Woodstock Degeneration

Fifty-two years ago Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play – actually it was fifty-two years ago this past weekend that Woodstock became a cultural milestone – or was the milestone forged when the film was released? Whatever it did happen & now it serves as a landmark marketed as a product safe for everyone – it’s no long revolutionary or even cautionary. The music itself is mainstream nostalgia.

I have some of the cd releases that get progressively more encompassing to the point where they now include every announcement from the stage – I’m waiting for a cd set devoted to the helicopters landing. I have in my music collection the original lps release plus the full sets by Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix. I’ve even searched out cds by bands that played but that didn’t get recorded – Quill anyone? The live music overall suffers from uneven sound quality & at times bad miking – Hendrix’s set lacks the horn section which is clearly on stage playing with him. It has been mixed right out.

I’ve seen the film, the sequel, the collected bit that didn’t make it to the first two. Currently watching, for the 2nd time: ‘Woodstock: Three days that defined a generation’, an American Experience documentary (one of many) of people recollections about the festival: residents of Woodstock, the organizers, attendees, even some of the performers. 

I’ve read about it, heard about it from people who claim to have been there. One thing that is clear is that peace love was almost entirely a white heterosexual moment. The only openly queer person to appear on stage was the poet Alan Ginsberg. All the cuddling kissing couples in crowd shots are male/female pairs. I guess being hippies was bad enough they didn’t want the burden of real sexual openness. They might be counterculture but they weren’t degenerates.

I mention this because of the importance of representation. Were there lgbtq people at Woodstock? There must have been but they have mostly been erased. Free love was clearly not to be tainted by politically messy same-sex crap. There is one exception, that I know of – Taking Woodstock a 2009 film about the Woodstock Festival, directed by Ang Lee, based on the memoir Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life by Elliot Tiber and Tom Monte. 

Did Woodstock define a generation? If it did it’s a very narrow definition & an even narrower generation. I heard about it in Cape Breton, I read about it in Rolling Stone, Time magazine. I may have seen some TV new coverage but there was no real political groundswell that lead to social change. Now it’s pledge fodder for PBS.

I’ll Scratch Yours

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it’s hard to accept 

that enough is never enough

I can scratch an itch

then minutes later 

need to scratch again

to get what I want 

leads to wanting more

if one-on-one is great 

a threesome is impossible to resist

<>

I’m a guy who can say no

but when I deny myself

I long to be praised

for not over indulging

on my way to sainthood 

when I want to gorge myself

the smug satisfaction of drawing a line

and sticking to it isn’t as rewarding 

as giving in one more time

<>

could be it that scratch

is not the solution to itch

should I try that zen approach

when the itch is ready 

the finger will appear

if only all it took was a finger

can I learn to live with that itch

for another cd another man in the sack

better car bigger house

whiter teeth faster downloads

snappier sneakers flashier T-shirts 

all calling  scratch me now

or forever regret all the opportunities 

missed by resisting

<>

even when I look away

I sense those glittering beacons

just out of reach

straining teasing demeaning me

till I’m on my knees

too weak to do anything 

except beg for some relief

<>

to live with hunger

goes against our get-it-now culture

admitting that I don’t really want to scratch

is met with disbelief

what’s wrong with me

I gotta get with the program

whatever the fuck that is

but how do I get rid of the itch

<>

isn’t there a way to feel free

be comfortable in my own skin

without the need to satisfy some urge

is this need to be free

just another in the long list of itches

<>

scratch my back

I’ll scratch yours

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sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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