Re: Student Query: Woodstock (fwd)
Fri, 19 Apr 1996 23:55:31 -0400

On Thu, 18 Apr 1996, sixties@jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU wrote:
> Did anyone attend Woodstock? [snip] If you were there what
>was it like? Are there any differences between how you viewed the event
>then and how you see it now? Thanks.
> Lori Walsh

My dominant reaction is that, while I felt a good deal of the famed
generational ethos was indeed present at the festival site, I was also
quite aware at the same time of it being an almost accidental but huge
congregation of middle-class kids. Each of these kids was in turn
painfully aware of his or her middle-class-kidness, all thinking that they
had found some place which the hip "other" might be found.

I'm not completely cynical about the festival and do not believe the myth
was purely an after-the-fact invention of Time-Life and Joni Mitchell.
However, nostalgia is that place where we think we can lose the
self-consciousness we are acutely aware of in daily life. So we look back
and think of the event, like Camelot, as that "brief shining moment". In
truth, the people there were (largely) just regular, awkward, American
post-adolescents looking for a good time. If nirvana came as part of the
package, well that would be all right, too.

Others may (will?) disagree based on their own memory. I don't want to
dispute other versions since lots of different people attended, some more
hard-core in their hipness than others. But I attended as part of the
great Silent Majority of middle-class sixties masses without whom many of
the great myths of the sixties would not have been possible. And my
recollection is mostly of regular (i.e., non-mythic) kids.

But, as Kali has pointed out before, memory is notoriously slippery. So I
am interested in the reactions of others.

Jeff Apfel