Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

"If you come in five minutes after this picture begins, you won't know what it's all about! When you've seen it all, you'll swear there's never been anything like it!" That was the tagline for The Manchurian Candidate when it was released on October 24, 1962. Aside from being one of the longest taglines in cinematic history, it was also one of the most accurate. The Manchurian Candidate is a dark political thriller with several twists, turns, and genuine surprises. There was nothing like it before, and there has been nothing like it since.

The Manchurian Candidate was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Richard Condon. The novel was successful, but it did not have the impact that the 1962 movie adaptation did. Released at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Manchurian Candidate did respectively well at the box office. Since that time it has become to be regarded as a veritable classic. In fact, there are those who believe it is the greatest political thriller of all time.

Once one has seen The Manchurian Candidate, it is easy to understand why it has the reputation it does. The Manchurian Candidate has a complex plot, involving Cold War politics, McCarthyism, the Korean War, and a conspiracy that makes the schemes of Bond villains look positively benign. Aside from a sterling screenplay by George Axelrod (who also wrote screenplays for The Seven Year Itch, Bus Stop, and Breakfast at Tiffanys), The Manchurian Candidate benefits from some of the strongest performances in a thriller of any kind. Frank Sinatra gave what may be his best performance as Major Bennett Marco, a U.S. Army officer who soon realises his nightmares signify a sinister plot that is actually unfolding. Laurence Harvey also gave the best performance of his career, as the tragic Raymond Shaw, bringing sympathy to a character who is essentially an aloof, unfriendly loner. In what was a master stroke of casting, John Frankenheimer cast Angela Lansbury as Shaw's mother, Mrs. Iselin. Now known for her warm, friendly characters, Lansbury's Mrs. Iselin is as cold and calculating a character as ever seen on the screen. In 2007 Newsweek ranked Mrs. Iselin among the ten greatest villains in cinematic history. In 2003 the American Film Institute ranked her number 21 in their list of 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains. Curiously, while Angela Lansbury is very convincing as Shaw's mother, she was only two years older than Laurence Harvey!

While The Manchurian Candidate is a very complex, very intelligent film, it does have its share of action. In fact, it was among the earliest films made in the West to feature karate. This occurs in an extended, very violent battle between Major Marco and Shaw's Korean valet Chunjin. Not only is it one of the first scenes involving karate in a film made in the Occident, but it is still one of the best as well.

It is a mark of the complexity of The Manchurian Candidate that the film features some pop culture in jokes for those fast enough to catch them. The members of Major Marco's platoon are almost entirely named for cast and crew from The Phil Silvers Show, including Silvers (as in Phil, Sgt. Bilko himself), Allan Melvin (who played Corporal Henshaw on the show), Hiken (as in Nat, the creator of The Phil Silvers Show), Lembeck (as in Harvey Lembeck, Corporal Barbella on the show), and so on. The Manchurian Candidate also visually referenced the Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much. Sprinkled through the film are references to Pinocchio and the silent film Chu-Chin-Chow.

While being made and following its release, The Manchurian Candidate would provoke some controversy. Even as the book was commissioned as a film, United Artists President and then Finance Chairman of the Democratic Party, Arthur Krim was more than a little nervous about the book's subject matter. Frank Sinatra had to ask his friend, President John F. Kennedy, to call Krim and let him know he did not object to the film being made. Once The Manchurian Candidate was released, it was censored and even banned in many countries behind the Iron Curtain. Even neutral countries, such as Finland and Sweden, censored the film, considering a bit too politically charged. In most of the countries behind the Iron Curtain the film would not be seen until after the collapse of the U.S.S.R. over thirty years after its release.

While The Manchurian Candidate did provoke some controversy upon its release, it was not withdrawn from circulation following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, as popularly believed. In fact, it made its television debut on The CBS Thursday Night Movies in September 1965, less than two years after JFK's murder. It was shown again on CBS later in the 1965-1966 season. The Manchurian Candidate would also be shown on NBC in the spring of 1974 and the summer of 1975. The urban legend of the film being withdrawn following the assassination of JFK appears to have arisen after the rights to the film reverted to Frank Sinatra in 1972. While Sinatra may have been negligent in keeping the film in distribution at times, it was never fully withdrawn from distribution.

