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Not in Kansas Anymore MAG
Thesun beat down on my dirty, shirtless body as I walked the mile to theshowers. My feet ached from the previous night's action. I finallyreached the sprinkler tent
and, not surprisingly, it was full.De-termined to feel the cool water, I squeezed into the mob. I pushed myway closer to the beautiful sprinkler, but my dream of a shower soonturned into a nightmare: an obese, 40-year-old man stood - completelynude - just inches in front of me. I quickly turned and clawed my wayout of the tent even faster than I had entered. A shower could wait.After all, there were only two days left of Woodstock '99.
Woodstock '99 was a music-lover's dream. Some of my favoritebands, including The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Creed, Kid Rock, RageAgainst the Machine, Live, Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers, werethere, among many great acts. The festival was on Griffith Air ForceBase, which closed down after the Cold War. There were two stagesseparated by an area the size of my town, Ellinwood. In this space, morethan 100 shops sold things like tie-dye, piercing, tobacco pipes andincense. Make no mistake: this was nothing like the central Kansas townI was used to.
Some differences between Ellin-wood and Woodstock:People in my town often wear conservative clothes. People at Woodstockoften wore no clothes. People in Ellinwood often have lawns full ofgrass. People at Woodstock often had pipes full of grass. A bottle ofwater in Ellinwood costs 89 cents. At Woodstock it ran $5. Woodstock wasa different world, and that is an understatement.
With two daysof Woodstock under my belt, my body was drained. I had been on my feetfor over 30 hours and eaten practically nothing. This, however, was ahidden blessing, because then I didn't have to use the port-a-potties,though rivers of urine and filth drained from them into our campingarea.
As night fell, I ventured into a huge plane hangar where arave was going on. After a good dose of culture shock, I decided to headto the campground. Lying on my air mattress, I reminisced about the twodays and decided the best, most wild experiences had already happened.But day number three changed that conclusion.
Ah, a new day, Ithought. Morning at Woodstock was a time of recuperation. Peeringoutside my tent, I was greeted with, "What's up, bro?" from agroup of guys lying on the slimy ground. The mellow mood in the morningwas a far cry from the scorching sun and mosh pits that came later.After talking to some cool dudes from New Jersey, I decided my grimybody desperately needed a shower.
Again I made the long trek tothe shower tent. This time, nothing would stop me. After showering, Iwas ready for the day.
I began by watching two bands, Our LadyPeace and Collective Soul. I was not expecting anything too great fromthem, but was pleasantly surprised. Af-ter successfully being rockedout, I ventured to the other stage. The last bands of the day were Live,Creed and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I sat on a hill during Live andCreed, saving my energy for the Chili Peppers. They were the band I hadbeen waiting for, and they were taking the stage for the last show ofWoodstock '99.
I decided to get closer to the action and foundthe easiest route to the front was to follow a girl. Any-one wouldgladly let a girl by, so I got past before the hole closed up. Soon Iwas three rows from the stage and ready to rock.
I began jumpingaround when the music started, but soon quit when I received many elbowsand fists in my bony frame. The band played all my favorite songs, butit was difficult to breathe in the mass of sweaty bodies, so I yelled,"Get me up!" As I was lifted, I got a great view of the crowd.Seeing 100,000 crazy people covering such a small area was trulybreathtaking. My moment in the air was cut short when a security guardripped me from the crowd to the front of the stage. For a few briefseconds, I was only a couple of feet from the band. I gave a round ofhigh fives to the crowd as I was escorted to the side of the stage.Then, I smelled something burning. Standing on a fence, I saw the raginginferno, the riot of Woodstock '99.
So, what was Woodstock '99?The view of an 18-year-old guy from a small town in Kansas is muchdifferent from that of a veteran reporter. After the dust had settled,the consensus was that Woodstock '99 was a failure, but the mediareports were wrong.
Woodstock was the most interesting place Ihave ever been. For three days I was part of a gargantuan party withsome of the greatest bands of our time. Basically, there were no rules,and though I don't agree with much of the behavior I saw, to be at sucha place was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Sure, there weresome problems: the rivers of raw sewage seeping into the campgrounds,the overdoses and the trash from hundreds of thousands of pizzas, hotdogs, tofu pudding and nachos that covered the ground. Then there werethe riots, the destruction, looting and arson. But is it right to pointfingers only at the frat boys and crazed hippies? I don't thinkso.
I attribute the riots to the commercialization of the event.Most of the rioters were in their 20s and barely scraping byfinancially. They shelled out $150 for a ticket, then spent 50 bucks aday on water and food and slept in a soggy tent with the smell of urineall around. Then they listened to bands like Korn and Rage Against theMachine, bands with heavy messages of violence and revolution. Revoltagainst the punks who charge $5 for water! Wrap up all these feelingsand spread on the beer and drugs. Sprinkle a hefty amount oftestosterone and what you get is a big, fat riot. It would have been amiracle not to have had one when you add it all up.
I realizemany things about Wood-stock '99 weren't acceptable by society'sstandards, but that is all the more reason why it was one of the mostmemorable events of my short life. Woodstock 2005? I'll be there.