Hip hippie Hooray


POSTED: Friday, June 19, 2009

Mark Tarone recalls falling in love with Hawaii almost as soon as he stepped off the plane “;six months after college, a young professional”; more than 10 years ago.





        » Where: Honolulu Arts District

» When: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. today


» Cost: Free


» Info: 398-7990 or www.hsblinks.com/cu




Among the things he “;fell in love with”; were the feelings of openness, peace and love he experienced here—feelings that he's hoping to share tonight during “;Hippie Holiday”; in Chinatown.

“;The culture of (the late 60s) really did push an openness (and) that's really powerful for me personally,”; Tarone said last week, explaining why someone too young to have participated in the original “;hippie”; era is taking the lead in promoting a free event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the “;Summer of Love.”;

Tarone said his partners, the Arts District Merchants Association, saw it as a topical and timely way to bring people downtown to kick off the summer. The 40th anniversary of the “;Summer of Love”; and the 51st anniversary of the peace symbol sounded like a good fit for art galleries, bars and restaurants alike; after all, the late '60s inspired plenty of distinctive art and enduring music.

Tarone said the other half of the event—“;my personal side”;—is a free screening of Mark Johnson's multimedia music project, “;Playing for Change.”;

“;A big part (of my involvement) is bringing attention to (his) project,”; he said. “;The messages are right in line with the festival.

“;The film is all about peace and togetherness, breaking down the barriers of religion and politics, and race and gender, and highlighting that we really are one people.”;

ALTHOUGH THE movie has not been screened in theaters, a soundtrack album was released earlier this year and some of the songs are available on iTunes.

The video version of the lead song, “;Stand By Me,”; has been performed by musicians and vocalists in North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia and is a hit on YouTube.com. “;Playing for Change”; screens at 8 p.m. at NextDoor.

“;The film has a powerful message that there is really a positive spirit in all of us, so for me a big motivation for the whole event is shining light on the film and getting that message out there,”; Tarone said.

Given the reaction when the state Legislature passed a resolution designating Sept. 24 as “;Islam Day,”; the message is one that many Hawaii residents have yet to take in.

“;That shows how much ground we have to cover,”; he added.

Another “;Hippie Holiday”; attraction will be a 300-pound King Kong-sized “;peace symbol”; crafted by Jonathan Damm from a World War II-era anti-tank obstacle. Residents of Haleiwa know it as a local landmark—it's usually on display behind the Bonzer Front surf shop—but Tarone has arranged to have trucked into town a few days early.

“;(Damm) is working on creating a similar piece out of some different materials and debuting it at the festival.”;

On the lighter side, Tarone and the merchants are inviting people to come dressed in '60s fashions (i.e., tie-dyed T-shirts, Nehru jackets, and “;love beads,”; anybody?) and to heed Scott McKenzie's classic call to “;wear flowers in your hair.”;

“;The good parts about the (peace and love) movement have gotten such good media coverage (that) it has such a good brand,”; said Tarone. “;Just the music alone is so iconic in American culture so the younger generation is also giving me a really good response.”;


The History of the Peace Sign

The symbol now known as the “;peace sign”; officially dates from 1958 when it displayed in a protest march by a group calling for the unilateral nuclear disarmament of the United Kingdom—the group's theory being that if England and the United States would “;Ban the Bomb”; and do away with their nuclear arsenals the benevolent peace-loving leaders of the Soviet Union would then follow suit. The design combines the semaphoric forms of the letters “;N”; (for “;nuclear”;), an upside-down “;V,”; and “;D”; for (”;disarmament”;), one flag straight up and the other straight down.

The symbol reached the United States in the early 1960s where its meaning gradually evolved from “;nuclear disarmament”; to “;peace”;—specifically, “;peace”; as defined by the unilateral withdrawal of American and Allied forces from the Republic of Vietnam.

Supporters of the Vietnam War noted the symbol's similarity to a bird's foot and derided it as representing the footprint of the “;American chicken.”; Cultural historians noted that Nazi neo-paganists had used an identical symbol as the rune representing “;death”; on funeral notices during World War II; the same rune inverted with the “;arms”; up represented “;life”; or “;birth.”;

Various conspiracy theorists through the years have ascribed various anti-Christian connotations to the design, but for most people these days it is simply a symbol of the '60s.


”;Playing For Change”;

Start with singer/guitarist Roger Ridley, an American street musician who makes a living literally “;playing for change”; in Santa Monica. Record his version of “;Stand By Me.”; Take the instrumental track of Ridley's guitar to musicians and vocalists in other American cities—and in South America, Europe, the Middle East, South Africa and Asia—and let each of them play or sing along with it. Assemble all those separate performances into a single rendition of the song.

That is only the first of several marvelous musical productions and soul-stirring messages in “;Playing For Change.”;

Talk about “;world music”;—this is it!

Producer Mark Johnson continues with equally fascinating cross-cultural explorations of “;One Love”; and “;War”;/ “;No More Trouble.”; By the time Bono turns up as one of the vocalists on the latter song the title has taken on another meaning.

We meet the Omagh Community Youth Choir in Northern Ireland and watch Catholics and Protestants set their religious differences aside and harmonize together. A music group consisting of Muslims and Jews in the Middle East is seems even more unlikely; they too transcend religious and national barriers through a shared love of music.

South African singers, musicians and rappers speak of the power music can provide the powerless in their struggle for change.

Ultimately, all of the musicians seen and heard in this thought-provoking documentary are “;playing for change”;—and the change they seek is long overdue.