The pandemic is scary. A majority of people have pre-existing conditions that can male them feel vunerable.
We still have irrational attitudes toward states of emergency in this country.
Most people are rational. They will self quarantine because it is the most responsible course of action.
The political divide is real. However, the labels we inflict upon one another is detrimental to dialogue.
Liberals are cloistered in cities. Out of touch with how millions of others live. Guns will never go away. We can live with them in a much safer way. Life’s risks can never be reduced to zero. That is not living.
Vote. Vote. Vote. But only once of course. If you want change then you must vote.
Wearing masks is not a gendered thing. Our culture must acclimate itself to it. I walk around the city with a mask. I uncover my nose when there are no people. Not difficult. But for some of us this is just not possible. It may be harder to breathe. Let’s not get crazy out there.
I have taken walks around the neighborhood. Documenting the empty streets with my camera. An upcoming blog will present my photographic work. New York City will function again. Just not in its former glory.
Restaurants will probably install partitions before re-opening. Menus and utensils will become disposable items.
Outside of New York I am concerned the fringes of society are quite visible with their Don’t tread On Me Flags and misplaced love for the current occupant of the White House. This pandemic is not some plan by liberals to rid themselves of enemies.
Our crisis is not binary. Smart vs Dumb; Liberal vs Conservative; Left vs Right. Black vs White.
Memo to all friends on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: You are not expert in anything. Especially political science. Stop posting nonsense about your perceived manias. Do not shame healthy people taking foolish risks. Just keep yourself healthy for better times ahead.
I will not play anymore stupid games on FB either. We are adults!
Post a new hobby you have discovered or an old one you picked back up. Ask your neighbors/friends in other states/ countries how they are coping. Brazil is suffering too.
A virus will always find a host body. Close proximity between bodies will enable it to jump into another body. Like past pandemics this virus jumped from animal to human. And then humans flew around the world. The illness spread fast.
Beaches are filled with bacteria on a good day. Now that environment is hostile to human life. If you do not develop Covid symptoms, the sharks may pose a threat. Either way New York will forbid entry into the Atlantic.
And now kids are getting sick with a mysterious syndrome that shuts down vital functions. One moment your kid is fine, the next seriously ill. Over 100 kids have died. Schools cannot reopen.
The times are scary to be sure but we do not need conspiracy theory. We must stay home when possible. Don’t turn yourself into a prisoner. Enjoy fresh air. Staying shut in is also bad for your health. Muscles atrophy. Your mind will turn to mush.
This blog will continue to reflect issues and take some breaks for more trivial pursuits. Those of us who lived in the 20th Century post World War II are so lucky. We know what prosperity felt and looked like in the 1970s and 1980s.
Keep in mind, the derangement is not exclusive to the Far Right in America. Not since W. has a President incited so much hate from the left. If the opposition continues to feed into the baiting of their worst fears they may actually be realized in the Fall.
If history is accurate there will be a new administration in January 2021. They do not have a magic wand. Things will improve but over a long period of time. This will be the last chance to change the Supreme Court for another 50 years!
Our economy tanked with unemployment now at 20%. Herbert Hoover was not granted a second term. Let us hope that history repeats itself for our future sakes.
As I support local business here I see people doing the best they can despite the challenges of this awful situation.
I strongly believe nothing can re-open quickly. As much as we love to go out during Summer this year we are going to have to adjust to this reality. Just ask yourself if you want to get sick.
Covid-19 which causes the Corona virus takes away your ability to breathe on your own. Just think for a moment. Are you really willing to risk your well being for short term gatherings. Are you ‘dying’ to go to the beach?
Imagine down the road we get a path back to being out and about again. You will be able to keep breathing on your own. And now you will look upon your fellow human beings as survivors.
Keep busy. Relax too. Moments of peace are important. Below is a picture from a favorite show when I was a kid. The teen idols of that era were shirtless a lot. Jack Wild was one of my earliest crushes.
Revisiting the better parts of a past life can help ease the difficulties of this moment.
