Yasgur’s farm

50 years after the Aquarian Exposition brought north of 500,000 people to a milk farm in Bethel, New York. I can’t help but think to myself,

What happened?

Don’t forget Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Buzz Collins had just landed on the moon a month earlier. It makes me wonder, how have we, and how haven’t we, evolved as a country during the last fifty years?

Not much

Is my answer

But, i’m no expert. Like the majority of US now I wasn’t born in 1969. I was born 10 years after it happened. My parents didn’t go. They themselves were only 8 and 10 in 1969. If I had to guess I would think those in attendance probably are a little taken aback by the lack of progress we have made since then.

My earliest connection to Woodstock were made through TV. First, it was Joe Cocker and The Wonder Years.

DYK Mad Dog was British?

I have actually never knowingly spoken to anyone who was in attendance. I asked a few family members, teachers, and friends during my lifetime who I believe were old enough, and fit the profile I created for whom I believe in 1969 would have attended but there reasons for not attending are far and wide:

Too old,

Too young,

Couldn’t get there,

Car broke down,

In ‘Nam,

Parents wouldn’t let me,

A few even said, they were not interested,

Reasons for not attending Woodstock

In all honesty if I were between the ages of 18-25 I probably would have tried. Now, at almost 40 there is no way I would go. A multi day festival seems way to exhausting, expensive, and maddening.

The next connection for me with Woodstock came with the 25th anniversary and Woodstock ’94. It seemed ok. At least that is what Kurt Loder and MTV News told me. Truthfully, I can’t believe it’s been 25 years since ’94.

Still played music in the 90’s

In ’96 my U.S. History teacher, Mr. Holcomb, was also not in attendance at Exposition. However he was a Vietnam Vet and spoke honestly to a classroom of 17 year old kids about his experiences during that time and his life since as a husband, teacher, and citizen. That class for me was life changing.

Thank you Mr. Holcomb

From a grateful student

In ’99 Woodstock was again brought back to the forefront first by the miniseries “The 60’s” on NBC. I watched it. It was ok. Woodstock ’99 was a disaster. At least I feel it was. The lineup was strange and don’t forget they did try to burn the place down before they left. Fred Durst might feel otherwise.

Now fifty years later I wonder how the Woodstock generation feels about the post Woodstock world. First of all, I guess I should state exactly who I’m directing that question. If you were 15-27 during 1969 seems like a good age group to have fully understood the years preceding and proceeding the original 3 days of peace, love, and music.

Seriously, if you were born between the end of WWII and 1954

How do you feel about US?

Think about it. After the summer of love (1967), we had the summer of discontent (1968) with the assassinations of RFK and MLK, along with the DNC riots in Chicago. The following year (1969) was Woodstock. Kent State was 1970.

But lets gets back to US then and now:

A war then, multiple wars since, and today that continue to divide US.

We killed each other in our own streets and campuses then, now we also included our public schools, churches, malls, theaters, parades, concerts, and basically anywhere else people congregate these days.

I wont dare compare music and consumption habits across the generations or genres. Those are separate blogs.

Do you know why we call it Woodstock

The Aquarian Exposition held in Bethel, New York which took place on Max Yasgur’s farm 50 years ago this month was named Woodstock after the Woodstock Investment Group. No, it wasn’t the first corporate sponsored event, or the first multilevel marketing campaign. Mad Men is completely accurate but it does portray Madison Ave of the 1960’s in a pretty honest light from my own research. It was the infancy of the corporate sponsored event.

One nice thing I did see recently in relation to the 50 year anniversary of Woodstock is the fact that the venue and surrounding area has not been developed. I totally figured it was a sledding hill in the winter and a green space in the summer for the residents of the Bethel Hill subdivision to enjoy. It made me smile to find out it is still farmland but also makes me wonder for how long?

I’ve never been there. I never really wanted to go there until about 5 years ago. That was the first time my wife and I ever heard of the Midnight Ramble sessions at Levon Helm’s Barn in the town of Woodstock, New York. Not coincidentally my research of The Barn, Levon Helm, and The Rambles lead to the understanding that the Woodstock festival did not take place in the town of Woodstock, but roughly an hour and a half drive northeast along I-55 from Woodstock.

The Barn

Whether it’s Levon’s Barn a few years ago, the field just up the road 50 years ago, the Dead and Company shows I attend with my family today, or any other place large amounts of people converge to take part in a cultural events around the world today. Wherever it is, whenever it is, whoever is there you always get a feeling that most people want a world of peace, love, and happiness.

Love is better than hatred,

Peace is better than war,

We need to take care of our fellow human beings,

Graham Nash on the basic beliefs of being a hippy
Hippies, not hipsters

At this point in time i’d even settle for a few beatniks.

But alas,

We are all we have.

And maybe it’s that time of year,

Yes, and maybe it’s the time of (hu)man(s),

And I don’t know who I am,

But life is for learnin,

Joni Mitchell, Woodstock (Performed byCSNY)

Because now it’s not the bomber death planes that we dream seeing in the sky that feeds our very real fears. But the lone person with a tommy gun and a kevlar vast.

Lets do better.

Thanks for reading.

Ken

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