Part I: We Have Issues …

We sent a team of observers to Woodstock ’99 and all we got was this lousy diary. Join our intrepid staffers — Mom, Dad, Tank, and Sausage (not their real names) — as they experience Woodstock ’99.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Wednesday, July 21

Dear Diary,

The names in this journal have been changed to protect the innocent. While most of the trip has gone remarkably smoothly, there nevertheless have been tense moments symptomatic of living in such close quarters. A sample from this morning, as we journeyed along the New York State Thruway:

Dad: Tank, your knee is in my back.
Tank: (silence)
Dad: Please, move your knee.
Sausage: Well, you’ve taken all the f***IN’ room. Your seat’s all the way back …
Dad: (screaming) I’M F***IN’ DRIVING, SAUSAGE! I’M F***IN’ DRIVING HERE! (silence)
Mom: (giggles softly)
Sausage: (long pause … screams) I HATE YOU, DAD!

Aside from more than a couple of moments such as that, things are just fine.

Our arrival at Woodstock ’99 was surreal. The irony of “Woodstock” taking place at a former Air Force base has been oft observed, but it cannot compare to the experience of entering the fortified festival area. We were told to “take a right at the bomber” in order to enter the facility. Indeed, the main entrance was around the corner from a B-52, and shortly after passing it, our media credentials were checked — I kid you not, diary — three times with 60 feet of the entrance. Upon passing the final checkpoint at the 12-foot chain link fence guarded by a member of the “peace patrol,” we drove to our spot in the “west village.”

Again, the surreality of the environment was reinforced profoundly when Mom observed that we were, in fact, driving down the base’s tarmac. Finally, after driving for close to a mile along the runway and passing through yet another security checkpoint, we arrived at our site. “Village” is a generous term, since the villages consist of three large tents separated from one another by hundreds of yards of grass-like scrub.

This place is without scale. It is beyond vast. Even if the projected 300,000 visitors should show, I expect that this place will remain stark and seemingly empty. The main stages are so far from one another that they are obscured by the curvature of the Earth. The grounds are scattered with stages, “vid rooms,” extreme sports venues, and complex Porta Potty mazes. all of these capitalist constructs are hundreds of feet from one another, rendering an already austere landscape a patina of deep-fried plastic-fantastic Gen-X post-baby boomer nostalgia.

So now we sit, sweating, in our “booth” in our “village” with the “bugs” on the “ground,” waiting for the latest example of the Disney-commercial complex to commence within the hollowed-out remains of the military-industrial complex. We have more than 36 hours before anything happens, and if we avoid killing ourselves or one another during that period, then another journal entry is sure to soon follow.

Later…

It has become clear that we, the Mother Jones four, must maintain a consistent level of inebriation in order to get through the rest of this week. After the consumption of a few cocktails, everything seems far rosier. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our friend Sausage, who had been holding his head in his hands for nearly an hour, and upon mentioning that he needed to “walk it off,” has not been seen since. Pretty freaky, man.

Godspeed,
Dad


next

Part I  Part II  Part III  Part IV  Part V

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate