9/30/2015 08:05:00 AM
Consider these cataclysmic happenings. On June 28, 1969, a routine harassment raid by police on a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village touched off several days of rioting, inaugurating the modern gay-rights movement. On July 19, on an island off Martha’s Vineyard named Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy deep-sixed his presidential hopes permanently when his car swerved off a bridge and into the drink; Kennedy escaped, but his companion, young campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne, remained trapped in the car and drowned. Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s stroll on the surface of the moon on July 20 neatly marked the end of the first era of human progress, as man physically reached past the confines of the earth to touch another celestial body and somewhere in Canada, Bryan Adams got his first real six-string, bought at a five-and-dime, and played it till his fingers bled.
The summer of ‘69, however, is most closely associated in the collective memory with Woodstock, the legendary concert festival that has come to symbolize the breakthrough of rock culture into the mainstream as an unchallenged commercial force. From August 15 to 17 in Bethel, New York, a sleepy rural hamlet 90 miles north of New York City, a 600-acre dairy farm and alfalfa field was transformed into what was advertised as the “Woodstock Music and Art Fair Presents an Aquarian Exposition.”
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