Woodstock Hangover: Let’s Do It Again!


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
September 4, 1969, Vol. XIV, No. 47

by Howard Smith

AS EVERYONE has probably heard by now there is going to be a Woodstock Music and Art Fair Part Two next August. There has to be. Its backers need another one for financial vindication. The mass media, whose post-Woodstock reportage sounds orgasmically like the underground press except even more so, wants another one now that they know what it is. The long-haired army that was there will be coming down just about the time the next one arrives so they will be ready.

The implications of what all the mud, music, and joy meant are a little more complex than what I keep hearing from street people.

Quantity does not automatically turn into power. Those who run things in this country don’t say, I guess I will have to take into consideration all those beautiful peaceful people when I make legislative decisions. On the other hand, the obvious evidence that pot doesn’t lead to criminal acs might affect future drug hearings.

Also, we can expect much more emphasis on the hegemony of rock in the coming season. The Woodstock and other festivals’ proof of an enormous rock-avid audience can’t help but influence the television and motion picture business.

Similarly, next year’s problems won’t be so few. First of all, finding a friendly site gigantic enough isn’t going to be easy. A minimum of 2000 acres is necessary. Then Woodstock’s production team will probably toll all through the next three seasons making careful plans. And when the time arrives at last they will be perfectly ready to handle an expected one million turnout per day. But I have this premonition that while they were working out logistics all those months, so were hordes of kids all over American who didn’t want to miss it a second time. So opening day arrives and three million show up. A good portion of that will be freebies who anticipate ticket collecting will be as futile as it was the last time.

Aside from overcrowding, the cops may not be so cool about drug use any more. Although a lot of state police and sheriffs who were at White Lake freely admit that nothing happened as a result of the weed, it still is illegal, and they may not be able to stand much flaunting again. It means the possibility of an undercover offensive as elaborate as the festival peace plans.

If the Woodstock masterminds succeed in measuring a perfect fair against the odds, the next danger is overorganization. This year’s gestalt worked partly because of the hardship, and superstructured precautions might ruin the spirit.

And as an afterthought to the overcrowding hazards, imagine the size of the press corps next year. Most of the media coverage this time was come-lately, and the fair grounds were impossible to reach by then for most press. At the 1970 festival, not only nationwide but international media will be ready and waiting, and unless the fair can tactfully handle the press troops, their equipment, staff, and aggressiveness may push the audience itself up against the trees.

In the meantime Woodstock ventures is not letting the experience be forgot. An official book of photos and articles will be issued shortly, as well as a line of t-shirts, jackets, and car aerial flags bearing the Woodstock dove on guitar emblem. That’s the extent of their commercialization although the temptation to overmerchandize is great. Finally, as a grateful gesture to the people around Bethel, Woodstock Ventures want to buy the 10 acres behind the stage that slopes down to the lake, and donate it to the town or county as a public park.

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