Commercial or no, they're talking peace again at Woodstock

August 13, 1994|By MIKE LITTWIN

Saugerties, N.Y. -- Of course, it's not the real Woodstock. What did you expect? The real Woodstock didn't have Pizza Hut ads. It had a war. It had Nixon. It had Hendrix.

Well, Jimi is dead. And Woodstock, the original, is now just a movie.

You knew that.

And however many thousands are actually here know that, too. (Overheard yesterday: "The New York Thruway is open, man.")

This is not Woodstock II or Son of Woodstock.

It's a shot at Woodstock as they conceive of it in the '90s. There are corporate sponsors and $135 tickets and $35 T-shirts. In '69, nobody had even thought of rock concert T-shirts. They didn't have cable either. How did people survive?

The promoters want to have it both ways. They call it two more days of peace and music while slapping the Woodstock logo on Pepsi bottles. Then they complain when people call them commercial.

But there's also an Eco-Village here. In '69, ecology was just a word on your SAT study list. There was revolution in the air, but very little recycling on the ground.

If Pepsi is sponsoring this thing, Greenpeace has a guy standing on a platform in front of thousands talking about Pepsi's crimes against nature.

That's pretty cool. So's the rest of the Eco-Village, which is populated by every kind of activist movement, from Maoists to those protesting bear farming in China.

There are also folks who are trying to save the Winston farm, which is the site of this extravaganza. It may soon be the site of the local dump. People care.

Some things don't change, though. For instance, there's this quote from an early arrival who was asked why he came.

"I wanna see a bunch of naked women," says Jason Link, 19, from Cleveland.

Almost everyone here is 19 and from Cleveland. Or somewhere like Cleveland. Sure enough, there was a naked woman yesterday posing for everyone with a camera. It's not quite the same thing as innocent skinny-dipping in a pond.

One of the members of the Goats, a rap band, stripped during a press conference. The lead singer from Jackyl stripped on stage. Nudity is the early theme here. I hope nobody tells David Crosby.

As one of the Goats says of the new Woodstock, "We're making our own rainbow."

Maybe that's the point. It's another generation's Woodstock, however derivative it might be. Call it a tribute.

Shane Hynes of Tampa, Fla., saw the movie. She knows all about the original Woodstock. She's 17, has a nose ring and no tickets. She sneaked in, with her sister and two friends.

"We drove up Friday and didn't stop till we got here," she says. "We walked right in. Nobody stopped us."

She smiles.

"I just decided to come," she says. "It was for the whole experience, the music, the people. I think it's awesome."

It was hard to round up a discouraging word. Ticket prices? Well, you pay 'em. No food allowed in? "We snuck some," Shane Hynes says. Baseball strike? This may be the only place in America that nobody was talking baseball strike.

By early afternoon, the grounds were awash in tents and people, mostly young. Soon, there would be moshing. But there would also be peace signs from the many neo-hippies in the crowd.

In fact, one member of the band Kings X said the words "groovy," "cool" and "vibe" in a single sentence. It takes you back.

So does the dope that is everywhere evident. "I smell reefer," yelled one young man to much applause.

The cops and the promoters are happy to look the other way. They've got other problems. Will the traffic move? It was moving, as of yesterday. Will the fences come down? We've got two more days in which to find out.

Craig Breidinger, who's 25 and from Orlando, Fla., and has blond hair down to here, hopes the fences come down. He wants memories.

"You watch, man," he says. "There'll be no fights here. It's Woodstock. It's our own city.

"We're gonna remember this one just like you remember yours."

G; He then flashes me the peace sign. It does him no harm.

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