Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | August 15, 2009

Woodstock Anniversary

I was eight years old in August of ’69. Man had walked on the moon. It was summer. We played in the backyard. I re-enacted the Apollo return to earth, the splashdown, hundreds of times with tiny plastic soldiers forever cast in their supine position, and they came with a tiny plastic raft, so it was perfect. We re-enacted the war, not Viet Nam, but WWII because the soldiers were WWII soldiers and the plastic enemy were Blue Germans. But the G.I. Joe was caught in the new war. More often than not, we re-enacted him as a POW who had to escape. G.I. Joe had graduated from WWII to Viet Nam in our minds.

Woodstock wasn’t really in my psyche overtly, but there’s no doubt I personally became a child of the woodstock generation, and it’s been in me ever since. That summer, and the following year, third grade at St. Rocco’s School in Newark NJ were amazing. It was the revelation of a higher truth, of another way, of a way of peace and love. A school that had been ruled by nuns, now gave us an iconic, young, blonde third grade teacher named Patricia Adamek. I fell in love with her. What a crush. She was engaged to an army guy, a nice guy, I’m sure, but I identified him with Lt. Calley. He was the enemy. And I could not understand how they could be republicans.

I got my first dog that year, a boxer, and we grew up together. What a great dog and friend.

I tried to grow my hair long and battles ensued with dad making us go to Sam and Mike the Barbers to get our hair cut, and little negotiations that would go on in the barber’s chair in secret with Mike the Barber. Forget, Sam, he was an older Sicilian who cut hair one way, short, wet, and flipped up in the front! Mike left us a little bit up front that we could comb down with the dry look.

Woodstock was a moment in time, like a championship baseball team–magical, it all comes together at once, and it’s beautifull. The Mets won the World Series in ’69 too, although I didn’t begin following baseball and the Mets until ’73, and had to put up with a lot of lean years. It’s idealized, like everything else. There was a lot of nonsense associated with woodstock. But there was a glimpse for a little while that you could do things differently. That you didn’t have to accept the status quo. That you could have three days of music, peace, sharing, getting by, tripping and loving, and getting naked and swimming in a pond.

It’s idealism at it’s best, and I long for the ideal. I’m a rebel. I really don’t want to accept the way things are done. There’s got to be a better way, a softer, gentler way. But I also know it’s idealistic. At Woodstock, there were bands who refused to play until they got paid in cash, Pete Townsend bonked Abbie Hoffman in the head with his guitar and threatened to kill the next guy who got up on his stage, Monday morning, the farm was strewn with trash and garbage, no hippie peace love cooperative to clean up, the producers sold the rights to the movie to Warner Brothers at a big loss to cover their expenses, and on and on.

There’s a Woodstock type out there, a sort of diaspora of people who believe in a higher vision and truth. I gravitate towards them and become friends. I’m not an overt hippie druggie, but, well, I do want to just be in the mountains proclaiming the truth. Make love, not war.

And perhaps, I have to say, the most important ideal to me was and is freedom, the freedom of Woodstock, and the idealistic freedom of the United States of America, beautiful visions both that take a lot of hard work and staying true to the course. Freedom.

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