OWS Following the Woodstock to Altamont Trajectory

Numerous observers have pointed out how the media and liberals (sorry for the redundancy) lavished sympathy on Occupy Wall Street until it became untenable to continue, after which they began to airbrush their previous encomia.  They seem to forget that what begins as Woodstock somehow always ends up as Altamont.  It was inevitable that the “spirit of Woodstock” would make an appearance as the cycle of OWS unfolded.  (I used to joke that although 400,000 people attended Woodstock in 1969, 5 million baby boomers would later claim to have attended.)

More cowbell indeed.

Touch of Woodstock at Occupy Wall Street” proclaimed the good folks as MSNBC.  David Crosby showed up to play a set!  (Which reminds me of Jay Leno’s routine about one of the Woodstock reunions, where he quipped, “They flew in four helicopters of food.  That was just for David Crosby.”  He also added that the aging boomers who attended had to resort to LSD suppositories.)

So let’s revisit the original for a moment, and note the media propensity for glorifying whatever self-assertion reckless youth decides to throw up at the moment.  Back in 1969, Time magazine chirped that Woodstock

may well rank as one of the significant political and sociological events of the age. . . [T]he revolution it preaches, implicitly or explicitly, is essentially moral; it is the proclamation of a new set of values. . .  With a surprising ease and a cool sense of authority, the children of plenty have voiced an intention to live by a different ethical standard than their parents accepted.  The pleasure principle has been elevated over the Puritan ethic of work.  To do one’s own thing is a greater duty than to be a useful citizen.  Personal freedom in the midst of squalor is more liberating than social conformity with the trappings of wealth.  Now that youth takes abundance for granted, it can afford to reject materialism.

And Leftist writer Andrew Kopkind wrote that Woodstock represented

a new culture of opposition.  It grows out of the disintegration of old forms, the vinyl and aerosol institutions that carry all the inane and destructive values of privatism, competition, commercialism, profitability and elitism. . .  For people who had never glimpsed the intense communitarian closeness of a militant struggle—People’s Park or Paris in the month of May or Cuba—Woodstock must always be their model of how good we will all feel after the revolution. . . [P]olitical radicals have to see the cultural revolution as a sea in which they can swim.

A few months later the attempted sequel to Woodstock at California’s Altamont Pass ended violently when the Hells Angels hired as stage security proved they were not yet ready to be part of the Age of Aquarius.  The Hells Angels beat a concertgoer to death just a few feet in front of Mick Jagger, who was in the middle of singing “Sympathy for the Devil.”  In contrast to the encomiums to Woodstock, there was little media commentary suggesting that Altamont showed a dark side of the counterculture.

Or, you can just take Dennis Miller’s word for it:

[Or not.  YouTube has taken down the video for the usual copyright reasons.  If I can find a Fox link, I’ll repost it.]

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