Thursday, August 13, 2009

Woodstock: The Embarrassment of a Generation

Three Days of Peace, Love and Music – the testament of a generation of fools. On August 15, these fools will be out en masse to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair. Almost universally accepted as one of the most important moments of rock n’ roll history, Woodstock was the defining cultural outcry of the Love-nics; three days of free sex, mind-altering substances and socially conscious rock n’ roll held on Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm in the rural town of Bethel, NY – the festival boasted such legendary acts as Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Jefferson Airplane and Crosby, Stills and Nash and was the forbearer to modern Mega-Concerts like Lollapalooza, Coachella and Sasquatch. But despite Woodstock’s impressive line-up and undeniable influence on the body of popular music, the event stands as a scathing indictment against both the politics and the willpower of a generation. Billed as ‘An Aquarian Exposition’ – Woodstock was supposed to change the world; in a decade blessed with violence, inequality and patriotism – the mind of the American youth had been infected with a spaced-out egalitarian notion that human nature was inherently flawed and had to be radically changed in order to ensure its survival. The evidentiary fact that nothing in the history of human civilization or nature itself (which these arrogant spacemen claimed to represent) supported their lofty and dangerous ideals meant nothing to them when thrown up against vague Diet-Buddhist philosophy and basement LSD. Turning a stoned cheek to the noble establishment and favoring a weak and decadent Flower-Power attitude - they sought to ignore Natural Law and bring about a new evolutionary plateau in Mankind. And it should come as no surprise that they completely failed. Despite the so-called ‘advancements’ that many attribute to the Woodstock Nation (the end of the Vietnam War, Affirmative Action, Women’s Rights et al.), which are more akin to smearing lipstick on a pig’s asshole than being ‘progressively’ evolutionary, the utopian wet dream of harmony between every man, woman, child and livestock collapsed under its own ambition. Hippiedom was exposed as a fraud – World Peace was a loser’s game. But Grooviness prevailed! And let me stop you before you contest – no, Hippies are not Groovy. Grooviness, as recognized by The Fab Reich, is the perfect expression of colorful austerity - as opposed to disreputable anarchy. Grooviness is the waltz of the eccentric fascist - not the mantra of the slobbering pacifist. Hippies are not Groovy – they whine too much, they never shower and they dress like homosexual cavemen.

But I digress –the failure of the Woodstock Nation can be best summed up with one final, and self-evident, observation – they were cowards. Less than four months after the concert, in December of 1969, two culture-bending events took place that irrevocably silenced the Hippie Movement. On December 1, the LAPD announced arrest warrants for three members of a hippie cult known as the Manson Family; Tex Watson, Linda Kasabian and Patricia Krenwinkel were taken into police custody in relation to the recent Tate-LaBianca murders and their leader Charles Manson soon followed them – almost immediately the nation was introduced to the long-haired, bearded face of evil, a Killer Hippy! Concerned elders and straight-laced college students began locking their doors for the first time. The golden garden that was California lost its hip cred and the era of brotherly love began to walk funny.

Less than a week later, on December 6, The Rolling Stones put on a free concert at the Altamont Speedway in Northern California –unofficially billed as the “West Coast Woodstock”, the festival had many of the same performers and attempted to recreate the same sense of euphoria and togetherness that its predecessor had established. The results were disappointing, to say the least. In stark contrast to Woodstock, the crowd at Altamont was violent and unruly (Mick Jagger was punched by a concertgoer within minutes of leaving his helicopter) and to make matters even more volatile, the notorious biker gang, The Hell’s Angels, were the heads of security. During the Rolling Stone’s set, a large fight broke out at the front of the stage – Jagger pleaded with the crowd to calm down and get along and that seemed to work at first. The concert continued when, according to eyewitness reports, a visibly intoxicated 18-year old Meredith Hunter approached the stage during the Stones’ performance of ‘Under My Thumb’ and pulled out a revolver. Thankfully, his nefarious plans were thwarted by a heroic Hell’s Angel, Alan Passaro, who proceeded to stab the young hooligan to death. Of course, the Love-Nics saw the situation differently, lambasting Passaro and the Hell’s Angels as violent, racist thugs (Meredith Hunter was a black man) and summarily banishing the biker gang from the rock n’ roll world. Altamont was a disaster. What was supposed to be the next defining statement of the Hippie Dream instead became its death knell.

And that was it. Three weeks later, the 1960’s, and the Woodstock Nation, were pronounced dead. Manson had loaded the gun – and Altamont pulled the trigger. The Aquarian Dream had turned into a Sagittarian Nightmare. And where were the Flower Children to be found? Nowhere and everywhere – scattered, disillusioned and impotent in the face of adversity – their true colors were exposed and the petals fell from the bud like far-out napalm. And that’s Woodstock for you, folks – a legacy of whiners, daydreamers and cowards; a silly goal with little stamina and even smaller minds. And don’t let anyone tell you any different.

The music was pretty Groovy though.

1 comment:

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