The tone of the seventies that comes through this memoir is altogether of a darker hue. The alternative society of the sixties is turning into a dangerous, paranoid place, shot through with hard drugs. As the decade dawned, America was doing its best to incarcerate its counterculture – MC5 manager and White Panther party leader John Sinclair was doing a ten-stretch in Detroit for possession of a joint; LSD guru Timothy Leary was in the Vacaville State pen facing a similar sentence, and Black Panther Bobby Searle was paraded in front of a Chicago judge bound in chains and gagged. Riots erupted in protest, during which UC Santa Barbara students burned down a branch of Bank of America, prompting the then Governor of California Ronald Reagan to comment: ‘If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with’. A month later, National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed students at Kent State University, killing four of them. The big payback for the party of the past decade had begun.
Cathi Unsworth on Barry Miles‘ next memoir.