Jim Siergey: I Really Was At Woodstock–Part II

August 20th, 2019

Editor’s Note: If you really want to know what’s going on, read Woodstock, Part I….

Believe it or not — we eventually meet our two traveling mates in the middle of the woods.

It’s pitch back and a hard rain’s beginning to a’fall.  All that plus no one really has an idea of how to set up the five-man tent.

But we do have beer.

Come the morning and the tent, despite last night’s swirling maelstrom, still stands.  And now there are about twenty-five people in it.

Like a carful of soggy circus clowns, we exit the tent to find ourselves in the middle of a beautiful forest.  Glistening green grass, sunshine glinting through the branches of tall trees, fresh country air. To use the day’s vernacular — far fucking out.

It doesn’t take long before hunger pangs hit.   Yes, we brought a tent and sleeping bags and even a few dollars. But did we bring food — or a change of clothes?  Of course not!  We’re nineteen — what do you want?

We drive into town to get supplies and a meal, eating a hearty meal at an Italian restaurant.  The staff keeps bringing food:  “More bread? More pasta?” They must feel sorry for us wet and wanton wastrels of the woodlands.

Sly was there….

With bellies full, we head to the grocery store, which looks like the aftermath of a disaster.  The shelves are virtually empty — an item here, a few items there, slim pickin’s indeed.

That said, having just eaten, our judgment’s not that reliable. We buy a box of Ritz crackers and a bunch of Tootsie Roll Pops to last the weekend.

Somehow, we find a place to park and get back to our tent site.  It’s nearing dusk and the music would soon begin so the time for partaking of drugs has arrived.

I drop my green acid.  The other three fellows take mescaline.  It’s the first trip for one of them.  What a time and place to take an initial psychedelic voyage!

“I never dreamed it would be anything like this,” he says while cowering in the corner of the tent.

Before long, though, he’s grooving.  Wisely, Cindy partakes of nothing — she would be our earth mother.

We grab a blanket and head into the forest, the music wafting through the air serving as a psychedelic pied piper to the drowned rats of Woodstock Nation.

The acid hits during this journey.  It feels like I’m walking through trees and people.  It can’t be helped. They’re everywhere.  As is the mud.  Mud as thick as gravy.  Gravy that we slip and slide through….

There are people everywhere.  People upon people. All of them muddy.  Some naked.  Some clothed.  There are dogs.  And children. Guys on motorcycles ripping through the woods.  A guy pisses in the path in front of us. Off to the side, a couple is fucking.  It’s a Fellini movie come to life.

Finally, we reach the gathered throng. We’re far from the stage but as close as we can get.  It’s night.  The air’s filled with rock music.  We’re surrounded by people in the grasp of the collective unconscious. A beatific karass.  We’re tripping our brains out.

If this isn’t heaven, then what is?  We lay our blanket onto the mud.  I still don’t know if we sat upon it or not. It doesn’t really matter.

On stage, Leslie West, the humongous guitarist of Mountain, is playing.  I lie on my back and watch the show the nighttime sky puts on for me.  The stars dance.  Time flows.

If you look close you can see me….

Suddenly, the emcee is speaking. “Everyone who has taken the green acid,” he says. Then the sound abruptly cuts out.

Searchlights swing over the crowd.  I hear a helicopter.  My companions become agitated.  They know I have taken the green acid.  They believe the authorities are coming in to round up the Green Acid takers.  They’re worried for me.

Look — up in the sky!

Though lost in the cosmos, I still realize there’s no way anyone can know who took what.  I’m unconcerned.

The sound comes back on.  The system had momentarily shorted.  The helicopter’s not carrying the Mind Police — it’s merely transporting more acts.

Paranoia can indeed strike deep.

I look at the stage.  From where we sit, the performers are about an inch tall.  I feel like a giant.

Creedence Clearwater Revival hits the stage.  They get the crowd going for the following act, Sly and the Family Stone, which feeds on the energy. They’re both great.

Janis Joplin in her tiny, spangled dress tears her lungs out in a mighty performance. The Who performs many songs from their new rock opera “Tommy.”

I remember Abbie Hoffman taking the stage during the Who’s performance, urging the crowd to march on Washington.  Peter Townsend hits him in the head with his guitar and pushes him offstage.  “We’re just here to dig the music, man,” he growls.

Or something to that effect.  I am pretty sure this happened.

Then, in one of the most dramatic scenes I’ve ever experienced, The Jefferson Airplane come on stage as the morning sun rises behind them.  It’s enough to make a hippie cream his bell-bottoms.

The magical, muddy night’s come to an end.   With the rays of the early morning sun caressing our backs, we weary cosmic travelers trudge back to our campsites to zonk out for a few hours.

We never do meet up with Tim and Mel.  Later we learn that their “campsite” was in a cornfield and, during the rainstorm, under a truck.  Fortunately, they had enough drugs to help them make it through the ordeal….

In 2009, Cindy, Tim and I revisited the Woodstock site.  Forty years later, we finally met up with him at the front gate.  We took a photo as proof.

Tom emailed it to friends and family.  When his mother saw it, she got pissed.  “I never knew you went to Woodstock!” she chastised her 57-year-old son. “You were only 17!  Who said you could go?”

Forty years after the fact, Tim was afraid his mother would ground him.

So, that’s my tale, as best as I can remember.  It wasn’t until after we got back home that we learned that this Woodstock thing was a big deal.  A great, big far-fucking-out deal.  It didn’t seem so at the time.  To us, it was just a big wet walk in the woods.

Say, did I ever tell you about getting tear gassed at the Sly and the Family Stone riot in Grant Park? Hey, where ya goin’?

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