Skip to comments.The Woodstock Myth
Posted on 08/16/2004 1:17:29 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
Who could forget the sitar-like harmonies of Crosby, Stills and Nash? The " better living through chemistry " pulsations of Sly and the Family Stone, the chanting of Country Joe and the Fish, and the wonderfully wacky Wavy Gravy? Woodstock - a place where people ("half a million people strong") gathered for peace, love, and music. An event that represented a generation of youth.
Well, not quite.
Contrary to the prevailing myths about Woodstock, it was not an altruistic event.
Woodstock was all about money.
John Roberts, the Ivy League heir to the Polident fortune, financed it. He and his partners were in it for profit. They never stated otherwise. Max Yasgur, whose farm was the site of the event and whose name was immortalized in song, was anything but a simple dairy farmer. He was an NYU graduate and one of the wealthiest farmers in the area. He also walked away with $75,000 or about $300,000 in current dollars not bad for the three-day rental of six hundred idle acres.
The Who was paid the then-unheard-of sum of $12,000 for their participation. Three groups refused to go on until they received cash in advance. The promoters had to get an advance from a local banker on a Saturday night in order to prevent a riot.
A ticket was approximately eighteen dollars. In an era when the minimum wage was $1.60/hour, a ticket was two days' pay. That does not count lost wages for taking off from work, travel expenses, and of course, the drugs closer to a week's pay. The boys and girls (not ladies and gentlemen) of Woodstock were not all that inclusive. Woodstock was not for the poor.
If there is any significance to Woodstock (and the point is debatable), it is the symbolic irony of it. The Woodstock audience was composed of enlightened and compassionate liberals at least that is what they thought of themselves. These were people who wanted to fed the poor and help the helpless. Yet promoters spent more than $2 million dollars staging Woodstock ($10 million in current dollars.) Ten million dollars, let alone the ticket receipts of that historic concert, could have bought many a breakfast in Appalachia or in the ghettoes its attendants allegedly cared so much about. These people are now part of the government's social welfare complex and self-indulgent leftist academic "culture," preaching "social justice" to their students.
Things quickly went haywire within the concert. "I remember building a fire one morning for breakfast. All we had was hot dogs and spaghetti," a Woodstock alumnus waxed nostalgically in a magazine article. Ironically, when Woodstock's well-to-do audience could not feed themselves (let alone the downtrodden), the hippies called on the very people they spurned to feed them: the National Guard. The Left needed those warmongering, baby killing, murdering monsters of the military establishment to drop food from helicopters to save them. The liberal Democrats, Naderites, and far-Leftists who planned this fiasco were dependent on the generosity of the "Military-Industrial Establishment." This is also the same National Guard that is now derided by liberal Democrats as "Chickenhawks." How ironic that the people who criticize President George W. Bushs National Guard service were probably saved from starvation by his brethren.
The very same people who want to plan every aspect of the economy and society could not even plan a rock concert.
Another myth is that Woodstock, though intended to be a moneymaking venture, became a free concert through the benevolence of the concert's producers. Although it was good PR, this was not true. The promoters had to make it a free concert. The Woodstock generation wants what they want - and they want it free. They wanted to go to the concert so they crashed the gate.
It was the promoters fault. In order to get local approval the promoters purposely furnished low attendance figures. However, they did not realize how effective their marketing would be. Twice as many people came as they expected - ten times the amount they had told the locals.
Good intentions did not make Woodstock a free concert; poor business planning did.
Woodstock exposed the hypocrisy of the Left. A half a million people either spent money that could have been donated to charity and depended on the military to serve them food. The performers also earned substantial sums for their appearances. The only money donated was to Abbie Hoffman's fanatics, and that only because he extorted it by stating he would disrupt the concert.
They did all of this while inveighing against the capitalist system.
Country Joe's lyrical lamentation asked why we were in Vietnam. His answer was found during the Seventies - in the re-education programs of communist Vietnam, in the boat people who fled Vietnam on anything that could float, and in the killing fields of Cambodia.
The "Boys in the Wood" later proclaimed themselves "veterans." In their characteristic hubris, they want to erect a "monument" to Woodstock. What is there to venerate? Woodstock was nothing more than pampered kids acting irresponsibly. These Woodstock veterans are now advocating the election of one of their fellow antiwar activists, John Kerry.
In Washington, D.C., the genuine monument to real veterans of that era bears some 50,000 names on it. The Vietnam Memorial lists the names of real veterans, kids who did their duty. They were the real altruists. Their concerts were in places like Bien Hoa and Ia Drang. They are the finest men their time had to offer and the ones who should define their generation.
