Monday, August 15, 2016

Anniversary (again): Woodstock August 15 1969

Yeah, I keep looking back at this moment. Even though I wasn't even born when it happened.

There's just something about the fact that 500,000 people gathered together in terrible, rainy, muddy, starving, and for some drug-hazed, conditions in the heat of August (even in New York) in the middle of Max Yasgur's farm outside of Bethel, and most basically walked away in good spirits and incredible memories.

For a weekend in 1969, they had a population that rivaled major cities. You could tell because the traffic was f-cked up.

For all the fears about getting so many young adults, likely on drugs - it got to where the Governor Nelson Rockefeller was just seconds away from calling in the National Guard, with the local law enforcement arguing against it - and potentially in a mood to riot if conditions got bad... nothing violent happened. Well, there were obviously a bunch of fights here and there (one food vendor burned down because they were inflating prices on their burgers) but for the most part people worked to keep the weekend event going. The local townsfolk volunteered to help with food rations. People did duty as first aid medics. Bands did extra sessions on stage to cover for acts that had to be flown in by helicopter.

It wasn't pretty.

But it was beautiful.

Usually in history when you get 500,000 together in one spot for an event, it tended to be a battlefield, massive armies pummeling each other into blood and death. Woodstock was one of those rare moments when that many people got together for a weekend to delight and enjoy and commune. Some didn't come away with that feeling, but many others did.

It was one of those moments that proved Rousseau right: that in a confusing and chaotic environment, coming at a problem with a blank slate, most humans would behave in their self-interest but towards a common good. At Woodstock, where people didn't know exactly what was going on, tried to behave as well as they could under the circumstances.

It was a situation where people more often shared their food rather than steal it. It was a situation where people took total strangers to the medical tents and helped out. It was a situation where one guy manned the Port-O-Sans to keep them clean and did it with a happy grin on his face.

Speaking of, I am sending up flares to Mr. Michael Taggart again. You left a comment on that Woodstock blogging I did about your father, but you didn't leave a contact email. PLEASE email me back, sir. I really want to hear your story.

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