This could not possibly be more off topic

My parents, Al and Ethel, may have been the only married couple at Woodstock who didn’t take drugs.  They were covering the festival for the newspaper my father ran, the Middletown NY Times Herald-Record — the only paper in the world to publish daily stories, witnessed from the ground, for which, they were told, they almost won the Pulitzer Prize.  In a Huffington Post piece, my mother explains just how that happened:

Al had hired a courier to bring exposed film and hard copy back to the newsroom in Orange County — no laptops in 1969. That motorcycle spent 3 days snaking through the miles of stalled, sometimes gas-less parked vehicles that were jammed ditch to ditch.

She also has fascinating stories of how my friend’s father, Ed Silvers, “the local Professional Engineer hired by the promoters to turn 600 farm acres into a festival venue,” helped avert crisis for the otherwise poorly planned event.

You can also read the remembrance by my oldest brother, Dave, published in the Times Herald-Record here, which has a lot more coverage of the 40th anniversary here.

No relevance to climate change, but an original slant on this slice-of-Americana story.

10 Responses to This could not possibly be more off topic

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Off-off-topic then.

    Pollution Reduces Rain Vital to Crops

  2. Greg Robie says:


    Didn’t Jeff make a post about remembering Woodstock in his comment about ethics, and therefore this entry is not quite as off topic as you say? ;)

    Anyway, my ethics had me working that weekend at Sterling Forest Gardens. Because some other employees went to Woodstock I got to work overtime (@ $3.15/hr). As a straight edge, I wasn’t into the hippie scene. I did pick up a hitchhiker leaving Woodstock at the intersection of 17 and 32 on Sunday. His misery (he called it a [expletive deleted] drag) confirmed—for me—the wisdom of my decision. Another friend of my younger brother spent a day in traffic before turning back to Cornwall. I remember reading the Record’s coverage of the Festival. This post has dalso redged up a memory of your Dad’s name that was lost to me. Until now I had no idea we share a connection through Orange County. BTW, the Record is no longer the paper it was under your Dad. Another connection, my sister-in-law worked for the lab at S.D. Warren, then a division of Scott Paper, and helped step up those offset presses your brother speaks of in his story. Both its a small world, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

    Anyway, and taking a contrarian position to further argue that there is a connection between this post and climate change, isn’t it the meme of the “Woodstock Generation” (if it feels good, do it) that has us facing klimakatastrophe and tripping rather than being responsible?

  3. Jeff Huggins says:

    Joe, what a great article by your mom! I love it.

    I was ten at the time of Woodstock, and out here in California. I’m not even sure if I knew it was taking place. The first large concert I attended wasn’t until a few years later: Led Zeppelin at Kezar stadium. But, just a couple years later, I did see Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and many others, at the S.N.A.C.K. benefit concert in San Francisco, also at Kezar.

    But, I have a slightly different, wishful and nostalgia-driven take on the connection between Woodstock and 60’s ideals and the climate change problem today. My view is this: How could anyone that loves the music, and listens to the lyrics, and loves peace and love, and so forth, not care about the environment and about climate change? Indeed, in my mind, I’m quite sure that all the many thousands of Woodstock folks are the very same people who already own electric vehicles! (Please don’t tell me this may not be the case.)

    So yes, a broader question: How can one “go” from a genuine, deep belief in the ideals that many people presumably had back then to a position that would mess up the Earth’s climate itself, or stand by while society at large does it?

    One thing is for sure: If that generation, and my generation, and the closely-following generations, refuse to face and address the climate problem, we won’t be remembered by future generations as wonderful music-loving peace-loving music loving peace-loving mud-loving hair-loving people, and colorful ones at that. No, we’ll be remembered as “those generations that messed up the climate, the environment, and the world”. That’s a sorry way to be remembered. Let’s hope we can do better than that.

    Bob Dylan will be playing in Berkeley in the Fall. Be there or be square!



  4. Aaron Lewis says:

    Then, CO2 was around 325 ppmv.

    I did not go to Woodstock. I was working on materials related to the original Club of Rome Report. A few years later, I tried to turn the research into a senior thesis in Environmental Studies, and was laughed out of the program as a “silly alarmist”. Today those curves look – prescient.

    Five years ago, there was a consensus in the climatology community that global warming was occurring. However that consensus wildly underestimated the rate that changes would occur. Again, I was laughed at as a silly alarmist. In only 5 years, that community has been amazed at the loss of Arctic Sea ice, loss of ice shelves (Arctic & Antarctic), clathrate decomposition, and the thinning or collapse of glaciers on both Greenland and Antarctica. Well! “They” would be a lot less surprised if they would just believe the physics.

    The real lesson of Woodstock is that people would rather go to a rock concert than do physics. The real lesson of climatology over the last decade is that people(climatologists) do not believe physics. The lesson of this post is that it takes more than a nerd with numbers to get people to take action.

    History is good, it gives us perspective.

  5. HD4004 says:

    Interesting blog. Arguably, the biggest legacy of Woodstock is its huge impact on the real children of the sixties: Generation Jones (born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X). This USA TODAY op-ed speaks to the relevance today of the sixties counterculture impact on GenJones:

    Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten a ton of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term. In fact, the Associated Press’ annual Trend Report forcast the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009.

    Here’s a page with a good overview of recent media interest in GenJones:

  6. David B. Benson says:

    Aaron Lewis (4) — Five years ago little was known about the role of black carbon, aka soot. Removing sources of black carbon will certainly lessen the impact of global warming in the arctic.

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  8. HansDietrich says:

    Glückwunsch zum neuen Blog!

  9. Gusualeglible says:

    thanks a lot for this