Sex, Drugs, Rock and Peace

By AL GIORDANO  |  July 22, 2009

In fact, in this city of between 300,000 and one million there was only one heroin overdose. A kilo of cocaine – a drug that was not widely used in the 1960s – that someone had delivered backstage for use by performers was washed away by the rainstorm. Thus, the dominant intoxicants were marijuana and LSD.

The LSD received bad press largely because of the 350 youths who had experienced nightmarish trips after taking "brown acid". And yet, in retrospect, their bad experiences were caused not by acid – but by the government's prohibition against it. The problem was that no one knew what was in "brown acid" – "green acid," "blue acid," or any other illegal, and thus unregulated, hallucinogen.

That situation hasn't changed.

"Today," says Wavy Gravy, "if you have enough money, you can go see a shrink and have a psychedelic experience. And then you have the poor kid on the street who knows not what they're buying or doing. I think it should be allowed as a rite of passage when they turn 16 or 18, with some kind of shama-shrink guide. Until people start telling the truth and defining their drugs, they're going to end up with a lot of dead teenagers, and it's a shame."

Abbie Versus the Who

After Abbie Hoffman had organized the medical tents and the distribution of food and water, he and Anita, with Paul Krassner (editor of the Realist, then and now) toured the site. "We were naked in Woodstock," Anita remembers. "And Paul was naked right here with us. There was a creek there, and everybody went swimming without their clothes. Lots of hippies had been doing this in their private watering holes, and maybe in California. But this was the first place in the East with so many people naked. Nobody was shy, but it was like, hey, everybody was looking at everybody else's bodies it was one of those absurd moments a 'we're all in this together' thing."

After taking in this experience as a participant, Abbie returned to his original goal of politicizing the event. He looked out over the sea of humanity and decided to make a speech from the stage.

Problem was, the promoters didn't want him to speak.

John Sinclair had just been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the possession of two joints. Abbie decided to seize the microphone and give a speech about Sinclair's plight, to rally Woodstock Nation to the defense of one of its own.

"Abbie was a symbol of the missing link between the counterculture and the political activists," Krassner recalls. "It culminated in his going on stage."

Peter Townshend and the Who were performing. "The Who were playing the way they normally play," said Country Joe McDonald. "They don't really announce the songs, even since their operative thing started happening. There was a moment in which nothing was happening on stage, or at least it would seem that way to Abbie. But it was obvious to me that they were going to go into another number.

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Related: Interview: Michael Lang, Chicago 10, Crossword: Not so full of it, are we?, More more >
  Topics: Flashbacks , Media, Bob Dylan, John Sinclair,  More more >
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