with my parents, one that afforded me the freedom that I needed. I was branded “emotionally immature,” because I wanted to be in charge of my life’s trajectory. The threat of reform school, military academy, and/or the dreaded “electro-shock therapy” was always hanging over my head. I wrote The Steam Tunnels at age 20, five years after it happened. Wesly Pinter is a composite of Bugsy and John Hayes, founder of the Knight Riders.

Then came the The Stockholm Manifesto, written while living in Sweden trying to evade the Vietnam War, which is free to download in any format.

I’d eventually get kicked out of Sweden and flunked my physical thanks to a sympathetic psychologist. I just told him I didn’t fit in the Army and they wouldn’t want me. He asked how I knew that and I told him I’d gone to Valpo University and been put in a dorm, and ended up in a huge conflict with a lot of people in the dorm who didn’t like my style. Then I began to shed a few tears. Hey, I was on the chopping block—an impeccably-groomed master-sergeant had escorted me to the psychologist’s office. Very few potential inductees even saw the psychologist. You had to demand to see him! I’d already been identified as a flight risk. You had to sign an oath right off and I refused, saying I was sympathetic to the Vietcong, and considered the USA the aggressor nation and refused to fight. After that, they kept a eye on me. What I was counting on was my weight. After days of fasting, I was probably around 125. I had some magic number in my head that if I was under that, I would be 4-F. The weighing-in however, was extremely fast and sloppy and they were taking everybody they could get by 1971, so my fasting was of no avail. The sergeant guarding me was already letting me know I was going downstairs in ten minutes and getting on that bus to boot-camp! Just as soon as you get out of that office, hahaha, you dirty hippie! He didn’t say that, but I knew he was thinking it. It was a spider looks at the fly moment. But that sergeant was positively crushed when the psychologist branded me 4-F and his little fly flew out the front door, back to freedom! It was one of my peak ecstasy moments and it had all been a lot easier than I’d thought. I sure could tell that sergeant was pissed this little fly got away and the Army never got their claws into my brain.

8 Replies to “My take on the generation gap”

  1. Hi, Mr. Hager,
    How are you? I’ve recently read your article “Stoner smart or stoner stupid?” and I have questions. First, I do not consider myself as a stoner stupid just because, if I have the opportunity, I’m gonna smoke everyday. So, do you consider everyday-pot-smokers stupid? I have the responsability of doing what I have to do even if I’m high. I usually work high and I didn’t receive any complains about it or about my work. Otherwise I wouldn’t keep my job. I’ve smoked before some tests and I’ve almost nailed it. I think stoner stupid is someone who wants to show himself to everyone as a pothead. A stoner stupid is a kind of person who needs extreme attention. Its a self-affirmation habit. I think some people just can’t handle themselves and this don’t define them as smart or stupid. Because, you know, everyone was stupid sometime, even Bob Marley with his toe.

    1. Hi Lucas, thanks for stopping by. I think you missed the point of the story, which was to suggest that waiting for 4:20 PM to get high might be a good idea for some recreational users. I don’t prescribe rules for anyone, especially not medical users, and certainly you are welcome to get stoned whenever you like. However, it’s been my experience that I accomplish a lot more if I wait until later in the day. If you don’t care about accomplishing things, and just want to be high all the time, please feel free to ignore this advice. If you have a happy life, and you are accomplishing all you want, then of course, this suggestion can easily be ignored. I have met people, however, who have benefited greatly from this approach and they should probably stay the course and not return to the wake-and-bake state-of-mind. Cheers!

  2. Ahh, ok. Now I understand better and I’ll try your point to see how it works. Because I really like smoking everyday and I’ve missinterpreted what you said, sorry.

    1. yeah, and don’t be too ecumenical, always feel free to bend rules when necessary, it’s just a guideline, a message from the ceremonies atop Mt. Tam perhaps, and you don’t have to be smart all the time. Sometimes it’s fun to be a little bit stupid, long as nobody gets hurt, of course.

  3. Hello new to computers and wish to have a copy of your video on tinctures that was pulled from u tube. This was the only way I could figure out to ask you. Sorry for my approach but I realy would like to see the program that yuou originally shot.

    1. Someone complained to YouTube about the video and it was pulled. So it won’t be appearing again, although I don’t know what the problem was. Were you the one who complained to YouTube?

  4. Danny Danko told me You can get ahold of Rick Simpson,Im th med.breeder Who created a new strain with amazing medicinal properties! I want to gift Phoenix tears clones n seeds.You and I met Years ago in 93 in Jack Herer’s R.V. I retained a friendship with Jack off n on for Years,amazing things are hapening thatwill change cannabis forever,please call me,or Danny or Michale Czerhoniak if any questions,thank you.

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