Story by Ken Krayeske, Photos by Michael Taylor • 1:30 AM EST
Naked man, why are you standing on your head? It must be Woodstock '94...
EExactly 15 years ago, I went down to Woodstock II, which should have been titled: "Corporate Music Fest." Woodstock II was a television ready anniversary event in a culture that loves to celebrate the passing of time.
So in honor of that, I dip back into my journal from August 1994, and dedicate this column to thoughts on memory, music, money and Woodstock II in Saugerties, NY.
A few months after I graduated from college, I got fired from one of many temp jobs, this one from a bank credit servicing center. My boss, the wife of a bass player in a local rock-n-roll jam band, told me I wasn't "vanilla" enough. What am I rocky road? Mint chocolate chip?
An executive I met in another temp job needed someone to cut a stack of kiln dried scrap wood into 18" pieces for his wood stove. So this recently divorced guy with a sweet mansion in the country paid me $8 an hour cash to cut two metal banded cords of sawmill shavings - 3/4", 1" and 2" thick sticks of hardwoods - maple, ash, cedar and oak - with a dull chainsaw.
I sawed until my arms wanted to go on strike. But I earned enough to go to Woodstock. A ticket for the three day festival cost $144. I went with a friend from college and his buddy from Australia.
From the journal: "Even at the first rest stop out of New York City at 3:30 in the morning, I felt tense. By 5:30 a.m. we were sitting in a massive line, waiting to get on a bus from the parking lot to the festival site. We showed our tickets, and they checked our bags for guns or drugs. They missed the ounce of weed I was carrying. Oh well. People started throwing things in the sky - bananas, frisbees, beer cans, footballs, tennis balls, socks. Other people wanted to tip over the mobile security trailer. "
After the security checkpoint, we boarded a school bus to go to the concert site, which put us in a location where we were at the mercy of the forces running the show. I spent $104 on food and souvenirs. At least $40 of my expenses was turned into scrip money - Woodstock coined its own cash. Unfortunately, I couldn't use the scrip for the $200 I spent on weed that August weekend.
Woodstock scrip money.
From my notebook: "Expensive food and its own money based on American currency, all for the benefit of corporate paymasters. A thriving black market of alcohol ($6 a can, $50 cases of beer)."
I know my expenses because I tracked the cost for three days of peace, love and music in my journal. My notebook explained: "The hippies cash in. I tire of being the hippies' slave children: to their fears and unresolved doubts, to their nostalgia trips, to their money making schemes, pyramids and bad television, to the apathy and their lack of faith, to their unresolved sexualities. A bequeathment of gifts I could do without."
Shortly thereafter, in 1995, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and punk rock legend Mike Watt came out with the song "The kids of today should defend themselves against the 70s/it's not reality/just someone else's sentimentality/it won't work for you."
Corporate entertainment giant Warner Brothers figured out that the original Woodstock in 1969 was marketable as a movie, and the movie made a bundle, thus stadium rock was born.
So if the first Woodstock marked a rite of passage for a peaceful community that, in essence, dictate what the market would sell, Woodstock II demonstrated that the market was in control.
At Woodstock I, police and national guardsmen helped provide free food, breakfast in bed for 400,000, as wavy gravy said. At Woodstock II, the corporate community demanded its wages for your sustenance.
Woodstock II story and photos, continued...