Writer Rich Israel decided to pen his autobiography after the birth of his daughter, to give a future generation a sane look at the crazy 1960s, a time when he was totally “groovin’.” Contacting old friends and dredging up old memories, he constructs a tale that is almost unbelievable, but the more you read, the more you are convinced that the author is someone who could have done all the things he claims. Starting with his first acid trip, in a cabin in Yosemite in 1967, and winding up with a plan to hike to Alaska, maybe, in 1969, Israel's story is a flower-child’s fantasy. Determined not to go to Vietnam, standing up for his non-violent principles, he became a "minister" in a “church” purpose-made to protect peace-loving potheads. An avid hiker and hitchhiker, he conceived the mad idea of riding horseback from Taos, New Mexico, to Aspen, Colorado, so he and a buddy saddled up after a 2-day crash course in horsemanship. Along the way, the author worked for a circus, let himself be held by the feet over a chasm in the Grand Canyon, and smoked a lot of weed.
Israel’s flowing memoir is peppered with photos that underpin the authenticity of the tales—a group of hippies in a Volkswagen bus, Israel and a friend riding horses in a high meadow. His saga is well organized, recounting the laughs, the sensuality, the highs and the sometimes very real danger he indulged in without apparent residual regret or embarrassment. He was always ready to move to the next happening, loveliest or mountaintop trail, as befit the era and the ethos. With a sequel in the works, Groovin’ is poised to attract a tuned-in readership of former (and current) hippies, and armchair ‘60s fans seeking a contact high.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review