Scene4 Magazine-inSight

October 2009

by Andrea Kapsaski

It's been a long road-trip, dude," said Arlo Guthrie back then on Yasgur's farm. Looking back, yes, a very long road-trip.

It is simply a fact: Woodstock is all about America.  

Europe had a different vibe during these years, a different approach, different problems, but also a  different approach and a different way, only comparable with the Black Power Movement in the United States. And there was literature and theatre, cinema, the peak of the Nouvelle Vague with Chabrol and Godard, Fassbinder had turned from his Anti-Theater to film, there was Pasolini, Fellini...

Every time I visit the United States, I am overwhelmed by the feeling: This country feels so huge. Woodstock could only happen in a country with these dimensions and the existing political situation. I doubt it could have taken place in Hyde Park  or at the Jardin des Tuileries.

In 2002,  I wrote a Scene4 column about 'another Woodstock Festival to come' and felt a bitter taste in my mouth about all that media circus and merchandise. My answer was: No. There can't be another Woodstock.  

But here it is, celebrating its 40th birthday, and there are also websites, posters, lots of merchandise; there are people who were there, artists, producers and members of the the audience, and there are new CDs and Boxsets with unpublished material, books and more books, films...

And there is this odour in the air, fascination, a moment of Proust.

What is it about Woodstock, that lingers and abides? Is it another term for Nostalgia? We have become a bit older, remember? Or...?

When Woodstock happened, I was twelve and lived in Europe. The following year, I went as an exchange student for one year to the United States . It was not California, but a Prep School in a small community in Maine.

I absorbed everything like a sponge. I had already started to become interested in Literature and Cinema, I played the guitar and wrote (terrible) songs. I hadn't even heard of Woodstock , I had never heard that kind of music before, never tasted that kind of food – I felt like living in a fairy tale.

Sleeping beauty! I went back to Europe wrapped in a candy floss called Woodstock. I had found my Nirvana. Of course did I know that Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy had been assassinated, and about  the controversial and divisive war in Vietnam, the first manned landing on the moon, peace marches, World Fairs, flower power.

My wake-up call was the political situation in Europe.The Soviet Union invading Czechoslovakia with over 200,000 Warsaw pact troops, putting an end to the "Prague Spring," and beginning a period of enforced and oppressive "normalization"; the Students' Revolution in Paris, Women's Liberation groups, joined by members of New York NOW to target the Miss America Beauty Contest in Atlantic City. I had discovered something new: Poltics, History and Sociology. Brecht, Theatre...


So, whether we like it or not, we are all 40 years older now (don't you love that cold shiver that just went down your spine?)

Woodstock has always been the point in my life, when I was introduced to pop music, when I started to develop a political conscience and at the same time started to believe in a better future, and I still do. I still believe that we can become better people.That is my Woodstock. But, I too am 40 years older.  

I have read thousands of opinions by people who have been or pretended to have been there. All the range from "eternal  love" to "rot-in-hell you frikken hippies". And they had one thing in common: Woodstock does not stand only for the this one, this special concert, but it is a synonym for personal stories. Is that maybe all there is to it? Is Woodstock nothing but our "Temps perdue", our lost time, our years when the world and the future promised to belong to us – and here we are now, full of nostalgia and memories?

The only solution was to ask people who had been there, who had been involved in one way or another or at least had been around in '69.

And who would know better than the "Old Hippy"?

"Old Hippy" is a comic series, published in Scene4 every month.

His creator, Elliot Feldman has been a cartoonist since the sixties; his work appearing in some of the very first underground papers, including Detroit's "The Fifth Estate"and East Lansing's "The Paper".. In the 80s his comics ran in :The Los Angeles Reader". His ArtComics series, "Flashers," and his weekly "Shocktoons" have been on the Web since '94.  

Since the mid-seventies, Feldman has made his living creating jokes, puzzles, and games for television game shows, 13 years spent working for Mark Goodson. He has also writen trivia material for Sony Online Entertainment's "Jeopardy Online".

At other times in his life, he's worked at a meatpacking house, at the city of Detroit's department of urban planning, and in various telephone sales boiler rooms.His first novel, "Sitting Shiva:, was published by Barney Rosset in 2003.  

AK: What is Woodstock for you? What is your very personal relationship with Woodstock? How would your life be without Woodstock?

