…scanned from my archive. 1969 - Fifty years ago I went to Woodstock

…scanned from my archive. 1969 - Fifty years ago I went to Woodstock

I arrived at the Woodstock Festival three days before it was scheduled to start. My friend Clifford and I actually had tickets for the festival, we were 14 and 15 years old respectively and ready for anything. Cliff’s mom was going to be driving to her country home near Bethel and she offered to drive us up, but the deal was we had to go up a few days early if we wanted the ride.

When we arrived, we found the few people already there doing the work of building and putting together the festival grounds. We somehow migrated to the area the Hog Farm had set up, they had a free kitchen that fed us and in return we helped build some concession stands and other structures around the area. They also gave us free hash breaks, which made the work a bit more pleasant.

Once the music started there were two options: cram yourself into the throngs of people sitting on the hill around the stage, or walk around and take in the scenery. I spent a lot of my time doing the latter. People would offer up a variety of drugs as I walked around, both the smoking kind and the pill kind. Sometimes they would just hand you a bottle, jug or goatskin canteen (a bota) filled presumably with wine, but often with some mescaline or other hallucinogen diluted in. Taking a sip was always an adventure, which I sometimes indulged but often didn’t. I suppose I would size up the offerer before making my decision.

The music was always there, whether you were looking directly at the stage or off somewhere in the rambles or over a hill or in one of the few unfortunate Porta-Pottys. I had seen many of the bands perform before, I was a regular at the Filmore East, usually as the result of my asking for free tickets from the parade of concert attendees filing into the theatre. But The Who, The Band, The Dead, were always a must see if I could. I had seen Hendrix a number of times, always magical, but I was long asleep by the time he played at sunrise.

I remember the one band everyone was talking about and anxiously awaiting was Crosby, Stills and Nash, it was to my knowledge one of, if not the first time they were playing together in front of a large crowd, and we were all looking forward to it. They were great, and it was to be the only time I would ever hear them perform.

The last night I ran into a girl I had met earlier in the summer on a bike trip to Nova Scotia. We gathered around some others who had found a dry spot on top of about 1000 Screw Magazines someone had given out. We all sat around a campfire on our Screw Magazine blankets talking about the last few days. Someone had also given out inflatable orange pup tents, which we blew up and then squeezed into for the night.

To this day I have no idea how I got back home to New York City. I remember walking a bit and then perhaps a bus, really not sure. Really doesn’t matter.

My memories of the whole event was that of a strange tableau of people and freaks, as we called ourselves then, having fun, being outrageous and loving and laughing with each other, all to the most amazing soundtrack every presented. I wish I remembered more of it, but as they say, if you say you remember Woodstock, you probably weren’t there.

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…scanned from my archive. My mom’s 97th birthday

…scanned from my archive. My mom’s 97th birthday

…scanned from my archive. My mom’s 97th birthday

Yikes! Today my mom turned 97 today. In honor of this event I pulled out a few of my favorites and a few I’ve not shared before.

I literally have hundreds of photos of my mother growing up in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. As I’ve mentioned many times, my grandfather had a photo studio right on the boardwalk near Brighton 4th Street. In our family, growing up in front of the camera was a big part of our lives. My mother, her brother Jerry, myself and my cousins Michael and Leslee all spent part of our formative years posing in the studio for my grandfather.

The five older photos I chose were all taken in the studio or on the boardwalk railing just next to it. My mom still has the same haircut she did as the child in the photos, as you can see from the photo I took last week of her and Luke. She did try the big hair thing for her prom. The dress is from Orbach’s I’m told.

Happy Birthday Mom, your spirit is an inspiration. More photos here…

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…scanned from my archive. Tim and Nico go out Midwest – 1974

…scanned from my archive. Tim and Nico go out Midwest – 1974

In 1974 my brothers Tim and Nico took a trip out the Midwest to visit their grandparents. My stepmother Susan was originally from Minnesota but her parents had relocated to Missouri and so the family took off for the heartland. Along the way they stopped for a visit to Mount Rushmore.

I love this shot that my father took. The quintessential snapshot would have typically had my brothers facing the camera, framed from head to toe (because we all know how important it is to include footwear in meaningful family portraits), with the four presidents shrunk to minuscule versions of themselves in the background. My father was a good photographer however and he managed to catch this quizzical pose of my brothers tilting their heads to presumably enhance their viewing of the famous landmark (I must remember to ask them why one of these days).

In a way this kind of photo is more powerful as it forces the viewer to imagine the faces of the two curious boys while adding a bit of humor to the picture and keeping the presidents framed up clearly.

The photo of Tim water skiing on a lake in Missouri was badly faded. Sometimes with older prints, the inks fade at different rates, typically the blues, which leaves the picture with a reddish cast to it. I restored the photo a bit and brought back some of the original color, a little Photshop can go a long way.

I like the portrait of my brothers taken against the side of the house, it reminds me of some of the old WPA photos taken during the Depression by the likes of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange of workers photographed against barns and other structures out in the dust bowl. Probably a stretch considering the difference in attire and circumstances, but photos evoke what they evoke and that’s the beauty of it. More photos here…

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