Not Past It - Woodstock 69: A Peaceful Disaster


In a Faraway field at the edge of civilization, heaps of trash and collapsed hence are piling up.

It smells absolutely rancid and it’s packed with people.

Some naked, most are bedraggled one reporter called the seen a floating garbage.



Another wrote more than 300,000 persons wandered about Out in a sea of mud, comma sickness young people.

So packed and jammed together that they could not get proper food or water or adequate medical help.

One youngster died of a suspected overdose of heroin 80.


Others were arrested on drug charges on a 15 year old girl.


This isn’t some dystopian scene though.

No, this is Woodstock, right?

I guess grateful - if you want to know the answer.


Don’t was it a mess or the more familiar story hippies and peace and the counterculture, having its moment in the Sun.


From gimlet media.

This is not past it a show about the stories.

We can’t quite leave behind every episode.

We take a moment from that very same week in history and tell you the story of how it shaped our world.

I’m Simone plannin on, August, 15th, 1969 52 years ago, this week, the Woodstock music and art fair kicked off at the time news.


Outlets covered it for the muddy disaster.


But what they failed to capture was the miracle of that weekend, Festival.

That in a decade mired with violence, thousands of people gathered in a revolution of peace.

And compassion.

It sent a defiant message of love to the rest of the country touching those who are open to hearing it, including one man, a farmer named Max.


Yasgur without him.

There may have never even been a Woodstock.



Stick around my flower children.


By the summer of 1969, America was in a full rage over the past decade.

The country had endured a slew of high-profile assassinations.

JFK Malcolm X MLK.

RFK protest had exploded over segregation discrimination against women and gay people.


The destruction of our environment.

And of course, the war in Vietnam, Times seemed pretty hopeless.


But at least there were people trying to build community, some music music.

There was a woman named Pam, Copeland who was a local realtor and every weekend.

She ran these sound ads, which were concerts out on her farm.


This is Michael Lang in an interview.

He gave to C-SPAN.

He started organizing Music festivals back in the 60s and he remembers these sound out sessions.

An amazing way to see music.

I mean, she get a crowd of three or four hundred people and I think it was two or three dollars to get in and people would come and Camp over the weekend if they wanted to, or they come and go.


From town said, name of that town was Woodstock located in Upstate New York at the time.

It was famous, for being a Bohemian hangout for musicians, like, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison Woodstock.

Was becoming a mecca for musicians, but there was no place to record and it seemed that that was the.


Perfect answer is build a recording studio.

The thing is, you need money to build a professional quality recording studio.

So, what to do Lang decided to take a page from these small outdoor concerts that were happening, he and three other organizers thought they could up the ante though and throw a big Music Festival, their first choice for where to hold the event was Woodstock.


Itself, however, when Lang started coordinating the event local, shut them down too much potential for chaos too many hippies, but the name Woodstock music and art fair stuck.

They tried to find a new location and a few other towns in the area.


And by June, they were well underway on a site in the town of Wallkill about 40 miles from Woodstock.

And I recollect seeing to the table that they’re not going to hold it there.

That’s Marty Miller.


He grew up in Upstate New York.

Not far from Wallkill one night, and the early summer of 1969.

He was sitting around the dinner table with his parents, and his aunt, and uncle discussing the fate of the festival site in Wallkill.


And the question is, why aren’t they going to hold it there?

And the observation that I made was?

That Orange County was way too politically conservative and they would not allow that to happen.

While kill was also in the middle of preparing for another big event.



See a world of product in the big toy box at Sears the grand opening of a brand-new Sears, which seems like a minor point, but the store was expected to draw 20,000 people per day.

And when faced with the choice between a shopping mecca and a hippie Festival, the town shows Sears leaving Lang and Co in a time crunch to find an alternate venue of state.


So the next question is, what do you think is going to happen?

I said, well, I think they’re eventually going to come to the family.

I want to rent the farm.

The farm was yasgur Farms a 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York.


That was known for its famous high fat, gold, tinged Guernsey cow milk and state-of-the-art bottling and delivery operation.

The farm had been owned and operated for decades by Marty’s Uncle Max.

Yasgur the very Uncle sitting at the family dinner table that night farmer, Max wanted to know.


Why would the Woodstock organizers?

Want to come too?

His farm.

And the answer is because we have a lot of contiguous land and we have a natural Amphitheatre.

So there’s a whole discussion at the table about the event.

Of course.

The real decision was Max’s, Max was a shrewd businessman and he carried himself that way around the farm.


