Remembering Woodstock, 40 years later
August 15, 2009
Forty years ago this weekend. It's time for a memorial and a celebration.
So what can a youngster who wasn't actually at the event, and didn't
witness any of the revolutions and upheavals of the 1960's, and
didn't take part in any Summer of Love, or sit ins, or love ins, or
any other whatever ins possibly have to say on the subject?
I guess I can just tell you what I know about this thing post
facto. And what I believe the significance of such an event was and
or still is.
Well. I'll start by telling you that my mom was there. Oh
yeah. Child of a hippie. But I always ask her, I'm like,
"Mom. What was Woodstock like?"
She just kinda looks at me and says, "You know I don't really
remember. I know it rained a lot. I just remember falling asleep on
top of somebody's car."
Come on mom. That's all you got?
Which is when I promptly grab her by her lapels and I howl, "Come on
Mom! What about Jimi! What about Janis! Tell me about
Santana! And how about Country Joe and the Fish! Come on Mom tell
me! Tell me!"
But seriously what else am I supposed to do? All she remembers is it
rained a lot and she fell asleep on top of somebody's car? Come on!
In her defense, she doesn't remember things so vividly and she
doesn't dream when she sleeps. She also said smoking ganj wasn't her thing.
Hmm. I don't know, Mom.
At any rate. Woodstock to me, from what I understand, was this
mega-explosion of not only rock and roll and reefer, but also of a
new attitude that had developed in the hearts and minds of the people.
The world had been one way for along time, now it was time for
something new. Folks had thought certain thoughts for a long time,
and now it was time for something new. People had looked at things
one way for a long time, and now, you get the point.
It's an interesting phenomenon that takes place when your mind makes
a transition from one way of thinking and understanding to an
entirely new one. For example. Some people have the notion that
heaven and hell and life and death and all that jazz are only a
matter of your perception. Subsequently, they live their lives
accordingly, and their result is different then someone else's might be.
What's more interesting, sociologically speaking, is when mass groups
of people start to develop similar mindsets, or undergo this same
transition of thought at seemingly the same time. That's what took
place in this country and in most of the world at this crazy time
that was the 60's.
It was like everybody was uptight and thinking about things in a way
that was just no longer beneficial to their well being and
survival. So what did they do? They changed. They marched. They
revolted. They adapted. They made an astounding effort to make
things around them a little different.
Such a mass collaboration of thought and action should be commended I
say. A party should be thrown! To commemorate! To memorialize! To
celebrate our need to change and adapt and party and not be slaves to
methods of thought and action no longer applicable.
So I guess this party they threw was Woodstock.
My dad has a laser disc, yes dude a laser disc of performances and
happenings at Woodstock. This one dude comes out halfway through one
of the performances and says to everybody, "Hey everybody. There's a
bad batch of brown acid going around. It's been giving some people
some trouble. So, uh, do not eat the brown acid. I repeat, do not
eat the brown acid."
Everybody knows not to eat brown acid you gotta be a geek not to know that.
But man oh man do I wish I could've been there to hear that
announcement live. I would have practically pooped on myself from
the sheer laughter alone!
Lets see here we have, James Marshall Hendrix. Is that right? You
mean there are people alive today who got to see this guy do his
thing with the strings and I wasn't one of them? Bullsh*t! Richie
Havens? Sometimes I feel like a motherless child himself? The
Who? The creators of the greatest rock and roll album story of all
time, Tommy? Sly and the Family Stone? Thank you, for lettin me, be
mice elf! Again! You mean I missed that, too? Joan Baez? My Mom's
hero and idol and favorite folk singeress of all time? Jefferson
Airplane? Crosby Stills Nash, and Young? Creedence? The Grateful
Dead? What? Are you kidding me?
Wowskies meowskies bro. That might be the most heavyweight artist
lineup of all time to this day. Actually scratch that. If you could
show me a lineup that could match one featuring Jimi Hendrix, The
Who, Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead I'll pretty much be your
indentured servant for the rest of my life.
