Technicolor Dreamin’: The 1960’s Rainbow and Beyond
Karen Moller; Paperback, 332 pages
Published January 25th 2006 by Trafford Publishing
When I read On the Road in 1959 in my third year of art school in Canada, my cowboy heroes transformed into Kerouac’s mythical duo zigzagging their way across America. They recast the American myth, “Go west, young man; freedom is waiting for you”, to “Go, young woman and forge a new identity”. That book set me on my travels to San Francisco, the beatnik heartland in search of that mysterious brotherhood of creative spirits working in a forbidden underground.
My next stop was New York and then Paris where I worked with artists Jean Tinguely, Yves Klein, Robert Filliou and met their American friends, such as John Cage, Andy Warhol and the beatnik writers, William Burroughs and Gregory Corso.
In 1962, I traveled to London where the anti-war movement was in full swing. Even in that politically active environment, there was little to indicate that England was on the threshold of a cultural revolution. London burst forth with avant-garde art galleries, art centers, dance clubs, bookshops and the Underground newspaper IT. The young shed their dowdy post-war clothes for the multicolored petals of the emerging hippie counterculture and soon I was designing and printing my own fabrics as well as wholesaling to other boutiques, notably Kings Road and Carnaby Street, the centers of everything “in”. With the fading of the hippie dream, I moved back to Paris, where I added fashion futurist to my activities. Within a few years, my firm became the major forecaster of fabric and color trends for top designers.
The quintessential hippie icon was the Rainbow. It covered fabrics, record covers, and graphic designs. It symbolized freedom and our desire to discover life’s potential, not just the pot of gold. It was a time of carefree days and unashamed utopianism. We fought for just causes, made love, and made merry while we lived on innocent dreams of being revolutionaries.
– Goodreads on Technicolor Dreamin’
I will admit I came into reading this book rather guarded. It’s a really bad habit of mine, but I’m easily influenced by covers in my reading-mood. Don’t get me wrong, I can like the book and dislike the cover, and if I dislike the cover, sadly the book will have do very well on its own, it won’t have the benefit of some starting points to build on, it’ll have to build from scratch.
I didn’t like the cover of this book; it’s a cool cover, but it isn’t to my taste. Looking at it makes my eyes feel color-assaulted, there, I’ve said it. Don’t hate me, ok? It’s all about freedom, so I’m free to say it. I feel it, therefore I say it. Hurrah to the many pleasures of freedom of thought, and opinion, and speech. Ok, moving on.
I was expecting this to be a memoir deal, with a little bit more…memoir in it. I’m not sure why, but me and Karen Moller didn’t connect. And what drove us even further apart was the spice of the book, the human sides of artists and writers, from the point of view of someone who actually got to know them. In this I will confess to have a strange aversion toward the biographical details of creators; it’s my very own opinion, of course, people are generally fascinated with getting to know the person behind the myth, so to speak. I think it’s a bad idea, and I hated it ever since I was in 5th grade, and we made these biographical notes of every writer we ever studied in Literature. I’m not going to elaborate on that, but I will tell you that I almost physically cringe whenever a book or movie starts telling me about the person X when I know and remotely like the creator X. I don’t care what the person creates, whatever they do, I’m really not interested in their private lives. I’m not interested in singers/actors/painters/writers lives, just in their art. It’s perhaps cruel of me to think so, but their private lives are for them to know, for their friends to know, for their families to know. As long as I’m not part of their lives, I don’t really care about finding out details or aspects of them.
So what happened here was that a lot of time while I was reading this, I was cringing. There weren’t details about creative people’s lives, well except the main character’s of course, but I have a very low tolerance for any amount of such info. I actually think that I would have enjoyed the book a lot more if it would have focused a lot more on the main character, and less on the rest of the world, no matter how bohemian or intriguing it may seem.
I enjoyed a lot more the beginning of the book then the rest of it, and the latter part of it, really. It was entertaining, because the writing is really nice, and people and events depicted are of the interesting variety, and there were some really intellectually enjoyable ideas all over the place, but they gave me this sort of sterile pleasure; I didn’t really feel it that much.
I will add that during the read I didn’t at any point feel tempted to drop it. It has this je ne sais quoi, a charm all of its own, somehow regardless of much of the content, which seems sort of odd I guess. But it’s how I feel, so…
It’s a good book, but a bad match for me. So I’d say try it out for yourself, I’m the rare sort of person really, so you might love it to bits.
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