Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

WOODSTOCK THEN AND NOW

        Two “50s” occurred recently, i.e., half-century anniversaries of events that seem equally to have captivated the public mind. 

          There will always be commemorations of the Moon Landing, unto perpetuity, meaning fifty years from now and beyond. Woodstock will not. Woodstock will be forgotten, and with good reason. They couldn’t even pull off an anniversary concert for it. 

          What happened on a New York dairy farm in August of 1969 was a miracle for what didn’t happen, i.e., a tragedy. Modern music concerts are to make money, and that year it would have been a tidy sum had not twice as many people showed up as the 200K that were invited, making tickets a joke. 

          The photo of a pair wrapped in blissful embrace boggles the mind to be hence called “iconic”—it’s not a good pic and one face is unseen–a long way from the sailor-kissing-girl that captured the end of World War II. Other Woodstock photos were better but limited to bare-chested guys glad to be far from the din of war and gals too with bared breasts, twirling blithely in the flowing moon-skirts of the day.  

          Other concerts have followed, ranging from mild to disappointing to violent. But one thing organizers have learned is to make sure the revelers pay, unlike the freeloaders of ’69, with a business model of corporate efficiency. Such was the one four years later at Watkins Glen raceway in New York, but who remembers that? All went well, only three bands played, but mucho bucks were made. Can’t say the same where Hell’s Angels were hired as security, and shortly after Woodstock at Altamont Speedway when someone was murdered right in front of a Stones performance.  

          Some may opine I was just an old phart out of touch with his feelings for the time, tsk-tsk-ing at the Generation Gap that yawned before him. That would be a No: I ran a newspaper of the genre called the “alternative press” which was challenging, yea, assaulting big-city papers by running off with their younger readers. We targeted ages 18-35, for which I had a special gift of knowing precisely what they wanted to read and talk about. 

          But my ambition, throughout careers involving speaking and writing, was to make people think about what they’re believing and doing in the name of anything, whether life, love, morals or God. It never appealed to me to leap without looking when it came to fads of the day or to join the crowds of monkey-see, monkey-do. 

          In pot-filled rooms I was the unpopular one finally to say, to the dismay of many, that we needed new acts and new material. I guessed right that there was a mixture of anger and guilt for that goddam unholy mess in Vietnam which, yes, was brought on by the older generation at the expense of the young. Pot parties were escapes, but so were after-work bars filled with the pin-striped crowd that drank every day because they were selling their souls to “company stores” while violating their own morals and ethics.  

           So the bloom hath gone from the rose, everybody, like Topsy, has just “growed” up now and back in the old rut–some even casting ballots for Trump. But the youthful thought of being destined for eternal freedom was a mirage.  

          Among my companion careers has been conflict management, primarily for small businesses, newspapers and churches—the last of which are the worst. One was a large congregation near the nation’s capital, where I was sent to fetch the beleaguered clergyman before someone put thumb screws to him.

         His sins, as they became clear, were lesser than his enemies would have one think, and in the middle were four couples who were former hippies. It was a tense moment when I met solely with them and asked what the hell had happened to all the Peace and Love: they didn’t want the poor schmuck gone, they wanted to kill him.

        To me it was symbolic of the days of yore, when I knew that all the hugging and rhetoric was a cover for a human nature that will always be the same: “hare today, goon tomorrow.”

        This life and the world we live in is serious business, and it’s terminal; we won’t get out of it alive. The era of Trump is to me a logical conclusion—bad karma. As long as we believe anything without questioning, and do nothing but follow the leader and his crowd, we’ll end with as many Trumps as the Romans had bad emperors.

2 Responses to “WOODSTOCK THEN AND NOW”

  1. Woodstock was a make-belief moment, wasn’t it? As always , I enjoyed reading your piece on Woodstock and other facets of our fantasy world. But I am bothered by your conclusion that there will be more Trumps down the road for future generations to confront. I was hoping for a “this too will pass” conclusion to the current craziness. Maybe I will stay with my optimism, but your thought is worthy of further consideration.

  2. Woodstock, kids behaving badly. I was trying to keep my kids from being arrested. There will always be more Trumps, incubating in the swamp/


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