Billboard has the scoop:
Earlier today officials with Dentsu Aegis Network, which is funding the festival, released the following statement toLike seemingly everything else, the misty-colored, mud-spattered, drug-addled legendary rock festival memories have all been reduced to a Brand.
“It’s a dream for agencies to work with iconic brands and to be associated with meaningful movements. We have a strong history of producing experiences that bring people together around common interests and causes which is why we chose to be a part of the Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival. But despite our tremendous investment of time, effort and commitment, we don’t believe the production of the festival can be executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name while also ensuring the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees.":
The high-maintenance music stars slated to perform apparently would not have felt safe enough in a region of upstate New York known for its soaring poverty and unemployment rates. Even many of the highly educated adjunct professors with teaching gigs in the CUNY and SUNY systems are forced to work extra jobs and go on food stamps to survive.
The 50-year reunion was not even going to be in Woodstock Proper, but much further north in Schuyler County's Watkins Glen, most famous for its stock car events. In other words, they were going to pave paradise and put in a Trump-voter parking lot. I am clutching my pearls just thinking about it.
Even the original Woodstock wasn't held in Woodstock, but across the border from Ulster County in Sullivan County's Bethel. A couple of years ago, even Bethel was re-branded as the home of the Woodstock-inspired Bethel Woods concert series, where ticket prices are way out of the reach of actual residents and Woodstock hippie survivors of the economically depressed area. They won't even let you bring your own blanket or lawn chair, for crying out loud. You have to rent one of their custom chairs for 6 bucks - or if you're especially flush with cash, you can purchase a branded one online. Otherwise, get off their lawn. Unless you have $519 to park your butt on it for the 2019 summer season.
But since times are tough for even affluent people, they very generously allow you to bring one small Ziploc (branded) bag of foodstuffs from your home, along with one (1) bottle of water. No other migrant refreshments are allowed.
Over the past many decades, the main industry in the nearby actual Town of Woodstock has been B&Bs, craft shops, head shops, gourmet shops and trendy restaurants catering to the New York City crowd. Just a 90-minute drive from Manhattan, this bucolic area is also second (or third or fourth) home to quite a few movie and media stars and wealthy Big Apple residents.
MSNBC's Chris Hayes actually has a primary home in the Woodstock area. This cable personality, who last week grotesquely compared Russiagate critics, like me, to the pro-slavery, anti-abolition activists of the pre-Civil War era, recently dished to the New York Times that he personally accompanies his kids to their private day school before his chauffeur picks him up and whisks him down to the broadcast studios where he can instill the proper fear and loathing of Russia into the minds of his dedicated viewing audience -- without ever having had to personally fight traffic!
Of course, this creeping gentrification is driving real estate and rental prices in the entire state sky-high. I just got word the other day that my absentee L.L.C. landlord would be raising my monthly rent by $250, effective in 30 days. If I don't sign a new lease within ten days, the month-to-month rent will be jacked up an extra $150 a month, for a total increase of 40 percent. I checked, and this unconscionable tactic to displace people is all perfectly legal in the aptly-named Empire State. Never mind that my apartment house was converted from a struggling local farmer's apple storage barn into affordable housing units about two decades ago with generous financial aid and tax breaks from both the state and federal governments. The catch is that it didn't have to be resold as affordable housing.
As the property manager unctuously explained to me: "Market Rate."
Timing is everything. With the state's landlord-friendly rent statutes due to expire next month, the new Democratic legislative majority is set to vote on a series of bills which would extend protections to renters statewide. But even if reforms do pass, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, great beneficiary of the predatory real estate industry that he is, could veto them. This is quite likely, given that since his election to a third term last year, he has abandoned both his pretend-pivot to populism and his threatened presidential run.
It's not that I didn't have an inkling about what was in store for my complex's mainly working class residents, most of whom have been tenants here for many years and who have been getting their increase notices on a staggered schedule so as to discourage renter solidarity. As soon as the property resale closed last fall, the new owner summarily fired the long-time property manager without even one day's notice.
"It's business, Hon," she told me the new owner's rep explained to her. (You'll forgive the digression from the core subject of this post, but I am feeling a tad grumpy today! I'll be writing a lot more on the housing rights struggle later.)
So back to the Woodstock Reunion That Wasn't and Probably Never Will Be. I have to say that I am absolutely crushed that Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus will not be making the trek to the boonies, and that New York state troopers will not be diverted from highway patrol and other public duties in order to guard their bodies and those of their compatriots as they keep out the local riffraff who don't have the price of the tickets because The Rents Are Too Damned High.
To no avail, concert promoters reached out to Live Nation and AFG in hopes of coming up with the necessary $20 million to keep the proposed festival site safe for the stars and the attendees from the Upper Ten Percent Demographic. But investors did not bite. Maybe it was because of Sunday's Simpsons episode, which poked such cruel, gleeful fun at the blight of upstate New York --and they suddenly became too afraid to either monetarily or physically venture forth into the Wilds. Or maybe they're just tapped out from bribing Joe Biden and giving ostentatious tax-deductible donations for the rebuilding of Notre-Dame.
But rest assured, because Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus and the rest of the cast have already been paid, to the tune of $30 million. It's the Market, stupid.
Chris Hayes probably isn't disappointed that the Woodstock gala is off, because as he so modestly confided to the Times, his life already is an "Unceasing Festival of Impatience."
Who needs Woodstock-era hallucinogens when, between waking up to Twitter, spewing Russophobia, and then being chauffeured all the way back in Ulster County, he is a natural "brain-dead mess?" Just like Woodstock itself, Hayes is a self-avowed Brand, and proud of it. It's what the corporate journalism market is all about.
But despite the announced cancellation, the Locals are having a lot of trouble adjusting to the news that the big city money and talent will not be flowing into this depressed area after all. They vow that the Show Must Go On -- Jay-Z or no Jay-Z. The event's organizer denies outright that it's been canceled.
“We are committed to ensuring that the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock is marked with a festival deserving of its iconic name and place in American history and culture," (Michael)Lang said in a statement via Woodstock Ventures. "Although our financial partner is withdrawing, we will of course be continuing with the planning of the festival and intend to bring on new partners. We would like to acknowledge the State of New York and Schuyler County for all of their hard work and support.Since the performers have already been paid, the ethical thing might be for them to just show up, at no charge to the locals, and give the local economy a boost.
"The bottom line is, there is going to be a Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival, as there must be, and it’s going to be a blast.”
Meanwhile, New York state politicians are feeling the outrage because The Simpsons cartoon show mocked the horrific results of four decades of extreme neoliberal policies, birthed right down there on Wall Street when bond vigilantes imposed austerity on the working class, and the oligarchs began taking over the city, state, nation and the whole world. It is embarrassing for them when the Empire State's "ghost towns and crumbling infrastructure" are not hidden from public view, as they usually are by MSNBC, Fox,CNN and the New York Times.
“We’re headed to the one place that can never decline because it was never that great: upstate New York,” Homer says as the Simpson family heads to Niagara Falls.Repeat after me, folks: Markets, Markets, Markets!
During the trip, a tractor-trailer is seen swallowed by a pothole.
They pass a shut-down Kodak plant in Rochester as people snap selfies.
They also whiz by a leaking water tower in Niskayuna, near Albany.
Don't be shocked or saddened by blighted towns and desperate people who can't afford to go to a rock concert. Be offended instead by a song which scathingly points out that there are thousands of blighted landscapes and millions of desperate people struggling to survive in the richest country on earth. And be very afraid of "the Russians," who are sowing all this damned discord and attacking our beloved democracy.