Woodstock 1969 on PBS

American Experience: Woodstock – Three Days That Defined a Generation on PBS

This is an excellent documentary

Last night I watched this documentary on the Apple TV PBS app, which has a lot of free things to watch, as well as many more things to watch if you are a PBS Passport member.

It is being aired on Sunday, August 17 at 3PM on my local PBS station in New York City. Check your own local listings!

This is particularly good for people who do not know that much about the Woodstock music festival, but it is also good for people who think they know a lot about the event.

It makes a wonderful 90 minute primer for anyone who wants to go on to watch thing Oscar-winning documentary from 1970 that focused on the musical performances. This American Experience episode focuses more on how the festival came to be, the many obstacles facing the organizers, the many issues faced by all concerned throughout the event, and many first hand accounts with much previously unseen footage of the people who met as a temporary city, “half a million strong,” and left part of a world that would never be the same.

Given the horrifying trends of selfishness, bigotry, and greed plaguing America today, from the highest office in the land down to its smallest communities, it is refreshing to be reminded that the enlightened spirit love and peace that burst upon our collective society fifty years ago this weekend still lives in many hearts across the land, even if they are currently being shouted down and drowned out by the forces of hatred and violence.

I had tears in my eye at the end of the program, for what once was, and what may yet be, and so much that has been wasted on the way.

Check it out on PBS.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/woodstock/

PBS Woodstock American Experience

Woodstock Concert Broadcast on Anniversary

Entire Woodstock Concert “As it Happened”

WXPN Philadelphia 8/15 – 8/18 – Available On-Line

XPN presents Woodstock — As It Happened — 50 Years On

Thankfully the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair aka An Aquarian Exhibition: 3 Days of Peace, Love, and Music starts on a Thursday, rather than a Friday as it did in 1969. This means the final act, Jimi Hendrix, will air at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, rather than on a Monday.

After all these years, I am shocked to learn the audio from the ENTIRE Woodstock concert has been preserved and will be broadcast in its entirety, in order, at the same time of day. I had assumed many of the lesser-known acts were either never documented, or were left on the cutting room floors over all the years of released and re-released material.

I guess it is too much to be hoped I can figure out how to record the acts I will be sleeping through.

Broadcast Schedule –

Note: many nights reach way past midnight

Thursday, August 15: Woodstock poster
5:07 p.m. — Richie Havens
7:10 p.m. — Swami Satchidanadna
7:30 p.m. — Sweetwater
8:30 p.m. — Bert Sommer
9:20 p.m. — Tim Hardin
10:20 p.m. — Ravi Shankar
11:20 p.m. — Melanie
11:55 p.m. — Arlo Guthrie

Friday, August 16:
12:55 a.m. — Joan Baez
12:30 p.m. — Quill
1:20 p.m. — Country Joe McDonald
2 p.m. — Santana
3:30 p.m. — John B. Sebastian
4:45 p.m. — The Keef Hartley Band
6 p.m. — The Incredible String Band
7:30 p.m. — Canned Heat
9 p.m. — Mountain
10:30 p.m. — Grateful Dead

Saturday, August 17:
12:30 a.m. — Creedence Clearwater Revival
2 a.m. — Janis Joplin
3:30 a.m. — Sly & The Family Stone
5 a.m. — The Who
8 a.m. — Jefferson Airplane
2 p.m. — Joe Cocker
6:30 p.m. — Country Joe & The Fish
8:15 p.m. — Ten Years After
10 p.m. — The Band

Sunday, August 18
12 a.m. — Johnny Winter
1:30 a.m. — Blood, Sweat & Tears
3 a.m. — Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
6 a.m. — The Butterfield Blues Band
7:30 a.m. — Sha Na Na
9 a.m. — Jimi Hendrix

Moonwalker

Moonwalker Moonwalk

A Thriller of a Moonwalk

And yet how soon we forgot the significance of the Moonwalker

In the late 1990s I was directing a play in New York City with a cast of some six or eight actors, all in their twenties. The action was set across the 1960s and beyond. And part of the plot included a young co-ed having an affair with one of her professors.

I had remarked to the cast that there had come a time when I vowed to myself that I would never date a girl who was born after the Moonwalk.

One of the cast members immediately responded, “Oh I remember that! My mom got me out of bed to watch it.” And a general murmur went around in agreement of the shared experience.

She was referring to Michael Jackson’s backwards stroll in 1983, on some Motown anniversary TV show. And it turned out every actor in the room was thinking of the same performance.

It did not occur to one person that I was referring to what is arguably the most significant achievement in the history of human endeavor since the invention of writing or arithmetic.

And not one of them was aware that Michael Jackson didn’t invent the shuffling dance steps with which he is now and forever associated. Similar versions of it had been captured on film or video from Cab Calloway in the 1930s to James Brown in the 1980s. Names they had heard of but really had no idea who they might refer to.

Even the name “moonwalk” for such a dance move appears to have originated in a 1969 episode of Sid and Marty Kroffts’ Saturday morning children’s TV show H. R. Pufnstuf.

