Woodstock

Watched Woodstock last night on TCM. Hadn’t realized it’d been so long since I’d last seen it…I hadn’t even seen this Director’s cut yet. All those crazy 18 years old running through the mud are 65 now. Anyway, forgot how beautifully shot that flick was, amazed they pulled it off. You wonder what became of all the interviewees. And if everyone hawking their wares in the drug super market scene wound up in prison. If the Porto-San man’s kid got back from the DMZ ok. Or who wound up with Pete Townshend’s guitar. Just what that glop was the Hog Farm was feeding everybody? And whatever happened to those intricately beautiful hash pipes all the serious freaks seemed to have back then. It’s a long flick, endless, and you have time to wonder about these things. And about how everyone got home. And the psychedelics no one talks about anymore, like DMT, and how mesc was short for mescaline. And how fit everyone was back then. Trim and beautiful. I can’t imagine camera crews spending so much time on skinny dippers at a festival today. There’s a lot of beautifully shot scenes in the flick. There’s one night time scene and someone is on stage, a folkie, alone–maybe Joan Baez–and the shadows through behind on the stage are gorgeous and one of the camera men, no doubt stoned, focused on it for a luxurious several seconds, and it still fills my mind’s eye 24 hours later.

Amazing how different the mood is from Gimme Shelter–another extraordinary concert film–which was only four or five months later. Or from the Isle of Wight flick, less than a year later. Or from Monterey Pop, a mere two years before. Or from the contemporaneous Wattstax, which seemed a world away. And how vastly different it was from Jazz on a Summer’s Day, shot eleven years earlier, or The Decline of Western Civilization, ten years away. That’s a twenty year span, packed full of cultural revolution. Things seemed to move so fast then. They seem so slow now. If not slow, perhaps it’s just that the old never really goes away anymore. It always hangs around. Digitalization makes the dead seem completely alive. Long dead movie stars seem to walk and talk still. People love the Beatles like they never went away, or Miles Davis like he walks among us. Old releases are repackaged and released as if brand new. The long dead comment on new events–I just saw Kurt Cobain predicting Donald Trump; a lie, but that seemed not to matter–and we seem to live our lives shifting between eras as if we were there for all of them. But we weren’t. We only are where we are, and once were where we once were. And I can’t figure out it it’s good or bad that we can conceptually shift between eras like that–imagine how the tripping freaks at Woodstock would have loved the idea–but I do think the long dead should remain dead, the long broken up remain broken up, and we should live in the now, but that’s just me. I mean I love Hendrix and Coltrane and Monk and the Jefferson Airplane, but not they are still here. Meanwhile I’m watching hippies cavort half a century ago, and Jimi Hendrix frozen forever at 27 and the YouTube I’ve been listening to in the background flits through the jazz decades as if time itself was completely irrelevant. Time free like whatever that Albert Ayler thing just was, before this ancient Louis Armstrong thing or the brand new Ben Wendel thing I heard before. A hundred years of music randomly thrown together. Each video sets a mood, each brings out a feeling. Each make me feel like I am elsewhere, and this computer is a pad a paper and these letters my cramped, impenetrable scrawl that no one will ever see.

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