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Is it Time for Hippie Modernism Again?
Turn on, tune in, drop out, but read on about how Hippies and Hippie Modernism might rise again.
Before Hipsters, there were Hippies. Whereas Hipsters in our age live a gentrifying, alternative lifestyle, Hippies dug into a whole counterculture of rebellion in search of a utopian “Age of Aquarius.” A new exhibition at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, titled Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia revisits the search of the ‘60s and asks if it has any meaning for 2015 and beyond. In an era where Whole Foods replaces Whole Earth, can we make the ideals of the Hippie generation sing again and “let the sunshine in”?
What exactly is “hippie modernism”? Andrew Blauvelt, the exhibition curator, explains in his preface to the catalog: “Hippie modernism marks the tension between the modern characterized as universal, timeless, rational, and progressive, and its countercultural other, which adopts a more local, timely, emotive and often irreverent, and radical disposition.” In other words, hippie modernism takes modernism’s composed futurist hope and applies it to the present, losing none of those dreams while passionately thumbing its nose at the establishment status quo. Blauvelt sees the late 1960s as “a momentary reconciliation of these seemingly opposed values as a way of resolving the impasse that faced postwar cultural modernity.” Unfortunately, that “reconciliation” of the hippie years ran into the conservatism of the post-Watergate 1970s and Reaganite 1980s. Fortunately, however, that hippie modernist reconciliation might rise again today.
Blauvelt arranges the show along the lines of ‘60s guru Timothy Leary’s famous directive to “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.” It’s as good as any start for the dizzying assemblage of experimental furniture, alternative living structures, immersive environments, media installations, alternative magazines, experimental books, printed ephemera, and archival films. In Turn On, Hippie Modernism hopes to blow your mind by examining the hippie fascination with expanding individual consciousness and the struggle to visualize it in images such as Ira Cohen’s 1968 photograph of Jimi Hendrix taken in a mylar chamber to distort and bend reality like a drug trip.
Once you’re “experienced,” you move on to Tune In, which tackles the social consciousness of the hippie movement in the face of global war and pollution. In the final section, Drop Out, Blauvelt examines how hippies “dropped out” of mainstream society to form their own social structures that blurred boundaries between art and life, specifically the politics ruling over their lives. Starting with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters’ 1964 cross-country acid trip (that got things going) and ending with the 1973-1974 OPEC oil crisis (that stopped the long, strange trip of Western progress), Hippie Modernism packs a lot of ideas into a small window, like the time period itself.
Although hippie modernism’s most striking form — psychedelic art — has won attention from its beginnings, it hasn’t always won respect. Blauvelt counters that “psychedelia follows Impressionism, not chronologically but philosophically, as the artist depicts an altered sense of reality and the objects and spaces within it.” If Impressionism belongs at the beginning of modern art, then ‘60s-style psychedelia belongs right beside it. With that in mind, much of the puzzling art of the period snaps into conception clarity. For example, Haus-Rucker-Co’s Environment Transformer/Flyhead Helmet (shown above), one of the many bubble-related (sometimes inflatable) designs of theirs, transforms from an elaborate joke into a symbol of a new way of seeing. Esther Choi sees these bubbles as “a more nuanced and pliant framework for resistance” in keeping with the peace and love times and the hoped-for “Pneu world.” “Operating like a meme,” Choi argues, “the inflatable’s elastic configuration could absorb a range of intents, associations, and purposes evolving and self-replicating virally across genres, periods, and geographies.” Inside the bubble of hippie modernism, the whole world could unite as one.
