Hippie Holidays!

So anyway, I’m sitting here trying to come up with some Christmas gift ideas for my bride, when my eyes fall upon an ad for something called “Instant Pot.” Whoa! Can this really be what the name suggests? Has some genius finally designed a system for creating weed without having to go through the whole planting, cultivating, and harvesting thing?

Alas, upon reading further, the full details of the “Instant Pot” became clear … it is nothing more than a new kitchen appliance that can be used to cook a wide range of foods in a variety of ways. Sigh … well, I guess that is a pretty good idea as well.

In my defense, my initial thoughts about this product were likely driven by fond reminisces of my recent visit to the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, and the fact that 25299353_10155944387606730_3239219049300052954_nthe 50th Anniversary of that singular event is just over the horizon. But come to think of it, perhaps there is more to it than just that … maybe there is, as some have suggested, some sort of a magical connection between Hippies, marijuana and Christmas.

For example, what should we make of the fact that the words C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S and W-O-O-D-S-T-O-C-K have the same number of letters? Or that S-A-I-N-T-N-I-C-K and W-A-V-Y-G-R-A-V-Y are identical in length? What about M-I-S-T-L-E-T-O-E and M-A-X-Y-A-S-G-U-R? Are these all mere coincidences? You be the judge.

There is even some speculation that Santa, himself, may be an occasional toker. Those who take that position cite, as evidence, several of his well known behaviors that are common to regular users of marijuana. For example:

Munchies It is a well known fact that smoking marijuana creates an appetite for copious amounts of tasty and binge-worthy food. Santa loves cookies … think of how many he eats in just one night!

Forgetfulness One notable side of effect of marijuana use is the way it is said to affect memory. Santa needs to keep a list for everything and, as we know, he has to check it twice. The guy can’t even remember who’s naughty and who’s nice!

Paranoia Like many marijuana users, Santa goes to great lengths to conceal his location and even his very existence!

Always Happy Stoners readily admit that, when high, it is difficult to suppress their giggles. Santa is always smiling, laughing and generally jolly. What does that tell you?

As we all cross our fingers wondering what we will find under the tree on Christmas morning, stoners can breathe easy. In North Pole, Alaska, a member of the city council by the name of Santa Claus (yes, his real name) took exception to a recent ordinance that prohibits a marijuana business in his city. He even went public with his objection noting: “Cannabis users will not be getting coal in their stockings unless they have done some other thing that might be considered egregious.”

Hippie Holidays!

Stirring the “Pot”

Wrapping up a speaking engagement at a local high school, I had left some time for questions from the assembled students. The topic had been Woodstock and, since the students had been required to read “Dear Hippie … We Met at Woodstock: One Cop’s Memories of the 1969 Woodstock Festival,” there were a number of good questions about things like crowd size, weather conditions, music of that era and drug use.

As the class period came to an end, one young lady began to raise her hand, only to have her neighbor pull it back down. I decided to call on her for the last question anyway and, very softly, she posed one I had never been asked at a session like this: “Did you ever smoke pot?”

Whoa.

When the laughter in the hall began to subside, I thanked her for asking, and then answered truthfully: “No … at least not intentionally.” I went on to explain that the use of marijuana by concert-goers over those three days at Woodstock was so ubiquitous across the entire region that anyone within a twenty mile radius of the concert stage – including me – stood a good chance of experiencing some level of “contact high.” I was exaggerating, of course … but not much.

There is a popular aphorism concerning those who share their memories of that special time in Bethel, New York: “When someone says they remember Woodstock they probably weren’t there.” This is a sly reference, of course, to the purported negative impact marijuana use has upon memory … and it also helps explain (kiddingly) why it has taken so long to legalize pot: “The hippies kept forgetting where they left the petitions.”

With all this said, I have fond and strong memories of my time working as a police officer at this once-in-a-lifetime event. Recently, I was able to reinforce many of those recollections during a visit to the original concert site, and a tour of the lovely Museum at Bethel Woods, New York. The weather the day of my visit was pleasant, so my wife and I walked along Hurd Road … visited the meadow where it all took place … inscribed our names on a memorial … it was all good.

Walking through the Museum, itself, is an ideal way to get a sense of what occurred at that very location almost fifty years ago. Video presentations and static displays provide context and depth not only to the concert, but to the cultural conflict that was taking place in the United States at that time as well. We shopped around the Bindy Bazaar Museum Shop, of course, and picked up a few souvenirs … we even checked on my book! (see photo below)

In their song “Old Hippie,” the Bellamy Brothers sang of a fellow in his fifties who “dreams at night of Woodstock and the day John Lennon died,” all the while struggling to make sense of the societal changes going on around him. I suspect that many folks who came of age during the Woodstock era can understand the quandary of that old hippie trying to navigate a world he no longer understands. For me, a periodic journey back to Bethel is a refresher … a way to reconnect with a wonderful time in a truly extraordinary place.

Reflecting back on a singular event like Woodstock, I am reminded of the wisdom of Steven Wright: “Whenever I think of the past it brings back so many memories!”

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Woodstock Book Now Available at The Museum at Bethel Woods

We are very excited about the recent good news that the book Dear Hippie … We Met at Woodstock is now available for purchase at the Museum at Bethel Woods in New York.  This lovely facility – which is located on the grounds of the 1969 Woodstock Festival – does a wonderful job of collecting, tending and preserving the history of that iconic event.  The setting is beautiful, and fond memories abound.  For those who were there, this museum provides a wonderful trip down memory lane (especially if memories are a bit vague).  For those who weren’t there but want to know about the event itself along with a sense of the times, this facility is outstanding.  Their site can be found and enjoyed at bethelwoodscenter.org

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Hippie Holidays!