How did Woodstock help to feed a hungry child?
John Kerry was at Woodstock over Christmas 1968.
John Kerry was there when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.
Ping from one of the 500,000 . More later ...
bump for later
The hallmark of the sixties was not Woodstock, but two later concert/debacles, Altamont and the Isle of Wight festival. Just watch "Gimme Shelter" to see it all unfold (at Altamont, that is). The peace loving hippies were giving the bands crap for charging money while the Hell's Angels beat the holy sh*t out of everyone. Things were so bad that the Grateful Dead refused to go on (there's some footage of hippies giving Jerry Garcia an earful for charging money to play). The Isle of Wight was ugly too, really gnarly hippies kicking down the fence erected around the festival grounds and threatening the promoters. Scary stuff.
Oh my God! Mom and Dad! ;-)
And how many port-a-potties were there?
Kerry brought his Swift Boat up the Hudson River, beached it and walked to get to Woodstock.
Yep. At Woodstock, the only violence was Pete Townshend decking Abbie Hoffman (hooray!) At Altamont, you had the Hell's Angels stabbing a fan to death, as well as beating up Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin. And who could forget Joni Mitchell, the woman who wrote the "Woodstock" song, pleading with the crowd to behave at the Isle of Wight show?
Smooth, complex -- maybe. Sitar-like?
Sheesh. Must be some good dope this author's smokin'...
Made no sense to me either. Droning?
We just suffered thru the last concert by the band Phish in our area this past weekend. They set up a similar venue. Seems to me, no one knows anything about their music, so my conclusion is that the attraction has to be the drugs.
Phish is not about the drugs. They are little known outside their large and very enthusiastic fan base. They are actually a talented "jam" band with a large amount of original material, but which is also given to imaginative covers of other bands' material (e.g., in November of 1999, they covered the entire album Dark Side of the Moon in one concert).
about four weeks after woodstock I heard Crosby Stills et al in Calif. they are not as good live as in studio. On top of that they complained that the audinence was not paying attention- they (the audience were having fun)- and CSNY could not get their message out. The paying customers said the same thing then "shut up and sing."
Nothing will benefit America better than these fvcking losers dying and getting planted in the ground. They've stood for nothing and fallen for everything and the only effect they have is to put the rest of us at peril. On some days, I think about the two hippies I beat the crap out of in Bezerkley. Ahhh, the GOOD ol days!
But all this obscures the real significance of Woodstock: it was when the "counter-culture" became the mainstream culture in this country. By the time I was in high school in 1974, rock music was on TV commercials, and a large fraction of the young smoked the drugs.
We are still working through the cultural fall-out from Woodstock: drug addiction, sexually-transmitted diseases, and broken families.
Probably none since liberal hippies are full of shit and keep it in.
And Americans are still emotionally bleeding from Kerry and his anti-war actions.
And we are to believe that these people had jobs?
And jobs doing what? (Keep in mind that there very few McDonalds in those days)
"...John Kerry was at Woodstock over Christmas 1968..."
No he wasn't. He was orbiting the moon with Borman, Lovell, and Anders on Apollo 8 Christmas, 1968.
Or was he in North Korea, rescuing the Pueblo crew?
Both would be as big a lie as the Cambodia lie he's telling these days.
I was one of the 500,000 ...just turned 17 years old in the summer of 1969 ...my friend Ralph and I hitch-hiked from Andover , CT ( eastern CT near UConn ) all the way to the festival . We went for the music ( mainly The Who ; Jimi Hendrix ; CCR ...) . We made it to New Paltz , NY the first day . With no place to stay , we inquired at a bus station where , fortunately , a young sympathizer was working . He made a phone call to his buddy , and the next thing we knew we were spending the night in a huge house which belonged to a Prof at the local college . The Prof and his family were 80% moved out of the place so they offered it to us , two total strangers , for the night ! We had the whole place to ourselves . The next morning the dude from the bus station showeed up and offered to drive us all the way to the festival ( never made it due to huge traffic jams ) . These folks I am positive were libs , especially the Prof with whom we spoke on the phone . They treated us like long lost friends , and we were very grateful indeed .
Nobody expected 500000 people to show up
at Woodstock , least of all us . We were totally unprepared food-wise ( we brought some nuts and raisins ! ) and it was trek and a half through 1000s of people to the over-crowded food stalls . Well , total strangers sitting near us shared what little food they had with us . Probably voted for Clinton years later .