Eliott Feldman: "I was living in a house full of freaks in the Detroit inner city at the time of Woodstock. We were living the Woodstock ideal two blocks away from the epicenter of the 1967 Detroit Riots.

At the time of the festival, I had an offer of a free ticket and a free ride to Woodstock, but I turned it down. I knew that it would be massive crowds of people, and I knew that the people I'd be riding with were weekend hippies from the suburbs. I had been to many large concerts before Woodstock. Some, like the Toronto festivals, were wonderful and very peaceful. Others, like the Cincinnati and Goose Creek festivals, were collective bad acid trips.  

In '71, I traveled all over Europe and parts of Asia. When I came back to my old Detroit neighborhood, hard dope had turned many of my friends into nodding junkies.

While the ideal of Woodstock (which happened years before Woodstock) has never left me deep down in my heart, the reality of Altamonte has made me more outwardly cynical toward humanity as a whole. In my opinion, the ideal of Woodstock made life-long outsiders kings and queens for a limited period of time.

Without the ideal of Woodstock, the possibility of Barack Obama would never have happened in America. For that reason alone, I hold Woodstock dear."

Fair enough, but I needed to know more. Who would know better than one of the people who created Woodstock.

I asked Artie Kornfeld, known worldwide as "The Father of Woodstock," the name given to him by the Woodstock Preservation Alliance. Artie_Kornfeld-crAt age 21, Kornfeld became the youngest vice president at Capitol Records, after being A&R Senior Director of Mercury Records and VP of Roulette Records. Before and after Woodstock 1969, Kornfeld as a writer, producer, manager, and promoter earned over 100 Gold and Platinum discs. By the age of 24, Kornfeld had written over 75 Billboard-charted songs and was in over 150 albums.Kornfeld, along with John P. Roberts, Joel Rosenman and Michael Lang, planned and produced the Woodstock Rock Festival of 1969.

The pair came up with the idea for a recording studio in Woodstock, because the area was becoming a popular destination for artists, and many musicians were coming to the area. They also wanted to plan a rock concert and cultural festival.

Artie Kornfeld was solely responsible for the historic record and Warner Brothers movie contracts and hired Micheal Wadleigh to film the Woodstock Movie which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1970. Kornfeld's persistence, energy, enthusiasm and foresight is what kept Freddie Weintraub (Warners Bros) aggressively pursuing the Woodstock movie project. In a legendary thirty-hour period, a contract was hammered out between Artie Kornfeld, the VP of Business Affairs of Warner Bros and Freddie Weintraub.

Much of the historical documentation of Woodstock is supplied by the acts featured in the film which Kornfeld had to convince to appear. He is in the movie so much because backstage, he was solely in charge of getting the performers to sign what basically were blank contracts prior to going on stage.

Kornfeld's dedication to the Woodstock ideals did not end with the festival, but he played a big role in helping save the Woodstock site from being built upon when Max Yasgur's farm was sold.

Far after the historical Woodstock festival, Artie Kornfeld has taken the ideals of the counterculture and put them into practice in a modern day setting. He has spent 40 years speaking to schools, organizations, and universities on the true meaning behind Woodstock. Kornfeld has done over 5,000 radio interviews and hosts his own Internet radio show "The Spirit of the Woodstock Nation".

Unfortunately, our planned interview could not take place due to his lack of time, but what does Woodstock mean to him? Well, its not difficult to answer that on our own, is it?

Woodstock per se was one single festival in '69, right? Ehm, and in '99, in 2002 in 2009...?

The Indian singer, painter, actor and disc jockey David Masalamani, also known to his fans as Blackjack, Akela and Jack Jigg  is also working for My Opus, India's First Internet Radio Station.

Among many other projects,Jackis planning a free concert a la Woodstock together with Artie Kornfield for 2010. (You can listen to his interview with Kornfeld at

Jack considered it too early to publish details about the event to come, but was kind enough to answer the question: What does Woodstock mean to you?

Jack Jigg: OK: The 'inner connection' to Woodstock. I will answer this question first. Jack_Jigg-crWhen ever was there a time in the past 50 years where almost 500, 000 people converge together, as though it was by divine intervention to one place. Stay together and live as if in the Garden of Eden. With all-encompassing LOVE. An abiding sense of PEACE. A celebration of music that changed the history of a nations very psyche happen. Never. Woodstock was that magic period.

