Woodstock Meets Facebook

08May09

As soon as Swine Flu became the trendy disease of the week, you had to know that it was only a matter of time before it got its own Facebook page. Significantly, Swine Flu’s less hip cousin, influenza, isn’t on Facebook. (No, you can’t catch Swine Flu from the Internet.)

Maybe Swine Flu was the excuse that some 3,000 middle and high school kids from around the region used when they all decided to skip school on Tuesday, April 28, descending en masse upon Revere Beach. More likely, it was a sudden outbreak of Spring Fever, given that day’s sweltering 93 degree temperatures. One thing is certain – the kiddies used Facebook, MySpace and other social networking web services to spread the viral message and organize the massive gathering of youth on the beach.

One reader of my last column may want to sign up for a Facebook account, if he hasn’t already. After I posted my column on my blog, (marksardella.wordpress.com/) reader “Ulfgar” took exception to my take on Wakefield’s new bylaw prohibiting public smoking of pot.

“As part of a revolution against this kind of bullshit,” Ulfgar tastefully opines, “I call upon a pot smoking parade. Everyone. Tell your BUDdies to go to certain public locations in Wakefield and burn. Complacent zombies, also known as the majority of voters in Wakefield, need to take the rod out of their ass and realize that smoking pot is in public is no different than smoking a cigarette in public.”
woodstock
Perhaps Ulfgar should take a page from the Revere Beach skip day and organize his reefer revolution on Facebook. It is worth noting however, that the biggest hemp-fest of all time, Woodstock, was organized 40 years ago this summer without the benefit of the Internet or even a computer. Although in fairness, “organized” might not be the best word to describe the 1969 Woodstock festival, which was designed as a profit-making venture. It famously became a “free concert” only after it became clear that the event was drawing hundreds of thousands more people than the organizers had prepared for.

It’s a different story for Woodstock Nation this time around. There are numerous Facebook pages dedicated to the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, many featuring reminiscences of the original 1969 event from organizers and attendees, apparently posting from nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the country.

The 1969 Woodstock festival began on August 15, and forty years later those dates again fall on a weekend. How groovy is that? The organizers plan to tap into the karma and have simultaneous anniversary concerts in New York and Germany on August 15 and 16, 2009.

As we gird for the endless hype that is sure to build to a deafening crescendo of hippie nostalgia in the ramp up to Woodstock’s 40th anniversary, it is important to understand that not everyone alive at the time shared the view that Woodstock 1969 was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

A few days after the event, in an editorial entitled “Fun for the Kids,” the Wakefield Daily Item decried such “a frightful mass of irresponsible children off on a lark with their cars, their pockets full of money, their guitars, their blue jeans and their pot.”

Searching for an explanation for this spectacle, the Item editorialized that “There seems no certain answer except that the boys and girls are the product of affluence and permissiveness, the creations of a wondrous era in which adversity has been all but unknown.”

Forty years ago, the Item predicted that Woodstock ‘69 was just the beginning.

“Maybe what happened in New York is something America is going to have to live with,” the Item lamented in its post-Woodstock editorial, “now that it has given its children their cars and their money, their permissiveness and their pot.”

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

[This column originally appeared in the May 7, 2009 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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