Hippiestock and the Sense of Community

by Alphaville Herald on 22/02/11 at 1:53 pm

by Sigmund Leominster

“So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice.

The 21st century has gotten off to a good start by taking all the selfish tendencies of the 1980’s and layering on a liberal slathering of cynicism and weariness, wrapped in narcissism, irony, and pseudo-intellectualism that makes it painful to read many of the online blogs, forums, and magazines. Intellectual depth has been traded for pithy snarkiness, and factual knowledge plays second fiddle to opinion, bombast, grandiosity, and egotism. In this truly post-modern century, venom, spite, and insult are the tools of the debating trade. Only there is rarely any real “debate” as such, just an endless parade of self-glorification dripping with the juice of bitter lemons.

Which is what makes certain events gloriously celebratory, small diamonds of humanity and decency in a world where being bad is much more entertaining than being good, and people actually believe “Reality TV” is real. Like the Hippiestock Festival and the subsequent Hippiestock “Big Picture.” On one level, it is trivial, pointless, idealistic, and doomed to be the subject of mockery by the anti-intellectual pontificators who sneeringly think that any effort to make life just a tiny bit better is a complete waste of time. But on the other, it’s a deliciously retro poke-in-the-eye to the jaded and cynical who want to believe the worst and are only happy when they are making others miserable and angry.

Hippiestock Big Picture
Hippiestock – the Big Picture

It was January 15th, 2011, when Second Life resident Hippie Bowman hosted the eponymous Hippiestock festival; a magnificent throwback to the 1960’s where peace, love, and music were the themes for the day. Over 140 people attended the sim-bending event with many attendees being regulars on the Second Life “General Discussion Forum.” For most of the year, the Forumites can be found exchanging words, ideas, and attacks, sometimes vicious, sometimes hilarious, but always entertaining. Yet on this one day, during one small sliver of time, differences were ignored and avatars bedecked in tie-dye and hipsters. Second Life performers Lillie Woodells and Gypsy Quixote provided the vibes and a splendid time was had by all.

Given that for a generation of younger people the Hippie lifestyle has been so eloquently summarized by Eric Cartman of South Park as “they wanna save the earth, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad,” why would a festival in Second Life attract so many people. Surprisingly, when you ask the Forumites, a spark of humanity appears to have been kindled.

According to Quinn Morani, “For me it was the opportunity to meet ‘in person’ some of the avatars I interact with here on the Forum nearly every day. Hippiestock as a whole was one of the best things that ever happened out of the SL forum. It exemplified that despite massive differences of opinion on any subject under the sun, people from all walks of life and all corners of the world could put aside personal differences, share in the community spirit, and enjoy great music and each other’s company.” Similarly, DQ Darwin commented that, “What really got me to go in the end was the honest sense of community spirit and warmth felt from the posters in the thread. To me, this is the shiny side of SL; an idea is born, volunteers jump in, people have a common goal, the atmosphere is friendly and a heck of a lot of fun.”

This is from members of the same forum that has given voice to such heart-warming comments as “Here she comes, like a malignant tumor, metastasizing throughout the fora,” “all of you need to die, a.s.a.p.” and the mildly hyperbolic, “I’m going to fuck your mother, like a split egg, boil her intestines up, and give them to my dog as a chew toy.”

Despite such vitriolic sputum, people still turned up for an event that XiuLan.Quan described as “…a happening…like we were all in the vibe…you could feel the love” and an opportunity, as Magnus Brody put it “to meet lots of forum folks I hadn’t met yet.”

If any event so splendidly demonstrates the bipolar nature of living a Second Life, this was it. A classic example of the human ability to hold two competing viewpoints and totally ignore any dissonance itmight cause!

Hippie Bowman took some time post the event to comment on what he thinks makes a hippie. You can read the entire text at the General Discussions Forum but it’s worth summarizing by way of a single quote:

“To be a hippie you must believe in peace as the way to resolve differences among peoples, ideologies and religions.  The way to peace is through love and tolerance. Loving means accepting others as they are, giving them freedom to express themselves and not judging them based on appearances. This is the core of the hippie philosophy.”

