I got home from work late on Friday, it was a hot one and I was exhausted to the point of delirium. My buddy Sully and I had been painting a house in Framingham all that day and had been listening to the radio. All they could talk about was Woodstock, hype it about this, hype it about that, live reports the whole shebang. I started to entertain the idea of attending, it was just a matter of getting out there. During lunch, I checked out the map, Rome NY wasn't that far, so I started to make mental possibilities. Kid Rock and Staind were playing Lowell that night...I could get a ride out there, then bum a ride off staind or anyone going from there. but by the time I got home from work I was so tired I just passed out.

I woke up early saturday morning and felt pumped up on life. I put on the Cro-Mags "Age of Quarrel" on the record player and decided to go for it. Look out Woodstock, here I come. I could drive the TREE van out there but to be honest I didn't want to take the responsibility of having our one and only van out there so I decided to hitchhike, I figured I had plenty of day light and as long as I could get there before dark I'd be alright. Besides I'm no stranger to thumbing when I was younger I did it all the time, it's a risk but it's way more of endurance and survival skills. Getting there was one thing..getting in was another. I had heard that because the festival was held on an air force base that if I tried to break in and got caught that it was a federal offense. Well, federal offense or not I figured I'd risk it, besides, if worse came to worse and I couldn't get in, I'd just spend the night in the woods, maybe meet up with others like myself, and thumb back home in the morning. So I packed a day, duct taped my tent to the bag, rolled up a sheet with TREE spray painted on it, grabbed some spring water and walked down ot the mass pike. I live in Allston Rock City so the mass pike was close by. On the way down, I picked a piece of card board out of the trash and made a 2 sided sign. One sign said "mass pike west" and the other "woodstock, rome" or whatever and just like that I was back on the road. I felt a little self conscious as I stood by the highway entrance with my sign that someone I know might see me but I think that goes back to the early days of thumbing in westwood where if a parent or teacher saw me thumbing..not only would I get a dirty look but then they would spread it around town, stupid gossip to put me down. Well, I stood there for close to an hour and was beginning to think it wasn't such a good idea, when I got my first ride. A small car that was making a lot of noise pulled over and opened it's door to me. Inside was a guy that moved up to the United States from El Salvador in the early eighties. We talked about the Contras and American involvement in Latin America. He knew a lot of facts that I was unaware of, but the description of the cultural climate and everyday life during that period is what really blew me away. Americans in general are so unaware of the crimes our country is responsible for, the murder, the bloodshed, the deceit, I don't wonder why we are hated around the world. It's our foreign policy of selfishness, Joe Strummer wasn't kidding when he called us the dictators of the world. Anyway, he was cool and held no real malice for Americans because after living here he was that the people here are sheep.

Now, hitchhiking on the mass pike is against the law so I had to be creative. My El Salvador friend was only going to worcester, so after I sang some Minutemen songs for him, I had him drop me off at a rest area before his exit. He was a house painter just like me and I thanked him for the ride. At the rest area I decided to tie on the ol' feed bag while eating my spaghetti and meatballs. I surveyed the restaurant for possible rides...nothing but "normal" people, none of which would ever offer a Patriot like myself a ride. I did spot these two biker looking guys in the back, heavily tattooed, over six feet, looking fairly dangerous, so I strolled over and asked them for a lift. They turned out to be ex-cons from California and were trying out their luck at trucking and were waiting for a call for more work, but if it didn't come thru they'd be heading west and offered me a ride. We went back to their truck which was near where you get back on the Pike so as we waited for the word, I continued to thumb. I could tell no one was going to pick me up. I was hoping I would run into people heading out to Woodstock but I was beginning to think everyone going there had already gone and here I am stuck at a rest area in Wormtown. Again, I was having second thoughts when I got my second ride. A hippy looking guy in a Volkswagon bus pulled over and offered me a ride. When I jumped in and closed the door behind me he asked if my friends were coming. He thought the truckers were with me, now, I might look a little weird but these guys had gang tattoos on their faces and looked criminal, this kid was brave and I knew he's be alright, so I broke out the little kindness that I had and shared it with him. He was going to Lee Mass which is almost at the New York state line ...once there I knew I could get a ride to Rome. It was a turning point, even though he wasn't going, he had the mind set I needed to make this adventure happen. After listening to Phil Ochs and Bob Marley for a couple of hours, he dropped me off at the last rest area in Massachusetts and man did I have to take a piss, No sooner had i finished when these loud kids maybe in their early twenties barge in, I walk outside and I wait. When one comes out I ask him if he's going to Woodstock he says Yeah, so I ask him for a ride..he asks if I like beer and just like that I have my third and final ride. They were from Connecticut and there were three car loads of them and they were real cool to me. Lots of beer, food and herb...I was all set except the driver was a little buzzed and drove like a maniac. I thought we were going to crash at least a dozen times but he got me there.