I am glad the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 has brought attention to the magnificent achievement of all involved, and reminded or enlightened people today of the astounding limitations of science and engineering at the time it all took place. But I perceive how it matters much more to those who were alive when it happened than those who were not.

But that is just the way it goes, in this nation at least.

I also remember directing a different play with a different cast, and having to explain significant historical events relating to the Civil Rights Movement to a group of African-American actors who had no idea who Medgar Evers was or even Malcolm X, although these college-educated young adults had heard the name. Dr. King of course they knew, but not with much intimacy.

But then, I had always been saddened and appalled by how ignorant many American actors are about history, even the immediate history of their own era. And they tend to need to know about history for professional reasons more than most other Americans.

It has since become obvious that many Americans are just as appallingly ignorant of history, geography, and so on, and probably more so. Even worse, the complete lack of critical thinking that once upon a time had to be mastered to get anywhere near a Master’s degree, seems to have been purposely removed from university requirements.

How can we expect our citizens to make informed decisions if they are so uninformed, or do not understand the important differences between decisions based upon knowledge acquired through verifiable and empirical evidence, and believing whatever sounds good to one’s prejudiced desires?

How can we expect our citizens to recognize the warning signs of Fascism if they do not even remember what it was, or even understand what the word actually means?

(Fascism has no inherent connection to things like White Supremacy, Racism, or Antisemitism, even if it appeals to many of their practitioners.

According to Giovanni Gentile, the philosophical father of modern Fascism, it is defined as the marriage of corporate and government power, where the industrial corporations have the power to regulate themselves and the rights and wages of their workers, with the government enforcing and protecting corporate power, and profiting from placing the needs of the corporations above all other things.

In practice, this was achieved by replacing the power of democratic majority rule with a political ruling class who do not have to obey laws in the same way as the basic citizen. Sound familiar?)

Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day

Your word for Sunday 21st July is: moonwalker, n.

moonwalker, n.

[‘A sleepwalker. rare—0.’]

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈmuːnˌwɔːkə/,  U.S. /ˈmunˌwɔkər/, /ˈmunˌwɑkər/

Origin: Formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: moon n.1, walker n.1

Etymology: <  moon n.1 + walker n.1 In sense 1 after moonwalking n. In senses 2 and 3 after moonwalk n.

  1. A sleepwalker. rare—0.

1950 Webster’s New Internat. Dict.  Add. Moonwalking, sleepwalking outdoors in bright moonlight.—Moonwalker.

  1. A person who walks on the moon; an astronaut.

1969 Times  3 June (Suppl.) p. iii/1 The two moon-walkers will be in the lunar module’s upper, or ascent stage.

1994 Guardian  1 July ii. 28/1 If..lunar voyages had become commonplace, the moonwalkers themselves would seem no more exotic now to the rest of us than Concorde pilots.

2007  G. Heiken  & E. Jones On Moon  456 All of the moonwalkers adapted to lunar gravity quickly and easily.

  1. A person who performs the moonwalk (see moonwalk n. 2).

1986 Chicago Tribune(Nexis) 23 Feb. vii. 6/1 Singer Michael Jackson and his brothers backed into a neighborhood moonwalker in the 1984 Pepsi commercials.

1988  M. Jackson(title of film) Moonwalker.

1993 Sports Illustr.(Electronic ed.) 27 Sept. Then he tosses an 18-yarder to Michael Jackson—the wideout, not the moonwalker.

1999 Herald (Glasgow)(Electronic ed.) 25 Nov. It will not be the first time the dancing moonwalker has appeared in front of the cameras. Jackson gave film a go in 1978 when he appeared as a scarecrow in The Wiz.

Michael Jackson moonwalk

 

 

 

June!

How I do mourn your passing each year, my dearest June

So much rests in your welcoming arms,

those brief weeks when all is as it should be in these local environs, this fantasy of a world gone right, when we humans and our animal friends seem to flourish happily in the petri dish of ideal conditions, euphoric from the off-gassing of the perfect weather for being out of doors, when each half-hour at your bosom enlivens and recharges hearts and souls; all the while a miserly, little clerk from some Dickensian counting house is ticking off the days before the sticky throng of humid slimery descends like evil, stifling cling wrap to mummify us under muggy, clammy layers, or else imprison us behind pollen proof windows and the labored wheezing of the window air conditioner well along into its feeble retirement pension, across blistering months too long to make sense of, until the coming of the dank, and the cold, and the dark that follows.
 
I miss you before your are fully gone, and live the year ahead banking on the slender salvation of your return, you cruel, cruel mistress.

The Actor’s Nightmare

It’s been years since I’ve had the full-blown actor’s nightmare.

I awake on a picnic-strewn blanket in the center of a brightly lit stage behind a traditional proscenium in a 300 seat theater. Not only do I not know any of my lines, I do not even remember rehearsing with these people.

Early twentieth-century dress. Ah Wilderness!? Chekhov? But no, there is no improvising my way through this one. It is Shakespeare. Measure for Measure, Act II.

