ME TALK HIPPIE

The newly revised and expanded "Hippie Dictionary" would have saved us some time back in the '60s. In those days, who knew that psychoactive toads (whose venom contains DMT) could simply be licked? Not only did you not have to go through that whole thing of flaying them, boiling the skin and waiting for the broth to cool, but "this method allows one to keep the same toad for repeated use." Nowadays, though, this book is pretty much a time waster. Open at random, find Collins, Judy, get referred to hippie chick and from there to Jefferson Airplane and so on. Like DMT, it's good for 30 minutes to an hour, and you remember about as much of it.

But while it's going by, this scattershot social history can be great fun. We'd forgotten that Doctor Dope was a different guy from Doctor Feelgood, and we'd never heard of Ludwig, the dog who hung out in Berkeley during the free-speech movement. Oh, wow ("an exclamation that verbalizes an inner realization to oneself").

"The Hippie Dictionary" also offers tantalizing glimpses into the mind of its author, an ex-counterculture photojournalist named John Bassett McCleary. As you'd expect of someone who writes that "the Dream is still alive," he's a great what-if-er. "If it hadn't been for... 1984," we read under Orwell, "the year 1984 would likely have resembled the tyranny portrayed in the book. 1984 postponed the complete control of our thoughts by the military-industrial complex. We now have possibly another 10 or 15 years to stop it again." McCleary's most remarkable speculation is that "the events of September 11, 2001, would not have taken place if our society had listened to the message of the hippies." Well, it might also have helped if somebody had gotten the guys with the box cutters to tune in, turn on and drop out--but we get the point. Too much thought control, that must be what got the evildoers p'd off. It sure doesn't seem to be McCleary's problem.