The ride from Woodstock to Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York is a stained glass portrait of mountain ranges that unfurl in rhythmic piecemeal. Inside the deep emerald wound of birches, maples, cedars, hornbeams and spruce, you can taste the flavor of a thousand years worth of patience.
Geologically speaking, the Catskills are not considered mountains but rather, a dissected plateau. I’m not much for geological definitions when there is a romance to be gleaned in the union of these highly rambunctious summits that are busy stealing time with the skies above. So I call them mountains, and these mountains . . they’re very particular about the company they keep.
The sixty mile stretch between two historic towns is a Henry Beeston field trip. We pass rudimentary walking bridges, intractably constructed man made dams, gorgeous hiking trails and handsome colonial log cabins with stovepipe chimneys and front porches adorned with American flags.
The road names that carry us to our destination read like verses straight out of American Gothic- Watson Hollow to Peekamoose to Sundown. The pulse of these arteries beats in time with the letters of Washington Irving and the allegories of Thomas Cole as we pass exit signs for Swan Lake and Monticello.
And it is all so fucking beautiful that I’m not nearly as concerned as I should be over the fact that my fuel gauge is swimming at low tide. It ain’t helping that we haven’t passed a gas station since leaving Woodstock, or that it feels more likely we’ll find Jimi Hendrix hitching to Bethel than a fucking convenience store with gas pumps. No wonder only half a million peeps showed up at the Woodstock festival. The other half a million ran out of gas along the way . . .
There is no sign of Jimi, but we went scoreboard on the gas station, after which we close in on our destination whilst trying not to sound overly optimistic. Because the truth of the matter is that we don’t know if this destination is going to feel like 1969 or a cheapened rendition of that very special place in time.
As we turn right onto Hurd Road, Q snaps a shot of the sign which reads Welcome to Bethel Center For The Arts– the sign is cypress wood with raised letters in painted wrought iron. It owns a polish that gives me pause, seeing as how I do not equate the three day festival of peace and music with any kind of polish. Woodstock was a beautiful mess is what it was.
To say the parking area is expansive is like saying Carlos Santana was skilled with the six string. We park in one of the several alien sized football fields and make our way to the pearly gates of music heaven. And once again I’m struck with how polished the place looks. The main building houses conference rooms, banquet halls and a museum. First impression? The architecture resembles an effete non-denominational church with money to launder and pastors on retainer. In other words, the shit is all polish and no grit . . and I am feeling major pause.
Having Q as my partner in crime sets my boots straight and allows me to dream some. And so now I’m dialing up that concert in my head and I’m letting myself dream on whats to come. And now I just know Imma open those doors and Jimi’s gonna be waiting on us. And he’s gonna be wondering where in the fuck all the gas stations between here and New York City got to. And then he’s gonna ask us if we’ve ever been to space.
And then? He’s gonna take us.