I must apologise old chap, I read your question hurriedly while packing to go to Wales, I just find your friend's comments to be glib and uninspiring. I agree that it is indeed a sad inditement of contraculture to hear people saying 'oh man that scene would look sooooo cooool on acid!', like they missed the point without.
As for me, I left the city, and it was a most unholy place, vibrant, granted, but only beautiful in an intellectual/existential fashion, which just 'aint REAL enough for me any more! If that sounds like snobbery, I apologise, it's just my honest feelings about the whole thing. Retrospetus in Excelsis.