Woodstock or Woodstuck

Had one of those wonderful days today. Blew my plans because I blew my mind.  Sounds dramatic, huh? Was going to the hardware store, boring. Instead I stumbled across Woodstock: Three Days of Peace & Music (40 anniversary collector’s edition) on the TV.  My behind was immediately implanted onto the sofa for the next 3 hours.

The music slipped into the groves in my mind like a comfortable old shoe and it went flying back. Ah, it was yesterday, but wait a minute…40 years? WTF happened? My mother took me to see the filmed version of Woodstock  when I was an impressionable 15 years old. I was impressed. It cemented in me a fierce love of music that’s been with me ever since.

One day I said to myself: ‘I’m forty!’ By the time I recovered from the shock of that discovery, I had reached fifty. – Simone de Beauvoir. The Second Sex author.

The movie is great, the music of course, but I forgot about all the interviews with ordinary Joes that were in the movie too. A grumpy older guy mutters, “Oh, they’re all on pot,” waves his newspaper, and walks off. Any of that mind altering hanky panky happens nowadays and it is immediately on nationwide media, followed by moral outrage; next bible thumpers or other variety of objector protest loudly, summon authorities, with the camera focus on the thorns more than the roses. The committers of said violations of the code du jour are marginalized,  sued if possible,  given time in prison, instructed to burn in hell and rot for all eternity, their name stricken from the registers of polite society.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin

Am I at the other end of the life cycle side from teen Angst?  Some sort of senior /lovey dovey/flower child kind of angst? Am I getting old and cranky because I’m tired of this nonstop, in yer face, judgmental, 24/7, frenetic, plugged in, finger-pointing, holier than thou, never ending media data stream of hysteria?

We rocked out just as hard back in 1969 as kids do now.  I know, I was there. I lived through that time. Lost a bit of my hearing from standing too close to speakers.  Sure it sounded different. But, that feeling of “I got something to say at the top of my lungs” is still there in me, I can feel it. I don’t think we ever really lose it. It goes underground, gets stacked away in the attic, with the baby clothes and old knickknacks.

I was a fairly suburban, sheltered kid. But, I knew things like – you can’t run from the fuzz. Not that I ever had experience of that. Really, I swear.  I’ve never been in a car chase ever. Well, I’ve been in a car full of teenagers following another car full of teenagers, all on our way to the drive in theatre. A car load (six passengers) for 99 Cents on Tuesday nights, that’s a bargain. We had to cooperate then and plan ahead. The people stuffed in the trunk on bargain night had to know better than to shout “are we there yet?” when the car was still in the ticket booth. And all this got done without text messages or cell phones at all. Somehow it worked out ok.

In an interview with the farmer who owned the land at Woodstock, he said “Think about, a half a million kids got together, had fun and made music for 3 days, and did nothing but that.” I must wonder, could we do that now? Would it even be allowed? The permits alone would be a nightmare of red-tape. Could the kids or the parents afford it?

Flowers and dry clothes dropped from helicopters into the crowd. What we drop today? Frozen turkeys, “you’re going to hell but, Jesus loves you” pamphlets, crowd dispersing gas? The Army brought in about 40 some medics to assist the crowd.  Of course in a  crowd that size there a few problems, but overall 500K people went to the party of the century and most managed to have one helluva good time.

Jimmy Hendrix

Jimmy Hendrix

Would anyone today want their kids going to an event like that? In the U.S., we must be reaching a saturation point with a child raising obsession. God, I certainly hope so, I can’t stand much more of it. I have to wonder, when does a kid get to be a kid?

Parents script every moment of a child’s life starting before birth. They play prenatal music to them. The kid arrives in a civilized time frame, induced during the day between 9:00am and 3:00pm at the birthing center. Preferably not during lunch break. Then we spend the next 20 years trying to sanitize and inoculate them from every conceivable thing that can possibly happen.

Another thing I want to know is when do teenagers get to be teenagers? I couldn’t raise kids today. I would rip my hair out and check into a padded perma-spa. That or I’d be in jail for letting my kid play with a dangerous toy. Mothers that manage children these days amaze me.

