Woodstock Redux

THE thought of middle-aged Americans digging into the back of their closets, squeezing into musty bell-bottomed jeans and tie-dyed T-shirts, and heading for upstate New York isn't too appealing.

Fortunately, that's not the likely scenario for Woodstock '94, a rock extravaganza planned for next month, the 25th anniversary of the mother of all music festivals.

Although a few performers from a quarter-century ago will be on hand, including Joe Cocker and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, most of the music will be made by musicians barely born in 1969, groups like the Cranberries, Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Spin Doctors. Thank goodness. Nostalgia leaves us cold. Today's world is too fascinating to want to relive another era, even if it did shape many ``baby boomers'`` lives.

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In the coming weeks pundits undoubtedly will contrast the two concerts: Woodstock '69 - though chaotic, mostly peaceful; monstrous traffic jams; widespread drug use; $18 tickets (though most of the 300,000 pushed their way in for free). Woodstock '94: precise, military-style planning; air-conditioned, express-bus service; corporate sponsors; a drug ban; $135 tickets (or avoid the hassle and see it on pay-per-view at only $49.95 per day!).

In politically correct fashion, organizers says Woodstock '94 (which actually will take place in Saugerties, N.Y., some 50 miles north of the original concert site in Bethel) will include a solar-powered ``eco-village'' with exhibits on topics like rain forests and AIDS awareness. It will offer an ``interactive video theme park.'' And like the '69 event, film and recording (compact disc this time, of course) will follow.

Half the ``boomer`` generation claims that they were there in '69 to hear Jimi Hendrix play the ``Star-Spangled Banner'' at dawn. Can the sequel possibly match the original?

More likely, Woodstock '94 will be a story of how to make a handsome profit capitalizing on the pervasive commercialism of American pop culture. As a young participant in the original Woodstock festival, anticipating the future, said in a 1969 newspaper interview, ``I really think that, after all of us graduate, you know, there's still going to be business. Business is business, and we will be running the businesses.''

He got that right.

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