For many, hippie imagery consists mainly of the trippy concert posters crammed to the borders with text and symbolic imagery. In their essay “Agency and Urgency: The Medium and Its Message,” Lorraine Wild and David Karwan argue for a method behind that hippie madness. They see hippie modernism’s graphic design as content-driven into content-overdrive and “focused primarily on the urgency of their communication (and not, for the most part, on contemporary professional graphic design).” Underground graphic artists shunned by the “professionals” found themselves with too much to say in too little room and broke all the rules in the name of message. (The exhibition catalog designers copied this aesthetic in their choice of font, paper, etc., to convey its jam-packed messages.) Corita Kent’s yellow submarine (shown above) belongs to this order. Kent, a Catholic nun, took the Beatles’ song and turned it into an “infographic” of love full of text that makes you scurry visually about the page. “The revolution could not be boiled down to a corporate-style logo or a simplified presentation,” Wild and Karwan conclude. “The ideas were multivalent, hypothetical, experimental, and the visual ‘argument’ of underground graphics signifies all that tumult.”
Much of the 1960s debates raged over freedom, usually individual freedoms versus the “freedom” of the free market. As Craig J. Peariso points out, Hippies saw freedom as “something like an ethos” rather than a commodity that could be traded or, dangerously, assimilated. A theater group calling itself the “Diggers” staged “The Death of Hippie” when they felt the idea of the hippie had become too mainstream and just another pose of mass culture marketing. Another theater group, The Cockettes (shown above), took those freedoms even further, asserting the freedom of sexual orientation. The Cockettes “unapologetic amateurism, their emphasis on fun over profit, and their persistent rejection of the boundaries of normative genders and sexualities made them seem like the perfect distillation of the various countercultural forces and ideas that had come together in the Bay Area at the end of the 1960s,” Peariso writes. If one image captures hippie modernism at its purest, The Cockettes might be it.
But can we recover that fun, hopeful, boundary-busting hippie modernism today? When Sheila Levrant de Bretteville made Women in Design: The Next Decade (shown above) in 1975, she probably envisioned greater progress four decades later. Perhaps the greatest attribute of hippie modernism, and the one we need most now, is the hippie power of imagination, of thinking of the unthought. Felicity D. Scott points out that some of the earliest computer visionaries of the 1970s were the longhair hippies fighting to wrest control of early computer technology from the military-industrial complex to put it into the hands of the people.
“Countercultural engagements with computer research and communications media during the early 1970s were often motivated by a utopian faith that science and technology heralded a better and more united world,” Scott writes. Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia holds that we can find that faith once again. Social media can once again be more “social” than “media,” in the spirit of GlobalCitizen.org and like-minded, “hippie” movements. Hippie Modernism strikes you with stunning utopian images of the past, but should also inspire you to dream up your own utopias for the present. “That such radical social change did not come to pass at that time does not equate to ultimate failure or an affirmation of the neoconservative backlash that followed,” Blauvelt writes in defense of the often belittled hippie, “anymore than winning a battle constitutes winning the war.” Hippie Modernism calls us to pick up the hippie “freak” flag and let it fly once more.
The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
- Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
- To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
COVID-19 deepens U.S. health disparities<p>Communities on the pernicious side of America's health disparities have their unique histories, environments, and social structures. They are spread across the United States, but they all have one thing in common.</p><p>"There is one common divide in American communities, and that is poverty," said <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/about/leadership/debbie-salas-lopez" target="_blank">Debbie Salas-Lopez, MD, MPH</a>, senior vice president of community and population health at Northwell Health. "That is the undercurrent that manifests poor health, poor health outcomes, or poor health prognoses for future wellbeing."</p><p>Social determinants have far-reaching effects on health, and poor communities have unfavorable social determinants. To pick one of many examples, <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/09/27/913612554/a-crisis-within-a-crisis-food-insecurity-and-covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">food insecurity</a> reduces access to quality food, leading to poor health and communal endemics of chronic medical conditions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified some of these conditions, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, as increasing the risk of developing a severe case of coronavirus.