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What a long, strange trip it was
By Joe Faraci | Roselle

Joe Faraci, 1969

 

Joe Faraci, 1969

 

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Published: 8/14/2009 12:01 AM

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I guess my take on the event is a little different than the myth that's grown up around the festival. The media reports make it seem that the festival was the beginning of the '60s movement, a time when it grew beyond a small band of miscreants and revolutionaries. But to me, as a musician at the time and the people that were part of the real movement, it signaled the end.

I was from Brooklyn, New York and a street smart kid. None of that helped me in the country. I didn't bring a tent, or a sleeping bag, I just figured we would sleep under the stars, and that's what we did.

Unfortunately, those stars were obscured by rain clouds. I went with two other guys and a girl named Spooky that I had been seeing for about two weeks prior to the concert. We had an accident, just a small fender bender, before we got out of Queens. A rather inauspicious start.

Once we started driving we heard reports on the radio about the New York throughway being closed, but somehow we managed to get within 10 miles or so of the concert site and began walking, except for the driver who decided to stay with his car. As we were heading toward the venue there was a constant stream of people going the opposite way warning us that it was a disaster area and that we should turn back.

As luck would have it, out of 400,000 people, my new girlfriend had the good fortune to run into an old boyfriend before we even got to the concert, and it became obvious that their relationship was far from over. Somewhere on the trek I also lost the other guy I was traveling with, so now I had no friends and no ride back home.

I finally made it to the concert site late Friday night, but it was so packed with people, and so dark, that I couldn't really get close enough to the stage with its inadequate sound system to really hear much. I fell asleep at the top of a hill, surrounded by people but feeling all alone.

The next morning as soon as I opened my eyes someone stuck a pipe in my mouth. I was deeply impacted in the mud, and not very far from the portable toilets. As a matter of fact, I'm not really sure if I slept in the mud or in excrement. I do know that there were a number of people suffering from dysentery.

Trying to find food was a losing battle. There was none to be found, and some of the local people were charging exorbitant amounts for a burger. I remember paying a quarter just to drink off of someone's garden hose.

The music on Saturday night, and the drugs and the attitude of the people saved it from being a completely disastrous experience. But there is no way I, or the people around me, would ever have thought that we were experiencing a happening that would come to define our generation.

It wasn't until I got back home, a journey which by the way I have no recollection of, that I read in the New York Times what a glorious and wonderful three days of peace love and music I was privileged enough to be a part of.

Joe Faraci lives in Roselle, is happily married to Pam Chepil and has three grown children, Devin, Derek and Ariel, that he will brag about for hours given the chance. He still believes that peace, love and music can change the world.