At that time America was embroiled in a war that would never end. Where in desperation, and political frustration they were getting more and more ruthless, and couldn't seem to find a way out of the quagmire they had got themselves into. The generation of that period was against everything that society stood for. War. Obsolete social conventions. Life beyond alcohol. Timothy Leary and Transcendental meditation. There was a grinding of a kind that had to result in a resultant birth of a new age, a new perspective and a new set of values. Life had suddenly got simplified. The facade was off. The rules and convention were dropped along with the bra. Women's liberation was 'in' and men be damned. Equality was the order of the day.

Psychedelic drugs. Music. Literature and life styles came to a point where materialism was not the key but to discover one's inner self was the most important. Anti-establishment was not an attitude but a natural progression. This colorful free spirit feeling enveloped all that was prevailing at that time...and from America permeated across the globe.  

The war ended. Hallucinogenics were accepted. Sex was no big deal. The Beatles sang 'why cant we do it on the road?' Dylan sang 'If dogs are free, then why can't we...' and so on.

The most pertinent question that could be asked at this time is - How did all this affect an individual who was a mere 12-13 year old living far removed from it all in India? Well. Discipline. Rules. Regulations. Convention. Religious doctrines and so much more was a part of the young mind. However, as is wont, in situations like these where an individual gradually either falls into the box and is labelled, sealed and shelved or revolts and seeks freedom, not necessarily physical but spiritual and mentally. As is the case now so was it then the media and the music carried the message and crossed borders, countries and minds.  

This young mind sensed an upheaval and wanted to ride the crest if this ever changing wave. The pictures of the Woodstock triple album. The Easy Rider. Music that was different. Denim, a dress statement that was un-conventional at the time, that was different. The battle to breaking the rule and stay in line all lead to a evolution that was not the stereotype. It grew affected by what was happening around and between the next three to four years came into contact with it as a 16 year old.  

The freedom to choose lead to an embracing all that the generation stood for. Since 'the square' was the rule, to be 'cool' became the lifestyle. The strange thing about a lifestyle that is cool is that once you allow it to take possession of your mind and heart and change your take on life it never ever reverts to where it keeps moving and changing and bursting out as it absorbs all that 'the generation' was about.

This is 'The Woodstock Generation'. No war. No selfishness. No pain. No tears. No guns. No dirty greedy politicians. No killing. No motherless children. No camps. Yes Peace. Yes Love. Yes sharing. Yes Light. Yes Faith. Yes harmony. Yes understanding and above all YES SELFLESSNESS.

The point is 40 years from the first Woodstock America is once again in a jam, in more places than one. Sociologically it is on the verge of great upheaval and revolt. The system is strained at the seams. Disillusioned are the politicians and disillusioned are the people. World wide the situation is far worse than it ever has been. Financially. Spiritually. Morally.  

Can the generation who were responsible for that unintentional movement if change bring back the same spirit generations later. Can the 60 and 70 year olds who were the 'flower children' able to instill the same spirit that was prevalent back then? Can the young generation understand and digest this almost unreal spirit of good? Can we all come together as one and stop whatever it that is destroying us all? These are the questions and so also the answers. Woodstock showed the way, once upon a time a long time ago. Can we do it again? I pray to God that we do.  

AK: Thank you very much, Jack, and keep us updated about the concert.

Jack Jigg: The concert with Artie. As the wise one said. Let us see.  

Would talking to someone who actually performed at Woodstock show a different aspect of the festival?

I approached the one person who represents the spirit of those days. His famous cheer: "Gimme an F!" was one of true defiance, outrage toward the system and statement of how youth felt at the time, and his "Vietnam Song" is legendary - singer Country Joe McDonald.

Starting in 1982 Joe began actively working with and for Vietnam Veterans Against The War, Swords To Plowshares and Vietnam Veterans Of America to further the cause of the thousands of veterans who had become disenfranchised by the system's neglect. That spring along with wife Kathy and bass player Peter Walsh, he toured the US in a VW bus playing for Vet groups and winding up at the Vet camp-out cum convention (called Dewey Canyon IV) on the Mall in Washington. Later that year through a series of "Vet Tapes," provided to Veterans Administration Outreach Centers, he helped to bring the gap between the Vets "being home" and "coming home". He also started his work with military nurses. culminating with a song originally written for the TV documentary Secret Agent -- "The Girl Next Door". This lead to the 1988 Rag Baby release, Vietnam Experience which along with the film and video of the same name were to be Joe's "bookends" on the war in Vietnam.

