Altamont: deaths and so on

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Altamont: deaths and so on

Post by seeahill » Sat Mar 30, 2019 6:00 am

50 years ago. Yeah, I was there.

I never wrote any stories. It was a month or so before I was hired at Rolling Stone and I recall being there when RS won awards for the story when I was in the office. We "challenged our readers; perceptions." Or something like that.

The Mainstream media, having missed the point of Woodstock, were still talking about the wonder of the gathering, and that, yes, one person died violently, three of accidents, and that's about average for a town of 300,000. RS was in the other camp. No one should die because they went to a concert. It was a nightmare.

I went to Altamont. Sat way in the back on a hillside. I couldn't see any of the violence and had no idea what announcers were talking about. I do recall one thing very vividly. I was with a group of friends, young men and women. There was another couple next to us, kind of lying on the ground. We didn't know them, but they were small people. Sometime before the violence began on stage, a bigger guy in Bermuda shorts and a t-shirt stumbled over and sat on the woman next to us. He didn't try to feel her up or assault in any other way. He just sat on her.

Now, look, my three male friends were not little guys, nor am I. But so drenched were we in the hippie/Woodstock formulation that we did not get up and forcibly take him off the woman. No, we tried to reason with the guy. While he continued sitting on the woman and the smaller man sat there, looking helpless. We said, "hey man, that isn't cool." And "don't spoil this for everyone." And "Man, get up, this is about love."

After a time, Bermuda shorts guy, who was stoned or drunk on something, got up and wandered off.

We didn't start hearing about the deaths until we were in the car driving back to SF. And I thought a lot about peace and love for several days. I thought about how my friends and I should have done something. Even if it was physical. I thought the deaths were unconscionable. Previously, I had been willing to defend the hippie ethic. After Altamont, I became cynical. Which is why I wrote a bunch of cult things about people who profited from "peace and love."

I think Rolling Stone, as a whole, was cynical. I recall people coming into the office to tell us about Jesus or the latest guru. They invariably told us about how they had lived a dissolute life of drugs, like LSD. We made jokes of their pitches. "I used to be all fucked up on acid, man, but now I'm totally fucked up on Jesus." We called them acid-crawlbacks.

That's the sort of stuff I remember from 50 years ago.

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Re: Altamont: deaths and so on

Post by syaigh » Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:56 pm

Seems like most big movements eventually fall victim to marketing and profits and no one realizes how watered down they have become until decades later.

Deconstruct it, there are probably a whole lot of rabbit holes to go down there. A lot of people got very very wealthy off of that movement in particular. And their latter day politics became very different. Might have been disillusionment, or they were never all in to begin with. And there are always assholes who will do anything for an opportunity to get fucked up and act like themselves with people too nice to tell them otherwise.
Miss Piggy wrote:Never eat more than you can lift.

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