There must have been so much energy and hope and fantastic life force
buzzing through the air. It could charge your battery just being next to it.
You know how you feel sometimes when you're with somebody who is in a
great mood. And they're crackin jokes and goin after all the honeys
and just feelin good. You kinda start feelin good, too just being
around them. The energy is infectious.
Imagine if you were standing next to one hundred thousand of these
homeys. Everyone of them feeling that they were part of something
epic. That the new hip jive was working together, and not fighting
about things but trying to understand and cooperate. That a voice is
not as loud as a chorus. That if you work hard at it and start with
yourself, you really might be able to change the world, in some form
Man, that must've been hot! Holy crap!
Yes. So I guess we who weren't there can only be left to imagine and
watch on laser disc. But I think the lessons that people learned
then, and the feelings that they felt at that time are still very
powerful lessons and teaching tools today.
The world can't be perfect, everybody knows that. But with a little
effort, it could at least be decent.
I mean, you heard it before in the most hippied out song of all time.
"Come on people now! Smile on your brother! Everybody get together,
try to love one another right now!"
Happy Woodstock Anniversary everybody.
Local residents remember Woodstock
The Summer of Love seems like only yesterday to aging rockers and
graying flower children, but this weekend marks the 40th anniversary
of Woodstock, the most celebrated rock-concert event of all time.
August 15, 2009
By SHELLEY TERRY - Staff Writer - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Summer of Love seems like only yesterday to aging rockers and
graying flower children, but this weekend marks the 40th anniversary
of Woodstock, the most celebrated rock-concert event of all time.
Despite its food shortages, lack of toilet facilities and torrential
rain, people are taking time to reflect on what Woodstock means to them.
Ishmael Brown, 53, of Plymouth Township, is promoting peace and love
this weekend at his home on Old Farm Street. He's flying a Woodstock
flag he bought earlier this week at the Ashtabula County Fair in Jefferson.
"I caught the last 10 years of the (Woodstock) movement," he said.
"It was a magical, wonderful time. I had a lot of good times."
Melinda Kapalin of Jefferson recalls her brother Douglas, who was
born in 1969, went to the second Woodstock in 1989.
"He's a musician and 'into' the hippie 1960s era," Kapalin said. "He
loves Bob Dylan and all the Woodstock music."
A bit of an entrepreneur, Kapalin's brother made screen-print shirts
and sold them off his back at the concert because he didn't have a
Ashtabula resident Dave English, formerly of Conneaut, said he
remembers watching the Woodstock concert on television.
"I remember a lot of good music," he said.
Born and reared in Ashtabula, Carol Hawkins Peters, who now lives in
Texas, had just finished her first year of teaching in August 1969.
She started in Fairport Harbor schools and moved to Spring Branch
schools in Houston and later to a school in the Texas private prison
system. That experience later prompted her to become a
court-appointed special advocate (CASA) for children who are wards of
the state in Texas.
"One of the girls for whom I served as guardian ad litem was born at
a 1989 event in New York state similar to the Woodstock Festival,"
Peters said. "Her hippie parents caused her to run away from home at
age 12, and she landed in our local youth shelter."
From there, the girl moved into a foster home with Peters as her guardian.
"I visited her regularly … ," Peters said. "During one of my visits,
she purchased a book about the music festival that had become her
'hometown' and sent it to her father for his birthday."
The experience made Peters almost feel like she had been at the
Woodstock Festival with her peers during the long hot summer of 1969, she said.
For northeast Ohio residents who want to do more than just reminisce
about Aug. 15-17, 1969, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is
marking a Woodstock milestone with special events through Sunday.
Rock Hall is located at 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., Cleveland.