Here's Joe's answer to my classical question: What is Woodstock for you and what would be your life without it?

Joe McDonald: Woodstock for me is the biggest symbol of the message of the American Vietnam War generation of PEACE AND LOVE. Joe_McDonald-crIt grew out of a terrible time for America of racial injustice and struggle for equal rights for African Americans; of American students to be able to express their opinions of political issues on campus; and of those who objected to the War in Vietnam. In this background we came together around music to have a good time and bond with each other for a few days. The surprise for me was that I got the chance to perform without my rock and roll band and started my solo career. It was a total shock to me that the audience was so responsive to my song and that it became part of the movie and album. It really changed my whole life and in the long run because of my relationship with the anti Vietnam War song it forced me to come to grips with my own military experience and become part of the military veteran community both in America and abroad.  

 I wonder: if Woodstock was all about Vietnam, shouldn't Woodstock 2, 3 and 4 be about Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq? I didn't hear any "Whoopee! we're all gonna die" being proclaimed there.

Neither in 1998 nor during the "Three Days of Peace, Love, and Music" in 1999 in Rome, New York, or at the 30th anniversary Woodstock concert. And in 2002?

What happened to the "three days of peace, love & music"?

The "Heroes of Woodstock Tour" was a North American concert tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock Festival this summer. Most of the artists where in the line-up of the original Woodstock festival. The musicians changed slightly from venue to venue but most of the concerts featured Jefferson Starship, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Canned Heat, Ten Years After and Tom Constanten plus occasionally Melanie, Edgar Winter, John Sebastian, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Mountain and the Levon Helm Band. The 'family friendly' tour began in June in Del Mar, CA and "featured historic displays, hippie era vending, and booths for environmental and social activist groups".

Country Joe McDonald was hosting all of the concerts, playing a couple of songs in between the different sets.

But that is not all. There is still the "West Fest". The West Fest "40th Anniversary of Woodstock"will take place in San Francisco on October 25, 2009in Golden Gate Park, Speedway Meadows from 9 am to 6 pm with free admission. Hundreds of San Francisco rock stars, luminaries and activists will pay homage to Woodstock,

This event will draw an estimated 40,000 people on the low end with an upward potential of 100,000 and will have extensive media coverage and a worldwide webcast.

One of the artists to perform there is Peter Kaukonen

Peter Kaukonen is a San Francisco Bay Area guitarist, who has played, toured, and recorded with Black Kangaroo, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Johnny Winter. Peter_Kaukonen-crHe continues to compose and record the kinds of eclectic and personal music that has attracted and sustained legion of stalwart fans through the years. Now he is pleased to showcase projects spanning the decades, from Black Kangaroo in the 70s to his most recent releases "Going Home" and "Beyond Help!" These projects feature his acoustic and electric guitar virtuousity while showcasing his skills as a composer and producer.

AK: Again my classical question: What is Woodstock for you? What is your very personal relationship with Woodstock? How would your life be without Woodstock?

Peter Kaukonen: Ready? You might want to take some Prozac, or have a shot of gin .... or ouzo .... before you start ......

So ... I'll write out some answers to the interview question[s] on "What does Woodstock mean to you?" Well ....I haven't thought about Woodstock any more than I've thought about the Monterey Pop Festival or, for that matter, the Pink Pig Polka Party Dance Festival that takes place every year in Squatpot, Idaho ..... Woodstock means less than shit to me, other than it's yet another opportunity for people to

1: make money; 2: trivialize what was really done through the 60s in the mantra of "sex drugs rock'n'roll" .......  

You are in Greece now, reminiscing about your time in America that coincided with Woodstock but .... I dare say that that particular time of your life would have been one of self-definition, of discovery and self-discovery, and the expansion of your world regardless; such is the nature of being young, in a time of great change, and open to new experiences ... anyway .... let me recall my first time in Greece, back in 1965, when I took the ferry from Brindisi and, after disembarking, the underground from Piraeus to Omonia Square where I walked out, in the middle of the night, to a scene from the inferno: cars overturned and burning; tear gas cannisters flying through the air; clouds of tear gas everywhere; students running and screaming, "demokratia! demokratia!" and the police whipping the shit out of any unlucky person they got .... does this have any resonance for you? You mention Prague Spring; this has a personal meaning for you, but are there anniversaries for it?  

