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he baffling history of mankind is full of obvious the ages of 16 and 30 showed up for the Wood-stock festi-
turning points and significant events: battles won, val. Thousands more would have come if police had not
treaties signed, rulers elected or deposed, and now, blocked off access roads, which had become ribbon
seemingly, planets conquered. Equally important like parking lots choked with stalled cars. Had the festival
is the great groundswell of popular movements that affect lasted much longer, as many as one million youths might
the minds and values of a generation or more, not all of have made the pilgrimage to Bethel. The lure of the fes-
which can be neatly tied to a time and place. Looking back tival was an all-star cast of top rock artists, i ncluding
upon the America of the ‘60s, future historians may well Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the Jefferson Airplane.
search for the meaning of one such movement. It drew the But the good vibrations of good groups turned out to
public’s notice on the days and nights of Aug. 15 through be the least of it. What the youth of America—and their
17, 1969, on the 600-acre farm of Max Yasgur in Bethel, observing elders—saw at Bethel was the potential power
N.Y. What took place at Bethel, ostensibly, was the Wood- of a generation that in countless disturbing ways
stock Music and Art Fair, which was billed by its youthful has rejected the traditional values and goals of the U.S.
Manhattan promoters as “An Aquarian Exposition” of Thousands of young people, who had previously thought
music and peace. It was that and more—much more. of themselves as part of an isolated minority, experienced
The festival turned out to be history’s largest happening. the euphoric sense of dicovering that they are, as the
As the moment when the special culture of U.S. youth of saying goes, what’s happeing. Adults were made more
the ‘60s openly displayed its strength, appeal and power, it aware than ever before that the children of the welfare
may well rank as one of the significant political and socio- state and the atom bomb do indeed march to the beat
logical events of the age. By a conservative estimate, more of a different drummer, as well as to the tune of an
than 400,000 people -the vast majority of them between electric guitarist. The spotaneous community of youth 23
1968 White Album, The Beatles

1969 Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin

1969 Abbey Road, The Beatles

1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts

Club Band, The Beatles


THE 1960s

that was created at Bethel was the stuff of which legends was being openly peddled at $6 per capsule. On the other ics are dangerous and thus should be outlawed. The all tions of the Hog Farm, a New Mexico hippie commune
are made; the substance of the event contains both a hand, there were no rapes, no assaults, no robberies and, but universal acceptance of marijuana, at least among who took care of kids on bad trips. If Bethel was youth on
revelation and a sobering lesson. From a strictly rational as far as anyone can recall, not one single fight, which is the young, raises the question of how long the nation’s a holiday, it was also a demonstration to the adult world
viewpoint, which may be a dangerous and mislead- more than can be said for most sporting events held in present laws against its use can remain in force without that young people could create a kind of peace in
ing way of looking at it, Bethel was a neatly symbolic New York City. The real significance of Woodstock can seeming as absurd and hypocritical as Prohibition. a situation where none should have existed, and that
choice for the festival the Biblical town of that name was hardly be overestimated. Despite the piles of litter and Moreimportant, Bethel demonstrated the unique sense they followed a mysteri-ous inner code of law and order
a center of idolatry denounced by the prophets Amos and garbage, the hopelessly people found it all “beautiful.” of community that seems to exist among the young, their infinitely different from the kind envisioned by Chicago’s
Hosea. To many adults, the festival was a squalid freak One long-haired teenager summed up the significance mystical feeling for themselves as a special group, an “us” Mayor Daley. In the end, even the police were impressed.
out, a monstrous Dionysian revel, where a mob of crazies of Woodstock quite simply: “People,” he said, “are finally in contrast to a “them.” The festival was widely advertised, Said Sullivan County Sheriff Louis Ratner: “This was the
gathered to drop acid and groove to hours of amplified getting together.” The undeniable fact that “people”— but the unexpectedly large crowd it attracted suggests nicest bunch of kids I’ve ever dealt with.”
cacophony. In a classic example of its good gray man- meaning in this case the youth of America—got that the potential significance of the event was spread by
nerisms, the New York Times in an editorial compared together has consequences that go well beyond the a kind of underground network. “If you were part of Hippiedom Lives

the Bethel pilgrimage to a march of lemmings toward festival itself. For one thing, the Bethel scenew demon- this culture,” said one pilgrim back from Bethel, “you outh’s sense of community is an ad hoc thing:
the sea and rhetorically asked:“What kind of culture is strated more clearly than ever before thepervasiveness of had to be there.” In spite of the grown up suspicions it is suspicious of institutions and wary of organi-
it that can produce such a mess?” But even the Times a national subculture of drugs. At least 90% of those and fear about the event. Bethel produced a feeling of zation, prizing freedom above system. In this,
can change its tune. Next day, it ran a more sympathetic present at the festival were smokin marijuana.In addition, friendship, camarderie and, an overusedphrase a sense as in many other ways, the youth of Bethel
editorial that spoke kindly of the festival as “essentially a narcotics of any and all description, from hash to acid of love among those present. This yearning for together- displayed adherence to the prevailing spirit of the hippie
phenomenon of innocence.” There were, of course, cer- to speed to horse, were freely available. Perhaps out of ness was demonstrated in countless major and minor movement. It is true that most of those a Bethel were
tain things to deplore of Bethel. Three people died—one fear of rousing the crowd to hostility, police made fewer ways: the agape-like sharing of food and shelter by total not hippies in the commonly accepted sense: a good
24 from an overdose of drugs, and hundreds of youths were than 100 arrests on narcotics charges. By and large, the strangers: the lack of overt hostility despite condi- tions half of them, at least, were high school or college student 25
freaked out on bad trips caused by low-grade LSD, which U.S. has accepted the oversimplification that all narcot- that were ripe for panic and chaos; the altruistic ministra- from middle class homes. But at Bethel then exhibited
Protests from 1965-1969
The Moratorium to End the War in

Vietnam demonstrations took place on
October 15th. Millions of Americans

to participate in local demonstrations

against the war.