After infrequent sightings since the early Seventies, The Manchurian Candidate was re-released in 1988. Despite the fact that it had been 26 years since its first release, at a time when McCarthyism was ancient history and the Cold War was coming to an end, the film had nearly as much impact as it had in its first release. A generation not even born at the time of the Communist witch hunts of the Fifties embraced the film, to the point that it is not only regarded as a classic, but even a legendary film.

Not surprisingly given its nearly mythic status, The Manchurian Candidate has had a huge impact on pop culture. As early as 1964 it was an influence upon A Shot in the Dark and future Inspector Clouseau films, the practice fights between Clouseau and his valet Cato parodying the fight between Marco and Chunjin in The Manchurian Candidate. The fight scene from The Manchurian Candidate would also influence the fight between The Bride and Copperhead in Kill Bill Volume 1. The Phantom of the Paradise paid homage to the movie in a visual reference. The Manchurian Candidate has also been referenced in films such as Ladri di saponette, The Player, and The Contender. It has been referenced in television shows ranging from The Gilmore Girls to Homicide (mentioned, of course, by pop culture savvy Detective Munch) to Heroes, as well. The movie has even had an impact on popular music. The plot of the concept album Operation: Mindcrime by Queensrÿche is obviously inspired by The Manchurian Candidate. Slipknot made a reference to the movie in their song "Wait and Bleed." Indeed, the movie has had an impact on pop culture to the point that the term "Manchurian candidate" has even entered the English language.

Richard Condon's original novel would be adapted again in 2004. The new film would stray from both the novel and the original movie (which was very faithful to the book) in such ways that it can hardly be considered an adaptation of the novel or a remake of the original film. The alleged 2004 version of The Manchurian Candidate lacked any of the impact of the original, its inadequacies made only more obvious by the greatness of the original.

No less than Pauline Kael said upon its release, "It may be the most sophisticated satire ever made in Hollywood." Roger Ebert counts it among his list of "Great Movies." It is also one of the very few films that enjoys a 100% rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes. The reason that The Manchurian Candidate is so highly regarded today is perhaps because the film does not seem to have aged at all. Despite the fact that McCarthyism is over fifty years in the past, despite the fact that the Cold War has been over for nearly twenty years now, The Manchurian Candidate feels more contemporary than even some contemporary films on politics. For over forty years The Manchurian Candidate has remained fresh, its surrealistic plot still intriguing viewers today.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Actors Ruth Ford & John Quade

Ruth Ford

Ruth Ford, a star of movies, television, and Broadway plays, who was once a member of Orson Welle's Mercury Theatre passed on August 12 at the age of 98.

Ruth Ford was born on July 7, 1911 in Brookhaven, Mississippi. She attended the University of Mississippi and received a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in philosophy. Her brother was poet, novelist and artist Charles Henri Ford. After having visited him in New York City on summer vacations, Ruth Ford moved to New York City herself. Ford became a model, photographed by such photographers as Cecil Beaton and Man Ray. She appeared on the covers of such magazines as Harper's Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Town and Country and Vogue.

It was in 1937 that Ford joined Orson Welle's Mercury Theatre. In 1938 she made her Broadway debut in Welles' production of The Shoemakers' Holiday. She also appeared in Welle's production of Danton's Death on Broadway that same year. As part of the Mercury Theatre, Ford also appeared on its radio show The Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was in 1938 that she appeared in her first film, Too Much Johnson. In 1939 she appeared in her first Broadway play outside of the Mercury Theatre, the musical Swingin' the Dream.

