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Woodstock Meets Obama: Let’s Keep It A “Moment” And Not A “Movement”

November 28, 2009

Carlos Santana performing at Woodstock.

Many people view the 1960s as the decade that started our nation’s descent into self-indulgence and balkanization.

The History Channel’s November 25th special Woodstock: Now And Then is instructive in this regard: What better way to document the lifestyle of that first generation of spoiled American children (they run our universities and government now, you know – they and their devotees) than to spend a couple of hours weaving our way through that most signature of music festivals?

So Fire up one of your fine smokeables, get naked, and take a swim in the pond of unadulterated hedonism that marked those few days in August, 1969.

I’m sure it was fun. I was too young to attend, but the chicks look fine.

And the tunes?  Awesome! Watch  guitarist Carlos Santana and 19-year-old drummer Michael Shrieve take it to the house in this intense rendition of Soul Sacrifice:

Shrieve might look like a meaty and aging Chicago bartender in 2009, but caught on this most perfect of days, he was definitely in his element, and no one can ever take that away from him.

Santana lets the show’s producers in on a little secret:

“Uh, like most people,  I was peaking on, uh, Mescaline.”

Yeah. And his guitar was, like, turning into a writhing and uncontrollable snake.


To his credit, though, he nails it, just like Shrieve.

It is an amazing performance, of which there were more than a few during the days of August 15th through the 18th.

Taken as a one-time extravaganza, I don’t have a problem with the whole Woodstock happening.

As Greg Jackson, who covered the festival for ABC News says,

“…Woodstock was a moment. I don’t think you can say it was a movement.”

But the radical turncoats of that era (and their acolytes, including President Obama and his Commissars and Czars) don’t want to give up the idea of a Woodstock Nation all that easily.

This Most Selfish Generation in our lifetime is all about taking under the guise of sharing. Witness Obamacare and the stultifying taxation proposals on the achievers of our society. Watch the hatred and contempt for our soldiers and other protectors. See the logical extension of peacenik behavior to the apology tour our Commander-In-Chief has been on since the day he took office.

Whether you listen to the participants or the starry-eyed attendees, this drug, mud, and vomit-splattered tribute to excess was an absolutely perfect self-contained world, and why can’t we all live like that?

Michael Wadleigh, the director of the film that covered the concert, tells us that,

“The 60’s in America were fantastic. I feel so lucky to have grown up in that period. So many ideas came out of it. The anti-war movement, the gender movement, civil rights. The Woodstock Generation, I think, has been a total success. My particular frustration is that we desperately need another Woodstock Generation.”

I thought we already had it. Like a really grotesque acid trip, all we can hope for is that it will be over soon.

It probably won’t be that easy. The intelligentsia have their vision, after all.

Gail Collins, a columnist for the New York Times, sums it up thusly:

“I went to the inauguration, and thought, ‘Wow, it’s just like Woodstock. Tens of thousands of people and they’re all happy and we’re here to really get along well. We’re all in this together.'”

Unfortunately so.

  1. Carterthewriter permalink
    November 28, 2009 7:09 am

    The only thing I can say about all night parties, is for those that have to go the work the next day, it was very painful. Those that didn’t have to go to work are now running our country or praising them with literary gems in various newspapers throughout this country.

  2. American Delight permalink
    November 28, 2009 7:35 am

    Wadleigh’s comment that we need another Woodstock generation really illustrates what a sick fantasy those people have.

    They want hundreds of thousands of young people protesting Iraq (oh wait, the surge was successful), burning draft cards (oh wait, there’s no draft), doing drugs (oh wait, they’d rather get jobs and start families), not bathing (oh wait, young people today would rather be clean), etc.

    This Thanksgiving season I am grateful that we did NOT produce another Woodstock generation!

