When It Was Cool To Be Kind
by Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. (TRoberts38@aol.com)
Northern Illinois University

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Just reading it gets you high -

Jim Fadiman has a cool 60's novel out, "The Other Side of Haight: A Novel". The story follows a teenage girl, "Shadow", and her friends who live in a house in the Haight. They provide a living sample of the people of that time and place without becoming the politically laden caricatures so common in 60's writings, videos, and movies. Optimistic, naive, caring, crazed, creative, loving, dutiful, experimental, egocentric and ego transcendent, hopeful and bummerful, and mostly young - their thoughts, relationships, feelings, and experiences give us multiple tastes and varied takes of a complex time when it was cool to be kind.

Set against this is Midnight Climax, a CIA sponsored whorehouse where unsuspecting clients were dosed with LSD. No, this isn't Fadiman's imagination, as Congressional Hearings divulged. Dr. Langwater, the chief villain, is a beautiful word-drawing of the disregard for humane values and citizens' rights that war-toned policies foster.

Add these two collections of different people to the heady cocktail of the 60's - Baby Boomers, the Vietnam War, women's equality, civil rights, LBJ and Nixon, rock music dance concerts, and more - and "The Other Side of Haight" emerges as a true chronicle of a lost reality, or maybe a lost chronicle of a true reality.

It might help you get in the mood, as it did for me, to focus for a time on the cover photo by Elaine Mayes. After you've put the book down (if you can) and before you start to read again, get lost for an indeterminate amount of time in the cover photo, then flow gently back into the words again.

Hopefully, I look forward to seeing a movie of this someday, and will assign my "Psychedelic Mindview" classes to see it as I am recommending the book to them now. It's right up there with "Electric Kool Aid Acid Test" as a novel-form record of the times.

One more thing: Do not smoke the marijuana-printed endpapers. They will not get you high, NOT get you high.

Just reading "The Other Side of Haight" gets you high.