Is this what happens when we get at a certain age?  All the silver foxes start waving things around and yelling “you kids, stop screaming and yelling! If you can’t play nice, then you have to take a nap or go home!” And we are talking to whole countries here, not just our kids. I guess I’m not a typical gray hair. I spend much more time worrying about kids getting stifled than I do about how much social security I’m going to get. By the time I get it, it will only be enough to cover my joint cream and the half ‘n half for the coffee. If I get it at all.

I love the world as it is now, but I do miss that world too. And I have to ask, when did talking about peace, sharing, and brotherly love fall out of fashion?  I’ve tried half-heartedly in the last few years. I’m met with eye rolls, or a verbal pat on the head. Aren’t you just the cutest little flower-brained, throwback, dinosaur.  Half the civilized world is embroiled in an escalating emotional, judgmental, arms race. Sometimes only figurative, other times a little more dangerous.

We are labeled a nation of stressed out people. All the lovely statistics talk about how stress is frying our hearts and making us fat. Most of our recreation is sedentary. Who goes out dancing anymore?  I’m getting concerned. Our God given right to cut loose, get down, get baked, de-stress or whatever they call it now, is in serious jeopardy. It’s a medical issue I tell you. The Surgeon general should make a speech about it on national TV. Something along the lines of “Chill out man, your life depends on it, life is too short to hate your neighbors.”

12 responses

  1. very good read. remember those days well. didn’t make it to Woodstock but we had the smaller version close to where I live. ate every watermelon in the poor farmer’s patch.

    1. LOL yummy. Nothing tastier than fresh watermelon.

  2. Great thoughts – But this line and the paragraph that follows is my favorite: “Parents script every moment of a child’s life starting before birth….” A resounding Yes! It makes me crazy.

    1. My theory is that all these reminder apps and daytimers create more obligations. It’s much more difficult to pretend to forget to do things you don’t want or need to do. Paper lists are easy to lose or recycle 🙂

    2. That same bit got me too! Trinity, you are so right.

      We ran riot on the farm as kids – I wrote about it today in fact.

      I am SO behind, I may never catch up, I am sorry – but I am into draft two of my book and so that is where my focus is going. I HOPE to catch up a bit more over Easter.

      1. Draft 2? Hooray for you! You go girl.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this; although we’re so different in many ways, we both seem to agree that the world is a hectic place. I don’t really have the benefit of hindsight and being able to look back decades (the 90’s is childhood nostalgia to me!) but even in the last fifteen, ten, even five years I’ve seen changes which make me uncomfortable.

    Not long ago, everyone had a landline telephone. We knew phone numbers. Now, most only have a mobile (most my age, anyway) and don’t know their relatives numbers. Letters? I can’t remember the last time somebody wrote me one. Photos are just uploaded online instead of being put in albums in the loft. Everything seems so… temporary.

    We have more information than ever, and more access to the world than we’ve ever been able to achieve even a couple of years ago. We can speak to someone on the other side of the world in real time, for free. Yet so many people seem disconnected.

    My mother was a teen in the 60’s, and I do envy her in many ways. Yes, I have the internet and Krispy Kreme, but she had freedom.

    1. It was a different kind of freedom. I like the freedom to lose all my books in my Kindle so I don’t have to look for them in the pile of 98 thousands paper books collecting dust in my house. Some of the freedoms we have now are a little on the dangerous side. Before the internet, saying something asinine at a party was in front of a contained group of people and hopefully forgotten. Now we can make a jackass of ourselves in front of millions. (referring to myself, of course) Oh well, such is life 🙂

  4. Wow! Apparently we are very close in age. As I read this post I identified with it. You ask: “I love the world as it is now, but I do miss that world too. And I have to ask, when did talking about peace, sharing, and brotherly love fall out of fashion?” It’s not out of fashion where I live and the young folks I know are in many ways refelecting those values which their parents conveyed to them. I still dance and sing almost every day. Others may be attracted to gyms but I find putting on my music and letting go in my own livingroom is invigorating. Love, peace and understanding is what we all need in these troubled times. They are the glue that binds us generation after generation. As I relect on the past I recognize those are what we always need and times are always troubled.

    1. You’re absolutely right. If there isn’t anyone in my life that I can talk peace and love with, I need to expand my social circle, asap.

  5. This was AWESOME!!!
    Your mind is as sharp as ever!

    1. Well that is nice to know. Sometimes I wish I could fit my brain in that knife sharpener gizmo in the kitchen drawer. Some days are better than others.

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