Woodstock West

Woodstock had just occurred this very summer. August 15-18, 1969. It was all the buzz among the hippy counterculture, but even more so with music fans like Timmy and I.  Not to be outdone by the East Coast, some copycat festivals began to spring up here on the wet coast, everywhere it seemed, every weekend, on some non descript farm in the farmland east of here.  Most were abject failures, but it provided hippy food for thought and something to talk about.  After all it must have been tiring for the hippies to talk about the alphabet all day long.  As it turned out that there was music festival planned for a farmstead not too far from this coastal city.  I believe they were calling it “Strawberry Fields,” or something equally profound like that.  Timmy and I decided to check it out.

We drove out to the prospectus.  And just like Woodstock it was automotive gridlock. We decide to park our car a few miles away and walk in. Turned out to be a good plan as many of the autos became bogged down in the mud and sludge.  Yes it was raining, just like Woodstock.  There was a great deal of cussing, yelling, pushing and shoving going on among the various drivers and bikers, especially the bikers. It was automotive pandemonium, definitely a frightful, fitful, love-in man as the fists came out from every which way from Sunday. And this was only Saturday.

We skirted around the problems, found the main gate, paid our fee and walked in.  And what a sight to behold. Utter chaos. The end of the world as we knew it. This must be what Armageddon is going to look like. A sparse, barren, rain soaked, mud caked, garbage strewn landscape. Passchendaele couldn’t have been worse. Probably around 10 thousand hippies all gathered together in one place. All smokin, all tokin, all jokin, all smilin with their coke-ins and love-ins.  Stoned out of their ever lovin minds. And the music hadn’t even started yet.

A tie dye convention was suddenly before us. Young women in their tie dye ankle length skirts, gum boots, tits hangin out of their tie dye tees, smiling, waving, weaving and smokin, laughin at no one in particular.  Bare chested, long haired men, dirty faces, filthy fingers and knarling nails quaffing booze, smokin joints, hauling ass – literally and figuratively.  It was a lice lover’s paradise. And Dante himself would have been impressed but challenged to describe this scene. He must have had Strawberry Fields in mind when writing his Divine Comedy and its depictions of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell, especially hell. Strawberry Fields must have played an important part of his allegorical travels through hell.  Whatever, St John’s volunteers were sure to have a busy two days, and, Johnny on the spots, while well dispersed throughout the grounds, would be sorely lacking with an estimation of about twenty thousand visitors expected per day. Shit everywhere man! And lots of it! I made a mental note to get the hell out of here before darkness set in.

We made our way toward the large staged scaffold. It was impressive: large amps everywhere, lights strewn about the structural framework, drum sets, guitar racks, mics, black staging curtains and men and women scurrying about like ants on the stage itself. Organized commotion in disarray. It looked as if they knew they were well behind schedule. Timmy and I must have looked a sight standing there before the stage watching all of this unfold.  Here we were, two guys with relatively short hair, conservatively dressed, prepared for the inclement weather. We were square. We knew it. Pat Boone like.  Completely out of place…man. We did take a gander at the musical playlist beside the stage.  Never heard of any of these bands. Locals no doubt but it didn’t really matter as no one would be able to hear the music anyway.  And just like Woodstock they would be too stoned.

And just like Woodstock there was the requisite pond. There were already fans playing in the water, peeing in the water, shitting in the water. I decided to avoid the water. There were also tents, conveniently called pavilions scattered willy nilly about the grounds.  Hippy entrepreneurs putting it to the man by charging exorbitant prices for the basic necessities of living in a farmers field with twenty thousand of your closest friends. There were craft pavilions; classes on how to make tie dye pavilions, bong pavilions, know your grass pavilions and not the garden variety type either. And the ever popular oxymoronic sounding pavilion on how to take acid safely.  It was at one of these pavilions that I ran into Sandy, who was already stoned out of her mind. I think she recognized me as she came over to me and stood in front of me looking studiously at me and at me face. Studying every facet of my facial expressions, I could only imagine the contorted psychedelic images rummaging and racing through the dark and warped cornices of her mind as she inspected the blackheads on my cheeks. She smiled, then grinned, then grimaced, all of the time about five inches separating me from her bulging eyeballs with their dilated pupils.

“Hmmmm” was all she could muster in profound conversation.

I asked her if she brought her bodyguard with her, y’know, the guy with the sawed off shotgun.

“Hmmmm,” was all she could say. Still looking at my facial expressions. Head bobbing from side to side.

“Hmmmm” She lifted her fore finger, pointing it at my face, making imaginary circles in the space in front of my face from my forehead down to my chin.

“Hmmmm” then she giggled, started to laugh then in flash, stopped, grinned and ran off with one of her cohorts.

I turned to Timmy and said “Let’s get the hell out of here. There’s going to be trouble”

We left immediately. The hippy lifestyle just wasn’t for us.