Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Far out, groovy, and peace-loving"

P.J. O'Rourke wasn't at Woodstock [Paul Manual was], but P.J. no longer regrets that fact. He doesn't find the celebration of Woodstock's 40th anniversary particularly interesting either.
...[T]he long weekend of August 15-17, 1969, was one of the great where-weren't-you? moments of recent history. Along with 202,177,000 other Americans, where I wasn't was at Woodstock.

Though it was not for lack of trying. I was 21 and smitten with a girl—call her Sunflower—from exotic Massapequa, Long Island. I had come by motorcycle from Ohio with the idea of Sunflower riding pillion to a "Woodstock Music and Arts Fair" which, according to a poster in a record shop back in Yellow Springs, was "An Aquarian Exposition" featuring "Three Days of Peace and Music." I pictured something on the order of a wind chime sale with evening hootenannies and maybe a surprise guest appearance by Mimi Fariña. ....

What with one thing and another, I was always touchy on the subject of Woodstock. I'm over it now, thanks to various books celebrating the 40th anniversary of too many people in bad haircuts going to an upstate New York dairy farm for no good reason. ....

Woodstock had deep political meaning: "Out of that sense of community, out of that vision, that Utopian vision, comes the energy to go out there and actually participate in the process so that social change occurs," said Abbie Hoffman, shortly before he killed himself. In the meantime Abbie had written a book, Woodstock Nation. Like everyone else I have never read it, but I've been to that country—overcrowded, muddy, lacking in food, and public order. It's called Bangladesh. (And wasn't there a concert that had something to do with that place, too?)

Abbie Hoffman was the source of the one amusing Woodstock anecdote. You'd think you'd get a lot of funny stories from filling a cow pasture with half-a-million adolescents. But no. The Who were playing. After "Pinball Wizard," Pete Townshend turned away to adjust his amplifier. Abbie rushed onstage, grabbed the microphone and began a political rant. Townshend "whacked him in the head with his guitar."

It was one of Pete's best licks. And here's another: "The people at Woodstock," the book quotes Townshend as saying, "really were a bunch of hypocrites claiming a cosmic revolution simply because they took over a field, broke down some fences, imbibed bad acid, and then tried to run out without paying the bands." .... [more]
PREVIEW: Sex, Drugs, Music, Mud

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