We stopped and got more beer in Rome and then sat in traffic, hiding guzzles of beer from the police on bicycles. I saw license plates from all over but Michigan had it hands down. We creeped by these anti-abortion activists that displayed giant posters of aborted fetuses in an effort to shock, but these same people are against t.v. commercials for condoms or distribution of free condoms and yet they blow away doctors, shoot up women's clinics...pro-life, yet they take life...they're hypocrites and very dangerous because they are not all there. Sure..there's got to be a better way but sex cannot be denied ..it's part of being human and we can't overpopulate the planet so we've got to be smart about it, leave god out of it, and don't get hysterical. So, we reach the entrance and there are people everywhere, from hippies to punks and everything in between. I'm finally feeling I made the right decision. After an hour, we finally park the car and get out..it's about 5:30pm..I left Allston at about 11am..I couldn't have made it out faster even if I took the van but i still had to get in and then find a way home. Once out of the car I sized up the wall for weaknesses, as I went about my business..this kid asked me if I wanted to buy a wristband...damn, was I that obvious?? what do you mean a wristband to get in?? for how much?? He's like $25. You gotta be scamming me ...I'm here 5 minutes and now I have a ticket for $25?? so, how's that work??? He told me he and his friends have been here since thursday and were able to steal a bunch of wristbands, I checked his out with some people walking by and they were the same, so I paid him. I went back to the car and told the Conn. kids what just happened and directed them to this kid, I hadn't even finished my beer before they all came back with wristbands. They all wanted to go in immediately but here I am with a 30pack and no place to hide it..so, I just thank them for the ride and watch them go.

I start walking, my bag is heavy and weighing me down, the sun is hot and unforgiving. I need to find a way in and make a plan. I follow the flow of people and pass by these peace-keepers who tell me to cover my beer, which I do, and I keep walking. Pretty soon I'm on a road with tents all around me. I thought I was in a camp ground outside the festival when some kid asked me what I had under the towel. I told him it was my beer, he replied "why are you hiding your beer , this is woodstock! " "I'm in? " I asked amazed and he just laughed and said I was all set. so here I am in woodstock with beer without even knowing it. I regretted paying the $25..the security was a joke...why even build a wall? I kept walking towards one of the main stages looking for a place to camp...there were so many people, so many tents...every inch of grass was occupied. I finally found a hole of green in a sea of tents and I set up camp one row back from the landing strip. My first thought, after I set up was, I've got to find someone I know to secure a ride home. My friend, Julie Duffy, was there working for Westwood One, she couldn't give me a ride but she could possibly get me a backstage pass, which means FREE BEER, so off I went alone in the mass of screaming idiots. It's a strange feeling being alone surrounded by so many people. I feel like an astronaut, caught up in an alien culture, observing rituals undetected do to my disguise. I look like the rest of them but I still don't fit in. All these dumb ass jock guys screaming "show us your tits" makes me sick, How and why that mentality is tolerated is beyond me, but it's not only tolerated it's encouraged as if screaming that shit makes you more of a man. I think it's a true sign of weakness.