  3. Cas Balicki permalink
    November 28, 2009 7:55 am

    Thinking back to the 60’s I’m reminded of an acquaintance best described as having a childhood obesity problem well into his teens. In a remarkably short time he thinned to svelte. Good thing, too, as it made carrying his coffin lighter work for the pallbearers. It will come as no surprise to any that have similar experiences that my acquaintance died of a drug overdose. He did a lot of speed. Sadly, this anecdote illustrates our common failing when it comes to hindsight in that we tend to remember Woodstock the moment while forgetting its major and minor casualties: Jimi Hendrix dying on his own puke, Janice Joplin’s suicide, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, the Tate Bianca murders, and the millions of lesser known deaths by culture such as that of my acquaintance.

    The problem with remembering the sixties as cultural history is that the story becomes a farrago of vague memories strung into a semi-coherent narrative that bears no relation to the reality of the time. Was the sixties generation the first or even the most anti-war generation? The answer to that question would depend on whether the person asking remembered the 1930s. In the seventies I remember asking a professor of mine about the “sexual revolution.” His response was to ask me, which one? Alas, I was forced into the realization that the sixties generation did not, contrary to the mythology of the age, discover sex, the reality is that the only thing that changed about sex in the sixties was the introduction and broad use of “the pill.” As for popular music, was it better than the popular music of previous generations or was it only recorded better and marketed to people who forgot that Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald were the best male and female singers of the 20th century? Any who have listened to Rod Stewart’s latest retro recordings might be forgiven the thought that everything old is new again for good reason.

    If history is a flow of events, and progress comes as a result of small, incremental steps humanity takes in series one after the other, can any generation claim responsibility for positive gains such as civil rights? In other words was Martin Luther King a sixties phenomenon? Given the presence of historical figures such as William Wilberforce and Mahatma Ghandi among many others, the short answer to the Martin Luther King question is decidedly no! he was not a man of the sixties. The conceit that the sixties generation represents is best exemplified by a comment Arthur ‘Pinch’ Sulzberger jr., publisher of The New Your Times, made at some commencement speech wherein he claimed that the sixties generation was a failure because it did not end war. (I paraphrase Sulzberger as I do not remember the college at which the comment was made.) Imagine thinking such a thought, never mind airing it in a public forum. Who does Arthur Sulzberger think he or we are–God?

    What the sixties generation will be famous for in the decades to come is the clash between desire and duty. By pursuing one to the exclusion of the other the sixties generation sold itself on the idea of paradise on earth and found instead disease, death, and destruction.

  4. November 28, 2009 8:44 am

    At the risk of using a tired ol’ 60’s draft horse, you are RIGHT ON, Mr. Balicki!

    Whoever came up with the principle of “Everything in Moderation”, was smart, indeed. You get too far out of whack in any one area of your life and you are in trouble.

    The era WAS incredibly violent.

    As far as the music goes:

    I like the 60’s stuff a lot, it is full of vitality, but it is also has a lot of clinkers and rough spots. (Desire versus duty – it is more fun to get high and chase the ladies then to work for hours and hours on your craft.)

    Santana is at his best when he is playing with the disciplined and exacting John McLaughlin. (See the link in the story to their album “Love, Devotion, and Surrender.”)

    And of course there is always the trumpeter Maurice Andre.

    He is better than the lot of them.

    And I just can’t picture him going to one of the med-tents and asking for help with his bad Peyote experience.

  5. Mike Begunga permalink
    November 28, 2009 9:44 am

    I am too junior to have participated in the Woodstock experience, hell, I don’t even like the music much… though it isn’t all bad in fairness. However, if I was older and did have the opportunity I would have passed. I don’t get the allure. Woodstock totally fits with my perception of Obama and his minions; too lazy to work, unmotivated vagabonds, looking for a hand out or a meal to mooch, the antithesis of all I strive for and admire.

    I think we have produced another Woodstock Era, at least the result is the same. It is socially acceptable to live at home with your parents… forever. Technology removes any stigma associated with the acceptance of welfare and food stamps; you simply swipe a debit card. Nobody is willing to pay their dues… every high school graduate thinks they deserve a management position with whatever company they successfully complete a two week training course. Bankruptcy is glamorous, people like Mike Tyson and Donald Trump brag about it. Idiots are permitted to join organizations that fight for the equal human treatment of slaughter cows, the promotion of the carbon credit train wreck, or anti-debt collection protections designed to help over spenders evade responsibility and companies bow down to these groups because public opinion is so terribly disparaged that these ridiculous notions are proliferated. I have to fight with my ten year old son about green day and global warming because the school continually pumps the destruction of earth.