He wore a lot of button-down short sleeve shirts and clean pressed slacks.

He had thick dark eyebrows, which peaked over the top of his glasses.

You say, you want to use these fields here.

It may be the best way to describe Max might be that he was played by Eugene Levy and the 2009 movie taking Woodstock.


You’ll clean up after yourselves.

I’m hoping course.

The likeness is really uncanny, Marty says Max was a moderate guy.

What at the time, they called a Rockefeller Republican and he was also a pillar of his community.


He was someone who was very much involved in public service as a member of the community in Sullivan County.

He was particularly active.

He was at one time, president of the local Lions Club back at the Our table, Max had one more question for his nephew Marty.


I can recall Max’s asking a question of, who’s going to be attending this event, and I can recall, my mother’s comment, which is the one that’s burned into my memory.

They’re going to be college kids, just like more tea.

Well, yes, and no, this is how Marty described himself at the time.


I was very much a khakis person with button-down shirts.

It may sound rather peculiar, but at that time, I don’t think I ever owned a pair of blue jeans.

Actually being young, might be the only thing Marty would have in common with these expected attendees.


They’d probably owned several pairs of jeans for one and have long hair.

Tie-dye shirts dank doobies hanging out of their mouths, you know, hippie vibes.

And either case over dinner, Max considered the prospect of renting, out the Rolling Green Hills of his dairy farm to this Folk Festival because in some ways, this could be an unlikely solution to a problem that had recently rained down on Max.


It was a very wet year and there were problems in raising, crops crops for needed to feed the cows.

No, crops to feed the cows met Max would need to buy feed and expense.

Marty says here.

He didn’t want to take on the extra money.


Max stood to earn from the festival would help him cover.

Those costs not to mention a few upgrades to his property that he imagined would come with the deal for things like water, wells, and power lines.

But Marty also says, there was another reason.

His uncle was inclined to play host.


Max was very much a member of the Jewish Community, I think, because he was a Jew and he felt that they were often discriminated against He had that attitude for others.

So, max was more open-minded, including towards the counterculture that was scorned by the neighboring.


Counties after some thought, Max made up his mind right there at the table.

If they come to us, we’ll rent to them, but we are not going to seek them out.

And a few days later, just as Marty predicted, Woodstock organizer.


Michael Lang showed up at yasgur farms.

And that was when the miracle happened, this is Michael Lang again.

We all got out of the car.

Looked at each other and tried.

Not to float off the route to Caron and who we said, who owns this and just, it’s a local Dairy, Farmer named.


Max has got really nice and he’s our guy.

So we went right to his house and knocked on his door and he came out.

And, and that’s how I went off into the field and we start to deal with right there on the spot.

In case you didn’t catch, that Lang says, they struck a deal.


Right on the spot.

The family has never shared how much the yasgur has got, for renting out, the farm rumors suggest.

The price tag was somewhere between 10,000 and $75,000, whatever it was.


The deal was done.

Woodstock was coming to yasgur farms in beautiful, Bethel New Dork.

There was no time to waste the festival started in a matter of weeks and it wasn’t going to be as simple as slapping.


A flower crown on a dairy cow and calling it a day.

Marty Max and the rest of the festival crew had a ton to do in order to turn the Family Farm into a festival venue.

There were water wells to install power lines to erect and lots of building.


There were a lot of people building.

I mean, it was they built a village playgrounds rope courses, things in the woods, and I can remember being on the stage pounding nails.

I would work all day and then show up and they work into the night because they were very much behind schedule.


By the Skin of Their Teeth.

The grounds were ready for the start of the festival.

And the days leading up to the event, young people started showing up and they’re Volkswagen Vans and their Pontiac sedans.

Pitching tents waiting for the music to start.


And on August 15th. 1969 Woodstock.

As we know it, officially began.


You can see all this in the oscar-winning documentary, Woodstock, which we’ve borrowed from throughout to tell you this story, but for now picture thousands of people spread across the 600 acres of Max’s, farm and unusual smelling smoke billowed out of the tents and onto the makeshift grounds where there was yoga.


And relax, and lots of drugs.

People been saying that some of the acid is poison.

It’s not poison.

It’s just bad as it is manufactured poorly.

And of course, there was music music that legally.


We can’t just like play for you, but trust me when I tell you, it was epic over the course of four days.

Neil, Young performed only his second gig with Be still some Mash Janis Joplin crooned and her Newfound.


Fame, Pete, Townsend smashed his guitar, Carlos Santana.

