Once upon a time in the 70's,there were these odd, yet friendly little places called "headshops" and in these headshops were many wonderful things designed for us "heads". Generally, there was far more than I can remember, but if we, as "heads" used it, they carried it....
The 70's headshops were great. It was like having a personal store. Of course, they were scattered across the city, and only a few existed, so you had to travel a bit. I was always lucky enough to live in a neighborhood fairly close to a headshop. We always looked forward to going to them. In 1971, I remember going to a place called the Psychedelic Supermarket. This was a place where you could buy tie-dyed clothing and other hippie paraphernalia. It's reputation was gargantuan. I remember that everytime we'd go, we'd see at least one Volkswagen bug or bus covered in daisies and peace signs out front. My friends and I would always make a point to buy something simple then usually leave with something great.
Little did we realize then that when we were buying posters, albums, and incense, or even a pack of Zig-Zags, that we were contributing to the capitalist machine of "the establishment." Disguised as longhairs, we either hadn't a clue, or refused to believe that they were people in business, the very capitalists that many of the songs we so loved slammed. Ah, such rebellion, such channeling of what felt like positive fuel into all the wrong tanks. What growing up we all had left to do.
Remember Gilbert Shelton and those Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers? These comics were the funniest things since Mad Magazine. Fat Freddy, Freewheeling' Franklin, and Phineas Freak all trekked about through one zany misadventure after another. And who was more lovable than Fat Freddy's Cat?
Of course, the 70's kicked off an entire campaign of hippie comix, some incredibly popular, and some just floundered, but none had the majesty and absolute royalty of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers! Before the days of coffee table books, these comics were proudly displayed on many 70's coffee tables.
I could literally go on forever listing favorite after favorite. Some of the characters and adventures I loved most were Commander Roach and the Roach Reich whom Fat Freddy's Cat made a habit of terminating whenever possible. Magnificent adventures lay page after page. Among my absolute scenarios were:
- Freewheelin' Frank's run-in with a bunch trouble-seeking rednecks after he just inhaled a bunch of Amyl Nitrate:
"Lord gawd Billy Bob, that was the toughest hippie I ever saw!"
- Fat Freddy's Thanksgiving day turkey:
"I didn't have to stuff it. It wasn't empty."
- Fat Freddy always getting burned on drug buys.
- Phineas' inventions.
- The Mexican adventure in which an entire comic book was dedicated to.
I can remember these astonishing prints mounted on dark driftwood, or cedar hand-carved pieces of wood and covered with a transluscent varnish.
Fantasy prints were popular, like unicorns, very caucasian-like Indian (Native American) women, and sometimes even M.C. Escher prints. Naturally the were expensive, especially when used on furniture like coffee tables. I also remember the wild craze over tapestries; like posters, they were everywhere.
The sublime of headshops
Headshops had the most magnificent ambiance, and an array of hippie paraphernalia. Under glass counters was a wide variety of who-needs-what, from incense, rolling papers, pipes, carburetors, roach clips, jewelry, stash containers and more. "Stash containers" were yet another thing to drain money out of young stoners like myself. The really cool, midnight blue plastic boxes were my favorites. Remember the clever little invention known as the "Marygin?" It borrowed its moniker from the cotton gin. They came in a variety of transparent plastic colors. What they were basically were little hand crank, plastic boxes that separated seeds and stems from the goodie green. They had a sort of caulander type thing that you poured the weed into, then cranked the little "hamster wheel" and watched the luscious green sift out. They were not very effective though, and for the most of us, we went back to old school tight steel mesh spaghetti strainers. Album covers worked okay, but mostly for just hand-separating the seeds.
Black Light Rooms
Black light rooms were the second biggest draw to headshops for me. Behind a curtain of tye-dye, or perhaps strands of beads, was the purple glow of an other-worldly gallery. With the music being piped in, you could envision one or all of the posters lining the walls of your room. Often, I painted my own black light posters and would get inspiration in these galleries.