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Scoot: Woodstock was 45 years ago - what would the world say today?

It was a moment that defined the youth rebellion of the 1960s! It was Woodstock and it began 45 years ago today on a large farm in upstate New York.

Woodstock was billed as “3 days of peace and music” and personified the attitude of the original anti-Establishment generation.  Considering the estimated 400,000 people who gathered for the festival, it was relatively peaceful, but drugs and alcohol were consumed openly and those who had sex in public view were reflecting the “free love” mentality of that generation.

The love, music and mind-altering substances that defined Woodstock 45 years ago – completely contradict the attitude of that generation that is now the new Establishment.  

Imagine the reaction from today’s Establishment to a massive gathering of young people who acted like the young crowd at Woodstock!  I imagine condemnation of a young generation for their lack of morals and their use of drugs and alcohol and the interpretation that this was a sign of the collapse of civilized American society. Well, that’s exactly what the Establishment then thought of that young generation that created the phenomenon of the rock music festival.

Today, that young, rebellious generation is the Establishment that is judging today’s young generation in many of the ways their generation was judged. Of course, every generation learns from its past, but it is the judgment of today’s young generations and the lack of acceptance of the past that makes me a “hostile witness to the Baby Boomer generation!”

This 45th anniversary of Woodstock reminds us that the failure to acknowledge our past as we critique new young generations leads to a loss of credibility.  

I have been criticized for suggesting that today’s young generations, in many ways, are no more rebellious than Baby Boomers were in the 60s and 70s.  Times have changed, but it is wrong to judge and compare the past based on the world today.  Each generation can only be judged in the context of the times in which they were young.  

Relative to the world in 1969, Woodstock and the music festivals that followed – including two big ones in Louisiana – created panic among the law-abiding citizens who made up the Establishment.  There was widespread fear of what this signaled about the future of this country.

I have a few memories of the New Orleans Pop Festival that took place Labor Day Weekend in 1969 – just a couple of weeks after Woodstock – at a speedway on Airline Hwy. in Prairieville, LA.  Those memories include teenagers camping out for several days – drinking – some doing drugs – and promoting an appreciation for love, peace and the celebration of music that was void in the establishment of American society at the time.  Yes, we were different and making a strong statement about what our generation stood for.  

In 1971, the Celebration of Life festival took place on the banks of the Atchafalaya River in Pointe Coupee Parish, where many young people took of their clothes and openly frolicked naked in the river.  Louisiana Governor John McKeithen promised citizens of the state that he would personally throw out any “long-haired, dope-group anarchists” who attempted to put on the festival.

The festival did take place, but was cut short.  A journalist for Rolling Stone magazine wrote that there were areas, like, Cocaine Row and Smack Street, where 30 different mind-altering drugs were openly on sale and plastic syringes were sold at $1 each.  What would that generation say if a young generation did that today?

Woodstock and festivals, like the New Orleans Pop Festival and the Celebration of Life in Louisiana, promoted and brought to life the slogan of that generation – “sex, drugs and rock & roll!”  

As we reach this milestone of the 45th anniversary of Woodstock – let us not forget how rebellious today’s Establishment was when they were young.  That doesn’t mean we should encourage young generations to make the mistakes we made in our youth – but it is wrong to judge today’s young generations from a pious perspective when we essentially did the same things we are critical of today.

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Topics : Entertainment_Culture
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Locations : LouisianaNew YorkPointe Coupee ParishPrairieville
People : John McKeithen

08/15/2014 12:33PM
Scoot: Woodstock was 45 years ago - what would the world say today?
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