A second "Human Be-In" is perhaps not to be. The event promoter who had planned a free 50th anniversary concert to mark the fateful 1967 "Summer of Love" with its massive crowd in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park has been denied a permit that he says he was all but assured. Not cool, man.
That promotor, Boots Hughston told the Chronicle this week that he's received a three-page, excoriating letter denying a permit for the event. Hughston says he had plans to pay for the event himself, scheduled for June 4 and already advertised.
That's second part is perhaps of the problem, according to the letter from Diane Rea, manager of permits and reservations for Rec and Parks. The document points to a discrepancy between the size of the event Hughston had estimated to her department and the numbers he had shared with the public. Specifically, his application called for a crowd of 30,000 to 40,000. Hughston has planned Golden Gate Park events in the past, including a 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love in 2007 that was attended by 50,000. But online advertising materials said the 50th anniversary event could attract a crowd of 80,000 to 175,000.
“You have made numerous representations about your preparedness for this event which have turned out to be untrue, and if left unchecked, could put the public at risk,” Rea's letter stated.
"I’ve been doing shows for 40 years, and they’re acting like I’ve never done anything,” Hughston told the Chronicle, his pride clearly wounded. Speaking to the Associated Press, Hughston added “They’re going after my credibility, saying I lied to them which is totally untrue.”
Hughston is a real estate flipper who lives in Mill Valley and has properties in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. He tells the Chronicle he's personally budgeted $700,000 for the anniversary event — a sizable gift that includes fees requested by city departments and for expected damage to the grass on the polo fields. According to Hughston, he'd already lined up the original rhythm section from the Santana Blues Band, Country Joe McDonald, and remaining members of Jefferson Airplane/Starship.
“The Summer of Love all started in the Polo Field in San Francisco," Hughston tells the AP. "This event celebrates that whole movement,” Hughston said. “To cancel this event is like slapping San Francisco in the face, and the rest of the world for that matter."
The Chronicle reached out to a representative from Rock Medicine, an organization that donates safety and first-aid services to events like Outside Lands, the more corporate contemporary iteration of a summer festival on the Polo Field. In a he-said, she-said, who said what to whom, Hughston says Rea told him Rock Medicine "hadn't heard of him," and the Chronicle found that wasn't true. Gordon Oldham, Rock Medicine's director, says "We support the Summer of Love 100 percent" adding that, "there was no asking me if I knew Boots or any of that. I know Boots. That I can tell you.”
Hughston says he's appealing the decision and still hopes the show will go on. If it doesn't pan out, take two tabs and enjoy this footage from 1967.