The hand-carved totem pole on the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, which I wanted Jett to see on our way back to town, was the only old-timey artifact on the entire grounds — and it’s gone. Taken down because of too many termites, I was told. I took a shot of the pole during a visit last April. I was feeling moderately cranked about seeing Ang Lee‘s Taking Woodstock at the time, and wanted to start feeling it.
The Bethel Woods Art Center, which sits on the top of the huge sloping hill, is a combination outdoor theatre and ’60s culture museum. It’s a weird thing to visit a place that tries to portray the hippie era like a high-end museum might display ancient Egyptian art. It’s not a “bad” place, exactly, but it’s awfully sterile and tourist-trappy and corporate-vibey.
There’s a gift shop inside the center — the exact same kind of Disneyland-ish knick-knack shop that they have across from Graceland. They sell all kinds of Woodstock books, CDs, T-shirts, etc. And yet they weren’t selling Michael Lang‘s Road to Woodstock, which just came out in stores a few days ago. A first-hand tale of how the Woodstock festival came together by the producer with the most famous name, and the ultimate Woodstock tourist-trap shop isn’t selling it over the 4th of July holiday and a month before the 40th anniversary? I asked the kid at the desk and he didn’t know a thing.