— THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE

THE TWO SIDES OF PEACE AND LOVE.

Woodstock Crowd
Hells Angel Altamont 1969

Great article this week in the consistently excellent Observer Music Monthly on the two events that came to define the best and worst of the new counterculture. Woodstock and Altamont. What made this more than another re-hash of the same anecdotes and talking heads was a re-freshingly neutral and dare I say insightful take on Woodstock in particular. Revealing the chaos and agendas that took place before and during the festival itself. e.g – it was a financial disaster, it was saved by the unheralded Elliot Tiber (which is the basis for a new Ang Lee film) and the amusing adventures of that classic New York situationist street gang ‘The Motherfuckers’.
The interesting thing for me is how the seeds of destruction of Altamont were sown by the docile perception of Woodstock. Bad vibes, bad security choices and bad planning. One guardian writer Eammon Macabe was there, and took some film that captures a little bit of the sense of evil in the air. But still the definitive document of this event is the Maysles brothers Gimme Shelter. It is one of the most chilling films I have ever seen, and captures perfectly the impotence of the Rolling Stones and the menace of the Hells Angels, as well as an insight that the damage opening the doors of perception would have on a nation’s psyche.

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