Some of you may have heard of the Oregon Vortex, a place in Gold Hill, Oregon where the natural laws seem unable to hold sway.
But this weekend marks the fortieth anniversary of a different Oregon Vortex, proving the counterculture of Oregon in 1970 rivaled even that of California.
In late August 1970, President Nixon was scheduled to speak at the American Legion National Convention in Portland. The Portland-based People’s Army Jamboree announced it would hold a concurrent event to protest the Vietnam War. The FBI told McCall he should expect 25,000 Legionnaires and 50,000 anti-war demonstrators to clash in Portland and top the mayhem of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Fearing that radicals might foment violence against the Legionnaires, a few Portland hippies proposed a free rock festival outside of Portland as an alternative. The hippies asked McCall for a place to hold it. He gave them McIver State Park and told local and state law enforcement officials to lay off. Did they ever.
State-sponsored, completely free, the Red Cross handed out illegal drugs to keep attendees in the park and happy. Quite a cast of characters was in attendance:
Vortex I’s cast of characters, in the flesh and at the edges of the story, include: Spiro Agnew, Red Skelton, the Rainbow Family, Matt Groening, John Kerry, Donald Rumsfeld, and current NY Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, who was a cub reporter at the Oregonian.
Read the rest of the blog on Powell’s Web site.
Far out, man! Keep Portland Weird!