It’s all too easy to curl the lip and assume an air of superiority over notions such as “peace,” “love” and “tolerance,” and certainly the second half of the 20th century has made us all professional cynics, a viewpoint supported by the easy access to a global media apparatus that supports the “if it bleeds, it leads” approach to news. Yet clearly there are still many examples of the expression of human kindness and respect, even if only for a few hours on a tiny sim in a virtual world. So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

It’s worth commenting that so splendid was the time people had that many folks who couldn’t make it to the bash felt left out. So the organizers decided to create an image of the sim using a handful of the original party-goers but with plenty of space to perform a Photoshop miracle: The Big Picture. Photographer Maryanne Solo offered her in-world photo-studio as a venue for people to visit, choose a pose, then take a picture. They could then post their images to a Forum thread created by Madelaine McMasters and these would be used to add to the mural.

I added an image. I became a vicarious hippie-for-the-day. But why? Perhaps it’s because like each one of us, I want to be protected from disappointment by becoming a hard-nosed, misanthropic curmudgeon who trusts nothing and no-one, but in reality, I remain an emotional mass of contradictions, held together by an ephemeral Ego and a variable point-of-view. As do the Forumites, who can one week be spitting venom and bringing down curses on fellow human beings but the next enjoying a pixilated love-in and a spirit of community that would baffle the most ossified cynic.

So maybe, just maybe, Hippiestock was not just a celebration of peace, love, and tolerance, but also a celebration of human contrariness, which is, after all, the essence of who we are.

28 Responses to “Hippiestock and the Sense of Community”

  1. Magnus Brody

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    It was a great day and the music was fab. The chatter throughout the event was witty and light, so I posted it all in my blog.

    I was so glad I was there – nice one, Hippie!

  2. Darien Caldwell

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    I was born in 1971, so I missed most of the hippie things, other than having a picture or two of me as a child with ridiculously huge lapels.

    I guess I’m a member of the MTV generation, that’s what I remember from my rebellious teen years. However, I can appreciate the sensibilities and values of that generation. So I’ve always been of a live and let live mentality.

    It’s good to see anyone getting together and enjoying SL together. Even dirty Hippies. :p

  3. hobo kelly

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    With the right HUD and pushing all the right buttons, you could have some epic lulz trolling at an event like that. Hippies flying around uncontrollably in weird poses, the mind boggles… At least when their love-ins are kept virtual you don’t have hundreds of porta-potties full of hippie shit to pump out.


  4. Hippie Bowman

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    Oh yes! It was quite a happening! I counted 68 on the sim at one time, and i believe over 100 attended in a round robin fashion! I believe that we have started a grand tradition here. It is my desire that we continue this tradition, and have a annual “Hippiestock”! Oh yes! Far out, and groovy!

    Peace to all of you!

    Hippie Bowman

  5. dq darwin

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    At the time I am responding to this there are two comments so far. One comment to the understanding of values and the other of “oh how I could have screwed things up”.

    The latter pretty much speaks for itself and its poster.

    The ability to bring together so many different people to have a great time is not only difficult but also amazing. To have something like that griefed is not hard with the tools available and requires little grey matter to succeed. That didn’t happen.

    Sigmund: Great article you captured it in its essence. Well written start to finish.

    As Hippie Bowman would say “PEACE”

  6. Quinn Morani

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    A fantastic write-up of the event and its lingering impact on the forum. I’m glad I was able to be there, and I’m very much looking forward to Hippiestock 2012!

  7. Argus Collingwood

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    Thanks for the article, Sig! Our family attended and had a blast! I took some fun photos too. They are on Snapzilla. http://www.sluniverse.com/pics/AlbumView.aspx?id=3338

    What an event! Lots of folks, great clothes, sense of community, no trash [although lots of crash for me taking photos;-)] no fights, pretty lights. A good time was had by all. Thanks again to Hippie, his Lady, Maddy, and of course Suspiria who all worked their collective butts off to organize this. You had to be thereand I’m glad I was. <333

  8. Raul Rehnquist

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    I attended Hippiestock 2011. It was one of the best SL events I’ve even been to. Great music and the people there were fantastic. There were no arguments or griefing. It was held in the spirit of peace and love the way the original event Woodstock had intended it to be. It gave a lot of us posters to the SL forum the opportunity to meet each other in the pixel flesh and interact with each other in a positive way. I want to thank Hippie Bowman and all the people behind the scenes that made this event happen. I hope Hippie would consider thinking about hosting this on a yearly basis.

  9. Imnotgoing Sideways

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    It gave me another chance to publicly take my shirt off. You’d be crazy if you think I’d let an opportunity like that pass by. =^-^=

  10. Quinn Morani

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    Here is the Flickr photostream of the Hippiestock event, with nearly 200 photos of the actual event and the follow-up group photo shoot contributed by many of the attendees. http://www.flickr.com/groups/hippiestock2011/

  11. Hippie Bowman

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    Hi All! In reference to Raul’s post “I hope Hippie would consider thinking about hosting this on a yearly basis.” I would be glad to host this event on a yearly basis, good lord willing! Yes!!


