Endless Bummer: Woodstock

Still commemorating the Peter Pan generation

This past weekend marked 40 years since the Woodstock concert at Bethel, New York. Some 400,000 people -- admittedly many from generations younger than the original attendees -- descended on Max Yasgur's to jam to the remnants of bands that originally played there, plus their musical descendants.  

But, of course, this wasn't enough for those who loved and want to perpetually commemorate 1960s indulgence. Why should it be? There already was a big 30th anniversary bash ten years ago -- though that ended up more a testimony to how the materialism of the 1990's had beaten down the idealism of the '60s.

No, Hollywood has made sure that Woodstock revivalism will last longer than just this past weekend. Rather than time Ang Lee's big-budget "Taking Woodstock" flick with the actual anniversary, instead the movie is coming out two Fridays from now, thus ensuring that the commemoration of 1960s counterculture excess gets to spill over into September. Because Academy Award director Lee is  helming it, the movie is considered a "prestigious" event; there will be a push for consideration come Oscar time.

And so, despite the boomers rushing pell-mell into their 1960s, the perpetual worshiping of their cultural moment continues apace.  Interestingly enough, the less-worthy mementos of the Summer of '69 get downplayed by the veterans of the era -- Chappaquiddick, Manson murders, Altamont (the negative "dark" Woodstock), etc. Those same veterans of the "Love Generation" rolled into the 1970s and became part and parcel of the "Me Generation."

That's not a coincidence because it was always about "me" -- which is to say about "them."  The baby boomers have always been about  self-indulgence. Woodstock just became the perfect symbol of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll that was elevated to spiritual totems. Sadly, of course, "free love" evolved into the STDs of the '70s and '80s (to say nothing of broken families).  The drugs evolved into coke and crack addictions of the '80s and '90s. Rock and roll?  Well, depending on one's tastes, music evolved in a better or worse direction. 

Regardless, the culture can hardly be said to have gotten better in the immediate aftermath of Woodstock and the '60s.  Alas, that's not a lesson that will be imparted in the wave of Woodstock nostalgia that can be expected for the next several weeks and months. 

New York writer Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots. Follow him on Twitter.

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