There I was, at the last Woodstock of the millennium. Three of three in the collectors' series. This is it -- this is life, man. I actually told myself that. My inner voice even adopted a stoner inflection to add that touch of authenticity that it knew would convince me. Of course, I know differently: Going to Woodstock, which in the future surely will become an annual event, is almost on par with having gone to see the latest Will Smith movie. But I was sure sucked in. I went for that once-in-a-lifetime experience that can only come from spending way too much money to re-create someone else's once-in-a-lifetime experience. I even rented a Volkswagen to get there. Cleverly, I used my gold American Express card to get that built-in renters' insurance. How summer of '69!
The porta-potties were already overflowing with humanity's worst by the time I got there on Saturday at 3 p.m., having made the two-hour drive from Cooperstown, New York. The Counting Crows were on stage, finishing their set. The crowd had already turned on them -- from my estimation, about three years ago. I got up as close as I could. With the Hubbell telescope, I might have been able to realize there actually was a live performance going on somewhere. I stood there unshaved, belying my age, trying to fit in -- a concept that got harder to swallow as the whispers of, "Hey, man, who's the narc?" floated a little too audibly through the mass of Gen Y (pronounced Jenny). The crowd closed in behind me. I was beginning to remember why I hate concerts.
While the crowd watched the stage -- or, more accurately, the video monitors -- I was watching all the fertile young women meandering around with a suggestion of clothing. So young...so perfect. Later, a naked woman at the Woodstock rave would show me her babymaker while shirtless men surrounded us and beat out some voodoo on garbage cans and sheet metal -- very William Golding.
As Alanis Morissette took the stage, I got out of there and wandered the 10,000 acres of Woodstock City. And it was a city: pay phones, a mall, more than 2,500 privies, and a full-service Ace hardware store. Topless girls walked around as though they had no knowledge of good and evil. There was even a guy with his dick hanging out so far, with such anaconda impressiveness, that I was certain this could have been the actual serpent that would have sent those girls running for fig leaves. It was amazing! An over-the-calf tube sock falling out of a condor's nest!
People were passed out on the tarmac. Teens were frolicking in the autumnal mist of a urine-formed mud pit. It was insane, like a refugee camp for kids who would never have to live in a refugee camp, which I guess is what makes social slumming so fun. Kids were doing the pot everywhere. Some guy had rolled out a jumbo nitrous oxide tank and was selling punch balls of the stuff for five bucks. I guess it made breathing fun, because there were hundreds of people walking around sucking on these big, black balloons. One dude warned me of another guy selling bogus 'shrooms. I, of course, thanked him. Everyone I talked to had tugged on the drug slot machine and was doing some combination of acid, X, or H, the jackpot being the loss of their inhibitions to talk to people like me.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
I made the rounds of all the shops, which made me realize how truly wronged hemp activist Woody Harrelson really was. Either hemp is the basic substance of life, or I witnessed a tremendous amount of false advertising. Apparently, they can make anything out of this stuff: rope, twine, pants, hats, wallets, transmissions, lawn furniture, even cookies. I know this stuff is versatile, but I never imagined eating something you could make a BarcaLounger out of.
Like everyone else out there who had passed the milestone of 21, I ended up in the beer garden paying practically a buck an ounce. To get a buzz, you basically had to save up all summer. One-hundred bucks to regain that warm feeling for life those young hopefuls had robbed me of when I walked through that turnstile 12 hours earlier.
I ended up buying a Mexican blanket and passing out on the lawn in the beer garden, staring at the moon -- my one eternal fixed point. That same moon that was stared at by Socrates, Buddha, Jesus, and Groucho Marx. A small measure of connectedness. The rain woke me up at six in the morning. I gathered my stuff and waited for the sun to come up while I stood in front of a sign that read, "Shuttle to Blue Parking." Ah, so '60s.
Gordon Keith is the host of "The Rant," heard from 9 a.m.-noon on KTCK-AM (1310).