I keep seeing familiar features in the faces of strangers, if these people are not family related they must come from the same tribe. I have to stop myself several times because the people I recognize turn out to be someone else. Everyone travels in packs..I feel like I'm the only one all alone. I move thru the crowd like a ghost. No one notices as i cross their path. I feel like a cheetah in the tall grass, prowling without disturbing a blade. Limp Bizkit is on stage and I make up to the red cross gate which was stage left. It's about as close as I wanted to get, the crowd was going off. There were so many people it was unbelievable ...to play in front of such a large crowd..that's all into it must be the biggest buzz. It's also a great responsibility ..a sea of people hanging on your every word...dancing to all the songs and singing along, a lot of shit can happen. I'm thinking how sick it is when the first bleeding girl gets carried by me. She had a bloody nose and was crying, it didn't look too bad but I'm sure she was shaken up. Then the next girl gets carried by me pouring blood, a giant crimson gash cuts down here forehead..that's a lot of stitches...she's in a daze and the blood keeps coming. I'm thinking..wow, people are really getting hurt. The music stops and I think the band is trying to calm people down but I can't really hear too well. so I don't know what's going on except that Limp Bizkit was tearing the place up. I'm just standing in the middle of al this chaos when I get spotted. "what the hell are you doing here?" it's Tara, she works with Steve Morse who writes for the Boston Globe. I tell her I thumbed out there that day and I just go in for $25, she gets a kick out of it and directs me over to Steve who is towering over all the kids, myself included. He pulled out his notebook and asked for a quote. I said something about leaving the real world and entering another mental dimension. It was woodstock but not the 69 version of peace and love... this was the 99 version of sex and drugs, no one here cared about politics or a revolutionary counter culture. It was just a chance to party real hard. Not that the first woodstock was full of activists but they were breaking new ground with personal freedoms and they did question what America was all about. The Vietnam war did portray America as an aggressor with questionable motives. The Tonkin gulf episode was fabricated and the Hippie generation called them on it. Today the majority dwells in apathy they know it's a scam and don't give a damn. Realistically, what can one do? i feel powerless too, but you gotta try because when it comes to die at least you'll know you gave it you're best effort. It's got to start somewhere. We are the cancer and it's up to us to be the answer, so it's got to start here. The sooner the better before it's too late. You don't have to be an "expert" to see the weather has taken a drastic turn for the worse. Sure, we've always had tornados but they would drop down in Kansas not New Hampshire, maybe they would, I'm no expert but it appears to me the number of tornados are on the rise, the number of earthquakes are on the rise, the number of floods, the number of hurricanes. As the rate for natural disasters rises so does the death toll.

The one fact I know for sure is the ozone is depleting, I never burned in the sun but summer after summer I burn, the greenhouse effect is in full effect....and as the global temperature rises ..the coast gets consumed and the eye of the hurricane is created with greater frequency. The powers that be are fully aware of the dire situation of our atmosphere yet they stall and tell us that it can't be proven. Chicken little was right,,,the sky is falling and the kids today at woodstock know it and are powerless. They don't have the hope of 69' ..they know they're doomed. It was another mental dimension alright, a mental dimension of desperation. A desperate need to have fun before it's all done. With my quote in place, I grab Tara's cell phone and reach out for Julie Duffy, I heard rumors that cell phones wouldn't work at woodstock but I had no real trouble getting thru...No real trouble except for the static, Limp Bizkit was playing and I could barely hear, but I was happy to make the connection. "Hey J Duff, what's up ..this is RIV and I made it in!" Luckily she was real close by and we made the rendezvous at the red cross gate and within minutes I was face to face with Julie Duffy. She gave me a big hug and then handed me an artist all access backstage pass but only after I promised not to cause any trouble....WHO ME??? Trouble??? so after swearing I'd be on my best behaviour she hooked me up. Just like that I was backstage at woodstock drinking free beer. I hung out and watched the rest of Limp Bizkit's set as they carried in more injured kids. Too many idiots moshing with no skills, no honor and no regard can lead to a big bloody mess. I know a lot of Americans wouldn't like to be compared to the Nazi's but the evidence is there. If you have doubts with my conclusions, please read "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" or "Black Elk Speaks" or "People's History of The United States" and see if you can argue the fact that we stand on stolen land with blood on our hands.....the crimes of the past run deep, but we must face our past, embrace our past and heal the scars we've caused. So ...Zach burns the flag and our representatives in Washington D.C. want to pass an amendment criminalizing this act of free speech, yet another symbol of America, the bald eagle, a living symbol, faces extinction and the boys in D.C. do nothing. Don't let them use veterans as an excuse for patriotism, they use our brothers and sisters as pawns for a foreign policy that puts money and power before all life ie: the Gulf War Syndrome, it's a damn shame to live in a country that claims to be the leader of the Free world and then bleeds freedom for all it's worth. So Zach burns the flag as a statement that goes over the heads of cattle but if the State had their way, he's be imprisoned for his beliefs, that's not freedom..that's fascist. Enough politics (for now) back to the show...I walk out into the crowd making my way back to my tent, Rage is still playing and the sound system is cranking. Even at my tent the music is still loud. I grab a couple of new TREE cds and head back. My plan is to hook the Rage guys up with TREE music and find out if it's us they thank on their CD or someone named TREE. On the way back I notice a growing number of "burnt out on drugs" casualties. They are usually alone,,sitting with their faces in their hands or just lying on their side ..staring out into space. Some sit, rocking back and forth muttering to themselves.Some walk like zombies with blankets over their heads but most are either sitting or lying down. ..too much acid or mushrooms.. I think to myself, but then again with all the "new" stuff out there, your guess is as good as mine..one thing is for sure..there were a lot of minds blown.

