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Look out for the brown acid: Remembering Woodstock, 40 years later

Memories of Woodstock, the rock-'n'-roll festival he helped create, haunt Artie Kornfeld still: the cops Kornfeld opening fire on the crowd of stunned hippies, body parts flying everywhere, the dying screams of musicians as the stage burst into flames, the rapes and the looting of the dead.

Of course, that Woodstock only happened in Kornfeld's raving, mushroom-besotted brain, a hellish daylong hallucination triggered by a dose of psilocybin. Only a countervailing shot of Thorazine administered by festival doctors enabled him to stagger out to the edge of the stage to see the transcendent climax of Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix's soaring sunrise performance of The Star-Spangled Banner.

``There were a lot of good trips at Woodstock, but there were some bad ones, too,'' admits Kornfeld, sprawled comfortably across a couch in a gated Delray Beach subdivision a thousand miles and more light-years away from the mud and the dope and the music and the wonder of Woodstock.

As the 40th anniversary of the festival begins Saturday, Woodstock remains a mythic touchstone for both everybody who loved the 1960s and everybody who hated them: three days of rampant drug abuse, outdoor sex and loud rock 'n' roll, all blissfully free of adult supervision. Read my full story on memories of Woodstock in Thursday's Miami Herald. And here's an enjoyable report from Herald radio partner WLRN with some interesting observations from the festival's attorney, Miles Lourie. Not to mention comments from some obscure Herald guy.


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Hey Glenn

First Joni Mitchell is just an artist who wrote a song. You might make it clear in future articles that she was not at Woodstock - had a prior commitment to appear on the Dick Cavett Show. Bob Dylan wasn't there either. He was worried about his ill son and appalled by the behavior of the young people assembling in the area near his home.

Woodstock isn't celebrated as a particularly grand event. It's a watershed - a catharsis for the Baby Boom generation. Your articles seem very adamant about separating us from our parents - the "Greatest Generation". You might point out the connection. There was a lot of dysfunction in American families in the years following WWII. Lots of housewives taking valium and very high consumption of hard liquor. The boomer children got fed up with the hypocrisy of the "see no evil, hear no evil" lifestyle.

I think the boomers revolt was more about the right and the need to express what was true, even if it is marred by sickness and ugliness.

The first performer was Richie Havens. Take a look at the words to his song "Minstrel From Gault" which some sources show as the first song of the festival, but most say it was "High Flyin' Bird" (written by Billy Edd Wheeler who, according to his website is retired but sometimes plays out with a group of Elvis impersonators).

At any rate, I have seen Havens play four or five times over the past forty years (most recently last year at Ft. Lauderdale's Culture Club) and he has always been a performer who sought to help his audience find their best and most noble spirit.

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