As lyricist Robert Hunter said in the Grateful Dead hit Truckin’, what a long, strange trip it’s been.
Today (August 15, 2019) marks the 50th anniversary of the Aquarian Music Festival, more commonly known to the world as Woodstock, which started on this date and continued for three days in the up-state New York town of Bethel, which is 43 miles southwest of the eponymous city, which certainly in my mind would beg the question, “why the hell wasn’t it called ‘Bethel’, rather than ‘Woodstock’”? Sounds to me like Bethel NY was the victim of “selective marketing”, to coin a phrase.
I’ll skip reiterating all the sociological significance of the festival; it’s been done a bajillion times already, by writers/sociologists much more astute and experienced in that field than I will ever be. Suffice to say, as far as I’m concerned, Woodstock was the end and culmination of the 60s and the so-called “hippie movement”. Despite the struggles over Vietnam, women’s rights, civil rights, societal values, the 1968 Democratic Convention fiasco and the whole “love, dope and hippie beads” thing, there was still an innocence, a naiveté if you will that wasn’t completely negated until nine months later at Kent State University…it started in Chicago during that hot summer of ’68, but it became real in Ohio on May 4th, 1970.
I can never remember if the plural of “data” is “data” or vice-versa, one being pronounced “dayta” and the other “daata”, but whatever it is, I don’t have any on the number of people today who say they attended the festival, but I suspect the count has to be in the gajillions…as you can see from the photo below, claims notwithstanding, there were a shitload of attendees. My friend Ron was there, as you can further see from the photo (I circled him, down in the right-hand corner). I wasn’t there, not having been invited. (WikiPedia says there were “more than 400,000” in attendance, but doesn’t offer any evidence to support that number.) There being no way to verify the validity of someone saying today, hell yeah, I was there, we’ll never know, and let’s face it, according to my parent’s generation, all hippies/long-haired kids were liars, perverts and drug-abusers (right on two out of three) anyway.
I was living in Southern California at the time of the festival, an 18-year old, long-haired soon-to-be college student. I don’t remember hearing about the concert prior but reading about what took place afterwards. I wouldn’t have attended even had I known in advance about it, being too busy preparing for school, working, avoiding the draft and trying to screw everything in a short skirt in those days, with little success in the latter.
At just barely eighteen that summer and not having paid my dues, I was on the very outer limits of the so-called “Baby Boomer” generation, a group of people nowadays epitomized by guys like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who look like parodies of themselves and who apparently don’t have the good sense and decency to “go gentle into that good night”, as the poet Dylan Thomas once said. (And speaking of Dylan, there’s another guy who these days looks like he could use the services of a good embalmer.)
Babies were born, two people died (one of an overdose of happiness and another run over by a tractor), legends were made (see Richie Havens, Santana and Jimi Hendrix), cows mingled with concert-goers, drugs were consumed in mass quantities, Country Joe taught us how to spell, the promoters “took a bit of a bath” as reported from onstage by MC and production coordinator John Morris and in general a peaceful chaos reigned supreme.
(One of the best stories to come out of the concert…the band Iron Butterfly was scheduled to perform, got stranded at LaGuardia airport and couldn’t find a way into Bethel, due to the ungodly traffic tie-ups the concert produced on local highways. Their agent contacted Michael Lang, one of the organizers of the event, and with an excess of attitude, demanded a helicopter as a conveyance into and out of the site for the band. Lang, up to his cojones in other problems at that moment, told Morris to respond with a “thanks, no thanks.” Here’s the telegram that Morris sent the agent in response:
“F or reasons I can’t go into
U ntil you are here
C larifying your situation
K nowing you are having problems
Y ou will have to find
O ther transportation
U nless you plan not to come”
Morris is my kind of guy.
What a long, strange trip it’s been indeed.
Fast forward to the 21st century and current events, and it’s becomes time for me to, once again, remind all of you that, like the 247 disparate individuals from the Democratic Party, your Cap’n (that would be me) is running for President in 2020 as the Hearty Party candidate…that’s right, exhaust fans, my name is Cap’n John and I ain’t kidding. (That’s my campaign slogan…catchy, huh?)
I thought I would take a moment and reiterate some of my positions on the various issues, give you the “planks” of my platform, as it were. So I’ll dive right in, having no idea how deep the pool is.
I don’t know about the rest of the globe, but it’s been hotter than Habanero pepper here in Central Florida recently, with several days just last week having a “heat index” of, depending on which usually inaccurate weather reporting service you choose, between 108 and 110°, coupled with completely unseasonable rain EVERY FUCKIN’ DAY THIS SUMMER, which I have to believe is somehow connected to the extreme heat. When I am elected President, I will ask Congress to enact legislation that will require sending Federal troops to the homes of “climate deniers”, have said troops take the said deniers out into the country where it’s quiet and then whack their peenies with a meat tenderizing mallet repeatedly.
LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA
As your President, I will send a bill to Congress making cannabis legal in 47 states, other than Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania; since the asshats in those states supported Donald Trump and put him in the White House in 2016, screw’em. And piss on Mitch McConnell too as long as I’m at it.
After I am elected the 46th President of this great country, having been remade so by my predecessor Donald “Tweety Bird” Trump (at least in his mind), I will immediately lift all the incredibly stoopid tariffs imposed by PTB on imported Chinese products, causing the Chinese to respond in kind, which will allow the farmers, consumers and the stock market to get back to normalcy, which means the famers will be able to make a profit from their efforts, consumers will quit taking it in the shorts and the market will return to some semblance of sanity. And you needn’t worry about Mr. Trump, post-Presidency…he won’t starve, always having Daddy’s money to fall back on, as he has done all his life.
That’s right, circulating fans, as soon as I am elected President, I will immediately impose a ban on the playing of soccer, in any form at any level, in this country. It’s a stoopid, boring game that has no place in modern American sports. Let them play it in countries that don’t have Major League Baseball, REAL football, the NBA, women’s college fast-pitch softball and tiddlywinks. (Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth for AN HOUR AND A HALF. Geez.)
Speaking of tiddlywinks, as President, I will issue a proclamation declaring February 23rd as National Tiddlywink Day, with all the attendant celebrations and general tomfoolery thereto. Why 2/23? Besides being my birthday, which should be reason enough, it’s also the day, in 1997, that “scientists” announced the first successful cloning of an animal, a lamb named Dolly, making her the Dolly Lamba.
LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA
As your President, wait, I already did this one, didn’t I? Shit.
As the election draws nearer over the next 12 months or so, I will be expounding further on other pertinent issues that face our nation; you can be assured that my positions on these matters will be as cogent and relevant as the ones above.
At this early stage in the electoral process, I believe you could best characterize my candidacy by quoting Joseph Heller, from his brilliant anti-war novel Catch-22:
“He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.”
“Gimme an F…”
Love and “The Star Spangled Banner”,
Post Script…the pic above? One of the bands that didn’t play at Woodstock.