More about what I am watching during this Covid Era next week my dear readers! Thank you all for reading the gate!
Change has been forced upon the population. Humanity faces another pandemic. This time it’s global!
The fault is not in the stars but in ourselves. We were sold a bill of goods.
For better or worse, the entire world became a small village. Air travel made it possible to be exposed to all kinds of new experiences.
Ultimately this includes our health. Now we face potential utter collapse.
Once upon a time there was the political idea of a ‘Great Society’. A social safety net in times of need.
Decades were tossed away to never ending corporate gain which has resulted in deep inequality.
Healthcare for profit has been a disaster. Why are we so short on medical supplies?
Why are we still occupying Afghanistan?
Last week I wrote about the consolidation of media power. This week just take a look at how this pandemic is being reported.
Social distance is one thing. Canceling an entire culture is quite another. I tend to see the big picture.
Closing theaters, postponing primaries, and telling a supposed free people to stay home is not a long-term solution.
Democracy means nothing if we do not live up to the ideals of land of the free, home of the brave.
Here in New York City no resident could stay home for a long period of time. The living spaces encourage outdoor activity.
Why are our leaders allowing the economy to drop so rapidly? This crisis can be the pathway to 100% employment.
By hiring and training people to convert malls, armories, and former retail spaces into medical facilities we could employ hundreds of thousands.
This conversion must happen now. Later will be increasing numbers of infected people with no beds in place; no quarantine spaces.
In just a few weeks the nation went from debates over socialism to wondering how they can cover daily expenses.
Our government is going to provide mortgage relief. A little bit of socialism can go a long way in this imperfect system.
We must put public pressure on our officials to sit down to do the hard work of forming a smarter agenda.
The idea of The Great Society was to provide healthcare as a right. Create new pathways to economic stability. And face the original sin of slavery.
Just think for a moment if you can see a brighter future for every citizen if we continue to feed deep inequality.
If we profit off the sick and infirm and ignore the treatment of prisoners as not human can we claim to be moral?
The environment is shared universally around the world. We the people need to step up to demand this issue be taken seriously. Our money means nothing if an entire population is drowned by rising sea levels.
I feel strongly the best we can do for ourselves is to reach out through Skype or Zoom to fellow citizens to debate these ideas. We must challenge our leaders.
I also think less TV news is a must for people. If you have to look at the headlines use factual outlets.
Cable news is probably the worst source for facts.
NPR and WNYC radio are solid outlets in the Big Apple. The New York Times provides updates, just don’t stare too long.
Grassroots organizing is still the best way to bring together the new ideas for galvanizing a culture that has been taught for generations how to be non-political and compliant with the worst possible agenda.
Take your daily walks/exercise, read a lot, and learn to think for yourself how we can better this now literally sick society.
For thousands of years humanity has been seeking methods to restore a sense of peace among peoples.
Despite my non-belief, I think religion is still the source of our greatest imagined narrative. Despite the reality of suffering on a terrible scale people still strive for universal peace.
I think to understand why Woodstock is important today we must look at the culture that preceded the hippie youth movement.
Let’s begin with a rough review of the 1950’s and 1960’s as they relate to the rise of a New Left and Hippie rebellion in America.
The American Experiment
The seeds of a new nation were planted on soil enriched by slaves. A democratic system evolved to include, to assimilate, and to uplift.
The democratic model of Ancient Greece led the founders to forge a centralized government. There was immense suffering and bloodshed to make this happen. Many were excluded from the possibilities of America.
North America’s native population was decimated. Minority peoples were outsiders. Women could not vote; seek higher education.
A fractured society led to our civil war. Following the Lincoln Era, the newly freed slaves were murdered on a regular basis. Cultural resentment continued in America through WWII.
Americans of every race, creed, and class fought alongside their allies to defeat anti-democratic forces. Unfortunately, the strains of hateful ideology that threatened the world continued to infect our democracy.
The aftermath would bring an era of conservative value making. Discrimination was visible in segregation. Queers of any type were invisible. Any deviation from the straight and narrow was mocked and punished.