    Obama is Jerry Garcia with a better wardrobe. A figurehead for unemployment, dependence, and is responsible for bringing credence to any cause which interferes with the principles this country was founded upon… hard work and opportunity. Newsflash, this is Woodstock!

  6. November 28, 2009 11:41 am

    For every Woodstock, there’s an Altamont to balance out the reality. Obama has already had his Woodstock moment, but has yet to meet his Altamont. That should prove interesting.

  7. November 28, 2009 12:25 pm

    I was at Woodstock in 1969 and skinny-dipped in White Lake. Ten of us drove up from the Maryland suburbs of DC in 2 cars and slept in a 10-person tent. I was a Vietnam vet who served in Nam in ’66-’67, got out of the Army in January, 1969, and had completed my first semester in college on the GI Bill.

    I keep hearing all sorts of BS about my generation from people who were too young to have understood what was going on at the time. I’m from that group that was the first born of the baby boom generation so I was 3 years older than most of the kids attending Woodstock so they were like my younger brothers and sisters who were a bit more spoiled than I was. The boomers cover a lot of years but we’re really a bunch of subsets. I considered those born about 5 years after me to be the yuppies because I sure didn’t have much in common with them.

    I attended all the big anti-war rallies in 1969 to 1971 in DC but I was more of an observer than a participant. There were some younger leftist radicals and communists but most people just wanted us out of Vietnam. I knew we were doing no good there and that it was foolish to stay there. The whole war was insane.

    You can imagine how a lot of Vietnam vets felt upon hearing Robert McNamara’s admission that he lied to the president. After hearing that, I held him accountable for my being sent to Nam.

    Last year, I was a big Hillary fan, having been pro-Obama in 2007. My allegiance changed starting in January of last year when I started to learn about who Obama really was. When Hillary dropped out in June of that year, a friend urged me to meet with John McCain to see if I could support him. It was the beginning of the PUMA movement. Being a liberal Democrat with a 40-year history of voting only for Democrats, I was somewhat reluctant to go to McCain’s HQ in Arlington. I was really weirded out at the prospect but went anyway with my wife who had worked her fingers to the bone making calls for Hillary at her Arlington HQ.

    About 70 Hillary supporters met with John McCain and Carly Fiorina on that day in June, 2008, and Robert McNamara was there sitting next to my wife. He overheard a conversation I was having with some of the attendees and learned that I was a retired computer consultant and a former adjunct professor at GW. He mentioned he was having computer problems and wondered if I could help. I offered some advice as I was trying to remember his name. After the meeting with McCain, we chatted outside and by then, I knew who he was. He wanted me to come to his home to show him how to do some things on his computer but I wormed my way out of it. Some months after that, he died and I felt a little bad about brushing him off. I just couldn’t forgive him for what he did.

    My wife and I voted for John McCain and Sarah Palin last year. We’re still registered Democrats but we can no longer support our party or any Democrats who we take issue with. We voted for McConnel for governor of Virginia and he won even though Obama handily carried our state last year. Things have changed. Lots of Democrats my age have either registered as Independents or Republicans. We can no longer blindly support Democrats because we now see the harm they can cause.

    What I’m saying is, please handle the broad brushes judiciously. The Woodstock generation, the baby boomers, the counterculture types are full of a wide variety of people. Even those with a common history are all different because we all perceive things differently. We didn’t all do drugs. I sure didn’t. Oh, there was that fiber-filled brownie that someone slipped me. I never smoked anything. It was my parents who smoked and drank to excess and I didn’t want to be anything like my parents who were from the “greatest generation.”

    Though I’m still a social liberal, I’m also a fiscal conservative who will vote for any Republican who might help this country. Let’s work together to solve our problems.

