Woodstock's Changing of the Guard

August 17, 1994

First, the suicide of rock star Kurt Cobain, now Woodstock II. How many more cultural touchstones have to be offered up to convince baby boomers that they're out of it -- or will be very soon.

Many pundits observed this incarnation of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in upstate New York as nothing like the original: The Woodstock of 1969 was the love child of spontaneity in a crucible of war protest; Woodstock '94 was the test-tube fetus of corporate sponsorship in an era of boundless commercialism.

Yet both extravaganzas shared this: The youth got it and everybody else didn't. The mosh pit? Crowd-surfing? Grunge rock? Worldbeat? Slam dancing? This was Generation X's version of the "V" peace sign and tie-dyed clothes -- a generational secret handshake to a closed cultural fraternity.

Face it, baby boomers, you're out. Tell the truth: You saw the televised footage and the news photos beamed back from Saugerties, N.Y., and you found the prospect of wallowing half-naked in the mud as appealing as a tax audit.

We imagine one would have a much easier time finding a boomer who was pining to attend a major league baseball game last weekend than one who wished he had hitchhiked to the Hudson River Valley to get soaked, stoned and squished amid 300,000 other maniacs. And, because pop culture was so integral to the boomers' upbringing, it must be even more painful for them than their predecessors to realize they're going to have to cede the throne to the next generation.

Their elders now take lightly Generation X, but it's inevitable that one day these young people will be running the show, pulling the levers of power, even trying to figure out how to fund the boomers' Social Security.

The original Woodstock was the summer of love. What was this one? The autumn of baby boomer chic.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.