You write to me nothing that I will be playing at a fortieth anniversary of Woodstock, held in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park ... and I replied, that I really didn't know what this had to do with an event that took place over forty years ago and three thousand miles away, other than an opportunity for a select few to make a lot of money; it won't trickle down to the musicians that will be playing because .... ha ha .... it's a free concert, yet all the musicians that played Woodstock got paid ..... it strikes me that what was originally a money losing proposition for the original promoters has turned into a cash cow that is milked so hard its poor udder is paper thin and its eyeballs are bulging out and hanging by strings, but that doesn't stop the death grip on its tits ...... 

It's nice to think of this event as the pinnacle of love and community, a collective consciousness and a gestalt transcending the American zeitgeist of chronic imperialism but ..... I don't really think that listening to mediocre music over an inadequate sound system while lolling in a mudbath makes for world peace and, as far as the music goes, most of the bands that played there were third rate bands whose names are long forgotten as is, mercifully, their music .... we don't remember them or how shallow they were because they didn't get edited into films that rewrote history and created a musical mythos ..... the groups we now associate with Woodstock, well .... "The Who" were great long before they played Woodstock, as was "Sly and TheFamily Stone", "Santana" and the "Airplane" .... as for "Hendrix", the "Star spangled banner" aside, he went from playing with the band of gypsies to playing with a band of cretins ... the pathos of his performance may be a fitting conclusion to the end of the festival .... and the end of the sixties .....  

Am I enough of a down yet? Aside from playing devil's disciple, I confess to taking a certain amount of perverse pleasure in trash talking an artificial event--the "anniversary," that is--that has most folk putting flowers into their thinning hair while checking their bank accounts .... if this is painful, we don't have to go on .... are you still with me? Okay, then .... we'll all have a good time, I promise you ..... and we won't get muddy .....  

So .... what does Woodstock mean to me? I haven't given it any thought, nor is there reason for me to but .... now that you ask,  I'll try and tie it in to what I do think about, all the time .... let's say Woodstock was a respite from what the sixties were all about, or what was happening in 1969: Vietnam and bombing Cambodia and the peace movement; Nixon and no-knock legislation; Black Panthers and Weathermen; Black Panthers being murdered; Vietnam and Charlie Manson; days of rage and the moratorium; the post coital tristesse of Prague Spring and the Red Brigades and the Baader-Meinhof group and the Paris Commune and did I mention Vietnam?..... We see a cumulative and successful attempt to trivialize a generation as one that indulged in "sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll;" don't get me wrong--I'm all for sex and drugs and rock and roll, although these days all my drugs are by prescription, and not one is remotely recreational but .... this generation--my generation and my peers--did way more than smoke dope and fuck and dance to the music, although it hardly benefits the status quo to note what we really did: we were actively involved in reshaping the social, moral, and political landscape of America and, consequently, the world .... starting with freedom rides and the Mississippi summer we brought civil rights to the disenfranchised, although god .... it seems like we're still having to fight the same fucking battle; we went to the barricades for sexual equality, something that I trust you are enjoying, even in Greece, although god, it seems like we're still having to fight the same fucking battle; we brought to the forefront a new morality, at odds with the prevailing American ethos, of compassion and concern, although god .... it seems like we're still having to fight the same fucking battle and .....  

We stopped the war .....

So .... where does the power and the "ooomph" of the sixties really lie? Chanting "no rain" at the clouds? Or bringing a semblance of equality to Mississippi .... and stopping a war ..... do you see what I'm saying? Sure, Woodstock was neat, gosh, it was nifty, gee, it was cool ..... but there was a whole lot more to what was happening and to what we did than we're given credit for .....

We stopped a war ..... yes, we stopped a war, although god, it seems like we're still having to ...... andyou can fill in the rest of this sentence .....  

