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New dictionary tells it like it was, man
Updated: 2004-08-25 09:07

Are you feeling screwed, blued and tattooed because the man slipped it to you? Like, stay loose, hit the pad and share a thumb with your pash.


Author highlights hippie phrases 'hey man' and 'swacked'
If that made no sense to you, check out "The Hippie Dictionary" by John McCleary. Using the new book to translate, readers come up with the more conventional: Are you feeling mistreated by the authorities? Relax, go home to bed and share a very large marijuana cigarette with your significant other."

Those expecting the dictionary, published by Ten Speed Press, to be a stodgy reference work are in for a jolt.

McCleary's book is chock-full of pointed editorializing, slang and swear words culled from the vernacular of the 1960s and 1970s hippie youth, who questioned authority and created their own counterculture.

McCleary said he wouldn't have it any other way.

"In order to be truthful to the era, I had to put every term that I could remember in the dictionary," McCleary, who spent eight years writing and compiling the 700-page tome, said in an interview.

Hence, among the book's entries are such gems as "hey man" (the most prevalent greeting of the era) and "swacked" (high on drugs or alcohol).

One of the more amusing entries is found under "like," which McCleary calls an unnecessary word that along with "you know" and "I mean" has come to dominate U.S. speech.

"What is strange about these exclamations is that, even though they have no real bearing on the conversation, they indicate a desire ... to communicate with clarity and understanding."

'Intellectual renaissance'

The vocabulary of the hippie era came in large part from the beat generation, jazz and blues music, African-American culture, Eastern religion and the British musical invasion of the early 1960s, McCleary said.

As part of their countercultural thinking, he noted, hippies tended to imbue words and phrases with new meanings.

Many of these new meanings related to drugs and sexuality -- topics "The Hippie Dictionary" does not shirk. Despite his focus on such terms, McCleary feels strongly that the hippie era marked the "intellectual renaissance" of the 20th century.

"If the hippies had been listened to (then) 9/11 would not have happened," he added. "Had the hippie ideals been followed, we would be in a different world altogether right now."

In fact, the book's entry for the term "hippie" says, "The true hippie believes in and works for truth, generosity, peace, love and tolerance. The messengers of sanity in a world filled with greed, intolerance and war."

If McCleary sounds enamored with the era, it's because he is. A self-described aging hippie, he experienced an epiphany at the age of 24 -- during 1967's "summer of love."

"I saw Janis Joplin sing 'Ball and Chain' at the Monterey Pop Festival' and it changed my life," he said.

After that, he took to sporting striped bell-bottoms, experimenting with drugs and sex and hitting hippie haunts around the world.

McCleary, now 61 and working as a part-time carpenter from his home in Monterey, California, said he has no regrets.

"Everything I did, including the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, I'm proud of because it was an experimentation, a statement of joy," he said.

'No apologies'

Just as he voiced no regrets over his behavior, McCleary has no apologies for expressing highly subjective views in what is ostensibly a reference book.

In his entry on President John F. Kennedy's assassination, he wrote, "It is interesting to note that liberals are the ones who are killed in their prime, and conservatives die old in their soft beds. This world would be a better place in which to live if John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., had lived to die in their soft beds."

McCleary said his editorializing is necessary because the hippie era was a very opinionated period and some of the themes he touches on help illustrate the hippie philosophy.

By the same token, McCleary said omitting crude language or references to hard drugs would be academically incorrect.

"I will not defend the vulgarity or naivete of the era, except to say that we were experimenting and learning what might work in the future for human beings," he wrote.

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