Create, rather than regurgitate memories

I don’t own a single Grateful Dead bootleg, drive a Volkswagen van or preach about the many uses of hemp. Despite having long hair, a bead necklace and a pair of sandals, I’m not much of a hippie
In fact there are only a handful of true hippies left and that’s fine. There are no wars involving communist aggression to protest or professors conducting psychedelic research with whom to drop acid and live in a teepee. Lighting some candles, burning some incense and smoking a joint doesn’t even freak anybody out — it’s just relaxing.
Hippies are gone. Staying true to their progressive roots, they have moved on. Hippies work at PBS, drive Jettas and wear clothes from the Gap. They eat meatless sandwiches on pita bread while listening to contemporary jazz, and they use homeopathic medicine to treat their ailments.
The time for hippies has come and gone. They’ve fought their battles for social justice, racial and gender equality and sexual revolution, but now they’re cashed. Hippies left the reigns of social change and their legacy of freedom in the hands of the next generation. But did the passing of the tie-dye torch bring about a new rebellion against the social norms or government tyranny? No. Instead we came up with retro fashion and a crappy version of Woodstock, part three.
Our generation is responsible for the Great Schism of hippiedom. We have those who embrace the culture or activism of years past, but not both.
A portion of our generation is still dedicated to societal betterment, protecting the environment and international political affairs. But the rest just hung on to Woodstock. I say let it go.
Roughly 30 years ago a group of music promoters decided to put together a festival of peace, love and community in a farm field in upstate New York. The poorly planned event transformed into a drug-induced mud-wrestling orgy that everybody’s uncle claims to have attended.
They ran out of food, the music sounded bad and it rained. The event wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but was a pretty groovy idea nonetheless. Like its hippie audience, Woodstock rode against the status quo and broke the mold of the traditional music venue. But Woodstock is dead; we should let it rest.
Yet 30 years later an unoriginal Woodstock is back for the second time, and in rare corporate form. A musical everything omelet, Woodstock ’99 lined up everybody from Sheryl Crow to DMX. More than 250,000 crammed themselves onto an airfield for three days of peace, love and rap-metal.
The promoters of Woodstock ’99 made no attempt to capture the grubby ambience of its predecessor. The similarities between the old and new festivals end with the name.
See, the original Woodstock didn’t end in a flaming riot. The audience didn’t turn over cars, rip apart the stage or loot the vendors merchandise. The first Woodstock didn’t even have merchandise.
This year’s audience, however, started by hurling chunks of turf at performers during their sets. But that wasn’t reckless enough. They crowded around MTV’s Carson Daly and his camera crew to tell the world about the last night’s crazy party, but their jubilant smiles just looked like leftover spring break footage.
Woodstock ’99’s demise started long before shirtless adolescents began their pagan dance around a scorched Orange Julius cart. It plunged into a fiery inferno of teenage angst because the audience had no idea of what to do. They were the spectacle, not the untalented screaming of Limp Bizkit or Korn. America expected the crowd at Woodstock ’99 to go nuts, and they did.
The reason the event erupted into violence and rage is because there was nothing left to do to push the envelope a step further. All of the fun things to do had been done during the first Woodstock.
What was left? Avoiding hygiene, shaving or combing your hair? Already done. Tripping on acid while covered with mud? Already done. Dancing around naked and having sex with the stranger sitting in the next tent? Already done.
The only alternative Woodstock ’99’s audience had to try and outshine the rebelliousness of Woodstocks past was to go off and bust everything. So they broke everything in sight and set it on fire in protest of the price of bottled water.
Sean Madigan is an associate editor for the Daily. He welcomes comments to [email protected]