40 years later, a concert and a culture are recreated in books
August 15, 2009
Forty years ago this weekend, about a half a million people jammed
Max Yasgur's farm (and beyond) in upstate New York and formed the
Woodstock nation, which has had a longer shelf life than the three
days of peace, love and music that was then advertised. The four
books pictured and reviewed here are testimony to that.
There is something for everyone, from participant to wanna-be to
history-grazer, in these books: great personal and professional
photos, as well as local newspaper coverage, in Woodstock: Peace,
Music and Memories ; the ultimate inside look in Michael Lang's ("the
man behind the legendary festival") The Road to Woodstock , as well
as cool postscripts such as "Where Are They Now?" and complete set
lists of Woodstock performers; some terrific personal reflections and
revelations on what Woodstock means all these years later from people
who were there, or almost there, in Woodstock Revisited ; and some of
the finest writing about musicians and music muses and icons you'll
ever come across in Mikal Gilmore's Stories Done, not strictly a
Woodstock book but close enough for rock 'n' roll, as Sonny Crockett once said.
I'm going to focus on the two books I enjoyed the most:
On the cover of Woodstock Revisited, Wavy Gravy writes, "this is the
real deal," and I would agree with him. The collection of 50 short
essays is incredibly readable and, in some cases, incredibly moving.
Most of the writers were people who answered a beckoning call to be
part of something huge, and some of them walked away from a job or
hitched a ride with a stranger to be part of an overnight community
whose effects they feel to this day. In retrospect, it seems so
innocent and despite all it was.
Among my favorite stories in the book are those written by people who
didn't quite make it there, especially the chapter by Louis S.
Denaro, whose parents cluelessly chose the same weekend to go on a
family jaunt to a nearby resort and slammed into that wall of hairy,
half-dressed humanity. His recollection of his parents' freak-out is
priceless and worth the cost of the book alone.
Another favorite is Sandra Johnson's chapter, about how the
extraordinary event elevated her "ordinary" life. She wrote, "And now
I am 58 and my heart beats faster to Dylan's earliest poetry, to
Richie Havens' idea of a great Mandela … the wheels on the bus began
with words of peace, but gave way to freedom buses in Mississippi and
the seeds of integration. And for me, through every open window along
the American road, I hear a song."
Especially moving throughout the book are the taglines at the end of
each piece, which tell a little about the author (these are not
famous folks, they were kids in the mud, once) and a little about
their journeys since Woodstock. In each instance, the reader knows
that the journey was changed by that music festival so long ago.
In that respect, we've all been to Woodstock.
Stories Done by Mikal Gilmore is must reading for anyone who was
touched or shaped by the music and the cultural impact of the 1960s,
which pretty much includes everyone. Readers of Rolling Stone will
certainly recognize Gilmore's name, if not his impeccable writing
style, and others may know him as the author of the award-winning
book about his older brother, Gary's, execution by firing squad, Shot
in the Heart.
This book, divided into five parts, is a collection of Mikal
Gilmore's stories about "people who helped carry a time and a
motion," the 1960s. For me, this was better than a history book,
because it explored the art of a certain time, which certainly spoke
to, for and about the forces of that era. He starts on the West Coast
with the Beats and Haight-Ashbury, lights on The Beatles, uses Johnny
Cash and Bob Marley as bookends in a chapter called "The Displaced,"
and profiles artists ranging from Phil Ochs to Jim Morrison to Bob
Dylan to Leonard Cohen in the rest of the book; Louisville's Hunter
S. Thompson has his own chapter.
(There is a lot of dot-connecting of the proverbial small world in
this book. Did you know that one of the assistant district attorneys
that first prosecuted Timothy Leary for drugs was a pre-Nixon G. Gordon Liddy?)
Gilmore is unsparing in his details about the waste and wreckage
caused by some of the excesses of the 1960s; the chapter on Jerry
Garcia, and how his ebullient spirit was ravaged by drugs, is
especially wrenching. But Gilmore's pieces also force questions about
the so-called war on drugs, what it's been about, and in my view
its complete and utter failure.
