Monday, August 15, 2016

Where did the peace and love go?

Woodstock took place in an age when the fault lines between "straight" society and the so-called counter-culture were at their deepest, over Vietnam, drug use, the revolution in values.
 And nowhere were they deeper than in the small town of Woodstock itself. Located in upstate New York, Woodstock had a reputation for bohemian non-conformity, as the site of an early 20th-century Utopian community, Byrdcliffe, and home to a number of musicians, including Bob Dylan – a fact that had drawn huge numbers of hippies to the town, to the increasing consternation of locals.
 By 1969, anti-hippie hysteria had reached epidemic proportions, with one town dignitary describing the typical hippie as "a creature full of communicable diseases who speaks an illiterate language", and a local meditation centre being burned down in an arson attack. When a local entrepreneur announced plans for an "Aquarian Exposition" of arts and music, the shutters came down with a resounding crash. So it was that the Woodstock Festival was obliged to relocate to the hamlet of Bethel, 60 miles away.
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