Saturday Reads and Views: Escape into 1960s Nostalgia

Woodstock Before the Music Began, by Eliott Landy

Woodstock Before the Music Began, by Eliott Landy

Good Morning!!

I must be getting to be an old lady, because this morning I just want to escape into the past. I guess the past wasn’t really all that much better than the present, except that I know how it all turned out. In the present, we’re facing so many challenges as a nation that it really feels overwhelming to me.

I don’t need to enumerate all that’s happening; you know it as well as I do. We’re stagnating economically and politically and one political party is determined to keep any progress whatsoever from happening and the other political party is in thrall to Wall Street and the corporations. And then there’s the NSA scandal, which really has me flummoxed. I don’t like the notion of domestic spying, but I’m very troubled by the way the battle over it is being fought. I’ll try to write a post on that sometime when I’m feeling better.

Today I’m feeling very low energy–I seem to have caught a summer cold from one of my nephews and all I want to do is sleep or watch junky movies on TV. Anyway, the 44th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock Festival is coming up next week; so I’m going to devote this post to a little nostalgia–mostly of the visual kind.

The event that was originally billed as the “Woodstock Music and Art Fair: Three days of Peace and Music” opened on August 15, 1969 and ran until August 18. Here are some basic facts about what happened there from the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts


* The community was not prepared for the crowds that began arriving. By Thursday, August 14, much of the area had become an enormous traffic jam.

* The festival officially began just after 5pm on Friday, August 15, 1969, and the day’s events ended shortly after 2am the next day.

* On Saturday, August 16, the festival began at noon and ended after The Who played a 24 song set that started at 3am.

* Jimi Hendrix played what many consider to be the festival highlight, on Monday, August 18, when only 35,000 people — a small fraction of the crowd — remained.

* Some residents did not embrace the crowds, yet others welcomed the visitors, supplying them with free food and water when it was apparent that Food For Love, the festival concessionaire, was not prepared to feed the massive crowd that gathered.

* The Hog Farm commune of New Mexico, hired to build a campsite on the grounds for attendees, opened the Free Kitchen serving macrobiotic, vegetarian meals.

* First aid at the festival was provided by the Woodstock medical crew in a field hospital located near the stage. The team tended minor accidents, food poisoning and an epidemic of cut feet since so many were going barefoot.

* A “freak out tent” was established for those suffering bad trips.

* Some concert goers treasured the festival as an adventure that changed their lives.

* Others found it nothing but a messy, dirty, disorganized debacle. But no matter what their experiences, Woodstock was undeniably unforgettable.


The music began with a stunning performance by Richie Havens, who died in April at age 72. From The New York Times:

Richie Havens, who marshaled a craggy voice, a percussive guitar and a soulful sensibility to play his way into musical immortality at Woodstock in 1969, improvising the song “Freedom” on the fly, died on Monday at his home in Jersey City. He was 72.

The cause was a heart attack, his agent, Tim Drake, said.

Mr. Havens embodied the spirit of the ’60s — espousing peace and love, hanging out in Greenwich Village and playing gigs from the Isle of Wight to the Fillmore (both East and West) to Carnegie Hall. He surfaced only in the mid-1960s, but before the end of the decade many rock musicians were citing him as an influence. His rendition of “Handsome Johnny” became an anti-Vietnam War anthem.

You can see a list of the other performers at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts site linked above. Next week a tribute to Havens will be held at the site of the original festival. USA Today:

Folk singer Richie Havens will receive a musical tribute Aug. 18, the 44th anniversary of the final day of the 1969 Woodstock festival.

The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a music venue built on the Woodstock site in Bethel, N.Y., will host a musical tribute for the late singer-guitarist and his ashes will be scattered across the grounds, according to Billboard.

According to The New York Times, Havens requested that his ashes be scattered there from a plane.

The concert, “Back to the Garden: A Day of Song and Remembrance Honoring Richie Havens,” will be open to the public and will feature musical performances by José Feliciano, John Hammond and John Sebastian, among others. The actors Danny Glover and Louis Gossett Jr. are scheduled to speak.

The scattering of the ashes by air is fitting, as Mr. Havens, along with his guitarist and drummer, were flown in via helicopter to perform at the last minute at Woodstock while the scheduled opening act, the folk-rock band Sweetwater, was stuck in traffic.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

And now a little more nostalgia–of the sartorial kind–from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which is showing an exhibit called “Hippie Chic,” from July 16 to November 11.

Of course the clothes on display aren’t real hippie garb; they’re designer duds, but they’re gorgeous and colorful–enough to pull me up out of my funk for a bit.

Here’s a writeup on the show from WBUR at Boston University: When High Fashion Inhaled The ’60s—’Hippie Chic’ At MFA.