  12. Storm Clarence

    Feb 22nd, 2011

    I had a great time. I met so many people – just the opportunity to say hello in a different venue made it a wonderful time for me. The music was pretty cool, too.

  13. JessikaR

    Feb 23rd, 2011

    I was one of the many who were unable to attend. I am so touched by the effort the organizers made to include forumites like me in the “big picture”. I am sad to this day that I missed the event. Great article!

  14. Pep

    Feb 23rd, 2011

    Hippiestock – the Vanity Thread came alive! This is was what would have happened if Rousseau was an SL event organiser. The ladies who lunch got to check out what the self-publicising ‘shoppers *really* looked like – linebacker thighs, cankles and all. And the chat log sounded like a script from The Muppet Show – complete with Miss Piggy, but with the jokes omitted.

    Pep (likes the unintended cliche: “Been there, read the book, got the tshirt”.)

  15. Pappy Enoch

    Feb 23rd, 2011

    I were gittin’ drunk wif the Beatniks at a poetry readin’ (I were on stage, recitin’ my farm-yard .44 magnum opus, so’s to speak) an’ we heared about this luv-in.

    But Neal wrecked our fake car on our way to git us some hippie gals.

    Then Jack punched Allen for hittin’ on him and we walked back to San Fran in the fake rain under ol’ Allen called “the post-hippie doldrums,” got drunk again, an’ missed the dang thing.

    I needs me some new frends. These-here Beats am just a bunch o’ worthless, gal-chasin’, pill-poppin’, car-wreckin’, do-anything-fo’-a-fake-dollar…


  16. Keli Kyrie

    Feb 23rd, 2011

    I had a blast! (The hang over the next day last a month though) I love Hippiestock, I love everything it became. I would love to see it as an annual event!
    Keli :)

  17. Derek Torvalar

    Feb 24th, 2011

    “vitriolic sputum” indeed.
    Unlike those who can’t/won’t say shit even if they have a mouthful.




    I stand by my observation.

    Derek Torvalar
    Viscomte de Vitriol

  18. dq darwin

    Feb 24th, 2011

    As one of the ladies that likes to lunch (got that from and old fart), it must be said regardless of what perception of other people are it is a shame that Suspiria was not mentioned.

    I couldn’t give a tinker’s damn really about all the petty crap that gets tossed her way, but without her hard work Hippiestock would not have been the success I found it to be.

    So children throw your little barbs around, keep your little verbal digs flying but you can’t take her efforts away from her and the success of Hippiestock.

  19. Derek Torvalar

    Feb 24th, 2011

    dq darwin wrote:

    “…it is a shame that Suspiria was not mentioned.”



    “…petty crap…”

    I am sure the individual who was the victim of her vociferous and slanderous campaign to smear their business and character do not consider it so, as they try to defend themselves from her attack. Neither do those of us who witnessed her (and another’s) egregious, reprehensible behaviour in the last days of the GD specifically, as well as on countless other occasions against anyone else who dared to draw attention to her despicable nonsense.

    Had she acknowledged that she had in fact been in error in her assumptions, and that it was a flaw on the part LL when posting her “evidence” of the screenshot of the individual’s Marketplace store, that showed child Avs and nude adult Avs on the same page, showed *one ounce* of contrition, as opposed to redoubling her efforts to delete the evidence and “shop” the screen shot to cover her mistake, while implying he was promoting pedophilia, and then to continue even *to this very day* by calling the person a “smut peddlar”, perhaps her motivations might be perceived in a more altruistic light.

    But no, she is too much the LL fanboi to ever attribute responsibility to them.

    However, I am not so obtuse that I do not understand the motivation behind this personality, as evidenced by the way she conducts herself in light of her perceived slight of omission, by creating a blog in rebuttal to this write up and Proks blog. As well as her belligerence on the Offworld forum Her motivation was the glorification of her own ego, period..

    I suggest dq you extract your head from your anus as anoxia seems to be taking its toll.

    I stand by my original remarks, now conveniently sanitized from the GD.

  20. dq darwin

    Feb 24th, 2011

    @Derek Torvalar

    You can stand by whatever and where ever you wish and I don’t recall implying anything different.

    Two things do come to light with your post above.

    One. Being the mention of her name in any post in any forum requires your immediate attention, doesn’t say much for you either.