</p><p>The pandemic didn't create poverty or food insecurity, but it exacerbated both, and the results have been catastrophic. A study published this summer in the <em><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05971-3" target="_blank">Journal of General Internal Medicine</a></em> suggested that "social factors such as income inequality may explain why some parts of the USA are hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than others."</p><p>That's not to say better-off families in the U.S. weren't harmed. A <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/poverty-inequality-and-covid-19-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paper from the Centre for Economic Policy Research</a> noted that families in counties with a higher median income experienced adjustment costs associated with the pandemic—for example, lowering income-earning interactions to align with social distancing policies. However, the paper found that the costs of social distancing were much greater for poorer families, who cannot easily alter their living circumstances, which often include more individuals living in one home and a reliance on mass transit to reach work and grocery stores. They are also disproportionately represented in essential jobs, such as retail, transportation, and health care, where maintaining physical distance can be all but impossible.</p><p>The paper also cited a positive correlation between higher income inequality and higher rates of coronavirus infection. "Our interpretation is that poorer people are less able to protect themselves, which leads them to different choices—they face a steeper trade-off between their health and their economic welfare in the context of the threats posed by COVID-19," the authors wrote.</p><p>"There are so many pandemics that this pandemic has exacerbated," Dr. Salas-Lopez noted.</p><p>One example is the health-wealth gap. The mental stressors of maintaining a low socioeconomic status, especially in the face of extreme affluence, can have a physically degrading impact on health. <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/index.cfm/_api/render/file/?method=inline&fileID=123ECD96-EF81-46F6-983D2AE9A45FA354" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Writing on this gap</a>, Robert Sapolsky, professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, notes that socioeconomic stressors can increase blood pressure, reduce insulin response, increase chronic inflammation, and impair the prefrontal cortex and other brain functions through anxiety, depression, and cognitive load. </p><p>"Thus, from the macro level of entire body systems to the micro level of individual chromosomes, poverty finds a way to produce wear and tear," Sapolsky writes. "It is outrageous that if children are born into the wrong family, they will be predisposed toward poor health by the time they start to learn the alphabet."</p>Research on the economic and mental health fallout of COVID-19 is showing two things: That unemployment is hitting <a href="https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/09/24/economic-fallout-from-covid-19-continues-to-hit-lower-income-americans-the-hardest/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">low-income and young Americans</a> most during the pandemic, potentially widening the health-wealth gap further; and that the pandemic not only exacerbates mental health stressors, but is doing so at clinically relevant levels. As <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413844/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the authors of one review</a> wrote, the pandemic's effects on mental health is itself an international public health priority.
Working to close the health gap<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc5MDk1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTYyMzQzMn0.KSFpXH7yHYrfVPtfgcxZqAHHYzCnC2bFxwSrJqBbH4I/img.jpg?width=980" id="b40e2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1b9035370ab7b02a0dc00758e494412b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Northwell Health coronavirus testing center at Greater Springfield Community Church.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>Novel coronavirus may spread and infect indiscriminately, but pre-existing conditions, environmental stressors, and a lack of access to care and resources increase the risk of infection. These social determinants make the pandemic more dangerous, and erode communities' and families' abilities to heal from health crises that pre-date the pandemic.</p><p>How do we eliminate these divides? Dr. Salas-Lopez says the first step is recognition. "We have to open our eyes to see the suffering around us," she said. "Northwell has not shied away from that."