It's like Woodstock Nation, man
As it is, ER is just horribly dated and silly, and almost embarrassing in its naiveté. Good thing youth is wasted on the young because the world would be even worse than it is if we'd retained our callow impulses. Some, of course, do, but that is a whole other topic.
What brings all this to mind is a story in one of our local papers. A woman, whom I know fairly well – a respected teacher and youth counsellor – was the focus of the tale. A tale that concerns her trip to Woodstock. Not only did she go to Woodstock, Man, she was the poster child for that famous picture – the one shown above. It is testament to her self-effacement, I guess, that in any conversation I’ve had with her, she had never mentioned her ’15-minutes.’ I admire that. But, she finally decided to come clean, and why not?
The episode in her life also brings my own ‘cultural failures’ to the fore. I mean, here I was growing up when I did, and reaching adulthood when I did, but I never firsthand did the things that I've always suspected others did. I never saw the Beatles when they came to Vancouver because I had to work that night. I never saw the Stones, despite the fact I love their music. And, years later, when Long John Baldry (“Don’t lay no boogie-woogie on the king of rock-and-roll”) was on the downward slope of his career, I never got out to the local pub where he performed regularly. I meant to. I promised myself I would. And then the magnificent blues man died at an untimely age. Bummer.
And I never got to Woodstock. After reading my friend about all the muck, appalling food, horrible weather, hideous sanitary conditions and terrifying drug trips, I’m retrospectively happy about that. But, at the time, I really wanted to do it; to hang out with Hendrix (who’d soon be dead), and CSN and Y, and treacly Joan Baez, and John Sebastian stoned out of his skull, and so on. Cool. But, I didn’t make it.
I meant to. I went back to Toronto and stayed with friends with the intended objective being that we would drive down, do the festival and drive back after we’d heard all the great music and hung out and ‘grooved’, taking all the precautions of course to ensure that we didn’t ‘inhale’, just like Bill C. didn’t.
And then the radio reports began coming in. Radio reports about the hideous traffic mess, the bad trips, and the ghastliness of the site. At first we refused to be deterred. We would go to bits of the concert and then maybe stay in some lovely white-painted, upstate NY country inn. That would be nice. We’d sip fine wines at the end of the day and marvel at what we’d seen and heard.
By the next day, the news reports became more ominous. At first they foretold that it would take so long by that point for anybody to attain the site that it would probably be over by the time we pulled in. Furthermore, the weather forecast was horrible. And finally they said, quite forcefully, “Don’t go! We ain’t letting any more cars through.”
So, that at least let us off the hook. It wasn’t our fault we didn’t go. We wouldn’t need to feel guilty down all the decades for missing this pivotal cultural happening. And for the most part I never have. I have been content in my memory of meeting Donovan in Heathrow Airport one time.
Then I read the story in the local rag today.