View Full Version : Woodstock Nation

August 30th, 2009, 01:20 PM
I worked in the Barclay-Vesey building during the summer of '69, and I had a 2-room apartment in the Village. My job was early techno, fiddling with video tape and film machines of all kinds. We transferred old kinescope film stock of bygone network TV shows-- mostly from the black-and-white years; Lucy, Jackie Gleason, Ed Sullivan, etc --onto this newfangled VIDEO tape that RCA had developed. It was a good job and it paid well, so I spent my days on the twentieth floor looking at the past, at television's early years (... and with a great view out the windows on New Jersey, the Statue of Liberty and the early construction of the World Trade Center ) while my like-aged brothers trudged off to Vietnam.
I worked there six years.

Once I was promoted to manager, I had to fly out to Dallas for a seminar with the people from EDS, Ross Perot's company. This happened on Woodstock weekend, and I darkly cursed the fates for laying such a cruel punishment on me. I WOULD have been at Woodstock. I just wasn't.
I spent the next week hanging out in Village bars, listening to the stories of Woodstock survivors. The Village was full of them. Walking around, I'd see dozens of "dove and guitar" t-shirts, a badge of sorts. I envied them.
Hell, my BROTHER went, and has never stopped rubbing it in. --"Nyah, I went to Woodstock. You didn't. That makes me better than you."

About two weeks later, my boss sent four of us back to Dallas to close the EDS deal. Realizing that it was the Labor Day Weekend, after everyone else on my team sealed the deal and flew back to New York for their holiday, I begged a few vacation days and stayed a week in Dallas with old friends.
We had talked about Woodstock and how close I was to it, but so far away when it happened, and they were all excited about this hastily being-put-together happening on a lake in North Dallas County where I just happened to have stumbled into--a beautiful irony-- so over Labor day 1969, I went, with my New York ways and with about ten other Dallas hippies, to The Texas International Pop Festival.

Woodstock, Texas style. Way out in the boondocks. Should be just like Woodstock. Right...

On August 30, as the weekend began, we parked our cars on a farmer's hillside and carried our tents into The Dallas International Speedway. We set up just outside the track on the shore of Lake Dallas, in full view of the stages, which were maybe 100 yards from our campsite. I was in awe of how many hippies there were in conservative Dallas. I used to live there and would have never dreamed that Big D supported such an underground population of stoners.
The place filled up, the music began at dusk, the air filled with the sweetish sour smell of good pot--and the gathering crowds had 3 days of peace and music ahead of them. I bought a poster of the event, thinking it would be a hoot to show to my co-workers.

Present under Texas skies-- and moons-- were Sly and The Family Stone, Led Zep, Janis Joplin, BB King, Santana, Canned Heat, Chicago, Sam and Dave ( among other Woodstock grads), and the sunblistered crowd covering the hillsides had now become the SECOND largest bunch to see a mega-concert--in Lewisville, Texas just two weeks after the whole concept first played out in Upstate New York.

There was the traffic jam, enormous crowds, the dust and the mud, the strange drugs and and the lack of toilets and food. There was nude swimming in the lake. And, there was the all night, non-stop Solid Gold rock and roll blasting from dozens of speaker towers. There was Janis Joplin (who was performing on her native Texas soil for the first time; the last time, too, as it turned out...) who was emoting "Bobby McGee" not fifty feet from me, and Zep's guitar riffs were so painfully loud that I was forced AWAY from the stage to a place better suited to my inner ear, and into the endless movement of a stoned-out tribe of soulmates.
At 1 AM, Sly flew like a white psychedelic bat under hypnotic strobes and a waxing Dallas moon, taking us all Higher. After that, I don't remember much...
I stayed perpetually high, crashing in my tent around 3AM.
There was no Jimi Hendrix to wake us up the next day. He was busy, out looking for ways to kill himself. The music went on. It was Chicago's day. Word had reached Dallas and thousands more were making their way here, joining the tribe. Chicago stopped playing and Canned Heat went up the country.The sun went down, the show went on.

I began thinking that this must be JUST LIKE Woodstock, maybe a 2/3rds version-- and in freakin' TEXAS!!! Hell, I even saw the spangly hippie bus belonging to Ken Keasey and his Merry Pranksters, and Wavy Gravy was there. It was like Yasgur's Farm, transplanted, only with a lot of cowboy hats. My New York ways were dissolving under the relentless sun.

End of the second day I had to go. I had a plane to catch. I left with Carlos Santana blaring "Oye Como Va" from the stage and we couldn't find our cars in the dark for an hour. The hillsides were covered in cars in all directions for miles. Ever since, whenever I lose my car, Santana pops into my brain.

