You say 'hippie,' I say 'musician'
by Jeremiah Horrigan
October 21, 2007
Senator blasts 'hippie' project
headline in TH-R, 10-18-07
Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma made a stir last week,
complaining about federal pork being earmarked for a planned museum
at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
Why, Coburn's spokesman demanded to know, should the government give
$1 million in pork to "fund some hippie flashback?"
Why, indeed. The possibility that the government was at last funding
a hippie flashback in the guise of a museum was scintillating news to
Pablo Fanques, international man of mystery and undercover
investigator for the super-secret Federal Rock Commission.
Following his investigation, the colorful Mr. Fanques, a former
circus performer who runs the commission's Flower Power Unit,
concluded Coburn's assessment was sadly inaccurate.
"I've inspected the center's recent performers list and can find only
one certifiably hippie-like program and two individual performances
of verifiable 'hippieness,'" he reported.
What follows are excerpts from a secret communique issued by Mr.
Fanques following his investigation:
"When I first read Coburn's comments, my heart started banging like a
big bass drum. As you know, my job is to ensure that the musical
legacy of the so-called Hippie Era be given its due. Was the federal
government finally recognizing the many nonmedicinal contributions to
the cultural landscape that is hippie?
"Here's a partial list of the alleged 'hippies' who performed this
year at Bethel Woods: Dave Brubeck. The New York Philharmonic. The
Boston Pops. Brad Paisley. The Drifters. Chicago. Willie Nelson.
Earth, Wind and Fire. Manhattan Transfer.
"There are a lot more tuxedos and cowboy hats in that list than there
are love beads and headbands, bro."
Continuing, he wrote, "I was thrilled to find the following list of
Bethel performers: The Turtles. The (no-longer-Young) Rascals. The
Zombies. Badfinger. Mountain. Country Joe McDonald, sans The Fish.
"It warmed the cockles of my soul. There's some real hippie spirit
there, especially with Country Joe. But upon further reflection, I
had to admit that The Turtles and Rascals were pop bands, Badfinger
and The Zombies were Brits and Mountain was Prehistoric Heavy Metal.
And all these hippie-era bands played on a single bill called Hippiefest."
Yes, he knew Bob Dylan performed one night at Bethel Woods, "but no
one, except perhaps a spokesman for an Oklahoma Republican senator,
ever confused Dylan with a member of The Love Generation."
That left only a single other night of performances with proper
hippie bona fides: a double bill featuring Richie Havens and Arlo
Guthrie, both certified Woodstock vets. Fanques said that while the
accuracy of Guthrie's long-ago claim that the New York State Thruway
had been closed by Woodstock was in question, his credentials as a
true-blue hippie were in excellent order.
"Hippies were never a very good source of accurate information," he said.
Still, Fanques concluded, two nights of hippie-like performances did
not a hippie flashback, let alone a hippie museum, make.
"A hippie museum worthy of its name, not to mention $1 million, would
have to have included the awesome-but-forgotten contributions of
pioneer hippie/psychedelic/just-plain-strange bands as Bubble Puppy
(Hot Smoke & Sassafras"), the Flower Pot Men "("Let's Go to San
Francisco"), The Electric Prunes ("I Had Too Much to Dream Last
Night"), the immortal Blues Magoos ("We Ain't Got Nothin' Yet"), The
Chocolate Watchband ("Takes a Licking and Stops Ticking") and The
Barbarians (whose lament for "Moulty," their one-armed drummer, still
brings a tear)."
Remember, Fanques concluded: A museum that embodies and explains what
hippieness means and meant to Americans is critical to our life as a
nation, if only because those who forget their histories are doomed
to repeat them.
Jeremiah Horrigan, who once played air guitar in the bands Hard
Cheese and The Sickening Thuds, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
GOP Moves to Halt Money for Woodstock
Oct 18, 2007
By ANDREW TAYLOR and DEVLIN BARRETT
Associated Press Writers
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hippies used to say if you remember Woodstock, you
weren't really there. Republicans say presidential contender Hillary
Rodham Clinton can forget about getting $1 million in taxpayer funds
for a Woodstock museum.
Clinton and Charles Schumer, Democratic senators from New York, want
to earmark the federal money for a museum that would commemorate the
1969 music festival in their state.
"Woodstock Museum is a shining example of what's wrong with
Washington on pork-barrel, out-of-control spending," said John
McCain, Arizona senator and Republican presidential hopeful. An
example, he said, of "the earmark pork-barrel spending which has made
the American people disenchanted and angry."
Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., moved Thursday to
strip the Woodstock earmark from a massive health and education
spending bill on the Senate floor. They won a key 52-42 vote -
seeping with presidential politics - and the earmark was dropped.
Five Democrats voted against the Woodstock provision. So did
old-school GOP members of the Appropriations Committee who had on
prior occasions voted against conservative criticism of senators' earmarks.
"With all the pressing needs facing our country today, from
entitlement reform to children's health care to the war in Iraq, the
idea that the federal government should fund a museum that celebrates
a 38-year-old concert is simply absurd," Kyl said.
It's the type of parochial project that's easy to make fun of.
Conservatives call it a hippie museum and a taxpayer-funded LSD flashback.
The Woodstock museum - officially called the Museum at Bethel Woods -
is due to open next year. Bethel is the town in upstate New York
where organizers eventually put on the three-day Woodstock Music and
Art Fair, featuring Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Band and others.
The open-air gathering attracted hundreds of thousands, became a
defining moment of 1960s youth rebellion and shut down the New York
When Schumer and Clinton trumpeted the $1 million earmark for the
museum back in June, she said in a statement that it would "continue
to promote education, the arts, culture and tourism in the region."
It is part of a larger development called the Bethel Woods Center for
the Performing Arts with a 16,800-seat amphitheater. The development
was opened in 2006.
Billionaire Alan Gerry is the force behind the project. He and his
family have contributed almost $30,000 to Clinton and a committee
headed by Schumer dedicated to electing Democrats to the Senate.
Gerry is a longtime major political donor. The contributions -
$20,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $9,200 to
Clinton's presidential campaign - came just days after the earmark
was inserted into the legislation.
Clinton did not speak during Thursday's debate on the project, but
Schumer strongly defended the Bethel project as a boon for an
economically struggling county.
While Clinton and Schumer jointly took credit for the earmark,
Schumer was the driving force behind it.
Coburn himself said the project sounded like a good idea, but he also
said U.S. taxpayers shouldn't foot the bill. The $1 million in
federal funds would be a small fraction of the overall $100 million cost.
The underlying health and education bill is a target-rich measure for
earmark critics since it contains more than 1,000 earmarks totaling
$562 million, according to Taxpayers for Common sense, a budget watchdog group.
Republicans tried but failed Thursday to block $2 million for the
Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at The City College of
New York - spending that GOP critics dubbed Rangel's "monument to me."
Liberal activists, meanwhile, protested a $100,000 earmark by Sen.
David Vitter, R-La., to the Louisiana Family Forum, a conservative
group that was to use the funds "to develop a plan to promote better
Critics said Vitter's earmark would go toward promoting creationism.
It turns out the group did not request the money, which Vitter says
will now go for science and computer labs in Ouachita Parish in the
northern part of the state.
On the Net:
Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts: