This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, as if you needed us to remind you. Documentaries, feature films, tours and boxed CD sets have been rolling out all summer in order to wring still more cash from the corpses of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and - to a lesser extent - Country Joe McDonald, who's not even actually dead.
Overt commercialism and media oversaturation, while annoying, are at the very least proof of Woodstock's lasting impact on American culture. Unfortunately, there are far more embarrassing aspects of the festival's legacy, the most glaring examples of which are listed below. Enjoy. And don't forget to to pick up those special edition "Aquarian Exposition" T-shirts at your local Target.
Sha Na Na: Anyone who stuck it out through CNS&Y and Paul Butterfield only to find themselves rewarded that bleary Monday morning with Sha Na Na's '50s musical stylings probably thought the brown acid had finally kicked in. Even worse, the footage of their performance helped kick start the wave of Eisenhower-era nostalgia that gave us both Grease andHappy Days. Thanks a pantload, "Bowzer."
Jam Bands: While it's tempting to hold the Baby Boomers responsible for everything from Kevin Costner to the "K" car, it helps to stay on target and only assign blame where warranted. In this case, those who grew up in the thrall of noodly musical acts like the Grateful Dead can certainly be held culpable for the proliferation of modern-day snooze merchants like String Cheese Incident and the recently resuscitated Phish.
Woodstock, the Peanuts character: Damned if we can explain it, but we've always hated that bird.
Every Other Festival Since 1969: 400,000 people attended Woodstock, though it would be easy to believe the number to be ten times that many if you trusted the word of everyone who said they were there. One way to know for sure; see if the person says something like, "I've been to other festivals, but none had the same magic, man." Even younger generations have bought they hype, often slavishly trying to duplicate certain elements of the original at their own fests. Which brings us to...
Woodstock '99: Here's an idea: let's commemorate the 30th anniversary of Woodstock,
which was "3 days of peace and love" held in a pastoral rural setting that featured acts like Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie, by holding another festival. This time, we'll use a Superfund site instead of a farm, charge $4 for a bottle of water, and showcase subhuman "artists" like Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit. What could possibly go wrong?