I make my way thru and get backstage, I head for the busses where the bands are hanging out. Security stops me ..checks my pass..and allows me to proceed with my mission. At the entrance of the band area they have a big piece of wood commemorating Woodstock 99' and all the bands sign it. I was real tempted but I promised to be good and fought off the urge. That's when Rage's bass player, Tim, walked by and I stop him , give him a cd and shake his hand. He's cool..looks at the CD and thanks me before walking away. Now let me fill you readers in on what it's like backstage in the band area. You'd think it would be a crazy party with members of different bands hanging out carrying on with a bunch of VIPs, hot girls and professional mayhem makers like myself, but it was positively subdued. Boring in fact, nobody hanging out and the few that were had that unapproachable air to them. This was my third or fourth time back in the land area and it felt weird to walk around back there because no one was friendly. I was to leave thinking I got the job done, I got the TREE cd to RAGE when I saw Zach talking to a black woman with dreads. I walk up, interrupt their conversation and give him a cd, I ask him if he's ever heard of us..he says no..I tell him everyone thinks we are ripping him off but i assure him it's not true, I then pardon myself and leave but not before I tell him he should take TREE on tour. I get the hell out of there and hang a left over to the Westwood One tent..some techs are drinking keg beer so I join them. One guy tells me how he got a girl backstage with his pass. I wasn't impressed so he went on to explain that it was his backstage pass to a blow job. I still wasn't impressed but humoured him by drinking tons of beer and telling stupid stories about myself and my friends.

Meanwhile Metallica are rocking out so I journey over and watch some of their set. They are the last band for saturday night and the third i've seen since i've arrived. It sucks to try and watch a band play with 50,000 people in your way. Sure, I'd love to play to that many people but it would mean you couldn't be playing in small rock clubs anymore. I think that's where the best shows are, it must kind of suck for bands like Metallica to forfeit the small intimate shows forever but I'm sure with the money they're making, they'll survive ..Metallica does about a dozen encores and finally call it quits. I have a few more beers at Westwood One..tell them about the secret rave party and I decide to head back to my tent. I can't get over how big this place is. I can't even see the second stage and as I walk by the Rave hanger there's got to be at least 10,000 pulsating to the drone. So many people, all fucked up, and I still haven't seen one fight. I'm surprised no one has fucked with me, everyone seems to be having a wild time and keeping it positive. I get back to my tent and have a seat in my neighbors chair. I put my TREE on my tent..like a banner..and had completely forgotten about it until this kid comes walking up and asks if I'm in TREE. I answer in affirmative and offer him a seat. It turns out the seats are his and his tent is next to mine, he came out with a couple of friends and they're all from worcester. Finally, some fellow massholes to drink with, I offer a beer and light up some green and we kick back.

I tell him of my adventure and he tells me of his..it's getting kind of cold so I light a small fire out of cardboard and trash and let it smoulder. Every time the flames rise I step them out allowing the coals to glow. I do this to attract as little attention to our warmth as possible. People randomly stop by and get warm. We talk ..smoke butts and they leave to be replaces by someone new. It lasts for about an hour or so until a security patrol spots our fun and sprays it down, putting it out for good. I take it as a sign and retire to my tent for some much needed shut eye. I woke up the next day sweating bullets, I crawl outside and the worcester kids are already up drinking and smoking. I need water and finish off what I had. I eat two granny smith apples and eat a bagel I share the rest of my bagels and grab a beer. The sun is doing what it does best and beats the heat down, it's not even 10 in the morning ..I already feel oppressed. I realign the TREE bed sheet banner so it stretches from my tent to their's creating a pocket of shade in which to kick back in and start drinking. It wasn't my idea but I soon found my beers on ice with one in my hand. Hey, I was the only one with beer so I had to share. I took two out and hid them for later cuz that's the nature of the beast. A bunch of people kept stopping by, it was great..it was my first tent party at woodstock with complete strangers.