If you were white there were many rewards. Good jobs, new homes, and college educations were granted to this newly minted modern middle-class.
Father Knows Best
The 1950’s reinforced a culture where straight white males were the dominant cultural force.
Children were to be seen and not heard. Adults were the authority. Obey rules. Listen to your parents, go to school, and always work hard.
This separate and unequal society had a post-war baby boom that produced 70 million teenagers.
The new technology of TV provided people with a new way of viewing the world .
Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley reflected a new musical expression.
A strata of white middle-class kids rejected the materialistic path they were educated to value. The silver screen rebel arrived in the form of Marlon Brando & James Dean.
White kids started to hang with black kids outside of the Jim Crow Codes. Black leather jackets, rock n roll music, and drugs punched a hole in the wall of conservative white male hierarchy.
Then the 1960’s dawned with America at a cultural divide. The Korean War was followed by Vietnam.
Our politicians put the Cold War with Russia above our domestic problems. Communism was cast as the great threat.
Then a new generation helped elect our youngest President. The Civil Rights movement pressured elected officials to take apart systemic racism.
Amidst all of this cultural change came a youth quake seen and heard around the world.
The Beatles arrival in America in 1964 changed everything. Teenagers wanted to gather in large numbers. The message was heard in stereophonic sound: All You Need Is Love.
Tune In. Turn On. Drop Out.
In contrast to the previous decade in which the teenage rebel was portrayed as aimless, the Vietnam War gave the kids a cause.
The great disillusionment arrived with young people organizing against registering for war. Vietnam was televised every night.
American teenagers did not want to obey. The war was immoral. Racism was immoral. Promoting hate was immoral.
The Woodstock Festival became the visible embodiment of what the kids had fought for all decade long. This generation had a style, moral code, and vision that rejected the path of inequality, racism, and war their elders had enacted.
Harvard Prof Timothy Leary told kids to tune in, turn on and drop out. Forget the crap you were told; a new way is needed.
Kids dressed in jeans, colorful vests, and sandals. They took drugs to open their minds and dropped out of straight society to protest the government.
Boys grew their hair long, went shirtless and/or barefoot. Girls went bra less and joined with boys to form new communities beyond the white picket fence.
Many burned draft cards. They marched in solidarity with blacks. The authorities were quite shaken by the rebellion. Then at decade’s end came the big event.
Billed as 3 days of Peace, Music…and Love. On farm land in upstate New York where the Bethel Woods concert pavilion now stands, the festival took place.
The organizers of the Woodstock Festival were four young men: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld, and Mike Lang. The oldest of the four was only 27 years old at the time of the Woodstock Festival.
The concert was envisioned to be a fundraiser for a proposed recording studio in Woodstock where many musicians lived at the time. Mr. Roberts was heir to the Polydent fortune. He bankrolled Woodstock.
The original proposed site in Watkill, NY was rejected. The town’s people passed a law against mass concerts. The hippies were not desirable to their town.
The hippie movement was influenced by Eastern religion, rock music, and experimentation with drugs. The youth of this era rose up in mass to protest the Vietnam War.
Those American values formed in the 1950’s resulted in Michael Lang scrambling to find a new place for his festival. The township of the first proposal did not want hippies overtaking their community. Several towns declined to host.
He discovered a tract of land on the farm of Max Yasgur that had the right sort of shape for his concert vision.
The logistics got messy.
Tickets were $7 for one day and $18 for 3 days ($26 today) per day.
Fences surrounding the concert were not completed in time.
The promoters expected around 30,000 people. Over 400,000 came on the day closing down the NY state Thruway.
Instead of charging people the festival turned into a free “be in” the size and scale nobody could have predicted. Attendees created a community including makeshift playgrounds and camping areas.
On Day 2 of the festival thunderstorms shut down the music for hours. Chip Monck, the master of ceremonies for the fest, told people to come down from the towers. The monsoon like rains that came forced people to improvise sheltering in place.
Some of the concert goers stripped down, placing their clothes under tarps, and made the best of a tough situation. The temperature dropped quite a bit after the storms. Keeping clothes dry was essential to prevent hypothermia.