In 1941 Ford moved to Hollywood and began her film career. Her first film was Roaring Frontiers that same year. Over the next five years she appeared in over 24 films, among them Across the Pacific, Wilson, and Dragonwyck. Unfortunately, most of the films were programmers. Ford returned to New York in 1946, appearing in the play No Exit that year. Ruth Ford would appear on Broadway regularly until 1980, in such plays as Clutterbuck, Requiem for a Nun, Dinner at Eight, Poor Murderer, and Harold and Maude.

It was in 1949 that Ruth Ford made her debut on television, in an episode of Theatre of Romance. Ruth Ford would appear regularly on television in the Fifties and Sixties, guest starring on such shows as The Adventures of Ellery Queen, Suspense, The Hallmark Hall of Fame, Studio One, The United States Steel Hour, Naked City, The Nurses, and The Defenders. Starting in the Sixties she once more appeared in movies, such as The Tree, Play It as It Lays, and The Eyes of Amaryllis.

John Quade

Actor John Quade died August 9 at the age of 71 from natural causes.

John Quade was born John William Saunders in Kansas City, Kansas on April 1, 1938. He attended Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, then went onto careers in Santa Fe Railway repair shop and aerospace engineering. In 1968 he made his first appearance on television, playing a bit part on the series The Wild Wild West. Over the next few years he appeared in guest shots on Gunsmoke, Cade's County, Bonanza, and Bearcats!.

Quade made his movie debut in Deadhead Miles in 1972. He went on to appear in the Blaxploitation film Hammer in 1972 and the film Bad Company the same year. It was in 1973 that he first appeared with Clint Eastwood, with whom he would work several times, in the film High Plains Drifter. Quade also appeared in the Eastwood films The Outlaw Josey Wales, Every Which Way But Loose, and Any Which Way You Can. He would also appear in the films Papillon, The Sting, The Last Hard Men, and La Bamba.

Quade made several more appearances on television over the years, guest starring on Ironside, Dusty's Trail, McMillan and Wife, Kung Fu, Get Christie Love, The Rockford Files, McCloud, How the West Was Won, Palmerstown USA, Hill Street Blues, Crime Story, and Hunter. He also appeared in the mini-series Return to Lonesome Dove. With regards to television, he was perhaps best known for playing Sheriff Biggs on the mini-series Roots. He was also one of the stars on the short lived series Lucky Luke, based on Franco-Belgian comic strip of the same name.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Late Great Don Hewitt

Don Hewitt, the veteran news producer and executive, passed today at the age of 86. He directed the legendary show See It Now, featuring Edward R. Murrow, and created the show 60 Minutes. The cause was pancreatic cancer.

Don Hewitt was born on December 14, 1922 in New York City. He grew up in nearby New Rochelle, New York. He attended New York University for one year before dropping out. He then took a job as a copyboy at The New York Herald Tribune. In 1943, during World War II, he enrolled in he Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. Eventually he would cover the Merchant Marines for Stars and Stripes.

Following the war, Hewitt took another job at The New York Herald Tribune. It was not long afterwards that he was hired as a night editor for the Associated Press in Memphis. Although his wife was a native of Tennessee, she found herself missing New York City. He then took a job as a night editor wit the photo agency Acme Telepictures. It was while Don Hewitt was at Acme Telepictures that a friend told him of an opening at CBS for someone to produce television programming.

Hewitt began his career in 1948 as the producer/director of CBS Television News, with anchorman Douglas Edwards. Starting in 1951 he was a director on the legendary documentary news programme See It Now. The series was hosted by newsman Edward R. Murrow and ran for seen years. It was in 1960 that Don Hewitt directed the famous 1960 presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon.

In 1962 he became the producer of The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. While the late Walter Cronkite reported such huge events as the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Apollo 11 moon landing, Don Hewitt produced the televised reports. In 1960 he created 60 Minutes, currently the longest running programme on American prime time television. 60 Minutes would inspire other, similar news magazines, including 20/20 on ABC and Dateline on NBC. Hewitt remained with 60 Minutes until 2004.