With the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival only a couple of years off, I got to wondering how some veterans of that iconic event might be celebrating Christmas.  In their song Old Hippie Christmas, the Bellamy Brothers give us one possible answer:

All the kids made up their wish lists, Sunshine wants the A-bomb banned

Rainbow wants to go to ‘Frisco in an old Volkswagen van,

And the black lights and the lava lamps are flashin’ all about

And Santa in his sandals leaves us little doubt

That Christmas time is almost here and it’s gonna be far out

Some younger folks may not be clear on the reference to black lights and lava lamps, and the mention of banning the A-bomb is somewhat dated, but those of us who were around the 60’s and 70’s get it.  And as the song suggests Christmas, without a doubt, is going to be “Far Out.”tumblr_mxjphf1w2f1s1vvomo1_1280

Christmas Shopping for Hippies

If you are looking for that last minute gift for an aging Hippie (or a Hippie “wannabe”), our latest book Dear Hippie … We Met at Woodstock might be a good choice.  The paperback version is in stock and can be received by Christmas, and the Kindle version is currently being offered at a reduced price.  Both are available at Amazon.com.  Simply type Dear Hippie in the Amazon search box and it appears instantly.

Our pre-Christmas book signing events were lots of fun, with many folks stopping by to share their recollections of the 60’s and 70’s.  For many, the memories and images of Woodstock remain vivid.  And while nobody adorned themselves in tie-dyed clothing and sandals, the conversations included a fair number of Woodstock-era phrases like “Far Out”, “Groovy” and “I’m Digging It!”

Perhaps there is more than a little truth in the popular saying: “Old hippies never die … they just flashback!”

Woodstock Memories

It has been a delightful labor of love getting to this point, and I am pleased to announce that our latest book Dear Hippie … We Met at Woodstock has been published and is now available in paperback through Amazon.  Subtitled One Cop’s Memories of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, the digital/Kindle version will also be on Amazon within the next two weeks.

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Though the event took place almost fifty years ago (August 15-17, 1969), writing about my time there as a police officer brought back a number of fond memories, many of which I included in the book.  For example, while the organizers of Woodstock only planned for a crowd of about 50,000 people, an estimated half million actually found their way to Max Yasgur’s 600 acre dairy farm in bucolic Bethel, New York.  Fun fact: when the “official” tally of attendees was noted, that colossal number  made the little town of Bethel – at that moment in time – the second largest community in New York State!

Needless to say, concert organizers and government entities quickly were  overwhelmed.  With chaos seeming inevitable, catastrophe was averted through a grassroots spirit of cooperation and collaboration between Hippies and cops.  Though the few police officers assigned to work at Woodstock did a commendable job of providing essential services under very difficult circumstances, the young concert-goers, themselves, were remarkably cooperative, kind and generous.

The iconic images of Woodstock are ordinarily those of crowds, traffic jams, rain, mud … and did I mention traffic jams?  When all was said and done, though, thousands of Hippies and a handful of cops had worked together – and succeeded – in keeping things relatively calm … and peace, love and music prevailed.

 

 

 

Hippie Transportation

Volkswagens have been a significant part of  my life for more than fifty years.  My love affair with this great little vehicle began with the green beetle that I bought new upon returning home from overseas in 1965, and continues to this day with a beetle convertible. Over the years our family rolling stock has included a Super Beetle and a Squareback, and we were never disappointed with these very dependable (but small) modes of transportation.

When I became a police officer in the late 1960’s it immediately became clear to me that I was not the only person enamored of VW beetles … they were also the primary mode of transportation for that group of young people commonly referred to (at that time) as “Hippies.”  The ubiquitous bug seemed to be everywhere at that time, and with good reason … they were relatively inexpensive, easy to maintain and fairly reliable.

The Volkswagen beetles of that era also had several little-publicized features that, for some, were very important … they had a number of interior nooks and crannies that were perfect for hiding contraband like (gasp) marijuana.  And if the owner of that type of car was so inclined, the beetle also had a good-sized open area under the back seat that could conceal large quantities of … well, most anything.

Despite all these neat hiding places, I always wondered why the occupants of VW beetles were not better at keeping illegal items out of sight.  On many occasions, after stopping one of those cars for a traffic violation, I would approach the driver’s window only to see marijuana or other sorts of contraband lying on the seat or the floor in plain view.  How could this happen?  Did the occupants forget that this material was just sitting there?

Well, to answer my own question … that, in fact, may have been the reason.  One of the side effects of marijuana use is reported to be diminished powers of recall … and just for the record, my fading memory is attributable to age rather than the ravages of drug use!  But speaking of drugs, I am reminded of the reason why it has taken so long for marijuana to be legalized … the Hippies kept forgetting where they left the petitions! (smile)

The Road to Woodstock

Just finished reading Michael Lang’s book titled “The Road to Woodstock.”  Lang was one of the organizers of the 1969 Festival, and his book gave an excellent overview of all the highs (no pun intended) and lows of putting on this iconic event.  I had the good fortune to be assigned there as a member of the Dutchess County (NY) Sheriff’s Office, and it was a remarkable experience!  In his book Lang focused, primarily, on the work of contracting the bands and the plethora of other services that would be required for a gathering of this magnitude.  He also wrote of the crush of people, the traffic, the mud and a number of other things that I remember very well.  This was a good read which provided an excellent refresher on some of the details that have faded over the years.