The above image is from R. Crumb, the famous (or infamous) comix pioneer of the sixties. To say that his work was provocative is an understatement. Crumb, along with a number of artists, offered provocative and satirical critiques of contemporary American society. When I found this particular cartoon recently, it immediately brought together several sometimes disparate strands–rock music culture, the counterculture, the underground press and the college campus. This cocktail has become the focus of my research lately.
A digital history component of this research seeks to map the concert itineraries of dozens of bands and artists during the latter sixties. The website containing numerous maps and related information is here: http://sixtiesrockgeo.com/
Another element of this research led me to an intriguing case study of the counterculture/hippie experience as well. By the late sixties, many especially young people began to experiment with alternative ways of living, that is alternatives to the mainstream, or “straights,” in the language common to the period. One popular alternative was communal living. Though not at all without precedent in the U.S., communal experimentation was especially provocative in Cold War America. So-called “hippies” thus engaged often drew the ire of residents of the towns/communities of which they were a part. One example of this occurred in 1968 in Madison, New Jersey, and involved a Main St. residence locals dubbed “hippie house.”
And, finally, the counterculture and the underground press on campus…