ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I was born white in 1947. When I was an innocent child growing up in New Orleans,
I played freely with black children. My parents were liberals who believed racial segregation
to be a wrong, evil thing: my mother worked several years through the PTA to lay the foundation
for school integration up until my father was threatened with the loss of his job if she didn't quit.
When I was a college student, I worked in rural North Carolina to register black people to vote.
Once I was shadowed by a large Ford sedan filled with five, rough-looking white guys: I did not
know if I was going to be beaten or even worse. But they did not grab me, and I got out of town before dark.
I had already turned on and tuned in by the time I graduated college; so, I went
the next step and dropped out. I dropped out of the culture of the "repressed,"
"neurotic," "alienated," "materialistic," "corporate" man,
whose life was being bemoaned by the intelligentsia of the day as that of an unhappy, emasculated, meaningless, powerless cog in the machine.
I dropped in to the Counterculture, where, among the hippies, I met other
people who were smart, creative, joyful, friendly, caring individualists, who, unlike their regimented
parents, lived by a new maxim: "Do your own thing." These people valued personal freedom,
which included but went far beyond mere sexual freedom. They believed in equality and justice, not
only for black people, but for everyone, Native Americans, women, homosexuals, Vietnamese included.
And they stood up and courageously spoke out for their ideals, opposing war in general and our
imperialistic meddling in Viet Nam in particular. They were quick to understand that all life is
interrelated and interdependent, and they were among the first to embrace environmentalism. My hippie
friends understood clearly that our challenge was to develop new ways for people to relate to each other,
ways more loving, more personally satisfying, more kind than those of the "establishment."
We really wanted to learn how to make love rather than make war. In an age of nuclear overkill this
was more than an affectation: it was a matter of survival.
Since the Counterculture involved in large measure a reaction against excessive,
dehumanizing materialism, the hippies became "downwardly mobile:" We soon found ourselves
in the company of all the other drop-outs from society—criminals, psychopaths, schizophrenics and
other mental cases, bums, junkies, drunks, burn-outs, the ignorant, and the impoverished. What's more,
our unbridled experimentation with drugs, sexual behavior, political action, and so forth, generated
its own percentage of personal and social catastrophes. Because of all this, hippies widely became
identified with and condemned as little more than wretched excess.
Time passed: most of us put aside the drugs and the social venturousness and settled down,
becoming productive members of society. I, for one, spent decades dividing my time between providing
health care and teaching biology and anatomy and physiology. And yet, even as our "flower power"
appeared to wither and die, our core ideal, namely that of personal freedom, not only was embraced by the
society at large, but became central to its structure: nowadays it is taken for granted that each person
has the right and freedom to live life and to associate with others entirely as he or she chooses. This
was not the norm a half-century ago. Furthermore, although society has suppressed some of the
behavior of the hippies, such as the freewheeling drug experimentation, still many of the specific causes
we championed, such as equality and justice for all minorities and concern for the environment, have also gone mainstream.
In the past decade or so I have returned to one of my early interests, writing.
This trilogy, Aquarius Rising, began when my wife, Alice, who never
turned on, tuned in or dropped out, asked me to write her a story of the hippies. Although these
three novels are technically historical fiction, the reader, I am sure, will soon perceive that my concerns
lie not only with the past, but also with the present and with the future of humanity, indeed,
of life itself on the planet Earth. We stand on the cusp of the New Age of Aquarius: these are
exciting, pivotal times. May you, gentle reader, enjoy the journey and find it stimulating.