Goldmine magazine’s coverage of Woodstock provided an excerpt from Chapter 8 of the book “Back To Yasgur’s Farm” by Mike Greenblatt (Krause Books). Local police made a statement about the festival. Sullivan County Sheriff Louis Ratner said “I never met a nicer bunch of kids in my life.”
Ritchie Havens performed his song, “Freedom”, to open the show. On Monday morning, with only about 30,000 people left, Jimi Hendrix took the stage with his new band, Gypsy Sun & Rainbows. His rendition of our National Anthem is now rock culture’s preferred version.
In between there were The Who, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Canned Heat, Grateful Dead, Country Joe MacDonald, and Sha Na Na.
The concert on a hill became an expression of hope for millions of people around the US and the world. Unfortunately the backlash against freedom (free love) followed.
When I was a kid people used to say if you remember Woodstock then you were not there. The wink and nod was due to the use of drugs.
However, in 1969 only 4% of Americans were smoking marijuana. Today more than 50% of people support legalization of the drug.
Woodstock’s organizers had debt of $1 million and faced many lawsuits following the festival.
The documentary film released by Warner Brothers was a hit. The box office receipts helped pay their debts down.
1969 was an exceptional year. Stonewall, The Moon Landing, Civil Rights Law, and nearly half a million teenagers/young adults gathered on a farm upstate to express their joys, sorrows, and hopes for a peaceful tomorrow.
50 Year Anniversary
Here in New York City a photographic exhibition will celebrate this milestone at The Morrison Hotel gallery.
To commemorate the performances at the festival there are some notable records being issued. The original triple LP Woodstock soundtrack album has been re-issued on vinyl.
Rhino, a subsidiary of Warner, will release Woodstock 50: Back To The Garden in separate vinyl and CD box sets.
Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jefferson Airplane’s Woodstock sets have been released on vinyl.
History should not repeat. The proposed Anniversary Festival was cancelled. I think people need to live in the present. Dwelling too much in the past is not only depressing but bears no fruit.
What I do know about the 1969 festival and the culture that fostered it is you cannot copy the past.
We can remember why this event became important to us; there is no repeating it. The emergence of the hippie movement for peace was a flash point in America’s story.
In Mike Greenblatt’s book “Woodstock” he notes a press conference following the festival in which Max Yasgur stated:
“The kids were wonderful, honest, sincere, good kids who said, ‘here we are. This is what we are. This is the way we dress. These are our morals.’ There wasn’t one incident the whole time. The kids were polite, shared everything with everyone, and they forced me to open my eyes.
In my opinion, we must remember that Woodstock remains in the social fabric because it was a successful event.
Nobody was patted down to enter the grounds. The promise of music, peace, and love was fulfilled.
In the ensuing 50 years we have grown militant, selfish, and distracted.
Uncertainty is the word we hear a lot today to describe how people are feeling about society.
The five decades since the Aquarian cultural awakening of free love has seen horrors we could not have imagined.
Cultural shifts have moved our society far away from those of the counterculture. We lost the surplus; Gained record debt.
The ruling political class has been more representative of a shrinking geographical minority than of the actual new demographic reality of 21st century America.
Without a military draft the country has become disconnected in the face of unending wars in Syria and Afghanistan.
Advanced technology allows our government to strike targets a world away. The population suffers under crumbling infrastructure; the military gets billions.
Smart phones enable never ending surveillance. We have become more paranoid as a people. Heads are bent down to the perpetual glow of a portable screen.
I know it all sounds dire. Today we face a lot of adversity. We must overcome…again.
Several movements have started to respond to this litany of potential disaster. The issues today include: Gun Reform, Women’s Equality, Prison Reform, LGBTQ Rights, and Election Reforms.
We serve each other. The people are more powerful than any group or political party. We can assemble and make something positive happen.
Always keep in mind that something special blossomed over 3 days in those grassroots on a farm in upstate New York.
This blog is dedicated to all of the people who made Woodstock happen in 1969.