The most remarkable thing about Woodstock and the artists of the
1960s is that they managed to connect with us on very personal
levels without any kind of corporate push. Then again, maybe that
accounts for the personal connection. I miss that in today's music scene.
If you've been feeling lately, as the old Joni Mitchell song said,
that we've got to get ourselves back to the garden, these books are a
good place to start your digging.
Pam Platt is an editorial writer and columnist for The
Courier-Journal. She did not go to Woodstock, but she once camped out
overnight for Who tickets and lived to tell. She cannot believe that
she is now older than Max Yasgur was when he died.
Wild Woodstock Memories After 40 Years
Two sisters remember going to Woodstock. Well, almost.
August 14, 2009
Alan H. Feiler
Well, I came upon a child of God/He was walking along the road/And I
asked him, Tell me, where are you going/And this he told me/
He said, I'm going on down to Yasgur's farm/gonna join in a rock 'n' roll band/
Got to get back to the land/and set my soul free.
"Woodstock," Joni Mitchell
Like the author of those classic lyrics, Idy Harris and Anne Liner
never actually made it to Max Yasgur's dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y. But
in a way, they've never really left the Woodstock Music and Art
Festival, emotionally and spiritually speaking.
"I still wear tie-dye," said Ms. Liner, 61, a mother of two adult
sons and grandmother of one grandson. "It's all about peace and love.
Woodstock still lives with us, even though we didn't get there. It's
all about the attitude."
Added Ms. Harris, 64, a mother of two daughters and grandmother of
one grandson: "We've kept that basic spirit alive that we had back in '69."
Forty years ago tonight, Aug. 14, Ms. Liner and Ms. Harris sisters,
best friends and co-owners of The Bead women's clothing and jewelry
store in The Shops at Kenilworth in Towson were set to drive the
265 miles to attend their generation's greatest coming-together and
defining moment, when they received a phone call that stopped their
brush with history dead in its tracks.
Their store then known as The Bead Experience (an homage to the
Jimi Hendrix Experience), located on Read Street and Park Avenue in
Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood had been broken into and
robbed. The store's windows and doors were smashed in, and
merchandise was taken.
"They grabbed mostly jeans and jackets, and ran out," recalled Ms.
Harris. "And we didn't have insurance."
Alas, for the sisters, Woodstock was simply not meant to be. "Repairs
were needed, so we had to stay and watch all the stuff," lamented Ms.
Liner. "We didn't know we were missing history. It was just another
concert to us."
Over the next week, while the world observes the 40th anniversary of
the Flower Power movement's zenith four days when 400,000 people
converged on a 37-acre alfalfa field in upstate New York to groove to
Baez, Hendrix, Country Joe and the Fish, the Grateful Dead and others
while extolling the virtues of peace, love and understanding (and
public nudity) Ms. Harris and Ms. Liner will also remember their
personal wake-up call about the negative aspects of human nature.
In the parlance of those times, it was a real bummer.
"It really burst our bubble," said Ms. Liner. "It was the first time
I thought, 'Whoa, there are bad people in this world!'"
Sitting in their store, which sells funky retro styles as well as the
latest fashions, Ms. Harris and Ms. Liner, who live around the corner
from each other in Pikesville and belong to Temple Oheb Shalom,
remember the late '60s and early '70s with great affection. Unabashed
ex-hippies, they still let their freak flag fly, to reference
Woodstock Nation era singer David Crosby.
"It wasn't romanticized at all," Ms. Harris said of that era. "It was
a great time to be alive."
Like 'Forrest Gump'
Back in 1967, the sisters, who are Baltimore natives and frequently
finish each other's sentences, opened The Bead Experience with their
mother, Belle Bashoff, who died in 2000. (The store was later located
in The Rotunda mall for 36 years before moving to its current location.)