    Two. Being that you find it necessary to tell me to take my head out of my ass and see your point of view.

    I would suggest that just maybe you should come up for some fresh air yourself. Not everyone gives a damn about your smear campaign so motor on in your hate and enjoy your day.

  21. Billy21 Harbour

    Feb 24th, 2011

    I noticed even old bugger Pep tried his attempt to water down what others found good.

    To bad the old bladder on him doesn’t hold enough urine to do the trick or maybe the nappy got in the way.

    You keep looking down your nose Pep and you’re going to run into a wall.

    Can’t wait to hear your comment about the numbers in my name as an attempted put down.

  22. Derek Torvalar

    Feb 24th, 2011


    Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to her or you that Sig did indeed omit her from the piece by design as he knew that her inclusion would be a lightning rod, or in his mind divined the real reasons and did not want to give credit where he felt it was disingenuously motivated.
    Or maybe he is *that* incompetent a journalist.
    Only he can say.

    In that regard, if it was deliberate perhaps she should have taken that as an opportunity for reflection and derived some insight as to the reasons why, rather than drawing attention to herself in the manner she has.

    Thank you for the warm wishes, I hope you enjoy yours too.

    Now, lunch is over, get back to work!

  23. dqdarwin

    Feb 24th, 2011

    @ Derek Torvalar

    I do believe Sig is capable of speaking for himself so that parts just a waste.

    In so far as lunch is concerned, your direction as to when and if I go back to work is far from necessary or required.

    But these are the little barbs I speak of, so I have wasted enough time with you.


  24. Sigmund Leominster

    Feb 25th, 2011

    @Derek @ DQ

    For what it’s worth, the omission of Suspiria’s name from the article was for no more a mundane reason than I had more quotes and names than I could include without making it a much longer piece. For the Herald, I typically target 1000 words of copy, and this one actually goes to 1100. So inevitably, I end up spiking a fair number of quotes and sentences from my original notes in order to hit my target. There are other folks who gave me comments and who were also key to the Hippiestock event but I also omitted some of those too. Unless there was some subconscious process affecting my self-editing – and I’m certainly open to any discussion on psychoanalytical interpretations of my writing – the names and quotes I used are more the result of time and editing than any political motivations.

    An article on the people and rhetoric of the Second Life Forums may indeed be a possibility, but this was not intended to be that. My hope would be more that readers on the Herald might go straight to the source and check out the Forums to get a first-hand experience of the interactions and personalities that exist there. Yes, the Forums as a “live experience” are offline until March 2nd but the read-only offerings are still worth digging into!

  25. Derek Torvalar

    Feb 25th, 2011


    Thank you for the clarification. As usual, Occam was correct. as I had suspected.
    I don’t think any sessions will be needed, but if you wish to set up a few appointments I am willing to listen.

  26. dqdarwin

    Feb 25th, 2011

    Thanks Sig for clearing up what Derek suggested were your reasons.

    I never needed clarification as I class it as creative licence, your story your decision.

    I simply stated what I feel was a shame that Suspiria was not mentioned which is my readers privilege.

    If you were to read my first post to this article it is exactly what I still feel.

    It is a shame the mention of one person’s name can conjure up the same hatred she is accused of in others. Regardless of all the name calling and finger pointing that is thrown out, which I care little about, she did put a lot of time and effort into this event.

    It is still a great article.

  27. At0m0 Beerbaum

    Feb 25th, 2011

    The reason people have become embittered and hateful is due to the selfishness that was on the rise during the 80′s.

    The sad part is, kind and generous acts are met with skepticism and even accusations of ulterior motives.

    Hell I got met with that at my job the other day for bringing food and treats. “People who give often like to take as well” Even though I was being generous because I merely wanted to be. (HOLY SHIT A HORRID GRIEFER BEING GENEROUS. MY GOD. believe it.)

    Which is why people end up being hateful and bitter towards each other, and become self absorbed as a result, becoming a self-feeding loop of misery.

    Though it has one positive aspect, people are seeing bullshit better than in the past to some degree. Though that’s kind of hard to see given that everyone was all over Obama’s cock in 2008. But I digress.

  28. Sophia Yates

    Mar 6th, 2011

    I love this photo! I haven’t had to much time for SL this past year but this is a great image. Love it. What this image did was draw me back in to that magical world of creation but I have learned my realistic boundaries & limits.

    Second life is a tool for my creative whatevers.This is great I love it and good job to all who participated in this images creation.

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