Don Hewitt was very much a legend in network news. As either director, producer, or both, he worked with such newsmen as Douglas Edwards, Edward R. Murrow, and Walter Cronkite. And while Edwards, Murrow, and Cronkite were great journalists in and of themselves, there can be no doubt that Hewitt's talent as a producer and director helped them greatly. Beyond being a talented producer and director, Hewitt also created 60 Minutes, a groundbreaking show that changed television forever. Perhaps no other producer or director of broadcast network news has had as much impact as Don Hewitt.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back to the Garden: the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock Part Two

More so than most events in the 20th Century, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair has been idealised and romanticised over the years. Indeed, this idealisation and romanticisation began even as the festival was unfolding itself. It has come to be seen, as its slogan said, "Three days of peace and music." The Baby Boom generation regards the festival as a pivotal moment in their history, and there are probably many Baby Boomers who regard it as the pivotal moment. There are those who believe that it encapsulated the Sixties protest movement.

While the Woodstock Music & Art Fair may be all of those things for many, it must be kept in mind that conditions at the festival's site were less than ideal. With a half million people in attendance at the festival, food shortages became an imminent danger. The people of Sullivan County, New York came to the festival's aid, donating sandwiches and other food. Woodstock Ventures (the company organised to hold the festival) estimated that donations of some 750,000 sandwiches were needed. Food was flown in from as far away as Stewart Air Force Base, nearly sixty miles away. The Free Kitchen was organised to feed attendees after it became apparent the caterer hired for the event, Food for Love, could not handle the large number of people.

Medical care for the half million people attending Woodstock presented another problem. Woodstock Ventures hired Dr. Bill Abruzzi, a physician from Wappingers Falls, New York, to run the medical operations for the festival. Wavy Gravy and his fellow members of the Hog Farm collective provided first aid. According to Dr. Abruzzi in newspaper articles at the time, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair was initially equipped to treat between 80,000 and 100,000 people. When the number of attendees swelled beyond 150,000, the physicians soon learned they needed reinforcements. Additional medical supplies, needed to take care of a half million people, were also flown in by helicopter. Woodstock Ventures had thirty more physicians flown in from New York City. While Dr. Abruzzi and his medical staff treated food poisoning, minor mishaps, and many instances of cut feet (it was August, so many were barefoot), at no point did they ever treat any injury that was caused by another human being. There were no black eyes at Woodstock, let alone more serious injuries brought on by violence. For those suffering from bad trips on LSD, a "Freak Out Tent" was provided, where members of the Hog Farm collective would sooth individuals' fears with soft words and loving kindness.

Sanitation also proved to be a problem. Woodstock Ventures had not planned for 500,000 people to show up at the Woodstock Music & Art Festival. For that reason there was only around six hundred portable toilets around the entire festival, only one for every 833 people. For water, six wells had to be dug to accommodate the crowd. It was around midnight on the first night of the festival that another complication arrived. As Hindustani classical musician Ravi Shankar was performing it started to sprinkle. By the time Joan Baez finished her set, there was a thunderstorm raging. In a matter of three hours, five inches of rain fell. The torrential rains would continue for the entirety of the weekend. Max Yasgur's alfalfa field soon became a mass of mud.

Surprisingly only one person would die at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Seventeen year old Raymond R. Mizzak was asleep in a hayfield in a sleeping bag when he was run over by a tractor. Another person who overdosed on heroin, did not die at the site of a festival, but at a neighbouring hospital. Given the sheer number of people and the presence of torrential rain, it is perhaps surprising that more did not die. Indeed, it must be pointed out that many of the musical arts played electric instruments, which under the wrong conditions could have resulted in electrocution.

Contrary to popular belief, no one was born at Woodstock, although two attendees did give birth. One gave birth in a car trapped in the traffic jam on Route 17B, which led to Woodstock. Another gave birth in a local hospital after being airlifted out by helicopter. There have been many who have claimed over the years to have been born at Woodstock, but, as pointed out in a recent Associated Press article, their stories never prove to be true.

