Musings on the Coast

By Michael Ray.

The Next Generation’s Woodstock

Two of my three kids attended the Coachella Music Festival this year, and the third would have too, but she was in college in London.   In one earlier year, she got away with pretending to need to be in So Cal during the time of the festival, and then—oops—as long as she just happened to be here then, well, why not attend?

Daughter #2 Gabby flew down from her college in Portland, kissed me quickly, and then departed for our Palm Springs redoubt on Thursday night.  The next evening, younger brother Harrison joined her.  He drove out with friends as soon as school was out on Friday afternoon. That it was horrible traffic and would take them forever was of no consequence.   And, oh by the way, I was specifically invited not to attend, not even stay at the house where, I was told later, somewhere between 15 and 20 kids were sleeping.  Oh Lordy.

One time I did attend the festival and found it good, clean fun.   Alcohol and drugs were strictly monitored, the grounds were super clean, there were plenty of bathrooms and the multiple venues had clear sound.

Not so the first Festival I almost attended.  It was called Woodstock and I was attending Harvard summer school that year and a bunch of kids went from Boston.  I knew rain was forecast and I wanted to know where we would sleep, not that any of us cared much.   No one knew anything except it was a “happening.”    I say, “almost attended” because I was predisposed against big concerts.   The rock stars were always so far away you needed binoculars to see them and the sound quality sucked. Better to listen to their records in the privacy of one’s own altered state.  And my returning friends told me it was a horror story of mud, over-dosed LSD freaks who overwhelmed the make-shift tent medical center and—big problem here—no functioning toilets, which led to…..You figure it out.

That same summer, the famous Democratic National Convention of Chicago took place, the one where protestors were gassed by out-of-control Chicago cops.   I did not attend that one either. Earlier that year, both Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated, and politics was sour for me.  Besides, I was too busy trying to score some coed action in Harvard Square.  At least my priorities were straight. My friends who went reported much the same thing as Woodstock, except there was no rain. However, the lack of that particular hardship was offset by police beatings. Never liked that one either.

None of us knew Woodstock and the Chicago convention would go down as Woodstock generation folklore. I could have gone to both and think those experiences would have made good stories, except no one who actually went had any fun or even particularly good stories.  It was just mud, chaos, and sleep deprivation.

So I guess my kids attending a harmless festival in Coachella seemed tame to me.  And fun for them.  Better than that, a week later Harrison showed me a YouTube video of a performance he saw live: it was by a group called (and the following spelling is correct) “tUnE-yArDs” performing a song called “Bizness.” It blew me away. It was magnificent. I immediately added it to my ITunes library and play it incessantly.

But was I jealous of Harrison’s live experience?  Hmmm, let me answer that question with the story about how Gabby got back to Portland. She attended the festival until its bitter end late Sunday night (really, very early Monday morning), and finally departed the ground’s tortuous exit about 3 a.m. Thence, she and her buddies drove straight to LAX to catch the 6:30 a.m. flight back to Portland, where they had classes later that morning.

Yup, there are some advantages to adulthood.

Michael Ray grew up in CdM and now lives in Laguna Beach.  He makes a living as a real estate entrepreneur and is involved in many non-profits.




Share this:


  1. You got your dates wrong, Michael: Chicago Democratic Convention was August 1968, Woodstock was August 1969.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here