Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Garbage Peace Symbol

Monday afternoon, August 18, 1969, just a few hours after Hendrix' performance, Woodstock Ventures' partner Michael Lang said he remembers flying out in a helicopter and looking down, noticing the ground crew in the monumental task of cleaning up the site. Amidst the rubble, they'd fashioned a peace symbol made out of the garbage they were collecting, an estimated 700 tons of waste in all. It was a defining moment for Lang regarding the three/four days of peace, love and music. Keep in mind that Lang had planned for 25,000 attendees and hoped to make enough to build a modest recording studio in Woodstock, NY. 

A battle quickly ensued between the four producers over what ended up, despite the success of the concert and the 500,000 attendees, a million-dollar debt for Woodstock Ventures. This had been the counterculture's finest hour, but Lang and partner, Artie Kornfeld ended up selling their stake in the venture for $38,000 a piece, more than they had anticipated. John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, the other partners and financial backers of the exposition, eventually recouped their losses (and still receive residuals from the film), but the financial bonanza Woodstock promised never materialized. The outcome was as muddy a mess as the concert had been.

Still, with all the issues in the aftermath, Woodstock remains a treasured moment in the hearts and minds of many a hippie-soul, a symbol of what the world could be.

Woodstock icon Wavy Gravy said, "Everybody dropped their egos, their petty trips, whatever their trips were. Suddenly it was all dropped and focused on life support. And that was truly exciting. I yearn to do it again."

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