Despite the various obstacles and less than desirable conditions, the show did go on at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. The first day of the festival was devoted to the folk acts, although the bill swiftly changed as the traffic jam was making it difficult to get the music artists to the site. As mentioned earlier, Richie Havens had to perform for three hours before Sweetwater arrived. The rain complicated matters as well. Melanie Safka, for whom Woodstock was her first major performance, went instead of the Incredible String Band, who refused to perform while it was still pouring. Melanie had become very nervous when she realised she would be performing before an audience of a half million people. As it turned out, she had no reason to be nervous. The crowd received her warmly and lit candles as she performed in the darkness of the night. Other folk acts which performed that day were the legendary singers Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie.

Saturday and Sunday were devoted to rock acts. Unfortunately, the traffic jam was still making it difficult to get performers to the site and wreaking havoc with the festival's schedule. Following a set by the Keef Hartley Band, Country Joe MacDonald, of Country Joe and the Fish, gave an unexpected solo performance to fill time while other other acts could get there. John Sebastian, formerly of The Lovin' Spoonful, was not even scheduled to perform at Woodstock. Following Country Joe, Sebastian was tapped to appear before the crowd, whereupon he performed an impromptu parody of hippie conversation. Tripping on an unknown substance, Sebastian still remembers little of his performance to this day, but the crowd loved it.

The difficulties with getting performers to the site and the unexpectedly huge turnout for the festival did create major concerns for Woodstock Ventures with regards to the rock performances scheduled for Saturday. Some of the heaviest bands of the time were set perform that day, among them The Who and Jefferson Airplane. Woodstock Ventures worried that as the music grew louder, then the crowd could become less manageable. At the same time, however, the crowd could also get out of control if they remained bored for too long. Ultimately, Woodstock Ventures hedged their bets and decided to keep the crowd entertained. Michael Lang of Woodstock Ventures then asked each of the bands to make their sets twice as long. The rock performers also presented Woodstock Ventures with another complication. The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and The Who suddenly declined to play that night. The managers of each of them wanted cash upfront. With visions of the extraordinarily large crowd rioting if left bored, Woodstock Ventures went to Charlie Prince, the manager of the White Lake branch of Sullivan County National Bank, for help. John Roberts, vice president of Woodstock Ventures, gave Prince a personal cheque of anywhere from 50 to 100 thousand dollars, whereupon Prince wrote out the cashier's cheques for the performers. The show then went on.

That Saturday not only saw the largest audience of any rock concert of all time, but one of the most legendary rock line-ups in the history of the genre. Santana, Mountain, The Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival, and Janis Joplin all performed. The Who not performed some of their early classics ("I Can't Explain," "My Generation"), but songs from their latest release--a rock opera entitled Tommy. Jefferson Airplane played recent songs such as "Plastic Fantastic Lover" and older hits such as "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit."

The Who's performance would see what may have been the only intentional act of violence committed at the entire festival. It was just after The Who had finished "Pinball Wizard" that Abbie Hoffman of the Yippies, seized the microphone and began a speech about the imprisonment of John Sinclair of the White Panther Party. By most accounts, Pete Townshend, who was tuning his amp between songs, then ran up and rammed his guitar into Hoffman's back. When Hoffman turned, Townshend then shoved him backwards. In his autobiography, Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture, Hoffman himself tells the story a bit differently. Townshend simply "bumped into" him. Hoffman referred to it as, "A nonincident really."

Sunday into Monday would see more rock acts, although, with the exceptions of Ten Years After, Neil Young, and Jimi Hendrix, none of them were as hard as The Who or Jefferson Airplane. Regardless, it was another legendary rock line-up. Crosby, Stills, & Nash was a newly formed supergroup consisting of David Crosby (formerly of The Byrds), Stephen Stills (formerly of Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash (formerly of The Hollies). The Woodstock Music & Art Fair was only their second gig. While Crosby, Stills, & Nash was a newly formed band of experienced musicians, Sha Na Na was a relatively new singing group, having just started performing in 1969. What is more, they were different from any other act at Woodstock. Quite simply, they performed classic rock 'n' roll from the Fifties, dressed in the fashions of the decade. Regardless, the crowd loved them.