"We were capitalist hippies," said Ms. Harris, who notes that she's
"the practical one," while her sister was on the "wild" side. "We
cared about people and believed in love."
They say their store was known by local hippies and hipsters simply
as "the place," and many customers were suburban teenagers who jumped
on MTA buses to come downtown and buy the funkiest jewelry creations
by Ms. Liner or the latest "threads" imported from New York. (To be
"different," the store featured a coffin in the entranceway that
customers had to pass through.)
"We had the first 'peace flag' [an American flag with a peace sign
instead of stars], the first bell-bottoms, the first ruffled shirts
for men and the first Nehru jackets in town," said Ms. Harris. "We
were on the cutting edge."
The Bashoffs lived in Northwest Baltimore near the Reisterstown Road
Plaza (their father, Joseph, died in 1963), but they managed to get
around town and be part of the emerging underground culture. Ms.
Harris and Ms. Liner remember and don't remember going to
countless parties, concerts and anti-war demonstrations.
"We used to go to parties and float into the room wearing boas and
carrying cigarette holders," Ms. Liner recalled with a laugh. "It was
a great time."
One special memory was her blowout with Janis Joplin. "I saw her at
the bar at Max's Kansas City [a New York nightclub], and we were
wearing the same shawl," Ms. Liner said. "She was so drunk, she
shoved me across the room, because I was wearing the shawl, and we
had a fistfight. I was stunned, because she was my idol. They threw
her out and I still have the shawl. My kids want to know who's
getting it when I die."
Another lasting memory was attending the 1965 Newport Folk Festival
at which Bob Dylan famously plugged in and "went electric."
"He got really booed, but we loved it," said Ms. Liner, with her
sister remarking about their ubiquity at seminal events back then,
"We were like 'Forrest Gump.'"
Meanwhile, Belle Bashoff was what you might call the archetypal hip
mom. A New York native, she encouraged her girls to embrace
alternative approaches to life. In fact, not long after Woodstock,
she was arrested by Baltimore police officers for hanging a peace
flag in the store's front window. (The cops charged her with
desecration of the American flag and she was held for about 18 hours.
She received probation before verdict.)
"We were never arrested [at rallies and demonstrations], but our
mother was," said Ms. Liner, shaking her head. "The police took her
away at gunpoint. Idy and I were in New York, and all the kids at the
store cried. They threw her in with criminals. … We had to get rid of
all the peace symbols around the store. That's why we now always have
the peace flag in the store's front window."
Mom Bashoff also served as a Jewish maternal figure to folk and
counterculture figures passing through town.
"We worked at The Foghorn [coffeehouse] and we met a lot of poets and
songwriters there, like Phil Ochs, Arlo Guthrie and Tom Paxton," said
Ms. Harris. Mom Bashoff often went to Attman's Delicatessen and
bought corned beef sandwiches for guests brought to the house by her daughters.
She also often paid employees with food. "We didn't have a lot of
money when we started the store," said Ms. Liner. "So she paid the
kids in food to do work around the store."
Ms. Harris attributed much of The Bead's success and longevity to her
mother, as well as the sisters' humanistic outlook. "My mother
believed in us," she said. "She was a free spirit, our guiding
force." Said Ms. Liner: "When there would be a protest march, my mom
used to say, 'Come on, let's go.' That's how we were raised."
'Set To Go'
Ms. Harris, who married her husband, David, eight weeks before
Woodstock, and Ms. Liner, who married her husband, Jay, four years
later, said they were contacted by the festival's organizers about
selling tickets at their store.
"We were the popular spot in town," said Ms. Harris. "It wasn't a big
deal, or corporate. We had a cigar box for money, the posters,
tickets. We were the place in Baltimore to get tickets, and we knew
it would be fun. Nobody knew Woodstock was going to be what it was.
We just wanted to go because a lot of good bands would be there. We
were all set to go with other people."
