Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Outside looking in

Sunday night I watched an NBC Dateline program about the Woodstock Peace & Music Festival, which happened 40 years ago this month. How did I miss out on it the first time around? I didn't hear about it, is how. Even if I had, if I wanted to attend, to go would have meant traveling 2000 miles. I hate crowds, and man, they had crowds. I first became aware of Woodstock as a festival when it was almost over. I thought I was hip, in tune with the scene, but as with many other things I thought, I was wrong. The Dick Cavett Show, broadcast live from New York, had Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young as guest performers. They had just come from Woodstock and were covered with mud.

OK, mud would be another good reason not to go. Mud. Ugh. Unlike some of the other young folks of that era I was very particular about personal hygiene. Some of it was because of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but I had to bathe or take a shower every day, had to wash my hair every day, did not want any skanks on my teeth so brushed often. In other words, not what the Woodstockers were going through, as they reveled in garbage and mud for three days.

Not only did I not know about Woodstock when it was happening, I have never seen the documentary, Woodstock, which was wildly popular on its first release, and is apparently a big seller on DVD. I moved on the periphery of the hippie culture without actually joining in. Many of my friends did, but I didn't like the drugs, didn't like the casual attitudes toward everything. I know I was uptight, man, hung up, man, but I just couldn't loosen up and go with the flow. I could not get into where it was at!

The only thing I would have enjoyed at Woodstock would be watching nubile hippie chicks taking it all off to jump in the lake. That might have made it worthwhile to me. As it was, that summer I hung out in a local park with a friend every Saturday, and watched the hippies congregate. We saw a few half-naked girls, smelled a lot of burning pot, saw long-haired guys playing Frisbee with their dogs. It was the era, and like the pictures from the documentaries on Woodstock, it seems a long time ago and yet not so long ago. I remember the era vividly, standing on the outside looking in. The music still sounds good to me after all these years. It's seeing what the hippies became that makes it seem a long time ago. From "Don't trust anyone over 30" to "Don't trust anyone under 60" signals a major change in the hippie dynamic.

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