Here's the Scoop: Dec. 2, 2009
A far out visit
Hey, man, we checked out The Museum at Bethel Woods – the Story of the Sixties and Woodstock over the holiday weekend. It was, as they say, really groovy.
For you non-hippies, that means we liked it.
I had actually heard many positive reviews about the museum. And, as we all know, the reason to have guests is so that you explore the attractions that are right in your neighborhood, but that you never visit otherwise. Since my sister-in-law was staying with us for a few days, we no longer had an excuse not to venture to this museum.
The Woodstock museum is located on the site of the original 1969 concert. If you’re alive, you’ve probably heard of this event. If you’re trying to be cool, you probably tell everyone that you attended the show. If you really were there, there’s a good chance you don’t remember. Fortunately for all of us, there’s now a museum to help jog our memories.
I was a bit too young to attend Woodstock. Even if I had been older, I doubt I would have gone (I never made the anniversary events in Saugerties or Rome, NY either). You see, as much as I enjoy live music, I am not a fan of waiting two hours for a bathroom break. In a Port-a-Potty, no less. Sorry, but isn’t that why they invented DVDs?
Plus, being crammed elbow-to-elbow with 450,000 concertgoers, most of whom have not showered in days — this is not my idea of fun stuff. I’m a two-shower-a-day kind of guy and I prefer to hang around other like-minded folks.
And then there’s the fact that John Sebastian played at Woodstock. I’m not a fan. Just one more reason I’m happy I wasn’t in attendance.
Of course, as anyone who lived through this era realizes, the Woodstock concert was much more of a reflection of the turbulent 1960s than about a perfectly choreographed musical event. I found it interesting to learn in the museum that, despite how well-chronicled this event was, there is still no definitive list of which musicians played and when.
Music and much more
That’s what makes the museum so cool. It’s a mini time-capsule summary of the era. Naturally, there’s a ton of music and many interesting facts about the concert itself. But much of the museum is dedicated to setting the stage, so to speak, for the concert. Civil rights (or lack thereof) and the Vietnam War figure prominently. The peaceful gathering of nearly half-a-million people was mere symbolism for a decade of extreme conflict.
So, the museum was the perfect place to revisit this extraordinary period of time. It really made me wish I had been there. Almost.
Another museum visitor, who possessed two bad traits, jolted me from my nostalgia. First, he looked like someone I detest. Second, he smelled weird — kind of like he hadn’t showered since the original gig. This is a very bad combo.
Because the museum is not huge, and this fellow arrived when we did, he seemed to be lurking around every bend. I could look away from him so I was not reminded of the person who I dislike immensely. But I had trouble escaping this fellow’s strange odor.
On the other hand, the unpleasant smell from this one person made me thankful that I had not attended any of the Woodstock concerts.
During the reunion concert in Rome I loaned my press passes to a couple of friends. A few days afterwards, I asked them how they liked the show. The music was great, they reported, but then they added in unison: “The one thing they don’t tell you on the TV reports is how bad it smells.”