If you haven’t overdosed on Woodstock memories these past few weeks, you’re lucky. Everyone makes a big deal about the three days of peace and love and harmony and how that, in a crowd of 500,000, it’s wonderful that the first 250,000 people didn’t pull knives and guns on the second 250,000 to arrive. Not to rain on anyone’s faulty, myth-laden parade, but I don’t recall anyone being murdered at the last Hannah Montana concert, either. Does that make her the symbol of a new era where everything changes and everything that happened before she arrived is old, stale and bad?
Is there someone who actually thinks concert violence is a big problem? Other than Altamont, which seemed to be specifically organized to get one guy killed, there hasn’t been much violence at rock concerts. If history tells us anything, it’s that we’re safer at rock concerts than we are from school gunmen or a disgruntled office workers. To say that Woodstock was peaceful is kind of like saying the grocery store was peaceful this weekend. Who expected it to be anything but? If there was a rumor out there that the Sharks and the Jets were coming to Woodstock, I missed it.
Though I lived many states away, I desperately wanted to go to Woodstock. I had almost everything a person needed to go – the bell-bottoms, curly hair down to my shoulders, belted Frye boots. There was only one thing I lacked: the $18 to pay for the three-day ticket. I was working in a steel factory making $59 a week after taxes, which was a whopping $10 a week over minimum wage. Eighteen dollars? Just to see 30 acts? When did ticket prices get so high? For $18, I could put down half the money on one of those new cassette-tape recorders. No more skipping needles, no more scratchy records, and they say they last forever – cassettes will never wear out like a record.
And if I went to Woodstock, where would I stay for three days? And how would I get there? It’s on some farm close to New York City. A farm in New York? There must be some mistake. It’s probably the name of a stadium or something...