Saturday, August 10, 2019

Looking back at Woodstock

Associated Press (, 8/10/19); Ashley Wells, Seth Auberon (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
In this August 1969 file photo, rock music fans listen to performers at the Woodstock Festival of Arts and Music in Bethel, N.Y. To some Americans, the pivotal festival of "peace and music" 50 years ago was an inspiring moment of counterculture freethinking (AP file photo).
Woodstock generation looks back, from varied vantage points

NEW YORK, NY - It was the weekend that shaped the image of a "Woodstock Generation" that was previously just called "hippies."

That image would echo, appeal, and provoke generations to come. To many who went or wished they had gone, the pivotal festival of "peace and music" 50 years ago remains an inspiring moment of counterculture community, free love (sex), and youthful freethinking.

"We went for the music and found something so much more, and so much more important -- camaraderie," says Karen Breda, who was 17 when she went to Woodstock. She recalls feeling part of "a generation that felt like nothing could stop us. Peace. Love. The whole thing."

Some other Americans saw Woodstock as an outrageous display of indulgence and insouciance in a deadly serious time of war for the country and military-industrial complex. And some didn't look to Woodstock to celebrate their own sense of music and identity.

"There was no one Baby Boomer generation. There was no one approach to what Woodstock meant," says David Farber, a University of Kansas professor of American history.

But Woodstock became an "aspirational vision of what countercultural youth thought they could achieve in the United States."

Breda didn't go to Woodstock looking for a societal vision. She was fresh out of high school and looking for a good time. She liked rock concerts, and the three-day lineup was packed with acts including The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

After lying to her parents about where she was going, Breda arrived from Boston to find a mind-boggling mass of people, tents, blankets, pot smoke, patchouli, and under-preparedness.

Organizers had sold 186,000 tickets; ultimately an estimated 400,000 people showed up for the festival on farmland in Bethel, New York, about 80 miles (130 km) northwest of New York City. More

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