Tuesday, August 18, 2009

By the time I got to Woodstock

Michael is right: the Woodstock generation needs to get over itself. He’s been saying that for a while (Gen X is so bored with Boomers), and I got religion last weekend when I joined the parade of my generation to Max Yasgur’s farm for the fortieth anniversary.

I wouldn’t have made the pilgrimage but for a sister who has a summer cabin nearby. I wasn’t at Woodstock ’69, but I’ve paid homage at the shrine there before. I was there in ’89 for the twentieth anniversary, when I bought a T-shirt for ten bucks from a guy selling them from the back of a van.

This year’s visit left two warring factions inside my head.

The folks returning now are grayer and pudgier, but some of them seem still stuck in the ‘60s. Beads, beards and tie-dye. Freak flags flying. Decorated vans. Peace symbols. It was all there.

One guy urged the “Class of ‘69” to gather for a photo around the Woodstock monument that overlooks the rolling fields. Another fellow asked me, “Does he mean college or high school? Does he mean you were here in ‘69?” I said, “Does it matter?” But even though I graduated college in ’69, I shied away from joining in, not really wanting to belong there. Instead, I took the photo. 

Now switch gears to the corporatization of Woodstock, a $100 million complex built about five years ago with a Woodstock museum, performance pavilion, and gift shop (where T-shirts were selling for $25). The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is lovely, but it seemed garish there at Woodstock, and the part of my heart that belonged in the photo with the Class of ’69 rebelled a little.

So I was uncomfortable with the Woodstock hangers-on, but I was also put off by the fancy digs. I wanted it both ways:  the Woodstock generation should move on, but does it need to get so swanky?

Michael tells me those two viewpoints aren’t necessarily at odds. Look at how you’ve lived your life, he tells me. You never totally embraced the whole Woodstock thing. But you never wanted to drive a Lexus, either. You’ve chosen what works for you no matter where your generation is headed.

Look who you married, he says.



1 comment:

  1. Interesting blog. Arguably, the biggest legacy of Woodstock is its huge impact on the real children of the sixties: Generation Jones (born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X). This USA TODAY op-ed speaks to the relevance today of the sixties counterculture impact on GenJones: http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20090127/column27_st.art.htm

    Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten a ton of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term. In fact, the Associated Press' annual Trend Report forecast the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009.

    Here's a page with a good overview of recent media interest in GenJones: