ONE CAN NOT LIVE ON PEANUT BUTTER AND WINE ALONE:
ADVENTURES AT A CANCELED ROCK FESTIVAL
copyright 1996-2006 Robb Strycharz
MONDAY, JULY 6, 1970
OH, THE HUMANITY!!!!
The morning after the massacre was horribly hot and humid. I was on my way to HQ, to visit Davy. I took my traditional short cut on a secret path through an undeveloped section of Szot Park... eventually I would come out by the pond. The night before fugitive fireworks watchers hid here from the cops. Even if the path didn't happen to take me to the massacre site I would have detoured there anyway. I was still deeply disturbed seeing the flaming bodies of countless bats careening downward from the darkened sky. It was up to me to get to the crime scene first and gather evidence before the cover-up began erasing all traces of the genocide.
As I approached the site of the fireworks I was shocked at the extent of the carnage. The ashes of the poor vaporized bat bodies lay everywhere... a testament to their fiery deaths. Amongst the ashes also remained the remains of the instruments of their destruction: debris from the explosive charges. Hundreds of shredded shards and intact semi-spherical nosecones lay scattered about. One paper disk was registered "Safe-Sane" by the Washington State Fire Marshall. Safe? For whom? Sane? The evidence all around me screamed otherwise.
While at HQ Davy and I discussed the plans for the upcoming weekend. He had one big concern. He was still sure his father would absolutely forbid him to go.
In our ignorance we had no idea that the real threats to our festival plans had nothing to do with either one's job or intransigent parents. At that very moment, a few hundred miles away, the sinister Forces of Darkness were plotting their dark deeds. After Woodstock a conspiratorial cabal formed. Organized by Joel Munzing, a Catholic priest, they called themselves the Concerned Citizens of Sullivan County. If they had a motto it might have been "never again." At that very moment the CCoSC was in court seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the Mountaindale festival. In those dark days after Woodstock the courts had become the counter-revolutionary’s preferred method to kill rock festivals. The CCoSC hoped the court would place demands on the promoters that could never be met.
Unbeknownst to us, the Fest was more than a one-day affair. In fact, it was to be just the one of a series of one-day "Bach to Rock" festivals that was to continue for 48 days until late August. Aside from the rock music were to be Broadway musicals, classical performances, dance recitals, even opera. The promoters had hopes to make the series an annual event. It is obvious from the line-up that we wouldn't be regulars. Throw in the Boston Pops and they'd have another Tanglewood. We had no idea that the first day's show, staring pianist Van Cliburn, was in fact scheduled for that very next day. We only knew that billed for Saturday's show were the Dead, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Van Morrison, The Band, the Kinks, and a few more. The CCoSC took the position that the classical and semi-classical music was but a "transparent veneer" to cover the promoters real intent: to cash in on what was sure to be another sin-filled Woodstock. Given the promoters background in Broadway, this hardly seemed the case.
Since their true reactionary motives of the CCoSC were not sufficient grounds for a restraining order, they used whatever pretense would go over with the judge. In the “transparent veneer” department it was clear the CCoSC also played the game well. Officially they cloaked themselves in a civic agenda, claiming the sudden influx of hippies would traumatize the tiny village of 250. But it seemed what they really feared was our bringing “drugs and immorality” to town. While we’d have to plead guilty on the drug charge, I doubt any of us would have claimed to be immoral. Much of what our generation was doing was reacting to senseless lifestyles of conspicuous consumption that was eating up the world’s natural resources and protesting the immorality and inhumanity of everyday citizens that was ultimately responsible for the Vietnam War. Unlike that priest and the other "concerned citizens" in the CCoSC effort... we did not loath and detest people like ourselves! But I’m sure we reserved some for them.
It's unclear on what grounds Judge Michael Sweeney ruled, but he did finally issue a temporary injunction. If the promoters did not win their appeal on Friday the 10th, it would mean that we would, in blissfully innocent ignorance, venture off to a rock festival that had been canceled four days earlier.