It all started when I took Gaston to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. I had been there as a teenager for a short while, when the streets were alive, and wanted to see it again. The Haight is where it all began, beginning in about 1966 and lasting several years until people like Charles Manson, hard-core bikers, and drugs like crystal meth ruined it. It was ground zero for the hippie movement. Bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin created their music in the neighbourhood. And 1967’s Summer of Love had its roots there.
Even today, some of the atmosphere exists. There are still head shops, psychedelic clothing, and young people roaming around with guitars and trying to re-create what they missed because they weren’t born 40 years ago.
Gaston, however, wasn’t impressed. He would shout out at long-haired guys, asking them if they were a boy or a girl. He’d tell them to get a job, and they smell, and all kinds of embarrassing things. But then, a transformation occurred. Gaston saw that everyone smiled at him, gave him bits of pizza, and embraced him, all of which the little bugger wasn’t expecting. Now, when you look at the photo of Gaston below, you’ll see how he’s a changed man.