Monday, August 17, 2009

Woodstock: I guess I should comment -- everyone else is....

The news and papers are full of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. I have seen footage of Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. The band Canned Heat sang there too, and I always loved their name. Canned Heat -- now what does that mean? It's so original that I liked it and "Going up to the Country" did not have to do with Newport.

BTW: When Janis Joplin died in 1970, I had this really out of it friend named Robin, who asked me, when I told her that Joplin had overdosed: “Really, what grade was she in?”

Bwhaha -- we told that story so many times that it became myth like. Robin said some awesome things; she was so gullible and sheltered.

Anywho... ha ha....

Looks like all forms of media are in on “feelin’ the love” of the summer of 1969.

Interviewing gray-bearded men and grandmothers across America who attended Woodstock, the journalists now, in retrospect, seem to be of the consensus that the “idea” of Woodstock was a much bigger piece of smoke than the event itself.

Regardless, we Americans love our nostalgia -- and it’s now time to be all sloopy over Woodstock.

Here are my comments to add to the millions of others out there:

I had just turned fifteen years old in August of 1969 -- I was attending band camp, going to M.Y. F. on Sunday nights, and hanging our with my friends. We were more wholesome than Woodstock, I guess, as we got together to watch the moon walk in July the month before.

In fact, our parents let us stay up and out past curfew to watch it at Diane’s house and, oh my, in mixed company. We were, however, fully chaperoned by Diane’s mother who had the same characteristics as a rottweiler on guard duty. That woman could stare.

For me, Woodstock was a story on the news, pages of pictorial coverage in Life magazine, and write ups in the local paper. I‘m sure my parents thought it was heathenish, amoral, and downright embarrassing to watch all that wallowing in the mud, much less the hollering on the stage.

I never heard them comment or if they did, it wasn’t part of my world, so I didn’t care. If someone from my neighborhood or high school or even one of my brother’s college friends attended Woodstock, I didn’t know about it, and at the time, we sure didn't say, "Oh, are you going to that concert in New York?" We lived in a small world....

I know that one of my friends later claimed that his brother was in the opening credits of the Woodstock documentary, filmed hanging on the scaffolding beside the stage. Taken from a helicopter, it was hard to tell who the long haired young man was -- he could have been anyone, but my friend, Brad, claimed that it was his brother Terry -- the family of four boys had the reputation for being "wild." *shrugs*

Terry could have been there, for I was no one to dispute it, but the claim only mattered that he was, months later, when the thought of having attended Woodstock was equivalent to nowadays bragging about attending Harvard or Princeton.

By spring of 1970, the hippie influence of Woodstock had caught up with my peer group. We began to wear blue jeans as often as we could (even though we couldn’t wear them to school), we bought t-shirts, abandoned our bras if we were female, that is, and allowed our hair to look stringy. The longer hair that a girl had the cooler she was....

My brothers let their hair grow as well, but more unkempt -- they wore corduroys, shopped at Army surplus stores for cool jackets, and did not shave. For a guy, it must have been Nirvana to totally disregard your appearance …

BTW: I hope my brother cut his hair before he rode a Trailways bus to Boston from the University of Virginia to campaign for McGovern in 1971. Those black and white photos, snapped from that door to door deluge of college students, were some serious, cerebral folks, perhaps bright eyed from too much coffee and cigarettes.

Somehow, this little tid-bit about my brother I didn’t know until recently.

My parents never knew it, I feel sure, since they voted for Nixon and defended him throughout the Watergate affair. When they found out he was guilty, their hearts were broken and they felt humiliated that they were somehow hoodwinked by this man they trusted to be telling the truth.

I like to go on record to say, that when we embraced the hippie culture, we took it on with good hygiene. The hair and clothes were clean; they just were not particularly attractive. I have many pictures from that era that are hilarious.

Who thought hip hugger blue jeans with patches sewn all over them was a good look? Tapestried bell bottoms? Tops made of scarves? Army jackets with USMC over the pocket?

I remember my strait-laced sister complaining to my mother that her sister [me] wasn’t wearing a bra or makeup. My mother told me later that she told my sister at the time that she “had bigger fish to fry.”

I loved the expression “bigger fish to fry.” I would not have wanted to know those particular fish, and no daughter does if she has a healthy relationship with her mother.

Just saying.

The best thing to come out of Woodstock was the documentary -- I am sure it was way better than the actual event which looked like a mess to me, but I have always had a adage: “No thermostat, no Harriett.”

I don’t camp.

I don’t see the purpose when there is a perfectly good Marriott or Ritz down the road.

I knew this boy once who thought that was the end all - - camping -- and not just any sissy camping -- but the parking on the side of some woods and hiking 20 miles into the forest kind of camping -- for a moment, I thought I was in love with him, but then I cut my toe so seriously on a metal light pole in his front yard that we made a trip to Grady Memorial for nine stitches and a tetanus shot.

Not a match made in heaven, especially since he dropped me off at the emergency room door and told me (as he flipped me a dime) to call him when I was done cause he doesn‘t do “hospitals.”

What? Who doesn’t do “hospitals”? Only someone who has something “weird” in their bloodstream?

I used that dime and called my girlfriend instead. I have also sworn off camping and any man who thinks that's a good way to spend a weekend.

What was I blogging about?

Oh yeah, Woodstock. I love the documentary, but I wouldnt' have wanted to attend. The footage makes me itch.

Woodstock -- 40 Years Later: Much ado about something, but it wasn’t something I would know, and even if I had been older, it wouldn’t have been something I would have done, but my friend Wingate would have been there for the experience.

Happy Anniversary, Woodstock -- you will never happen again, nor should you.


  1. They did a 30th anniversary of Woodstock in 1999. It was done on a closed Airforce base. It was hot and they charged $5 a bottle of water. The old runways were where the concert was setup. It did not end well with the riot ensued.

    All I could think was those damn dirty hippies at the first one were reasonably behaved if they stayed away from the brown acid unlike their spawn.

    BTW, I was 9 months old when the original one took place. :)

  2. I'm okay with that comment about how old you were Jay because I wasn't that old myself -- :)

  3. I know Wingate was at Woodstock. I saw her in a photo. She's the tie-dyed one. You went to Grady?!!

  4. I always thought the Van Halen song "Hot for Teacher" was written about you...


  5. I didn't even exist then.
    And camping's not bad.

  6. Captain Jay -- I can tell you are in the journalism business. LOL

    Dr. Parrott -- Lenny lived in Virginia Highlands before it was "cool." Grady was the closest.

    and Wingate did not go to Woodstock -- she just wishes she had... LOL

  7. I was too at Woodstock. I am the naked girl on the album with the blanket!

  8. I always thought it would have been fun. Then I worked with two guys, (older then me-I was nine at the time of Woodstock, they were from upstate NY), who told me what it was really like. Of course they had fun-teenagers away from home, without supervision-but they also remember the rain, mud, people stealing from each other, crappy sound systems and late sets. Now I think, "Were those parents insane!" Because I have kids of my own that I would never allow to ...
    Anyway, does anyone have extra tickets to Bonaroo?