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by Peter Coyote

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-887178-67-8
Publisher: Counterpoint

This autobiographical look at 1960s hippie culture from the point of view of actor Coyote (E.T., Outrageous Fortune, etc.) tends more toward observation than introspection. Coyote began his sojourn in the counterculture with the San Francisco Mime Troupe—a ground-breaking experiment in political theater that led almost immediately to Coyote’s long-standing association with the strongly antiestablishment Digger group, which preached a sort of Emersonian self-reliance based on the philosophical freedoms of mankind—which included the freedom, for instance, to steal what you think is yours. Coyote wandered from commune to commune, all the while crossing paths with the famous and soon-to-be-famous, including music promoter Bill Graham, the musician Michael Bloomfield, and the Beat poet Gary Snyder. In the meantime, he also made the acquaintance of several members of the notorious Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang, and these connections and other societal pressures led Coyote into a heroin habit that was —cured— only after he was treated by an Indian shaman. Still, after this —cure— Coyote continues to abuse drugs. Because he never does fully address the matter of his drug dependence, or his complex relationship with Sam, his lover and the mother of his daughter, the book never seems to have much heft as a self-excavation. It’s really only Coyote’s troubled relationship with his abusive but brilliant father that gets the attention from the author that it requires. Equally disturbing and unexamined are Coyote’s friendships with the openly racist Hell’s Angels, as well as the frequent appearance of guns in what many might assume had been a peaceful subculture. (A part of this book, under the title —Carla’s Story,— won the 1994 Pushcart Prize for nonfiction.)