</p><p>"We are steadfast in improving health outcomes for our vulnerable and underrepresented communities that have suffered because of the prevalence of chronic disease, a problem that led to the disproportionately higher death rate among African-Americans and Latinos during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Michael Dowling, Northwell's president and CEO. "We are committed to using every tool at our disposal—as a provider of health care, employer, purchaser and investor—to combat disparities and ensure the <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/education-and-resources/community-engagement/center-for-equity-of-care" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">equity of care</a> that everyone deserves." </p><p>With the need recognized, Dr. Salas-Lopez calls for health care systems to travel upstream and be proactive in those hard-hit communities. This requires health care systems to play a strong role, but not a unilateral one. They must build <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/news/insights/faith-based-leaders-are-the-key-to-improving-community-health" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">partnerships with leaders in those communities</a> and utilize those to ensure relationships last beyond the current crisis. </p><p>"We must meet with community leaders and talk to them to get their perspective on what they believe the community needs are and should be for the future. Together, we can co-create a plan to measurably improve [community] health and also to be ready for whatever comes next," she said.</p><p>Northwell has built relationships with local faith-based and community organizations in underserved communities of color. Those partnerships enabled Northwell to test more than 65,000 people across the metro New York region. The health system also offered education on coronavirus and precautions to curb its spread.</p><p>These initiatives began the process of building trust—trust that Northwell has counted on to return to these communities to administer flu vaccines to prepare for what experts fear may be a difficult flu season.</p><p>While Northwell has begun building bridges across the divides of the New York area, much will still need to be done to cure U.S. health care overall. There is hope that the COVID pandemic will awaken us to the deep disparities in the US.</p><p>"COVID has changed our world. We have to seize this opportunity, this pandemic, this crisis to do better," Dr. Salas-Lopez said. "Provide better care. Provide better health. Be better partners. Be better community citizens. And treat each other with respect and dignity.</p><p>"We need to find ways to unify this country because we're all human beings. We're all created equal, and we believe that health is one of those important rights."</p>
A study by UK archaeologists finds that longbows caused horrific injuries similar to modern gunshot wounds.
- UK archaeologists discover medieval longbows caused injuries similar to modern gunshot wounds.
- The damage was caused by the arrows spinning clockwise.
- No longbows from medieval times survived until our times.
Battle of Agincourt.
The angle of entry into a cranium found during the excavation at a medieval Dominican friary in Exeter, England.
Credit: Oliver Creighton/University of Exeter
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Vegans and vegetarians often have nutrient deficiencies and lower BMI, which can increase the risk of fractures.
- The study found that vegans were 43% more likely to suffer fractures than meat eaters.
- Similar results were observed for vegetarians and fish eaters, though to a lesser extent.
- It's possible to be healthy on a vegan diet, though it takes some strategic planning to compensate for the nutrients that a plant-based diet can't easily provide.
Comparison of fracture cases by diet group
Credit: Tong et al.<p>The results showed that vegans were especially vulnerable to hip fractures, suffering 2.3 times more cases than meat-eaters. Vegetarians and pescatarians were also more likely to suffer hip fractures, though to a lesser extent.</p><p>One explanation may be that non-meat eaters consume less calcium and protein. Calcium helps the body build strong bones, particularly before age 30, after which the body begins to lose bone mineral density (though consuming enough calcium through diet or supplement can <a href="https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/" target="_blank">help offset losses</a>). Lower bone mineral density means higher risk of fracture.</p><p>Protein seems to help the body absorb calcium, <a href="https://www.bonejoint.net/blog/did-you-know-that-certain-foods-block-calcium-absorption/#:~:text=Historically%2C%20nutritionists%20have%20warned%20that,may%20increase%20intestinal%20calcium%20absorption." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">when consumed in normal levels</a>. The recent study, along with past research, shows that people who don't eat meat tend to have lower levels of both protein and calcium. When the researchers accounted for non-meat eaters who supplemented their diets with calcium and protein, fracture risk decreased, but still remained significant.</p>
Credit: Pixabay<p>Another explanation is body mass index (BMI). Non-meat eaters tend to have a lower BMI, which is associated with higher fracture risk, particularly hip fractures. In the new study, vegans with a low BMI were especially likely to suffer hip fractures. That might be because having more body mass provides a cushioning effect when people fall.</p><p>Still, the study has some limitations. For one, White European women were overrepresented in the sample. The researchers also didn't collect precise data on the type of calcium or protein supplementation, diet quality or causes of fractures.</p><p>Another complicating factor: Producers of vegan products, such as plant-based milk, are increasingly fortifying foods with nutrients like calcium and protein, so modern vegans are potentially at lower risk of deficiency.</p><p>The researchers wrote that their findings "suggest that bone health in vegans requires further research."</p>