So ..... look at how far we've come, and how much we've lost ..... we now make more mention of the crowds that gathered forty years ago in a muddy field thirty-eight miles away from Woodstock--and what a sorry town that is, a tired old whore fluffing out her tattered skirts, selling herself on a name that had nothing to do with her--than we do of the millions of people that took to the streets to protest--in vain--the second American invasion of Iraq ..... what does Woodstock mean to me? it means that corporate america discovered a new market and co-opted it; it means that the status quo took serious notice of the possibility of a generation coalescing into a force and a movement and went to great and deliberate means of detaching and separating and disenfranchising it ..... you lose political power when you become a market, and woodstock heralded the arrival of the pepsi generation, in which "coke is it" and gap jeans with bell bottoms became mandatory ....  

What do we see today? another Vietnam, only this time there is no cohesive and coherent opposition to unilateral occupations of sovereign nations, another time of great repression and curtailed civil liberties, only this time there are no weathermen or Black Panthers .... we see the social network, carefully constructed from the Great Depression onwards, deliberately being dismantled .... don't you find it interesting that there's concerted opposition to health care that would take care of people, yet there is no opposition to invasions, occupations, and destruction of millions of lives? Isn't it ironic that the Woodstock nation's got the bucks for building bombs, but can't pay teachers? Or build schools?

I guess that, were I to think about it, Woodstock means we didn't learn shit but ....."they" did ..... the technological innovations that we are told "improve" our lives, the digital domain that "connects us" through the Internet, through our cell phones, through instant messaging, through youtube, through twitter and pooter and squatter and doodle and piddle and fuck all knows what else, well .... I don't think this connects us to the degree that, say, rock'n'roll creating a generational identity whose dictum was "don't trust anyone over thirty" did; on the contrary, I think all this horseshit disconnects us, isolating all the consumers in their own shallow narcissistic little electronic cocoons ..... Twitter will not lead to the revolution, nor will youtube bring us to the barricades ..... sigh .... anyway .....

I'm about done for the moment. Some of my friends think I'm disagreeable and contentious .... what do you think?

A.K: Thank you. This is the response I was looking for, very refreshing and very honest.

Peter Kaukonen: I'm shocked and dismayed that you appreciated my response ....I'd so wanted to bring you down, to hear you shrieking "AAAAAAAHHHHHHH! my DREAMS OF WOODSTOCK UTOPIA!" No .... ha ha! Just kidding, of course .... seriously now, I'm glad you found it refreshing. I'm not sure why that is, except that we edit memories to make our lives palatable; if we couldn't do that we'd probably eat rat poison sandwiches: contemplating the random insignificance of a meaningless existence would be too much and life would be unbearable ... if we actually admitted that Woodstock was about as culturally significant as a pig shitting in mud, then we'd all vote Republican, and there's no shortage of assholes who are doing that ....  

AK: I was going to ask you about the "Heroes of Woodstock Tour", but your answer actually covered that already .Nevertheless, you are going to play at the West Fest Event "Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock" at the Golden Gate Park on October 25th. Why?
This is apparently a free concert and looking at the line-up, there will be a number of "Woodstock Heroes" participating. Of course, there will be the merchandise, the vendors and a lot of attractions running at the same time, but I see a strong tendency towards promoting a green lifestyle which I personally consider to be very important.
More and more people have gained an ecological conscience throughout the years. Could that be one of the positive things that developed out of Woodstock? (Not talking about the piles of garbage they left back then.)  

Peter Kaukonen: So .... let me tell you a story or two about the new fuckfest .... I mean, Westfest ...... you've probably noticed that there going to be a Guiness Book of Records attempt, 3,000 guitar players "playing" Purple Haze" ......I was the original musical director for that, and why not ..... Hendrix was a stunning player, and I play his music really well, although I prefer to play his more lyrical pieces, like "May this be lLove" or "Little Wing" or "The Wind cries Mary;" people overlook what an evocative lyricist he was and what a melodic player he was, and I find these songs to be very emotional and very moving and very satisfying to play .....  

Anyway ..... I arranged "Purple Haze" to meet the Guiness' time requirements, led one rehearsal and then I found out that, even though I was doing all the work, someone else was slated to stand up in front of the stage and wave a guitar around in the spotlight ..... look, I'm far too old for this shit; I informed them that any use of my arrangement would be considered violation of copyright laws and intellectual property laws and was potentially actionable and yada yada yada yada ......  

