Monday, August 31, 2009

10 Places to Relive the '60s

Peace tees for sale near Woodstock in Bethel, NY 8/14/09 (Reuters/Eric Thayer).

Many of the most crucial events of the 1960s — including the civil rights victories, antiwar protests, and the sweeping cultural revolution — left few physical traces. All but a handful of the decade's famous counterculture hangouts shuttered their doors long ago, and you won't find any monuments where major student uprisings took place. Sure, you can drive up to Woodstock [a farm] to see where you once reveled in the mud, but there will be no public intoxication, tents, fires, or camping.

Buddhist peace (shanti and metta) activists working like it's 1969 (

As the organizers of Woodstock in 1994 and 1999 probably learned, that history can't be recreated. "What's celebrated about the Sixties are a couple of things," says Bryant Simon, a history professor at Temple University. "It was a moment when youth ruled, and, secondly, there was a certain kind of freedom of expression, of dance, of bodies. Getting high was sort of a third thing — there's a sort of sweetness to those memories. And it was a moment where it seemed that idealism ruled, a certain kind of wide-eyed, sweet, and tender idealism."

Maybe we can't go back, but it's still possible to capture the spirit of the decade by attending festivals like Bonnaroo, strolling through neighborhoods that invoke fond memories, and reliving landmark events through engaging exhibits.

Relive the period at the movie theatre: Mike Myers reliving the 60s in "The Love Guru" (2008); there's also "Across the Universe" and out currently "Taking Woodstock."