Drugs, Sex, And Sloth: Unearthing A KPIX Documentary About The Haight

Drugs, Sex, And Sloth: Unearthing A KPIX Documentary About The HaightPhoto: The Maze / SFSU Archives
Amy Stephenson
Published on June 04, 2014
In 1967, Michael McClure, an avant-garde poet and playwright, presented a documentary for KPIX about the Bohemia/Brigadoon he saw as the Haight Ashbury. It's called The Maze, and it contains some of the best sweeping panoramas of the Haight in its day we've ever seen. Put on your cultural anthropologist glasses, lick the tip of your pencil, and jump in.  
Why you should watch it: 

  • Great shots of the interior of the Psychedelic Bookshop that used to be on the 1500 block (where Big Slice Pizza currently resides), complete with an explanation that until LSD was made illegal in 1966, it was a gathering place to listen to records, wear leather, and drop acid. 
  • An endorsement of the hippies: McClure claims that before the hippie movement, the neighborhood was rife with narcotics and prostitution, but that "the young people" came in and cleaned it up. 
  • The hair. Facial, and other.
  • Seeing the interior of the Print Mint, which also used to be on the 1500 block. It's  a poster shop/art gallery filled with what look like Haight Ashbury Street Fair posters before there was a Haight Ashbury Street Fair. "It's like putting a scroll on your wall. You hang it with thumbtacks—you don't put it behind a piece of glass."
  • Quotes like: "Sex can be beautiful! But, with too many, too often, it can turn sour."
  • Shots of the Straight Theater in what used to be a Masonic Temple. It was at Haight and Cole, and it was demolished in 1981.
  • Quotes like: "When you come to the conclusion that there is nothing but meat, and meat is spirit, and the human meat and human spirit is reality, then you end up in rooms like this."
  • Shots of The Grateful Dead just hanging out at their 710 Ashbury Street flat. The inside looks ... well, sort of exactly like you'd think it looks. 
  • The Panhandle looking lush, green, and full of cyclists riding in the non-bike lane. 
The entire documentary is 25 minutes and 12 seconds of pure gold, and we highly recommend it. The takeaway thesis is that "the maze" of Haight Ashbury is charming and misunderstood, and not half as dangerous or debaucherous as outsiders might have you believe. Sound familiar?

Without further ado, here's the full video: