Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Isolated Incident...

Practically everyone I know, including my very conservative mother-in-law, Remembers WOODSTOCK, (excluding those friends who had not been born yet). And for some strange reason, that I cannot fathom, the government and most of the media(Newspapers) wanted it to be a dismal failure. NY Times reporters said that the paper wanted to report the horror stories. But the reporter refused to give them what they wanted. Radio stations coast to coast lied about the terrible conditions while parents who had talked to their children on land-line phones at GROUND-ZERO, called in to correct the reports.
To be totally honest, there were 3 fatalities at Woodstock. 1 drug overdose, 1 fall from scaffolding, and 1 occupied sleeping bag accidentally run-over. There were 3 reported miscarriages, and only 2 births. (on a side note; Former Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler, was a 17 year old audience member).
Then NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller, said to one of the Festival financiers, that he wanted to send in the NY national guard. Reportedly because of the negative press he was hearing. The promoter appealed to the politician, and he acquiesced. Can you imagine the result of sending armed troops into 500,000 drug crazed, anti-war, anti-american, hippies? (this group gave a standing ovation when Jimi Hendrix played the National Anthem). That question was answered 8 months later at a peace rally in Kent State University in Ohio.
What did America have to fear by their youth gathering peacefully while the rest of the world looked on? Granted the notorious anti-war, anti-military, anarchist rabble-rouser Abby Hoffman was in attendance. Despite being tossed off stage while interrupting The Who, he actually established, set up, organized and ran the EMERGENCY MEDICAL Hospital (in his auto-biography he referred to himself as the "FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE of the fair.") on site.
But in spite of the outside interlopers, the event was declared a success. Financially, the investors did not break even until after the movie was released. Yet Woodstock was never about the money. The promoters had under-anticipated a 200,000 attendance, and after being overwhelmed on the first day, they removed the gate and allowed everyone else in for free.
Maybe that was the key to its success. Because, every endeavor to re-create that spectacle failed dismally. Four short months later in Altamont California, a rock festival, billed as "Woodstock West" became the failure the government had been looking for at Woodstock.
Later generations tried to re-create the magic and we're surprised when rally attenders rioted and destroyed the venue. Punk rockers and Head-bangers just don't get it!
Woodstock was after all, an isolated incident. Not the dawning of the age of Aquarius. Not a watershed event! These days, only the Super Bowl comes close to the (peaceful?) same attendance levels of Woodstoc. And none of those have ever exceeded 150,000. It was a case of "In the right place at the right time." Entrepreneurs have erected an indoor musical theater nearby the original site. But the movie "Woodstock", produced by a group of unpaid filmmakers, is truly remarkable. It is the closest you will ever come to realizing the gravity of that epic event. "500,000 people, that's a whole lot of freaks" Arlo Guthrie.

1 comment:

Blasé said...

I wasn't aware of some of that info, thanks, HH.

Yo, HH,

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