Some fun facts about hippie fashion courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts’ eye-popping, psychedelic 1960s fashion showcase “Hippie Chic”: Secret compartments in your metal jewelry could conceal your birth control pills; secret pockets in the collar of your Native American-style fringed suede jacket could hide your “stash”; and around the time Neil Armstrong was making that first “one small step” on the moon, Halston was dabbling in tie-dye and Yves Saint Laurent was experimenting with crazy quilting.

“Hippie Chic” (465 Huntington Ave., Boston, through Nov. 11) rounds up 54 ensembles dating from about 1968 to ’76—mainly from the MFA’s collection, but augmented by some loans—to show how fabulous fashions from the Age of Aquarius were interpreted by the era’s high-end design houses.

MFA curator Lauren Whitley’s eye is on influences—how hippies, and their haute couture imitators, drew inspiration from Middle Eastern caftans; Native American fringe, leather and ribbons; homefront styles of World War II; 19th century gingham pioneer dresses; Renaissance jackets and breeches.

Recycling the past was part of how hippies sought to expand their minds, to find better ways of living, as they dreamed up a utopian future. The youth movement was, of course, a wellspring of the sexual revolution, feminism, gay rights, environmentalism, drug experimentation, anti-Vietnam War protests, personal computers, the Internet, and a general anti-establishment bent. Make love, not war, man. Speaking of recycling, remove unwanted servers from your Office, sell your used servers for electronic recycling. For fair pricing, contact Tech Waste Recycling here.

Here’s a sampling from the show:



02. Pair of womans shoes_Rodarte



A couple more links with photos:

The Well-Appointed Catwalk: Hippie Chic at the MFA Boston

Boston Magazine: The Summer of Sartorial Love

I’ll end with a Woodstock anthem:

What’s on your mind today? Are you living in the present moment or longing for the past or an alternate future? And as always, please share your links to any stories of interest to you in the comment thread.

79 Comments on “Saturday Reads and Views: Escape into 1960s Nostalgia”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Fannie, your comment got deleted, because I was having problems with this post and had to copy it into a different file. Here’s Fannie’s comment:

    Luv the ’60………………
    Up in the air here, just about 60 miles from where I live:
    I don’t have a good feeling about this one………..DeMaggio seems to be saying something to the effect “if I can’t have her, no one will.” I was just in the Cascade two weeks ago, and hundreds of rafters and kayaters were up and down the river. It’s pretty rough going in that area.

    A lot of people don’t think he kidnapped her……….at least that’s the word on the street.

  2. Beata says:

    Nice post, BB.


  3. RalphB says:

    Question. How is it that the “brogressives” who support Edward Snowden as a patriot have credibility with their audience? To me, they’re bullshit artists.

    Best I can tell they seem to fit the model of Spencer Ackerman who graduated from Rutgers in 2002 as bloggers and writers with no real life experience. He, Greenwald, and Baby Ezra all supported Bush and the Iraq War, until it went south. Now we’re supposed to believe they are the liberal experts on national security and foreign affairs? How the fuck did this happen?

    • bostonboomer says:


      I’ve been asking myself this for the past few days. I want to write a post about it, but I’m too confused at the moment. The only way I can explain it is that we don’t have a political left at all in this country anymore. Many of these people who claim to be on the left are ex-Republicans like Markos Moulitsas, John Cole, Glenn Greenwald, and so on. Lots of them are really libertarians, which is in no way “on the left.”

      The oddest part of this is the mainstream publications that are going along–like the NYT. The reporting has been really sloppy, and very few in the MSM are trying to report facts. Are they intimidated? I don’t know. Reuters has been good, and so have some writers at Business Insider and The Christian Science Monitor.

      I guess the problem is there is nuance to this story. Yes, it’s good to have a “national conversation” about the NSA, and yes, Snowden’s actions did trigger much more focus on it. But we need facts, not hysteria. And to claim that Snowden is a “hero” and “whistleblower” when he is working with the FSB and Russian politicians who want to clamp down on the internet is ludicrous. He also compromised US efforts to stop Chinese hacking a counterfeiting. How is that being “a patriot?”

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’ve gotten the best information from Mark Ames of NSFWCORP who lived in Moscow and published an alternative newspaper there for at least a decade. He is both very knowledgeable about Russia and a true ideological leftist. I subscribed to their digital and print publications and have been getting a lot out of reading them. The only problem is the site is subcribers only. However, subscribers can unlock 20 links per month.

        Here’s Ames’ latest on Snowden: The PRISMer’s Dilemma

      • RalphB says:

        Seems to me there is a “conventional wisdom” being pushed that’s just plain wrong, but is simplistic enough to tell easily, while the truth is nuanced and more complicated. Chances are it’s laziness on the part of a lot of journalists.

