Oh, Wow, Man…Don’t (Inhale) Forget The Other Big Anniversary!


Yesterday the rock-and-roll annals highlighted the death of Elvis Presley. Thirty-eight years ago today, an estimated half million people were in the middle of a weekend groove at Woodstock. That’s interesting because an estimated 2,000,000 said they were there! I was only 14 and make no bones about the fact that I was not there, even though I only lived 72 miles from the site. There was a better chance of a blizzard in Miami Beach than my dad giving me permission to go that weekend!

Back in ’69, media coverage was spotty, probably because the roads were so jammed that none of the news teams could get there! I saw some short reports on local TV. I read accounts in the New York Daily News each day, and summaries in the alternative East Village Other and Village Voice a few days after Jimi Hendrix played his last chord of Hey Joe.

I suspect that if we had the today’s technology back then, MTV would have covered it. Max Yasgur’s farm would have been one gigantic WiFi hotspot. All concerts and the in-between stuff would have been webcast, pictures would have been posted on Flickr, videos would have been uploaded to YouTube, and hundreds of hippie bloggers would have given us real-time first-hand accounts (“Far out, man, some guy just passed me another doob!”). That probably would have ruined it because a lot of people would have stayed home listening to the stream through iTunes! Maybe a few thousand would have shown up and none of that energy would have been captured. Now that would have been a bum trip!

When an event is covered from start to finish, overkill invariably creeps in. Take the baseball all-star game. Covering the home run contest is bad enough, but the analysis and interviews were totally useless. Election coverage is the same way. Just tell me if my side won. I don’t need to know that the victory was sealed by a 75% turnout of left-handed female midget gypsies in Chicago’s Third Ward.

As it was, the only lasting legacies of Woodstock are the documentary movie and albums. After seeing the film way back when, I wondered if I would have made it back in one piece if I had gone!

Oh, gotta go. The press conference for the World Series of Poker is on TV.

Monday, August 20: Don Imus – A Boy Named Sue


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