Jimi Hendrix was the headliner and the closing act of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Because of the many delays caused by the traffic jam and the torrential rains, he did not take the stage until early Monday morning. By this time the crowd had dwindled to 180,000. The Jimi Hendrix Experience having been disbanded, Hendrix played with his newly formed band named "Gypsy Sun and Rainbows." Woodstock would be their first performance. In addition to Jimi Hendrix, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, and Sha Na Na, Joe Cocker, Country Joe and the Fish, Ten Years After, The Band, and Neil Young, among others performed from Sunday into Monday at the festival.

While music occupies the centre stage in most people's minds when they think of Woodstock today, it must be pointed out that the festival also featured an art exhibition. After all, it had been billed as the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Peter Leeds and Howard Hirsch organised the exhibition, which featured both modern and Native American art. Cahuilla/Apache artist Bill Soza coordinated the Native American exhibit. Contemporary sculptures were produced on the site by art students under the supervision of Professors Ron Liis and Bill Ward of the University of Miami.

The Woodstock Music & Art Fair proved to be one of the big news stories that weekend in 1969. Initially media coverage of the event was fairly negative. A prime example of this coverage could be found in an Associated Press article published August 17, which focused on the shortage of food and medical supplies, the lack of sanitation, the traffic jam, and drug use. On August 17 the headline for The Los Angeles Times story on Woodstock read, "Drugs and Mud Plague 300,000 at NY Music Fair." The next day, The Chicago Tribune featured the headline "Music, Art Fair Ends; 2 Are Dead." Barnard Collier, formerly of The New York Times, has told how he was pressured by that newspaper's editors to make his story on Woodstock about the traffic jams, lack of sanitation, rampant drug use, and the dangers of so many young people gathered together at once. After many arguments with the editors, he was finally allowed to tell the story as he saw fit.

Besides Barnard Collier, another exception to the negative coverage of Woodstock was that of The Middletown Times Herald-Record, the only daily in the region. When Wallkill, New York had banned the festival from taking place there only weeks before its opening, The Middletown Times Herald-Record ran an editorial condemning the town's action. The paper had reporters on Max Yasgur's farm a day before the festival began and also had the only phone line out of the festival's site. Joel Shea, founder of The American Reporter and then a reporter at the paper, was at Woodstock as an attendee when he was recruited to help cover the story. A motorcyclist was hired to get pictures from the site through the traffic jam to Middletown 35 miles away. Having covered the festival before it even took place and with reporters on the site as the festival unfolded, the coverage of The Middletown Times Herald-Record was altogether more positive than the majority of the media at the time.

While initial coverage of Woodstock in the media was largely negative, that coverage would take a turn to the positive in only a matter of days. The reason for this was quite simply that those who had attended the festival contradicted the initial reports about it. The Chicago Tribune ran the headline "'Rock' Festival Changes Views of One Mother Toward Youth." A Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) story published on August 27, 1969 took a positive look at the Woodstock Art & Music Fair, complete with a quote from a Sullivan County deputy sheriff who said, "The kids are great" and "...I got to like these people." While The New York Times had resisted Barnard Collier's insistence on reporting the festival more positively, that paper would also take a more positive view of Woodstock afterwards. The headline of a story published August 24, 1969 read "'A Joyful Confirmation That Good Things Can Happen Here.'"

It was not particularly long that Woodstock, as three days of peace and music, came to permeate American pop culture. Joni Mitchell had been unable to go to Woodstock, although invited, because her manager had already committed her to be on The Dick Cavett Show. When told of the event by Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, & Nash, she wrote the song "Woodstock." As covered by Crosby, Stills, & Nash, it would go onto #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The documentary film of the festival was released in March 1970. Not only did it do extraordinarily well at the box office for a documentary, but it was nominated for the Oscars for Best Editing and Best Sound. It won the Oscar for Best Documentary. Two albums were released with live performances from the festival, one in 1970 and another in 1971.

