Robert Friedman Presents 2015
In "An Evening with Peter Coyote" Peter shares his reflections on a life that includes "doing the Sixties" in San Francisco and chairing the California Arts Council in the '70s as an appointee of then and now Governor Jerry Brown.
Followed by a Q&A session, this informal lecture will inspire and educate younger members of the audience, and will resonate with anyone who remembers the Sixties and was affected by the ideals of that generation.
The photo on the top is not a ghost, because the flesh and spirit it represents is still with us, despite alterations. The photo on the bottom is definitely an heir. This was the maiden voyage of a 1937 Harley rigid-frame motorcycle built while Peter Coyote was living with Pete Knell, President of the San Francisco Hell’s Angels, who later invited him to prospect for membership. The top photo was taken in Valencia, Spain 42 years later where Peter was starring in a movie by the celebrated Spanish director Bigas Lunas. Between the two photos, one taken in 1968 and the other in 2011, he has traversed the realities of communes, heroin addiction, the chairmanship of a California state agency, authorship of two books, and international movie stardom and ordination as a Zen Buddhist priest. The world between those bookend dates has changed as dramatically as he has and Mr. Coyote has regarded those changes from a deep well of varied experience and deep thought which has afforded him a perspective outside the social conventions that often pass for thought.
Much of the political world, the turbulent white-water of contending interests and ambitions remains unchanged from the days of his youth---war is as evident today as it was in 1968--- poverty, injustice, capitalism, imperialism and empire---all stated targets of the counter-culture (to which he dedicated nearly 15 years of his life)--- are still extant lending credence to charges that those experiments failed in their ambitions.
However, what has changed dramatically is the American culture---the rich broth of life in which we all steep every day. In 1968 one had to travel far to reach the one organic food store in San Francisco, and once there, be prepared to buy only in bulk. Wine might have been a bottle of Cribari or Almaden. Medicine was Western, religion was Christian or Jew, mothers were in the kitchen, children born in hospitals, and those we recognize today as gay and transgender people were not even graced with dignified identities. Black, Red, and Brown power had not asserted itself on the national consciousness.
Today, there is no place in the nation where one cannot find environmental groups fighting to protect the earth. Women’s rights to autonomy, equal pay and political power are commonplace even if they are not universally honored and rewarded. Various spiritual and religious practices—Yoga, Vedanta, Tai-Chi, Chi-Gung, Buddhism, Sufiism, meditation, are commonly practiced.
After a day’s filming in 2011 Spain, Peter’s director and fellow actors retired to a slow-food restaurant to eat locally grown, organic food. The man in the tie in the photo on the right, if not well, as frequently consults an acupuncturist or herbalist as a Western allopathically trained doctor.
These are momentous changes and they are like oceanic deeps, transmitting long-term effects on a reality often identified only by its surface. Numerous young people have corresponded with Mr. Coyote, hoping to learn about the Sixties and their implications from an unvarnished, hard-but-fair perspective. They intuit that understanding these changes might be vital to their education and an aid in refining their future plans. Peter’s book on the counter-culture, Sleeping Where I Fall, (Counterpoint Press) has been on three best-seller lists and in continuous print since 1999. It is being used as a source-text in numerous Sixties-studies courses at Harvard and elsewhere.
To meet this interest and engage the questions that are often put to him, he has shaped an hour-long event, with room for plenty of Q&A, to address both the ghosts and heirs of the Sixties. Has the present distinguished itself today for the better or worse? Have the facile judgements of pundits and opinion-makers been accurate or inaccurate in assessing this period. What lessons from this recent past might be replicated? What might be better forgotten? What are the indelible lessons, written in blood and lives lost which should be absorbed?
Widely celebrated as an articulate, amusing, and compelling speaker, Peter Coyote would be a welcome and innovative addition to any speaking venue. Currently booking for 2015-16.
Robert Friedman Presents 2015