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Woodstock Not Through Rose Tinted Hippie Glasses

Woodstock Not Through Rose Tinted Hippie Glasses

Woodstock Not Through Rose Tinted Hippie Glasses

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the the Woodstock music festival, an event which symbolizes the Baby Boomer generation. And as a Baby Boomer, I beg you: let’s not celebrate this bad trip, please? The famous “Three Days of Peace and Music” was more like three days of drugs, bad performances, and yes — poop. Poop everywhere.

Oh, songstress Joni Mitchell wrote a song about Woodstock with a lovely melody and wistful lyrics.

“By the time we got to Woodstock,
We were half a million strong
And Everywhere there was song and celebration.

And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky,
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation.”

Yeah, about that. Joni Mitchell wasn’t even there. She was in a hotel room in New York City, waiting to appear on the Dick Cavett Show.

But back to Woodstock.

The festival was the brainchild of four young men, one of them a pharmaceutical heir, who decided to form a music studio in Woodstock, NY. However, that didn’t pan out, so these four amateurs decided that “hey, let’s find a farm and put on a music festival!” would be a great way to make money. In fact, they thought they might be able to get 250,000 hippies to part with a few bucks, and voilà! They’d be rich!

Which of course went against the hippie anti-capitalist trope of the Establishment making evil “bread, man,” but if hippies could smoke some weed and listen to some big name music acts, they’d be down with it.

Woodstock

Credit: Evan Moss/flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0. 

Trouble was, however, large landowners didn’t want all those smelly counter-culture types on their property. So the festival company, called “Woodstock Ventures,” had to finagle a Bethel dairy farmer, Max Yasgur, into allowing the festival on his farm. But the promoters conned Yasgur with a lie: they told him that about 50,000 concertgoers would show up. However, more like ten times that number swamped Yasgur’s farm.

Ah, but more about that farm. If you’re thinking that 500,000 peace, love, and rock n’ roll types lounged in bucolic pastures, you’d be wrong. They actually swarmed onto Yasgur’s alfalfa fields, which had recently been fertilized with manure.

The rest, as they say, is a nausea-inducing history of drugs, lack of food, safety problems (a tractor ran over a kid, who died), and lack of toilets. In fact, there were only three portable toilets for every 10,000 people, so yes, as I wrote above — there was poop everywhere. Then it rained, five inches of it dumping on drugged-out hippies and all that hippie poop. Even sitar performer Ravi Shankar compared them to water buffaloes in his native India.

Good times, right?

But 50 years later, some promotors thought it would be groovy to relive those glory days of 1969. Not only that, but the company promoting the Woodstock commemorative concert would also celebrate vague liberal causes, such as “universal human rights, ethical business practices, unfettered creative expression, free trade, the loving care of our planet, the power of the individual to make a difference, and the overwhelming impact of communities to act as agents of peaceful change.” Rolling Stone magazine breathlessly shouted out the musical lineup, which even included a few old acts from the original festival.

But apparently there weren’t enough aging hippies around, or maybe Millennials don’t really care to relive what Gammaw and PopPop did in 1969. Woodstock 2019 was cancelled.

Good riddance to a lousy idea, I say — celebrating the worst of my generation is ridiculous. Let’s remember Boomers who actually accomplished things, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, or Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Condoleezza Rice, and Rush Limbaugh. Not all of us embraced the hype, took the drugs, and became smelly hippies.

 

Featured image: Mark Goff/Wikimedia/cropped and enhanced/public domain.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

10 Comments
  • Scott says:

    ” Let’s remember Boomers who actually accomplished things, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, or Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Condoleezza Rice, and Rush Limbaugh. Not all of us embraced the hype, took the drugs, and became smelly hippies.”

    Kim can we include those like my father, who fought in Vietnam, received a Bronze Star with V, then returned home to be a firefighter, marry, and raise a family (including another firefighter)?

    I can guess your answer, just putting it out there for others.

    • Kim Hirsch says:

      Absolutely, Scott. We at VG will always honor vets like your dad, who served honorably in an unpopular war.

  • Wfjag says:

    – As long as there’s, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the Rock and Roll.
    Mick Shrimpton
    late drummer, Spinal Tap

  • Paladin says:

    “ Let’s remember Boomers who actually accomplished things, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, or Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Condoleezza Rice, Rush Limbaugh—“ And Kim Hirsch!!

  • GWB says:

    “universal human rights, ethical business practices, unfettered creative expression, free trade, the loving care of our planet, the power of the individual to make a difference, and the overwhelming impact of communities to act as agents of peaceful change.”
    Was it just me that had an image of Kim swaying with her head tilted a little back as she typed those words, ending with a verbal “and peace, love and harmony, man”? 🙂

  • PapaMAS says:

    Thank you! I have always hated people waxing rhapsodic about that stupid gathering.

  • D C says:

    When I think of Woodstock I think of 3 things:
    Micheal Shrieve’s drum solo with Santana.
    Alvin Lee’s guitar with 10 Years After.
    and The Who.
    I am also thankful I experienced it in a movie theater
    in 1970 and not camped out in the mud on Yasgur’s farm.
    Anyway I was busy watching the moon landing in ’69.

  • drew458 says:

    There was a 25th anniversary event too. It was also a drugged out mess in the mud, attended by pretenders.
    Yes, I am old enough to remember the original one. Actually, we drove through the area while on a family camping vacation. Scruffiest people you ever saw. Armies of them. Roll the windows lock the doors. Hippies sucked.

  • Jack_of_Spades says:

    Boomers won’t admit the Sixties are over because the boomers are over too.

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