He got so high.

He thought his guitar was a snake and Jimi Hendrix.

Produced the cultural reset that is his cover of the Star Spangled Banner.

All the things that Festival organizer.


Michael Lang had promised.

All that and more than enough college kids, and hippies than anyone expected.

It’s hard to pin down exact numbers, but most estimates reckon.


There were about 300 to 500 thousand people crowded onto yasgur Farms during the festival way more than was originally expected.

That’s As Lang.

And the rest of the organizers spent a good chunk of their time, advertising the event on national and local newspapers Rolling Stone magazine and on radio programs throughout the u.s.


In fact, so many people showed up that the freeway exits leading into Bethel.

Shut down because of all the traffic.

New York Thruway.

Yeah man far out but then again, Bethel.


Had gone from a town of about 1,000 people to around 500,000 people practically overnight.

All those people kind of created some problems.

Somebody may have noticed, they’re all of you may have noticed.


Our familiar colored helicopter over there, United States.

Army has led us to Medical Teams.

They’re with us, man.

They are not against his hair with us.

They’re here to give us all by hand and help us.

This weekend of music and hippie love looked like it was on the brink of complete pandemonium.


I mean, the National Guard was called in but a series of Small Miracles kept the potential for total collapse at bay.

That’s after the break.

So keep it here, you dig.

Hey, man, you stuck around before the break.


We met the Jewish farm family that hosted Woodstock in Bethel.

New York, music was played, drugs were taken and the National Guard was sent in.

There were facing a lot of risks, having a crowd that large with.


So few resources all packed into one spot.

That’s Julia fell.

The assistant curator for the museum at Bethel Woods, which helps to preserve the site of the festival.

And she says, early on in the weekend local and state officials started to worry about the potential for disaster.


They’re very afraid of people collapsing from starvation or dehydration.

They were afraid of disease outbreak.

They were afraid that it would become a riot and people would be trampling each other.

These fears led the governor of New York at the time, Nelson Rockefeller to declare Woodstock.


A disaster area.

I believe that was on Saturday and Saturday is also when they Started sending in helicopters with food, provisions and supplies.

They were helicoptering people and things in and out.

Throughout most of the festival than that.


It also involves bringing people who needed, more serious medical attention out of the festival site and the first news reports that trickled out reflected some of this reality young people.

So packed and jammed together that they could not get proper food or water or adequate medical help.


Many of the people who live here are asking why such a spectacle was allowed to happen.

It’s a disgraceful mess.

If you want to know the answer, also, the moral aspect, you know, there were a lot of good children, who came to this, and a lot of them who never smoked pot before, you know, did it that weekend.


And a lot of them who never experienced sex before this.

It was right out in the open.

The state police, couldn’t do anything about it.

It was just too big.

Okay, so I don’t want to paint a picture of Woodstock.


That’s all sunshine and rainbows.

The organizers were legitimately unprepared for the influx of people.

The festival was at times a muddy mess, two people died.

One of a suspected heroin overdose another because of a tractor accident around, a hundred people were arrested for drugs, but all of that and a makeshift city of half, a million young people, All I’m saying is I could have been a lot worse.


Admittedly there was marijuana, as well, as music at the rock festival, but there was also no rioting what did not happen at that.

Dairy farm is possibly more significant and what did happen.

None of the worst case scenarios ever happened.

No riots, no trampling.


No Mass death.

There were instances of people who almost got in a fight.

I’ve heard this from many different was duck, alumni, but everyone around Found those individuals that hey, that’s not cool.

That’s not what we’re about here.

We’re not doing this and we’re able to calm them down the tone of the festival had been set from the very beginning to be peaceful.


It wasn’t just the festival attendees setting, this peaceful tone.

One of the most important pieces of this Vision was a commune by the name of the hog farm.

They were specifically brought in to help set the tone during the festival.


So, So they were part of what we would call the security Force they called it.

The please Force.

That’s PL EA SE because they are very punny turns out.

This kind of harmonious Vibe was contagious and they recruited other attendees to get on board.


They had these armbands that they made up that were red armbands with a flying pig on them for the hog farm and they handed these out to people and they’re like, all right, you’re an honorary hog farmer now that Means that you know, you can come hang out with us.

We’re all going to take care of each other.

But you have responsibility to make sure that the vibe we’re setting here gets carried out throughout the site.


The vibe of peace and love, really permeated the whole event.

We must be in heaven, man.

There’s always a little bit of heaven and it is Astor area.