        Snowden is no patriot, he’s a defector.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Exactly. A lot of what’s going on seems to stem from Obama-hate. I’ve never seen anything like it, even when Bush was at his low point.

          • RalphB says:

            Frankly, me either. Wonder if a lot of them aren’t disappointed that being an Obamabot didn’t bring them as much power and riches as they imagined. Now they’re terribly upset and angry at the Kenyan Usurper. I’m sure they think he would be nothing without them.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Have you heard the Fox News rumors? Sean Hannity is supposedly losing his 9PM slot to Megyn Kelley. Roger Ailes was asked about it and didn’t do anything to tamp down the gossip.

    • dakinikat says:

      I heard that. think he lost some radio outlets too

      • RalphB says:

        Didn’t Hannity and Limbaugh lose their major radio network contract?

        • dakinikat says:

          yup, i wrote about that on a morning read a bit ago

          • bostonboomer says:

            Yes, you did. I remembered. Apparently Hannity’s ratings aren’t that great and never have been.

          • RalphB says:

            “Hello, are you a small business owner looking to reach a wider audience of xenophobic, woman-hating, aging, bitter white guys with impacted colons, but don’t think you have the resources to do so?” he asked.

            “Have you dreamed of a professional association with an obese, hate-driven bigot who reaches a wide audience of obese, hate-driven bigots who automatically nod at everything he says, even if that nod makes the dangling string of drool drip on the clicker?” — John Fugelsang

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Did anyone look at my post at all? NBD, but I was hoping at least JJ would enjoy the clothes.

    • RalphB says:

      LOL, I read it and, while I love the music, the late 60s were not halcyon days in the Corps. My comments on those years would be a definite downer. 🙂

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s OK. I just thought the bright colored dresses and men’s jackets were fun, after how dreary I’ve been feeling lately.

        Frankly, I turned down chances to go to Woodstock and was glad I did after I saw all the traffic jams and mud from all the rain. Ugh. I had friends who left and came home. I think it was just the idea of the crowd of people that excited the media. Most of the people there probably didn’t hear all the music. I’m definitely not a fan of big crowds.

    • dakinikat says:

      I read it. It’s very interesting. I really don’t remember that much about the 60s since I was pretty young during them. I do remember woodstock a bit. Mostly I remember the Vietnam War which appeared on my TV nightly and then watching cops turn hoses on black people in the south. I was stuck at a country club most of my young days in the 60s in the middle of the country so a lot of that passed me by I’m afraid.

      • dakinikat says:

        and the clothes are FUNKY!!!!! lol Love the gypsy look!!! I don’t think it was inhaled though, I think it was ingested from a blotter as I recall.

    • Bb, I’ve been on Benadryl and really out of it for two days…now I have this weird vascular rash that I get sometimes on top of it. So i haven’t been on the blog much. But, I love love love the nostalgia awesomeness and the photos, hope to read it properly soon! That Hippie Chic exhibit at Boston U looks neaT.

    • I would have made a comment but my battery went dead. Those are fantastic outfits…I always wore vintage things during high school and college mixed with new pieces as well.

    • Fannie says:

      I wish I could go to the museum and see the display of clothes from the 60’s. I didn’t make it to Woodstock, I was freaking broke. Guess what, I was working at Del Monte’s Cannery pitting peaches, and making $1.35 an hour, and making peach cobblers………so I had something to eat. Forty some odd years later that’s funny, cause here I am dishing out peach cobblers, that’s it, no more peaches.

      I loved the 60’s culture, loved the sounds, loved the images, and loved the clothes. Back in the day I made my own clothes, and mixed it all up. I’d sit in front tv, or look at Twiggy in all the magazines, and try my best to get those damn eye lashes on my face. My vocabulary was right on, and groovy, and far fucking out. I got in some trouble, and headed to Fillmore East to get it on with Bill Graham, and honed in on some the musicians……….loved them, and there was nothing like being at Winterland ball room on New Year’s Eve. It was dramatic to say the least. Just yesterday, my son told me that he wanted ALL my posters from the 60’s. They covered my walls while I was in college, and I could get high on the psychedelic stuff. I was never in a one to one relationship back in the day, if I had been I’d been divorced several times over. I do have couple items of clothing, need to point them out to my granddaughters.

      Thanks for the flashback BB

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thank YOU, Fannie. I loved the ’60s culture too, as you can probably tell.

      • Beata says:

        I was born in 1960. I had a pair of pink go-go boots in 2nd grade. Loved to watch “Laugh-In”. Loved the music. Went to see Melanie Safka with my best friend from school; it was my first pop concert. Mama took me to anti-war marches until the Kent State tragedy scared her; then she wouldn’t let me go any more.