While the Woodstock Music & Art Fair would be viewed positively in the end and would eventually be seen by many as a pivotal event in the late 20th century, Woodstock Ventures' problems did not end with the festival. Not only did the company not make a profit on the festival, but they found themselves at least $1.3 million in debt. Eighty different lawsuits were eventually filed against Woodstock Ventures after the festival. Cleaning up Max Yasgur's alfalfa field after Woodstock had ended took two weeks. Woodstock Ventures could even afford to pay the clean up crew after the task had ended. While they eventually received cheques for their job, initially they simply received enough money to get them home. Woodstock Ventures also had to refund the tickets of many who simply could not attend the festival.

Woodstock not only had some dire consequences for Woodstock Ventures, but also for the local government of Bethel. There were those residents who had opposed the Woodstock Music & Art Fair from the beginning. The traffic jam which had inconvenienced many attendees of the event had a disastrous effect on many local dairy farmers. Many milk trucks could not get through to pick up the milk from dairy farms. Ultimately, many gallons of milk were lost due to the traffic jam. It was in November that town supervisor George Neuhaus, who had supported the festival, was voted out of office.

While Woodstock caused numerable headaches for both Woodstock Ventures and the residents of Bethel, it would come to be regarded as a pivotal event of the Sixties. It came to be regarded as a representation of peace, love, and cooperation, one in which togetherness prevailed. With the possible exception of Pete Townshend's blows against Abbie Hoffman, there does not appear to have even one act of violence committed at the festival, attended by around 500,000 people. Many who attended have said that they never even witnessed a serious disagreement. Today that might not seem that remarkable, but one must consider that in the Sixties, violence at music festivals was not unknown. Only less than around two months prior to Woodstock, the Newport Pop Festival saw considerable violence, including a clash between police and gatecrashers. The Denver Pop Festival,held only a little over a month before Woodstock, saw skirmishes between police and 31 people arrested. Woodstock, which saw far larger attendance than either the Newport or Denver Pop Festivals, was then something of a minor miracle. Despite the traffic jam, shortages of food and medical supplies, despite torrential rain, despite delays in the performances, there were clashes with security, there were no riots, there was not even as much as a fist fight.

Even if one does not accept that the Woodstock Music & Art Fair was a pivotal event of the Sixties, that it was not a demonstration of the philosophy of peace and love that was dominant at the time, there can still be no doubt of its importance in the history of rock music. The Woodstock Music & Art Fair had one of the most extraordinary line-ups of any rock festival. Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Canned Heat, Mountain, The Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Ten Years After, The Band, Crosby, Still, & Nash, Neil Young, and Jimi Hendrix performed. Some performers would give the greatest performances of their careers. Richie Havens was well known for his live performances even before Woodstock. At Woodstock not only would he play for three hours, but he kept the audience entranced for nearly the whole time. Ten Years After had performed in their native England and toured both Scandinavia and the United States, but at Woodstock they gave the performance of their career. Sly and the Family Stone gave what may have been their most impressive performance in their entire history. Woodstock would make the careers of yet other artists. Melanie was a newcomer with only one hit, "Beautiful People," in the Netherlands to her credit. Santana did not even have a recording contract at Woodstock, but his appearance there guaranteed him one. Joe Cocker had some success prior to Woodstock, but the festival launched his career into high gear.

Today Woodstock is regarded as one of the pivotal events of the Sixties and of the Baby Boom generation. It is also regarded as a pivotal moment in the history of rock music. Only time will tell if the Woodstock Music & Art Fair was ultimately as important to the Sixties and to the Baby Boom generation as has often been claimed. That having been said, even the ravages of time will not diminish Woodstock's importance to rock 'n' roll. Regardless of any talk of peace and love, of young people coming together, ultimately Woodstock was one of the biggest events in the history of rock music. It boasted a line-up that only a few other festivals could, performed before the largest audience for a rock festival of all time. Some artists gave their greatest careers there, while the festival started the careers of others. While there were rock festivals before Woodstock and there have many since then, none have the significant position in rock history that Woodstock does. I doubt any ever will.