Woodstock organizer.


Michael Lang also recognized this little bit of Heaven.

Yeah, if you again this culture and this generation away from the old culture and the older Generations, you know, and you see how they function on their own, that cop that guns without clothes without hassle.


Everybody pulls together, and everybody helps each other and it works.

Another person, observing all of this peaceful coexistence was the square Dairy Farmer whose land, it was all taking place on Maxie Oscar.

Here’s his nephew Marty Miller again.


He was absolutely overwhelmed in impressed by the fact that you had a group of kids that got together and we’re having a good time causing no issues.

Helping each other Max wasn’t just impressed.


He fully drank the peace and love Kool-Aid, giving out food to the festival goers for free, making sure that the kids wouldn’t have to pay for water, when some of his neighbors were charging, even using his own milk bottles to serve, the water in, and a few locals, followed, his lead residents freely emptied, their cupboards for the kids Merchants were stunned by their politeness for people out in the road, you know, giving away free food, you know, townspeople and water Saturday night.


We got word / WV.


Peace, kindness togetherness.

It was contagious.

We have a gentleman with us.

The gentleman upon whose Farm.

We are.

Mr. Max.


On Sunday, Max took the stage and spoke to the hundreds of thousands of people assembled on his farm.


I’m a farmer.

I don’t know how to speak to 20 people.

At one time, a lot along with crowd like this.

But I think you people have proven something to the world.

Is that a half of it in kids and get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun, and music and I got bless your heart.


Well, the great rock festival is now history.

Last of the nearly half a million young people who travel to Bethel New York during the weekend of now, departed and the dairy farm where they listen to Three Days of rock, music is quiet.

Except for the normal sounds of cows mooing, festival-goers cleaned up the grounds.


So yasgur Farms could return to normal life for the yasgur’s though.

Wouldn’t go back to how it was before.

Following the event.

And for a number of years thereafter.

We were pariahs in the community.


It was not uncommon to have people dump garbage on our lawn.

It was so bad that the postmaster disliked him so much.

They refused to deliver the mail.

Some of the townspeople couldn’t get over the disruption to their lives and businesses the way their small town was taken over by hippies still that treatment didn’t sour Max’s feelings about the festival, the glow remained.


Here he is in an interview with CBS, a few weeks after Woodstock young people made me feel guilty today because there were no problems.

So he proved to mainly prove to the whole world that they didn’t come up for any problems.

They came up for exactly what they said.


They were coming up for for three days of music and please, I really admire what they managed to achieve at Woodstock, the sort of large-scale communing over music and peace and love especially at a time when I feel so uncertain about the world where it’s headed and the Social Challenges.


We Face the story of Woodstock, shows us that destruction and despair aren’t inevitable and change.

Just takes commitment a commitment to peace and love a commitment to reforming.

Elite systems a commitment to people young and old local out-of-towner performer-audience.


Hippie farmer jeans.


For those three days, they built a little miracle and the town of Bethel New York.

It didn’t matter that the outside world didn’t get it.

They still chose love.


Not past.

It is a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media.

This episode was produced by Julie Carly next week.


We are whistle blowing with Enron.

I did use some pretty inflammatory language, you know, I think I said has Enron become a risky place to work for those of us who haven’t gotten rich in the last couple of Years.

Can we afford to stay?

The rest of our team, our producer, Sarah Craig.


And Kinzie Clark are in turn is Laura Newcomb.

The supervising producer is Erica, Morrison editing by Andrea, be Scott and Zach Stewart.

Ponte a tape sank by James, Napoli fact-checking by Jane, Ackerman sound design and mixing by Bobby.


Lord, and Matt Bowl, original music by Sachs kicks, Ave.

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Our theme song is Toko, Liana.


Cocoa with music supervision by Liz Fulton, technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by Elysee Harvin and Talia Rahman, the executive producer at CSP media is Zach Stewart Ponte.


The executive producer from gimlet is Abbie.



Thanks to the museum at Bethel Woods, John Conway, Deborah Conway, Marie Carly, Jonathan Fox.

Kevin Scott, Lydia Pole Green, Dan Behar and Clara.


Sankey Emily wiedemann, list Styles and Nabil.

Cholan pot.

Follow, not past it now, to listen for free exclusively on Spotify, and follow me on Twitter at Simone.


No, thanks for Hangin.


We’ll see you next week.

Did I hear some of the music?

The answer is sure.

Do I have a clue as to word?

Not a clue.

I have no recollection.

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