Part IV: Be Very Afraid

We sent a team of observers to Woodstock ’99 and all we got was this lousy diary. Join our intrepid staffers — Mom, Dad, Tank, and Sausage (not their real names) — as they experience Woodstock ’99.

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Saturday, July 24

Dear Diary,

A naked man began organizing the multitude of pizza boxes nearby into an enormous peace sign. This industrious hippy man soon had “on earth” spelled out below the peace sign and, before long, had encircled his work with a heart-shaped ring of garbage bags. Sausage, bless his heart, got into the act himself and began helping our naked friend cleanse the circle of all the remaining trash on the ground. He goaded me into the circle, promising that it was fun, and while reluctant, I gave in. We purified the heart of moldy french fries and pizza crusts, and before long and I was so moved that Sausage and I embraced.

We had heard rumors of an approaching storm (80 mph winds, tornadoes, hail) and that as many as six people had been crushed to death during Rage Against the Machine’s set (which might explain the low tolerance for press backstage during Metallica). The storm never hit and the deaths have yet to be confirmed, but both are interesting examples of how information travels through large crowds.

Nevertheless, it was quite a night, and people were feeling pretty good by the time we returned to our compound. We’ve become pretty tight with our neighbors, particularly the cool folks right next to us from the “Glue Kills” (or something) organization. We hang with the PETA people sometimes too. If I sound a little jaded and annoyed sometimes, I’m a ray of golden light shining on a parade of gay little leprechauns skipping merrily along to the tune of “Sunshine and Lollipops” compared to those dudes.

Later…

There apparently have been numerous defections on the security force. Word of mouth is that at least 30 percent of the force has simply left. There is no visible security. Because of this, Mom, Tank, and I are going to be camping in the relative safety of the media parking lot while we leave Sausage to watch over the booth and its chairs and tables, lest we lose our $50 deposit.

Word on the west stage is that all hell is breaking loose over on the east stage. Things looked pretty sketchy even last night, and apparently now people are at a near riot, tipping ambulances and mounting large-scale attacks on the MTV van. Again, all rumor, but I’m confident that there is at least some truth to it.

I also toured the camping area briefly. Grim. Jugs of urine abound, sprawling swamps of muck, and gauntlets of drunken men.

We fear. There is no security whatsoever, a fact that even the remaining security personnel admit. The outer wall has been torn down. The weather is unpredictable, as is the crowd. I write this in a hurry as we plan to take a quick and early exit, grabbing a motel on the New York State Thruway at some point tonight, because things look grim. Last night… well. Suffice to say I’m scared.

Signing off,
Dad


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Part I  Part II  Part III  Part IV  Part V

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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