Woodstock: Then NOT Now (or why not everything relates to Obama)

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You can say I’m a huge Woodstock fan; I own the inevitable (necessary) poster with an authentic ticket, signed books (Artie Kornfeld), a photo collection and personal drawings (above)… to name just a sampling. I’ve made annual, sometimes quad annual, trips to ‘the site’ at the intersection of Hurd and West Shore roads in Bethel New York. All this years before Bethel Woods Center for the Arts was built. In some ways, I feel like I was there, or should have been.

I first saw the Woodstock movie as a 7 year old in Moscow. I think it was on network TV to showcase the ‘American perversion and result of brute capitalism of the US’ or something like that… I vividly remember standing in the middle of our living room and watching the mud people, and Joe Cocker doing the most memorable (and spastic) version of “with a little help of my friends”… and that was it, I was hooked, I was a hippie-dude. Anything American was always overtly intriguing (as an antiestablishment statement), besides they were playing in mud and I’m 7!

Years later I found myself in New Jersey, and well within driving range of the site where it all went down. My first time there was as a road trip during college… This reporter from a Sullivan County paper let us know “it wont be there for long” and that millionaire Alan Gerry is going to “develop the holy bowl” and gave us a few copies of a local newspaper. She also let us know about the Woodstock Preservation Alliance… and again I was hooked, and tried to help out as much as a distracted college student could. I wasn’t going to get arrested for trespassing though, and so ‘we’ lost and Bethel Woods was built (though the bowl was never developed).

Long story short, I’m a huge Woodstock fan, and I feel as if that empowers me in one way or another … Ok ok, before I completely go off the charts with the sobbing clichés, let’s get something out of the way… Yes, I know I’m 27, and of course I was not there. But none of you reading this were there either, or anyone you know. Only four to five hundred thousand people were, but they did not include President Obama, or his parents.

Last weekend was the 40th anniversary, and I was up at Bethel Woods seeing the Heroes of Woodstock and DVR’d “Woodstock: Then and Now” documentary on the History Channel… mostly a great account of the event, but as a person who, per the above, considers himself rather knowledgeable and involved in the ‘spirit of Woodstock’ I was genuinely disappointed by the 5 minute cockamamie editorial ending comparing ‘my’ event to the Obama inauguration.

I don’t seem to be the only one to think this is absurd, and fully discredited the documentary and quite possibly the History Channel as a whole (check out this board discussion, twitter search and blogpost)… Even as an Obama supporter and voter, I fail to see how on earth Obama turned into Forrest Gump, in the sense that he’s become the cause for and the result of every possibly imaginable major event in recent past.

Obama was partly elected by the flower children but his inauguration was NOT a love in, it wasn’t really even a happening… so why did the History Channel fall into that trap, and why didn’t anyone stop them? How can a serious editorial and producing team connect the biggest counterculture, anti-establishment event ever to the biggest ever government orgy known as the presidential inauguration? The swearing in of the government’s top official, regardless of its size or social magnitude is still just that… a political event. Woodstock it was not.

This obsession to connect everything back to Obama, or his inauguration, or his ‘path’ (whatever that means) or his this or his that has me bonkers… he’s a man, he’s just a man, and you’ve known so many men before, in very many ways (aptly quoted from Jesus Christ Superstar). I think this type of crap takes away from Obama’s accomplishment, his drive, and frankly, from his responsibility and onus of the problems at hand… which are numerous.

Woodstock was a place where credit was disregarded, the focus wasn’t even on the music, promoters were screwed, the people were dirty and hungry, the bands were rushed on and off without schedule or fully working equipment… everyone suffered and everyone owned up to it, that’s the magic. A Presidential inauguration is the epitome of political soapbox chest thumping madness, and revolves around one person, on this one day (the king is dead, long live the king!).

Sure there were a lot of people on the national mall, but I don’t see much else.

To me the 40th anniversary show of Woodstock at Bethel Woods was closer in every way — see sepia image from last weekend below — We were surrounded by tie-dye shirts, some political slogans, my fellow man; plus Canned Heat, Ten Years After, Jefferson (Airplane) Starship, and Country Joe McDonald. And they ran out of food at the end…

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Woodstock was nothing but a moment in time, and unfortunately it was gone as fast as it came to be. And if you ask its true alumni, they’d say no other major event will ever take its place, nor was anything major the direct result of those 3 days of fun and music, and nothing but fun and music.

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Negatweeting, it is our right, nay duty…

rant_smallPhoto credit to: http://redstaplerchronicles.com/
Editor’s note: forgive me reader for I have not blogged in nearly three weeks… it’s planning season, sorry folks


First, some background on why –

However snobbish or passé (perhaps even condescending) the term Foodie may seem to some, I consider myself one; I’m a foodie with my restaurants, my menu picks, my ingredients, my home cooking, my books, my TV choices… I just am, and not that there is anything wrong with that. Even though I babble about food and restaurants all the time, the one thing I refrain from doing is talk negatively about the service of a restaurant.

To me the food and the chefs are the stars, so why bias people about décor or service if the meal is great… that is until recently when my mom, brother, wife and I were at Fig and Olive (Fifth Avenue location, the ‘new’ one; bottom line: I recommend the uptown location, food is the same) and had one of the worst services. So I decided to enact the age-old marketing perspective: negative experience = 10 people told vs. good experience = 3 people… I went to town, and told all who’d listen about it in addition to those I usually babble about food with.

The next day my frustration was met with an interesting read from the Chicago Sun-Times about a Horizon Group Management LLC lawsuit against a tenant’s ‘slanderous tweets’… then as if on cue, I started catching up on the Sam Sethi/TechCrunch libel suit over published ‘slanderous articles’ (see more TC coverage: here, here and here) this week… hm, I thought “the power of words you say?”

So, a new Tword is born–

The other day I came up with (per search results) a cute term… Negatweeting, seemed to just roll off the tongue, quite self explanatory given the recent occurrences around me.

Now that I work a lot with corporate reputations and though I’m young, I can seriously say (with a straight face) that I remember when people only had to worry about reputations in print and on TV. All of us, my current clients included, aren’t so lucky… we have to counter and encounter the public head on; the virtual soapbox of social networking and social media mandates us. If we don’t engage and define ourselves, someone else will or already is. Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase recently (again, planning season)…

I take the side of Amanda Bonnen (obviously) as well as that of Michael Arrington in these cases, and frankly everyone else that took a stand. It is the power of free speech, if not consumer power through preference and opinion, which is the foundation of American society… hence Michael Arrington wanting his case tried here and not in the UK, as it is now. And that perhaps is the problem with such outrage as my own at the legal system hamstringing free speech online… the internet, though democratization at it’s finest, is not a democracy.

Recent Exhibits:
a)      Google’s power to ban sites
b)      Marines banning social networking
c – e) Iran, China, Russia

And so on… internet is not a democracy, it is a powerful populous tool that is used to spread information and opinion, but there will always be those who control the switch… and yes, there is a switch. Again, do I even need to link to yesterday’s Twitter/Facebook hacker slowdown/deny of service attacks? Seems quite reasonable of an argument to me.

Thus, I decree: onward with your negatweeting my masses, go forth with your opinions and free speech consumerism. Use social networking and social media to bunch up and grow your numbers. Have your cake and eat it too, until they take away the fork.

So go on, exercise the right to express dissatisfaction with things and make yourself heard through tools available… because if we don’t engage and define ourselves, someone else will or already is.

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