Free land, free love, free fall

One of the joys of opening boxes of books that you've had in storage for years (in our case, shipped to Spain from New York) is rediscovering quirky little memories like this very funny, vivid cultural history of a unique moment in America, when "freedom" meant re-inventing everything as though we were the first beings to land on this planet. In the Black Bear wilderness commune in the woods of Northern California, a whole crowd of young quasi-adults in that fateful year 1968 wanted to re-invent community, sex, couture and (among other delicacies) chimichangas.

My old friend and National Writers Union comrade Don Monkerud, who is listed here as "editor," not only had a lot to do with putting the collection together but is also one of the authors, with several witty reminiscences. The funniest, to my mind, is "The Day I Disappeared."  He tells that one day, in a fit of jealousy that he couldn't display because it wasn't permitted (everybody was supposed to have license to enjoy coitus with anyone else who was willing), he abandoned the commune for days—to return to, of all people, his wife, who (he discovered) was busy experimenting with a freedom of her own. That was uncomfortable, so he walked and hitched back. And found that the Black Bear people were so zonked out, or so focused on other matters they considered more important, that nobody had noticed his absence!

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