Re: woodstock politics (long)& teaching womens hist (short)

Mon, 1 Dec 1997 12:52:37 -0500 (EST)

< connection bet. the war in Vietnam and woodstock>

I suggest you read Abbie's book Woodstock Nation.

It is really a long story of what happened with those of us who "had
politics" and were also into the culture and how and what the
revolutionary community did /tried to do around Woodstock. There are
lots of great stories of that week and of months before the festival
that I'm leaving out.

I will do a real short hand. Also, remember this is not only Rashamon
but also a bit of short / long term memory loss. If you say I'm wrong
you might be right.

I was a member of NY Newsreel, a political film making collective. We
were broken into cadres to make films according to our interest like,
Third World, Women, High School, Viet Nam War, Workers etc. and the
non film making cadre we called Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll cadre.
We were considered the film making arm of SDS and had representatives
at SDS national meetings, Flint War Council , Madison Alternative
Media Gathering,Columbia, etc.

In Newsreel I was a member of the Third World Cadre. We made films
about the Black Panthers, Young Lords, Cuban Veceremos Brigades &
Vietnamese War and distributed thses films. I was also in the Sex,
Drugs, & Rock & Roll Cadre, I was one of Newsreels connections to the
Yippies. I got to hang out with and shoot (film) of youth culture,
Yippie actions .

There was a good size group of us in the Lowerside of NYC who
communally, did a variety of things around Woodstock. Months before
Woodstock we went to Michael Lang (one of Woodstock producers) and
basically said, "this is a hold up, we've come for what's ours. You
are ripping off our culture, our music and therefore we want the
following." Michael agreed by the way. He was a good guy. Our list
included: 500 free tickets for the weekend, $10,000 so we could buy
and bring a printing press onto the land and print a political daily
wall newspaper. We printed ahead of time 2 posters to put up. We
demanded a free second stage that would used for entertainers to
perform after/before the main stage this would be for folks that
couldn't get in , a sound system, generators, movie projector to show
our anti Vietnam War films, screen, a large tent for the tentless to
sleep in and other things.

The Hog Farm was flown in from California w/ their pots & pans to do
their large free food kitchen trip, We had printed a thousand posters
to plaster everywhere.

I arrived a week ahead of time with Jean Jacques Lebel, known for
staging happenings in Paris. We rode up in a convertable driven by
someone I don't recall, rented a small cabin on the property near
Woodstock producer Michael Langs cabin . Others began showing up
Abbie Hoffman, Paul Krassner, Wavey Gravy, Larry Mead of NR, etc.

Before the concert we put up posters in every portajohn. The poster
in tones of blue and said "We've had enough" it was a drawing of a
toilet, The lid was drawn as an American flag , a fist came up at the
bottom of the poster with the words "Get a load off your mind" written
above it. Inside the bowl written on each turd was a word which
included; study, get ahead, Pigs are your Friends, Marry me, work, Be
Nice, Law & Order.

The other poster we (collective "we") made and plastered everywhere
was in red tones a photo of a young couple from Paris 68 standing
behind barracades kissing the woman is holding a a red flag and next
to them is a young person with a bandana covering their nose & mouth ,
the words across the photo "The more we make revolution the more we
want to make love. The more we make love the more we want to make
revolution." ( I have both posters along with the original blue prints
for building woodstock in my archives.) There was a merchants area in
the woods with paths and beautiful funky stalls. Days before the
electricity in the woods was strung up, Abbie, Krassner and I got lost
in the dark woods trying to get from the camp ground to the stage
area, both had lights. After hours we saw a light, went towards it
and found we had ended up where we had started. W e had gone in
circles. After that, the name on the wooden sign named the path from
the stage area thru the woods the "Ho Chi Minh Trail". You would hear
folks saying all day you can buy ------on the Ho Chi Minh Trail or
follow the Ho Chi Minh Trail thru the woods to get to the Hog Farm

Food was bought from commercial Woodstock food venders with tickets.
One needed to buy tickets first, too few locations, lines were long
and prices high. I remember seeing a group of Motherfuckers ripping
off a ticket booth and passing out free tickets. At times I recall
seeing the NLF flag flying from various tents/or people holding them..

We knew ahead of time that it would be a special event. Young
construction workers, planning to be at the festival from the area,
were hired to put up a fence around the property. They were behind on
the work time scheduel and barely screwed in the fencing. During the
evenings there would be various folks including myself, unscrewing the
loose bolts that had been holding up the fence . Days before the
festival we knew there was not even enough time to put up a fence
around the property and the fencing in our area would be down
immediately. and it would be a free event. Jean Jacques removed a No
Entrance/Private Property sign stuck on a wooden board and put up a
sign that said Peoples Bulletin Board.

At some point we realized that everything was out of control. NYC
cops had been hired and wandered around wearing shorts, red t shirts
w/ woodstock symbol, and safari hats. Then, their union pulled them
out for some reason that had to do with overtime. We were copless.
Yes! :) I have one of the cop's shirts in my tshirt collection.

I was made head of Security. I'm not sure what & how it happened but
all of a sudden a group of us were taking control/creating a more just
free society :) and we were all on the side of the people of Vietnam.
:) Being in charge of Security meant controlling who came in & out of
that area. I had shifts of workers and a pass to go back stage/
anywhere. (I have it in my archives) The next thing I remember we took
over the entertainers tent and turned it into a hospital, the Press
tent became the Bad Trip tent, we sent out word and had the
army/national guard fly in medical folks like Dr. June Finer and other
members of the Medical Committee for Human Rights. There was that
great Doctor _____ , who was so kool . We had a entire field hospital
flown in including generators to keep a refrigerator of drugs cold.

We were given a cop ( or some official security guard) to help us.
He had a little kinda golf cart/4 wheel veh. The Bad Trip tent used
him to get pot from a connection somewhere in the Hog Farm area of the
campground and to bring it back up to the hospital area. It was used
to help folks in the bad trip tent.

I'm not sure how it happened but all of a sudden i think Abbie got a
group of us that were his friends to be in charge of various things.

At the end of the festival we began salvaging the grounds to fill the
largest size NYC U Hall Rental truck , with goods including the
printing press, generators, the entire field hospital and more. Larry
drove the truck to New York , Dr. June Finer and I carefully delivered
the small drug filled refrigerator to the NY Black Panther Clinic.

As an activist/historian/film maker/photographer/teacher I have lots
of stories from Sixties. As a filmmaker I feel lucky I was with
Newsreel and was able to participate in so many events that as a solo
individual I would have missed. What I just wrote is a quick glimpse,
bits and pieces of part of my flashes at woodstock. I welcome
comments on my stories . I wonder how useful this kind of material
is, how valuable the nit picks of a history are in relation to the
amount of time in a life time and how one chooses to use the time and
how much time it takes to tell the truth of a history. Yikes! I'm in
my fifties and my parents were radicals so it seems like forever.

Responding to question on texts for teaching Sixties North American
womens history I teach Womens History 1960's-70's by using all the
great poets and small press books of the time like Pat Parker, Susan
Griffin, Nikki Giovanni, rita mae brown, susan sutheim, robin morgan,
marge piercy, Diana Di Prima , June Jordan, Sonia Sanchez, Lenore
Kandel, Judy Grahn, Alta, Alice Walker, Jean Tepperman, etc... it was
womens poetry that first exposed me to my womans liberation politics.
It was cheap to print small press volumns so lots could be poets .
The history of the womans movt. can be found in its volumns of poetry.
I sometimes teach womens history by teaching it from Native American
women to Present by using the theme of Working Women. Lots written
out there, having an archive of all the original documents helps.

Roz Payne