Wednesday I was back at work in my skyscraper, the Texas mud washed from me. My co-workers hooted over my poster. I bought a Dallas paper at a newsstand in the Financial District and the headlines declared that the "130,000 At Music Festival" had a peaceful couple days of hippie hedonism. It was a minor article.

"200,000 or MORE At Popfest" declared the promoters in the alternative "Dallas Notes", the scumbag hippie free press. The whole wanna-be Village Voice newspaper is full of Pop Festival stories. My friend mailed me a copy after I got home, and I still have it.

Anyway, it was big, quite Woodstocky and I was there.
For 2 glorious days I lived in a tent by the lake, surrounded by thousands of Boomer- era hippies who had little but partying on their minds. Together we fouled the bushes, scrounged for food, drank warm beer, saw the best live music of our generation and shared the vibe. I made a lot of friends, even to this day. And I had NO idea that there were so many freaks in Texas.
-- We were the newest addition to the Woodstock Nation.

Two days out of Dallas and it's after work and I'm fumbling for a subway token among skyscrapers, tugging off my necktie as I take my rolled up poster to the frame shop. My sunburn is killing me.

"Texas Pop Festival, huh?" , the framer says. "Were you there? I heard that it was just like Woodstock."
The poster has hung on my various walls for 40 years.

...Forty freakin' years.

August 30th, 2009, 06:10 PM
Hof, that's great. :cool: I'm wondering if videotape media has shown signs of deteriorating?

August 30th, 2009, 07:03 PM
^ Great post.

And just think... you could have taken a Greyhound down to Atlantic City.

Just look at this line up.... and 2 weeks before Woodstock.

As far as I can tell, it was probably only second to Woodstock and Monterey for top bands ...but believe it or not there is no film footage, no recordings and very little photos published of this event.



August 30th, 2009, 09:05 PM

I'm sure by now that the early efforts at video tape technology have all deteriorated to pixel dust. The stuff was not made to last forever, but the good thing is that old video can be transferred to new video without seriously degrading the outcome, so the stuff I worked on is probably in a 4th or 5th generation of retapings by now.
It has to be the best way to preserve old film footage, at least until digital came along.

The celluloid / nitrate film stock would deteriorate quickly. I found dozens of film cans where the content was lost forever and the film stock was either brittle and crumbly or had sort of melted into a chemical goo, and these were film cans that were dated from only five, six years earlier...

August 30th, 2009, 10:01 PM
I know this is a nerdy type question but is it the tape that degrades, or does it demagnify over time?

September 1st, 2009, 09:25 AM
The poster has hung on my various walls for 40 years.

...Forty freakin' years.

Hope you're fixen to share a picture of thot thar poster......

September 1st, 2009, 05:19 PM
Google "Texas International Pop Festival 1969" and the first thing that pops up is a picture of the poster (...it's for sale on that site. There are a lot of other sites for the Pop Festival as well...).
You can't mistake it for anything else-- it's a big 'ole peace sign with a zeppelin floating around it. They want $130.00 for it.

It's groovy, dude...

And, stache, the process used on the very early video tape format was a simple one-- it basically involved scattering charged particles on the tape face into patterns that later are translated into images by the machine's "read" head. The tape was huge, like a man's belt, and it was fed into a microwave-oven-sized, top loading VTR in cassettes that were the size of encyclopedias.
Yup, that was a "T".
It stood for "Video Tape Recorder".
It was stone age, a brand new technology, developed by RCA in their skunk labs in New Jersey, I think.

The tapes we made were immediately cloned onto other tape.
We discovered that an early tape had a life of about 20 plays before it degraded. That's why, if you had a favorite scene involving, say Ginger Lynn and a Doberman, which you play over and over on the VCR...anyway, that's the most noticable way to see if a tape has deteriorated--watch a favorite scene and see what has dropped out since the last time you saw it.
- And over time it WILL demagnify, but the tape itself will probably be degraded by then and you won't be able to play it to find out.

By 2015, all the old video tapes should be as brittle as week- old stretched taffy.
If you have a favorite old cassette, you should duplicate it to digital while you can...

By the way, when my project was finished and the company was done with the hardware, the bosses decided that we had no use for the stuff and they sold the patent rights AND the equipment (most of which had been invented in NY/ NJ ) to, um, SONY, who went on to miniaturize our old equipment and sell a billion of them back to us as VCRs...

September 1st, 2009, 06:57 PM
Hof that is wild! Everything I have right now is on disc (except for some music). Thanks, an old friend and I used to wonder about the archival durability of tape, back in the '80's. Now we can wonder about the discs lol.

September 2nd, 2009, 01:26 PM
Hof, indeed, that is a cool trophy