Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yasgur’s Legions

Once upon a time in a land far away lived a simple farmer named Max. He went to town one day, probably to the feed store, or maybe to drink a cup of coffee with his farming cronies, and inexplicably changed all reality as we know (knew?) it. The entire cosmos, for all time, took a gigantonormous step to the left.

What happened that fated afternoon, you ask? Well, some guys found Max and talked him into renting his pasture for the weekend. They razzled him and dazzled him into leasing his homestead for a reported $50.00. They told him that they wanted to produce what they called, “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music” for about 5000 people. Being a reasonable man, who knew well the value of $50.00 in cash, he agreed and became a major part of the conception, gestation, and parturition of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair.

I was there.

This is not a bit of information that, at the time, I readily shared with my family. My sweet Deirfiúr might find this surprising, but time is, after all, the great equalizer. What happened 40 years ago matters little in the present.

I went with an older cousin. I’m not sure I remember how we pulled it off, but somehow we hoodwinked the old folks into the ideal that they really did not need to pay attention to us for about twelve days. Being an “old folk” at the time of this reading, I truly wish I could say I remember how we accomplished this daring feat. It would make for a hell of a yarn that might end up in some anthology. Like maybe “Chicken Soup for the Survivors of the 1960’s,” or “The Adventures of a Modern Day Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.” Who knows?

What we discovered was that for $50.00, our friend Max got screwed. Now I am sure that old Max received much more then the paltry amount of legend, and the “Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music” turned into a whole bunch of folks. 500,000 is number that has been bandied about. Some said it was a city of its own. Births and deaths, clothes and nudity, music and screaming, laughter and tears, and many others memorable events occurred. Again, I wish I could remember it, or, at least part of it. I remember a girl named Star whose virtue I despoiled (with her permission…well, actually at her insistence). I remember some guy selling me some “purple microdot” acid that did nothing to me but turn my tongue purple. Not an entirely disastrous situation in that it was the color of my tongue that attracted the aforementioned lady with the cosmic nomenclature. I remember the music. I remember Jimi Hendrix and the flaming guitar. I liked watching Keith Moon destroy his drums. I remember falling in love with my celestial female cohort to the sounds of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. I remember when the UAW/MF Family, a self proclaimed "street gang with analysis" tore the fence down and it became a free concert. I paid to get in, and kept the ticket stub for a number of years after in order to prove I had been there. My Dear Sainted Mother threw it away in a cleaning frenzy while I was in the army. I remember that no body was mad that weekend.

In the ensuing years I have lived a pretty full life. I did, unfortunately, eschew the chief message of the event, and lived a life speckled with greed and violence. Somewhere along the way, I have come back to the ideology of that epoch occasion. Love is definitely the answer, peace is how things are supposed to be, music certainly has sounds to sooth the savage beast within, and, this morning I woke up in love. Not the kind that is heralded in a famous Country & Western song, but the honest and earnest type of love that radiates and is proclaimed in much of the world’s poetry and prose. It is the type of love where it is not an “issue” that prevents one from expressing it in public. Not the type that has anything to do with the libido. (And no, my libido has not gone the way of the aged and infirmed!)

I had a dream last night of a woman I know, who I have not seen in quite some time. She is a particularly sweet person who has a great beauty about her and who I have known for well over a decade. There did not seem to be any motivation for the dream. No reminder in the last few days that I have not been in her gracious company for an unreasonable amount of time. I suppose it came as just a subtle reminder that, in the hustle and bustle of life I, quite simply, miss her.

It came as a blessing. I prefer my dreams to come that way. It is as if God is speaking to me in a powerful manner. “You love this person and you need to remember that!” I find myself in that place where my emotions have matured to a point of comfort. I have come to terms with the world as it is, and believe that to act in a loving and caring manner is not the chore it once was. I still rail against the evil in this world, and still wish that justice will find its way. I do not suffer from the illusion that I am some sort of harbinger of the message of peace and love. I am too old to jump onto a soapbox to proclaim my dogma as it relates to the method the world should its conduct business. In the first place, I am physically too large and old a person to jump at all. The Lord, I believe, made me corpulent in order to impress on me the actuality that I should maintain a firm grip on the ground.

So it comes back to my original treatise. The remembrance and approbation of the effect the Woodstock Music & Art Fair had and has on both this world and this humble scribe. It has made me a better person and a better occupant of the world. It created in me a sense of what the world needs us to be. It let these feelings gestate to a point where I have become mature enough to express my emotions appropriately. Not as directed by some ideology, religion, philosophy, canon, tenet, dogma, or Country & Western song. It comes, rather, as positive guidance directed to me from the God of my understanding. I love you SJM.