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Summer of Love celebration is mainstream

SAN FRANCISCO -- If the Summer of Love established San Francisco as the hub of hippiedom, the summer of 2007 may be remembered as a time the country commemorated 1960s counterculture by taking the "counter" out of it.

From New York, where Lincoln Center is devoting its outdoor music and dance season to the era, to Minnesota, where the Minneapolis Institute of Arts mounted a psychedelic art and photography exhibit, people of all ages and political persuasions are being invited to celebrate the seminal events that took place here four decades ago.

The anniversary's most arguably authentic observance is a 17-city concert tour featuring Jefferson Starship sans Grace Slick, a Janis Joplin-less Big Brother & the Holding Company, and Tom Constanten, who played keyboards for the Grateful Dead from 1966 to 1970. (The tour's only New England stop is Saturday at the Warner Theatre in Torrington, Conn.)

"You're not going to see drunk, wasted musicians on stage," said tour co-producer Tim Murphy, noting that men in their 60s make up most of his talent and the audience is teens and 20-somethings who have recently discovered the Summer of Love sound. "The hope is it's something you could go to with your parents, you could go to with your grandparents."

Because of a late start in putting the show together and bad blood between some of the performers and the promoter of a free concert scheduled for Sept. 2 in Golden Gate Park, Murphy said his tour won't come anywhere near Haight-Ashbury, where the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin lived in 1967. The closest venue will be Monterey, where the 40th anniversary of the Monterey pop festival also is being observed.

Not that San Francisco will be forgotten. Events on tap over the next few months include a Labor Day weekend concert featuring Country Joe McDonald and a surviving member of The Doors, a " '60s at the ballpark" day where Giants and Dodgers fans will receive "Summer of Love" T-shirts, and lectures and walking tours.

The Summer of Love, considered by many to represent the climax of hippie culture, refers to the period when tens of thousands of young people flocked to San Francisco to dance barefoot, listen to alternative poetry and music, and march for peace in Vietnam and civil rights -- all while having easy access to drugs and sex.

Conventional wisdom holds that it kicked off in January 1967 with the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park, where LSD advocate Timothy Leary exhorted , " Turn on, tune in, drop out." The summer ended in October when locals who witnessed the dark side of having 100,000 stoned youngsters roaming the streets held a funeral -- "The Death of Hippie."