Jayanti Tamm - August 9, 2009
At my local bookstore on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, 1960s nostalgia is in high gear. A display table is stacked high with pricey coffee table books, each with its own variation on psychedelic rainbow lettering, each claiming to reveal the untold story of the “peace and music” festival. I understand the lucrative business of selling those hazy memories — the Woodstock museum, Cherry Garcia ice cream, even the new movie “Taking Woodstock.” I just can’t buy into it.
It’s not because, as a Gen-Xer, I feel slighted that I missed out on all the fun. It’s because for me and many other children of the flower children, our rose-colored glasses are not just slightly tinted, but darkly tainted.
Along with the iconic music and fashion of the era came myriad new religions and a foolish rush to embrace peddlers of spiritual snake oil. The countercultural wave brought a flood of swamis, yogis and self-proclaimed enlightened beings. They preyed on the longings of hippies who were disillusioned by mainstream religion and in search of an alternative path.