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California Historical Society
Jun 20, 2017
For decades, Northern California has been Ground Zero for countercultural communities, rejecting conventional suburbia in favor of individualism and personal freedom. But what happens to children with this background, growing up amid such unorthodox family dynamics? Three Bay Area authors with recent memoirs meet on the summer solstice to discuss their experiences growing up in the shadow of the Summer of Love.
Alysia Abbott was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury, the only daughter of gay poet and critic Steve Abbott. After receiving her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from New School University in NYC, she worked at the New York Public Library and WNYC Radio. In 2013, she published her first book, Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, which was named a New York Times “Editors’ Choice,” a winner of the ALA Stonewall Award, and the Madame Figaro Prix Heroine. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Slate, Salon, TheAtlantic.com, Real Simple, Boston Globe, and Psychology Today. She is also director of the Boston Literary District and founder of TheRecollectors.com.
Clane Hayward was born in San Francisco just before the Summer of Love, Clane Hayward grew up on hippie communes throughout the west. Her poignantly funny, sometimes melancholy, and always riveting memoir The Hypocrisy of Disco recounts her extraordinary life up until her thirteenth birthday. Clane forged a childhood, sometimes with, sometimes without her bong-puffing, Buddha-quoting, macrobiotic mother and her wild-haired, redneck father. The Hypocrisy of Disco was recently adapted into the feature film Lane 1974, directed by SJ Chiro, which premiered this year at the South by Southwest festival.
Joshua Safran is an author, attorney and nationally recognized advocate for survivors of domestic violence. His memoir, Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid, about his remarkable childhood on the dark side of the Age of Aquarius, was published by Hachette. Safran was born into a coven of witches in a Haight-Ashbury commune in 1975. He spent his childhood hitchhiking throughout the American West, living in an ice cream truck/cults/teepees/vans/buses/on the forest floor, and surviving his violent alcoholic stepfather, a guerilla fighter from Central America, before attending law school at U.C. Berkeley. Joshua’s seven-year legal odyssey to free an incarcerated survivor of domestic abuse from prison was featured in the award-winning documentary Crime After Crime, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Joshua’s essays have been published in Salon, The Daily Beast, and Huffington Post, and he has received numerous awards for his advocacy work.
Presented by the California Historical Society and Litquake