During Democratic National

Convention in Chicago, anti-war

protestors marched through the
city resulting in a “police riot.”
Mayor Daley brought 23,000
police and National Guardsman
upon 10,000 protestors.

In January 20,000-30,000 people

staged a “Human Be-In” anti-war
event in the Golden Gate Park in San
Francisco, near the Halght Ashbury
neighborhood that had become the
center of hippie activity.

Anti-war demonstrations were again

held around the country and the world
March 26 with 20,000 taking part in
New York City.

The anti-war movement had

expanded to become a national

and global phenomenon. Anti-war
protests drawing 100,000 were
held simultaneously in as many as
80 major cities around the
US, London, Paris and Rome.

= 10% of Americans anti-war, wanting peace.

*According to the Gallup Report

to the world many of the hippie values and life styles, Bethel also stormed the deans’ offices at Harvard and the most rational and technically accomplished society and headed. Clearly, the passions of the Bethel people
from psychedelic clothing to spontaneous, unashamed Columbia and shed tears or blood at Chicago last summer known to man has led only to racism, repression and a are there to be exploited, for good or ill. It is an open
nudity to open and casual sex. Youthful imaginations all in the name of a new morality. To Historian Theodore meaningless war in the jungles of Southeast Asia . If that question whether some as yet unknown politician could
were captured, most obviously, by the hippie sound: the Roszak, the militancy of the student New Left and the is oversimplification, it is the kind around which ringing exploit the deep emotions of today’s youth to come,
driving, deafening hard beat of rock, music that is not dropped out pacifism of the turned-on types are two slogans are made. Youth has always been rebellious. build a politics of ecstasy. The rock festival as been in a
just a particular form of pop but the anthem of revolution. sides of what he calls a “counterculture” by which almost What makes the generation of the ‘60s different, is that way, the equivalent of a political forum for the young.
The Jefferson Airplane, one of the first and best of the everyone under 30 has been affected. Like the poor urban it is largely inner-directed and uncontrolled by adult The politics involved is not the expression of opinion
San Francisco groups, sang out the message at Bethel in black, this counter-culture is an alienated minority with-in doyens. The rock festival, an art form and social struc- or ideas but the spirit of community created, the good
words of startling explicitness: the Affluent Society, eventhough it is made up primaily ture unique to the time, is a good example. “They are not vibrations or the bad ones, the young in touch with
of the sons and daughters of the middle class. They have mimicking something done in its purest form by adults,” themselves and aware. If Bethel is any proof, this kind of
Look what’s happening in the streets. Got a seen suburbia, found it wanting, and have uttered “the says one prominent U.S. sociologist. “They are doing expressive happening will become even more important.
absolute refusal,” as New Left Guru Herbert Macuse calls their own thing. All this shows that there is a breakdown v warns Jimi Hendrix. “The only way for kids to make
revolution, got to revolution. Hey, I’m danc- it, to modern urban technology and the civilization it has in the capacity of adult leaders to capture the young.” the older generation understand is through mass gath-
produced. With surpassing ease and a cool sense of author- Some other observers agree that the youth movement is a erings like Bethel. And the kids are not going to be in
ing down the streets. Got a revolution, got ity, the children of plenty have voice an an intention to live politics without a statesman, a religion without a messiah. the mud all the time. From here they will start to build
by a different ethical stadard than their parents accepted. “We don’t need a leader,” insists Janis Joplin. “We have and change things. The whole world needs a big wash,
to revolution... In its energy, its lyrics, its advocacy of frustrated joys The pleasure priciple has been elevated over the Puritan each other. All we need is to keep of heads straight and in a big scrub-down.”
rock is one long symphony of protest. Although many ethic of work. To do one’s own thing is a greater duty than ten years this country may be a decent place to live in.”
adults generally find it hard to believe, the revolution it to be a useful citizen. Personal freedom in the midst of At least two national figures have been able briefly
preaches, implicitly or explicitly, is basically moral; it squalor is more liberating than social conformity with to capitalize politically on the idealism of the young.
is the proclamation of a new set of values as much as it the trappings of wealth. Now that youth takes abundance The knight-errant campaign of Eugene McCarthy was,
is the rejection of an old system. The values, moreover, for granted,it can afford to reject materialism. It is easy his enemies said, something of a Children’s Crusade.
26 are not merely confined to the pleasures of tumescence. enough for adults to reject the irrationality and hedonism Bobby Kennedy, like his brother Jack, was also able to 27
The same kind of people who basked in the spirit of of this ethic. But the young are quick to point out that speak to the Now Generation in language that it heard
“This was only the beginning,” -Jimi Hendrix

500,000 hippies
of debt after
festival. Money
was gained back
from audio and
video sales.


clothing optional Friday,

August 15

9 10
were made on
August 16
drug charges, CHILDREN
Rainfall the First Day none for smokin’ smoked
a doobie. marijuana

on site.


August 17

1 2 3
hours of mud making

stayed to watch
Jimi Hendrix
on Monday morning.
The rest left
Sunday night.

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