My blanket-mate has a copy of the text hidden in a book! But I can never find exactly where we are in the script.
As people stomp this way and that with their arguments, I realize maybe I am part of some director’s concept about the general public waiting to judge those who had down judgement from positions of power. So I start acting in that manner, a member of the jury. Until my blanket-mate suddenly stands up to become Isabella.
 
My turn to “enter” is coming but I still don’t know I am, until the action stops and people glare at me for missing my cue.
 
And then a loud demanding meow tells me I have missed my real cue and Nisa New is heralding certain death from starvation if I do not get up and put food in her bowl.
 
I awoke on a sweat-strewn blanket, feeling like I need eight hours sleep.
There are few dreams that stay with me. Some I remember from decades ago, including various renditions of the actor’s nightmare, going back to my teenage years.
Actor's Nightmare stage

Dunkirk Done Right

Today, 79 years ago, the siege at Dunkirk was at its savage height

The small screen managed to do a better job of it than the big screen

I wanted to recommend a VERY good dramatization about Dunkirk that I saw recently – and I do not mean the cinematic Twilight Zone episode that got all the hype two years ago.
 
It is a three-part mini-series (three hours in total) from 2004, which is currently on Britbox. But it may be findable elsewhere.
 
Part docudrama narrated by Timothy Dalton, part scripted drama, it gives a much better idea of what a shitstorm it really was, compared to the artistic license version we saw in the cinemas.
 
And Benedict Cumberbatch is featured in the last part, when he was just starting to be recognized as someone special. “Bennie” loses his celebrity status quickly and is truly terrific as one of the real-life lions in those dark hours.
 
Not that the 2017 film wasn’t a good movie. But as my review puts it back in the day, it was a creative way to try to tell the re-examined metaphysical tale, rather than spend the zillions required to tell the actual one.
 
And in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, my review doesn’t spoil very much at all.
 

Remember this day!

Pancho Villa and others at the very first Fiesta de la tarro vacía

Rare photo recently discovered

Sinko de Mayo

A contemplative Villa (left) and a glum Zapata (2nd from right) face an uncertain future

In Mexico during the time of the Revolution, mayonnaise was a national obsession. More of the condiment was consumed there than any other one place on earth, with Hong Kong a distant second.

In fact, leaders on both sides of the conflict were crazy for the stuff. But it was Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata circa 1910, who spread the spread among the common people, as it were, so that its popularity soared.

In those days, England was the mayonnaise capital of the world, with Cross & Blackwell’s, and Hellmann’s as the most popular brands, and the largest shipment of all time, some tens of thousands of jars, set out from Southampton by steamship on April 10, 1912, bound for Vera Cruz, by way of Cherbourg, New York, Charleston, and Havana.

But as history showed, the vessel was none other than the ill-fated H.M.S. Titanic, which struck an iceberg and sank on April 15th.

When news arrived in Mexico twenty days later, the war-torn people were devastated. Their anguish was so great that a truce was declared between the Federales and the rebel factions, for one day of mourning. And thus was held the very first Fiesta de la tarro vacía (Feast of the Empty Jar.)

(photo: Museos de México)

feast2

It has been observed ever since, on this very day, now known colloquially as Sinko de Mayo.

Thank you, I’m here all week …

 

April is the Cruelest Month

Funny

How I’d almost forgotten what it’s like

That buoyant highline ride across a string of performances that just won’t let you stop til it’s all done.

But after two days of wake-up, travel, play til numb, stare at alien bedroom ceiling, get up too soon after a dawn ice storm, absorb coffee and carbs, play too many hours too long but not stop even after the last video is shot, prattle on over burgers before bed, and then performing for a third day at the Martin Museum despite swollen fingers and the unexpected construction of a special presentation site for a private, deep-pocketed tour heard just off-camera, and ending up in a hotel room rented to construct our own makeshift video studio because some new Martins suddenly became available at the Distribution Center, just as I was on my way to that stage coach home, I still ended up spending Friday night back in Brooklyn, vibrating in front of my best friends while gratefully absorbing their 21-year-old Balblair and Insanely-year-old Caol Ila, and then staring at my own bedroom ceiling only to not be able sleep past 7 on Saturday, what with my girlfriend sick as a dog in Florida when I can’t take care of her, and so much back log of writing to do after the soul-crushing fatigue of my own 30-day bout of the flu has finally dissipated just in time for this past week’s trip.

And here I am on Saturday night, now after midnight, after a good sushi dinner with “super dry” hot sake, after borrowing a pre-CBS seafoam green Stratocaster, after one too many glasses of the Great Malt Which Wounds from the Isle of Skye, after Season 1 episode 2 of Grantchester, here I sit, with roommates and cat having given up long before.

And 11 hours from now I head out, Strat in hand, to the plush Battalion Studios in Gowanus for a large amplifier reunion jam with my 1990s rock band, the Cheese Beads. (And me with no ear plugs!)

I have a sneaking suspicion that sometime Monday morning I will fall off the proverbial cliff…

Until the next tour gets underway.

But at least that one will require of my fingers little beyond giving massages to some very special toes situated near, if not always on, a beach in Florida, and lapping up some sun and sea.

I’ve never been that far south before. I hear it’s nice there.