Not long after the festival, Ms. Liner said they started hearing from
friends and customers that Woodstock "was the best party ever! And we
Later, they saw the documentary about the festival, which truly put
Woodstock on the map and ensured its place in history. "I was sad,
but there were other really good things going on back then," said Ms.
Liner. "I saw everything else."
But rather than dismiss or minimize Woodstock, Ms. Harris and Ms.
Liner whose son, Kenny, plays in the local band The Bridge still
feel a part of the experience and ethos, and say they have no
regrets. They still have several original Woodstock posters, even
though they have misplaced the old tickets.
"Having seen the movie and listened to the albums and with my son
having gone to the second Woodstock I'm just thrilled that the
spirit continued," said Ms. Liner. "Woodstock was a turning point for
a lot of people. It was a defining moment in their lives. We were
happy our friends were there, and that it changed America. People of
the same mind and spirit came together."
Added her sister: "The youth realized at Woodstock that they had a voice."
And through their store at which some customers have shopped for
more than four decades, and even bring their granddaughters Ms.
Harris and Ms. Liner say they've tried to keep the Woodstock Nation
credo and sensibility alive.
"We've managed to keep our original idea to do something fun and new
and different, and kept it fun and unusual," said Ms. Liner. "There's
always another way to do things and the youth usually have the
answers. Woodstock and the '60s still live here on in this store,
even though we didn't make it to Woodstock."
Where is Woodstock?
40 Years after the World Famous Music Festival, People Have Different Answers
By Steve Hartman
The saying goes that if you can remember Woodstock, you probably
weren't there. But the reality is that even those who were at
Woodstock weren't actually at Woodstock.
Today, 40 years after the infamous weekend of peace, love and music,
two distinctly different towns are competing for the historical
designation of being home to the world's most famous music festival,
reports CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman.
Woodstock, N.Y. was the concert's inspiration, but Bethel, N.Y. was
the concert's location. The two towns sit on opposite sides of the
Catskill Mountains, an hour and a half apart.
Every year thousands of people pull into Woodstock and find
themselves wondering if they are in the right place.
"This is Woodstock but it wasn't in Woodstock," explains a local.
Joyce Beymer, president of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, says
the realization is a disappointment for a lot of people.
"But go to Bethel where the concert was and you'll be more
disappointed," Beymer says. "There's no Woodstock there."
Woodstock Special Section
Charles Burdick, who runs the only business on the main drag in
Bethel, disagrees with Beymer.
"This is Woodstock - 1969," Burdick says. "A lot of people want to
bring Woodstock back to where Woodstock is - not the town of
Woodstock - Bethel, New York."
Bethel has a new museum perched on a hill overlooking the concert
site. The Museum at Bethel Woods takes visitors back to the festival
itself and the sixties in general. The town of Woodstock, on the
other hand, doesn't have a museum.
"If a civil war buff wants to experience Gettysburg, they go to
Gettysburg, they don't go to Dubuque," says Wade Lawrence, director
of the Museum at Bethel Woods.
Beymer says Woodstock is still very much the music and artist colony
that inspired festival promoters in the first place. If you want
hair, hippies and guys walking in circles for no particular reason,
you'll definitely find that in Woodstock. The town has everything
except for what may be the most important thing: the field.
"It's not just an empty field," says Harry Sessa, who was at
Woodstock in 1969. "There's souls and stuff out there."
Sessa was in that field and saw all three days and all 36 acts - from
Jimmy Hendrix to Sly and the Family Stone. He pleaded for peace and
wallowed in the mud with nearly half a million of his closest
friends. He saw it all, but forgot most of it when he was hit by
lightening and got amnesia in 1973.
But returning to the Woodstock field - in Bethel - brought lots of
his lost memories back, memories of "the faces and the hippy chicks
we hung out with." He even remembered the spot where he sat.
With one namesake and another location and the curative powers to
bring long lost memories back from the abyss, Woodstock may not just
be a city, but a state unto itself.