(Menand’s article appeared in the New Yorkers,  8/24.)

In the late spring of 1967, Joan Didion, accompanied by a photojournalist named Ted Streshinsky, began making trips from Berkeley, where she was staying, to Haight-Ashbury, to do research for a piece on the hippies for The Saturday Evening Post. Didion was thirty-two, and she had been a magazine writer for eleven years. She and her husband, John Gregory Dunne, had moved from New York City to Southern California three years earlier, and, in March, 1966, they had adopted a daughter and named her Quintana Roo, after an area on the Yucatán Peninsula.

In the summer of 1967, the Haight was a magnet for people looking for a place to do drugs. Didion hung out mainly with runaways and acidheads. She met people like Deadeye, a dealer, and his old lady, Gerry, who wrote poetry but gave it up after her guitar was stolen. Deadeye tells Didion he is looking for a ride to New York City. She shows him a sign offering a ride to Chicago. He asks her where Chicago is.


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