The 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. The Festival of Lies.
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This is an opinion piece but we'll also use facts.
Woodstock was bullshit. A failed concert built on lies and anyone who looks back on it fondly is full of shit. I like to think of it as a defining moment in American history where truth was completely overwhelmed by fiction. Yes, music was played. Yes people watched. But the entire event was a failure and the only thing that did work was capitalism. The hippies were idiots, and Uncle Sam and the love of money were the only things that worked.
"Hey man, Woodstock was all about peace, love and music." Wrong. The dudes who put on the 3-day festival of beads, sweat and human funk we all about the money. They were chasing the dollahs. Tickets went on sale for $18 bucks advanced and $24 at the gate. They wanted to make a huge pile of cash. They were capitalists. The problem? They were too successful with sales. They had too many dumb hippies buying tickets to a show that had no venue. Thank goodness (sarcasm) they were well versed in propaganda.
The original plan was to do the festival in Wallkill, NY but residents were worried that the promoters didn't have enough portable toilets. Not the sexiest reason to cancel a concert but at least a reason based in reality. Promoters told the people of Wallkill that 50,000 people would be in attendance. They were lying. They had already sold almost 200,000 tickets. The plan, I guess, was to bury the quaint little town of Wallkill in tons of human piss and shit, enjoys some tunes, make a boatload of money and disappear. Not cool. Not very "peace, love and understanding" at all. The people of Wallkill dodged a bullet when they said no to the festival.
So what do you do when you're caught in a lie? Keep lying!! Promoters fired up the propaganda machine and cried foul! It was an epic spin move. They made it seem like The Man was trying to stop the show. In the weed-soaked brains of hippies across America it was Free Love vs. The Man and now they had to go. Good for the promoters, bad for the actual people who wanted a decent concert event.
Promoters eeked out a deal with the poor souls of Bethel, NY. Yes, Bethel, NY. Not Woodstock. Anyway. Being the original "Fyre Festival" they threw together as much prep as they could. Yup, they had a stage and lights but they were in no way prepared for the event that they sold.
It was a train wreck. A swarm of hippies descended on the site. 400,000 people looking for some free shit. Not enough toilets, rain, traffic jams, performers who literally couldn't get to the show, etc., etc., etc.
So what do you do if you're playing a game of Hippies vs The Man and you're getting you're ass kicked? Beg The Man for help! It was the Stewart Air Force Base to the rescue, flying the poor souls who agreed to perform, in and out of the mud soaked hell hole. No one seems to talk about that much. The Air Force saved Woodstock you dumbass hippies! And the promoters got rich! Just the movie rights alone were worth a small fortune. While idiots dance in the mud and human filth, they were counting mad stacks of cash, and probably continue to this very day!
Let's reflect on the actual show just for a second. Multiple deaths. Yes, you read that right. One dude got run over by a tractor, somebody else injected insulin and died, and there were several miscarriages. Can you even imagine a concert with MULTIPLE DEATHS being hailed as a success? Much less the defining moment of a generation? The defining moment is the spin. The propaganda. "If we all call it a success, people will believe it." And it worked! The hippies won!
Concert promoters got rich, the Air Force saved the day, performers got screwed, people died and somehow the hippies won. Facts fell victim to feelings and the facts vs. feelings game has been in full effect ever since. Old hippies will still declare Woodstock was beautiful or some such bullshit. Sad. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I guess it helps if you're on LSD, sleep deprived, covered in mud and human filth, while The Who plays at 5:00 in the morning. (I love The Who but holy shit. 5 a.m.? Blow me.)
It's also worth noting that a bunch of great bands said no to Woodstock. They knew it was gonna be a clusterfuck and they passed. Good call. Bob Dylan? Pass. Simon & Garfunkel? Pass. Led Zeppelin? Pass. The Moody Blues? Pass. The Rolling Stones? Pass. Not everybody was a hippie back in the day. At least these bands were smart enough to smell a scam and said no. Funny how they are still around (in one form or another) and most of the heroes of Woodstock aren't.
But hey, Woodstock was awesome, right?
For the promoters? Yes. Everyone else got screwed.