Taking Woodstock

In the midst of all last week’s Woodstock rhapsodizing, this article stood out for me, but maybe that’s just because I’m another one of those who thinks Max’s farm was one of the most unpleasant places I could have imagined being in August, 1969:

All of a sudden people that fall were wearing Woodstock T-shirts and talking about how it had changed everything. Despite the fact men had landed on the Moon that year, the war in Vietnam was taking the lives of hundreds of American boys each week, there were civil rights riots in the cities, this singular event began to eclipse everything else — even to the extent that people would lie about being there.

Forty years on, I have no regrets that I took a pass on Woodstock and missed a chance to take part in the event that “defined a generation.” I feel no twinge of longing when I hear the song Woodstock, no urge to “get back to the garden.”

When I look at those pictures of young people blissfully swaying back and forth in a sea of mud, all I can do is shiver at the spectacle of it all and give thanks for having said no.

My aversion to Woodstock is probably not normal, but it is visceral. There was something about all those self-satisfied faces, glowing as if they had reached the pinnacle of human achievement by rolling around in the mud with thousands of like-minded individualists. When I think of Woodstock, I see a straight line from 1969 to today’s self-obsessed aging Boomers who continue to seek inner bliss and “growth” and will drive their BMWs anywhere, and spare no expense, to find it.