Ripping off musicians, still a time honored tradition!
But wait .... there's more .....
To be one of the 3,000 guitar players you've got to buy a t-shirt at twenty five bucks (that's u.s. $25.00) a pop .... mmmmm ......3,000 times 25 is $75,000 and .... I wasn't offered a penny ..... do all the work for free and let someone else take the credit .... mmmmm ......
Peace! Love! And music!

Can you tell me what a "Hero of Woodstock" is--is that someone who can still walk without falling over? Someone who's still alive? Is that what it takes to qualify? Maybe they could exhume the bodies of deceased musicians and put the remains up on stage and ..... anyway, you'd asked about my playing there; I'll spare you my meanderings and say, yes, I'll go there to play--most likely--because I love to play; because the first time I played in Golden Gate Park was over forty years ago and I'd like to do it once more and who knows when the next chance would come and ..... I'd get to see a lot of people I haven't seen for a long time and there are fewer of us each and every day ..... I see I have to get there two hours before I'm scheduled to play for fifteen minutes, which is a lot of foreplay for not getting to come ....Warhol was right, wasn't he? In the future we'll all be famous, for fifteen minutes .....  

You ask if one of the legacies of Woodstock was an ecological conscience, and I really don't think so; I dare say it's the result of time's passage and the slow shifting of awareness and priorities ..... you cite the plethora of "green" kiosks at the impending fuckfest, but that's just the promoter, lining up businesses that are congruent with a demographic ..... not so long ago the merchants would have been selling tie-die and incense and dope paraphernalia; today's new paraphernalia is solar powered vibrators and electric bicycles and eco-friendly butt plugs and god I don't know ..... like I  said before, the lesson of Woodstock was that Corporate America found a new marketing niche and started acting accordingly; I don't think this is any different and ..... each vendor, each kiosk, is paying a hefty sum to the promoter for the privilege of being able to proselytize their vision of greener pockets .... I mean, a greener world .....  

You know the lesson we didn't learn? There were 500,000 people, jammed together without sanitation and food for three days, taking drugs; having sex and .... not one fight .... there was not one fight! It's hard to have a football or baseball game, which is over in a couple of hours, without a punchout, and as for soccer, usually you have riots and deaths ..... so ...... we didn't master the lesson that smoking marijuana or taking LSD does not lead to violence or cause a breakdown in the community; we didn't learn that being sexual was okay; we didn't learn that the "just say 'no'" bullshit, or teaching "abstinence" as a means of dealing with sexuality and the burgeoning sexual awareness of young people is utter fucking nonsense .... marijuana grows everywhere on the earth; if it's not "green," I don't know what is .... don't you think making marijuana against the law is kind of ...... unnatural? And boys? They're born with penises; girls? They've got vaginas .... I think they should learn how to use 'em and take care of 'em .... don't you?

Gosh ..... I really wish we'd learned those lessons, don't you?  

Okay .... I' m about done now ....

AK: Last question: What is next on your agenda?

Peter Kaukonen:  What's next? In a week I'm heading out to Colorado where I'll bicycle, off-road and back country, for five days; I try to get out for one long trip to a remote area every year--I don't do electric bikes:I pedal myself .... if you're asking musically, well ....I'm in limbo right now: taking care of my young sons--I have five-year-old twin boys--is all inclusive of time and attention, so I've not been writing or recording, but I think that'll change soon:I'm long overdue .... in the past I took inspiration from popular topics like taking care of parents while they were dying ("Going Home") or how bleak the American political landscape was ("Beyond Help!") but ..... the American political landscape is so utterly depressing, so utterly without redemption, that I think it's beyond hope and ......

Beyond Hope! .... that's a great title for a new album!

A.K: I am looking forward to that  - the album I mean, not another beyond hope situation.

Peter Kaukonen: It's been a pleasure, talking with you .....  

In her legendary song "Woodstock" Jonie Mitchell sang:

"By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation"  

So much about the butterflies...

Should I say "Happy Birthday, Woodstock?"

Somehow I don't feel like it anymore.


View other readers' comments in the Readers Blog

©2009 Andrea Kapsaski
©2009 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Scene4 Magazine: Andrea Kapsaski
Andrea Kapsaski is a writer and producer
and a Senior Writer for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives


Scene4 Magazine - Arts and Media

October 2009

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