Hitching back from Woodstock , we were picked up by a Navy recruiter in Danbury , CT or thereabouts and the guy threatened to beat the shit out of us because our hair was too long ( Coincidentally , my long haired buddy Ralph ended up joining the Navy a couple of years later ) . It was a helluva ride let me tell ya . We were hassled by clean cut travelling salesmen and other red neck types during our trip .
Don't be too quick to paint all hippies or their long ago
sympathizers as a--holes ! A--holes exist in all directions - left , center and right . Right ?
" And how many port-a-potties were there? "
Not enough ! I believe only 50000 tickets were sold , but 10 times that many people ended up at the festival !
" about four weeks after woodstock I heard Crosby Stills et al in Calif. they "
I wasn't into CSN at the time . They were very " nervous " at Woodstock , as it was their first gig . They were OK ...nothing great . Their first two albums were excellent , though . Definitely a much stronger in the studio than live .
Well said. I graduated in '69, Woodstock happened five weeks later. Throughout HS there was very minimal (I do mean very) drug use. In the school year that began September '69 (the class of '70) there was an explosion of reefer and ludes. The school went from near zero problem to kids passing out over the course of one summer...the Woodstock Summer.
We lived two hours away at the time. A lot of kids went and wore it like a badge. Even more lied about having gone. We thought they were all a-holes.
A little bit of an overstatement. It was only a 3-day concert. Not many people "starve" if they don't eat for 3 days.
Especially when Neil Young was there to keep them in line.
This is a good article. Thanks for the ping.
The music of that day was fantastic! I still
listen to CSNY, Hendrix, Steppenwolf, et al.
But, the rest of that era was pure garbage.
The folks who generally populated Woodstock
remind me of the ELF/ALF/PETA crowd now.
Disco did, still does, and always will, suck. ;o)
"Do I want my children to relive that? No, but today they can do even worse and it's not being a "freak" or a part of something uncommon.....it is the culture now....and yes that is damning as well."
That is VERY true, wardaddy. And, it IS damning.
You obviously know a lot more about Phish than I do or care to. However, having spoken with several concert-goers, it's still about the drugs and the "no arrest" policy at their weekend-long jam sessions.
Although Max Yasgur was paid $75,000, the damage done to his property was probably far greater. Any know anything about that?
What did one Phish fan say to the other after the drugs wore off?
Man, this band sucks.
What property damage?
I visited the site a few years ago. Our church's camp is just a few miles away, so while there one night a dozen or so of us went to the Woodstock site. There's a memorial there, and it was covered with offerings of hippie paraphanalia. While we were gawking at that, some guy (alone) drove into the field and parked, unaware of us; things turned surreal for him when a bunch of strangers (us) appeared out of the darkness, surrounded his car, and started singing Christmas carols in August.
Anyway... It's still a farm. Aside from a couple buildings and a barn, there is nothing there. As the author mentions, $75000 ($300K in today's bucks) was a very good deal for renting some otherwise unused land. So what if a half-million hippies stomp on it for 3 days - just plow it afterwards and all is back to normal.
What many don't realize is the nearby town of Bethel NY is a resort/vacation town for hardcore Orthodox Jews - musta been a shock to the locals when a half-million ideological opposites suddenly showed up.
Major LOL! My son just looks at me and shakes his head when I recount tales of my former life as a hippie. I still get thumps on my head for having my own copy of Mao's Little Red Book. Thank God I met his dad, a Viet Nam vet, to bring me back to reality.
My husband did have a gold peace symbol on his tooth for a while when he came back to the world. Since I didn't know him then, I give him a pass. He probably had to do it because of the Kerry folks giving him a hard time for being a baby killer. Yeah, the same 'baby killer' who could never bring himself to spank his own kid. (my job)
I'll confess that there is some rap that I think is catchy and clever. But not much. The problem with it is the perpetuation of the inner city hip-hop lifestyle and the culture of illiteracy and abject ignorance that it certainly seems to celebrate.
BUT -- Having gone to Provine High School in Jackson, MS for two years - and having been VERY much a white minority - I have a very intimate knowledge of what many black men like to see in their women. So I think Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" is HILARIOUS. One example.
Actually, CSN were horrible at Woodstock.
I'm glad you liked one of my comments today. :)
"...The hallmark of the sixties was not Woodstock, but..."
Hollywood thinks the 60s began in 1968.
Of course were almost over by then.
They began with Eisenhower in the White House.
The 'hallmark' of the 60's might be the Cuban Missle Crisis or the murder of Kennedy.
Always was about the bucks
Seems to me, no one knows anything about their music
I know about their music.
D*mn. Another myth busted.