        It was a complex time. Culturally, very alive, but the Vietnam War was always in the background as was the civil rights movement. The deaths of JFK, MLK, and RFK haunted us. But there was a sense of optimism; a feeling that the world could be changed for the better if we all worked for peace and equality. That seems to be gone now.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Yes, that sense of hope and optimism is what I miss most–and a sense of community.

  6. peej says:


    I looked at your post. I now have a long-lost desire to embroider a pair of jeans. You know – a real pair of jeans, pre-designer jeans, when jeans were still designed to be functional and comfortable? I’m wishing I had my hot pink foot rug. Good post. Great Snowden reads. Hoping you are feeling better.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’ve gone back to wearing Levis which was my 1970s uniform. I mostly embroidered blue chambry work shirts at that time too. I was blue from head to toe!!!

      • RalphB says:

        I never stopped wearing them, unless I was on a customer site and they didn’t know me. It just fit my mind-set too well. 😉

      • Fannie says:

        I really enjoyed the bell bottoms…………and I would sew the Zigzag patches all over my coats, and braid my hair and wear headbands………..then the 70’s came, and we got into the knits.

        Hope all you dancers are feeling better, bummer to be in pain.

    • bostonboomer says:

      They didn’t even have women’s jeans sizes in the late ’60s. We used to get Levis at the army-navy store.

  7. dakinikat says:

    From our archive: “Weimar 2013?” – @CUMCIT’s Mark Mazower on Europe’s ideological extremes & nationalism.

  8. RalphB says:

    The L&T (lovely and talented) Paul Krugman is shrill again.

    Death Panels and the Apparatchik Mindset

    Aaron Carroll reads the Wall Street Journal, which is outraged, outraged, at the prospect that Oregon’s Medicaid system might seek to limit spending on treatments with low effectiveness and/or patients who aren’t going to live much longer in any case. Death panels!

    Carroll points us to the actual staff recommendation, which is far milder than the WSJ blast would have you believe. But as Carroll points out, the larger point is the absurdity of the Journal’s position. On one side, it’s fanatically opposed to Medicaid expansion — that is, it’s eager to make sure that millions have no health coverage at all. On the other side, it claims to be outraged at the notion of setting priorities in spending on those who do manage to qualify for Medicaid. It’s OK for people to die for lack of coverage; it’s an utter horror if taxpayers decline to pay for marginal care.

  9. RalphB says:

    What he said…

    Milt Shook: Problem with the NSA story; lots of accusation, no evidence.

    How do I say this?

    If you have ever proffered, “They always do it” as proof of a specific action, then you’re not as smart as you’ve convinced yourself you are. In fact, that retort puts you in the same realm as those geniuses who think all black people like watermelon, that all Asians are lithe, sweet and submissive, and all gay men are swishy and feminine.

    And the one thing that is missing from all of the news “stories” in the press about this issue is evidence. There is zero evidence that the NSA is exceeding its authority under the law. There is zero evidence that the FISC is allowing them to do things that are not authorized by the FISA law and other intelligence gathering laws. None. Zero. Nada.

    All I am seeing is that they “could” do all kinds of horrible things. Well, you know what? They always could. In fact, everyone could be accused of all sorts of horrible things, too. But without evidence, the accusations are meaningless.

    Whistleblowing is a time-honored tradition. There are greater whistleblower protections than ever before, for a reason. But whistleblowing is not just leaking sensitive documents; it’s revealing evidence of wrongdoing.

    If you think the law needs to be stronger, no problem, I’m with you. But that’s not this discussion.

  10. dakinikat says: ‏@BillMoyersHQ 1m
    Don’t miss our updated #ALEC report with new examples of corporate influence on state legislation and lawmakers:

    • RalphB says:

      Ted Cruz’s father is also batshit crazy.

      Raw Story: Ted Cruz’s father: Same-sex marriage is about making government your God

      Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told the audience at a conservative conference on Saturday that marriage equality is part of a government conspiracy, the Des Moines Register reported.

      “Socialism requires that government becomes your God,” the elder Cruz said to the crowd at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa. “That’s why they have to destroy the concept of God. They have to destroy all loyalties except loyalty to government. That’s what’s behind homosexual marriage.”

    • RalphB says:


      • bostonboomer says:

        Texans can be weird in both good and bad ways. This guy is OK by me.

        • RalphB says:

          There’s been an ad campaign for years now to “Keep Austin Weird”. It’s not going to normal out. This must be the hippy friendliest place anywhere. You can’t swing a cat here without hitting a couple of musicians and hippies. Makes for a quite interesting place to hang your hat (if you have a hat). 😉