    • Carterthewriter permalink
      November 28, 2009 1:45 pm

      A well thought out commentary. Thanks for your input, Ron.

  8. November 28, 2009 12:50 pm

    Ron, when you’re running at around 500 words you can’t do much but make general points, but I think my thesis is accurate: The 60’s kiddies by and large were that 1st generation of Americans whose parents were well-off enough to spoil them, and many of those children lived and still live lives that are incredibly self-absorbed.

    And they have spawned others like them.

    There are obviously many exceptions – not everyone had a deferment, and some that could have had one still went to war.

    Like you did. Thank you for your service.

    This may also be a broad-brush statement, but I believe it nonetheless:

    Wars should be a last resort, and if we have to take that final step, we should fight them to win them.

    Otherwise, as you say about Vietnam, they really ARE insane.

    Pass the brownies.

    • betty boop permalink
      November 30, 2009 5:43 am

      Hey guys. While I am interested in this whole subject, I must point out a few discrepancies you may be overlooking. First, I am a few years older than Obama. In 1969 I was 12, which hardly places him at the vanguard of the hippie movement. There has been little discussion of Obama’s parent(s), but his mom was apparently such a “hippie chick”, so the whole Woodstock phenomenon seems like the kind of event to have been well appreciated and eulogized in that household. Look further back. This bunch are the folks sucking up Social Security and running the AARP.

  9. November 28, 2009 6:10 pm

    LOL about the brownies, John. Also, thanks, Carter. I wish those born just after WWII could be categorized differently. We were the leading edge of the baby boomer generation and we sure weren’t self-absorbed. Those who came after us were, a product of their times. The First Boomers didn’t have it easy as their parents struggled to pick up the pieces and start a family after the war. Growing up in the 1950s was great, though.

    Just for laughs, not that I agree with his POV, here’s Lewis Black explaining the difference between the baby boomer and gen X:–generation-x—opening-arguments

    • betty boop permalink
      November 30, 2009 5:47 am

      Sorry pal, I beg to differ. Those of us born at the end of the Boom had to deal with all the trash and chaos left strewn about the lawn by those who went before. I sure would not have minded being around before the party ended. It’s time the Woodstock generation grew up!

  10. donnamarie permalink
    November 29, 2009 5:27 am

    I may seem to be free associating here but my comment has to do with the decision of the History Channel to run a memoir on Woodstock and the Beatles on the eve before Thanksgiving. Periodically throughout the year the History Channel does its shtick on Woodstock which usually spirals off into the Charles Manson story-so this Woodstock show was not a new theme for the history channel.

    Would it have killed the History Channel to have had a story on Thanksgiving on either the night before or the day of?

  11. November 29, 2009 5:43 am

    I am of the same age group, but not of that generation. I didn’t know about Woodstock before (not clued in enough), but wouldn’t have gone – I was busy earning a living. Never did the drugs, wasn’t a wild party animal, had my kids and raised them relatively traditionally.
    I regard most of the noisiest blatherers of that era critically – most of them are still partying on Dad’s (or the taxpayers’) dime, never admitted error in any of their boneheaded actions, and seem determined to pass on the most egregious stupidities to the next generation.
    Not if I can help it, bozos.

  12. Brad permalink
    November 29, 2009 5:47 am

    I was there and can give witness to what John says about the “pond of unadulterated hedonism that marked those few days in August, 1969.”

    What we were looking for in those days wasn’t found at Woodstock, though many who weren’t have bought the myth of the “Dawning of the Age of Aquarius,” whatever that meant…

    We shouldn’t forget that moment, but learn from it. Most of us were looking for something, even though we were “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching.” Ephesians 4:14 NIV

    Most of us were looking for our purpose for life. Some have found that purpose, some are still looking, and others have given up.

  13. Lawler Nicoteri permalink
    November 30, 2009 9:26 am

    Woodstock: overindulged pigs wallowing in their own filth. The hallmark of my generation? Hardly. I wasn’t there. I was working. Still am. The “Age of Aquarius” is over. Grow up.

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