So, it was the year 1999 – 30 years since Woodstock – and a lot of us were still wearing the same clothes and smoking the same stuff. What better way to honour this seemingly timeless trend? By going to the thirtieth anniversary event, Woodstock ’99, in New York State, USA. Yahoo! When the music line-up was announced, I was certain that I would be going; I was so excited. It will have been the biggest music event that I had ever been to – and I was finally old enough to not require parental permission to go – they just offered their unwelcomed judgemental opinions – which I chose to ignore.
It was a mass exodus down to the States – there were no less than 8 full buses that left from the Toronto terminal that morning. We thought that it would be risky, but in the long-run better if we smuggled our own drugs across the border (WTF?) rather than buy them from strangers in the US; It would have been like a box of chocolates from Hunter S. Thompson - you never know what you’re going to get. In hindsight, both ways were retarded, but there we were, hiding pre-rolled joints and mushrooms inside a fantastically devised Coca-Cola can that had been hollowed out. We put it in the bottom of the cooler, along with the other 11 cans and we were pretty impressed with our strategy – but when we approached the border I was still shitting bricks. I don’t think I had ever been so nervous in my entire life. I mean, really... and entire bus of hippies and rockers going across the border? Talk about a target for illegal substances! They did manage to pull over about 3 of the 8 buses, but luckily, not ours. We weren’t more than 100 meters across the border and the entire bus erupted with a “YEAHHHHHHH!” It was hilarious.
It was so hot the entire weekend – and there were zero trees anywhere in this old airbase. The vendors were charging extortionate prices for water, food and ice; it was ridiculous. Mark and I didn't even screw once that weekend; can you imagine?! It was THAT hot. The only real way to cope was to try and lay down during the heat of the day and then stay up all night when it cooled off.
They had also under-estimated how many port-a-loos they would need, and the sheer stench anywhere within 100 meters of these over-flowing shit boxes was utterly nauseating. I trained my body not to need to go – it did me proud. It wasn’t until the final night that we came across a ‘secret’ set of toilets. They must have just arrived shortly before we found them – they even had toilet paper! This was just after the Red Hot Chilli Peppers performed and Carrie and I had just eaten the majority of our mushrooms. At first, I thought I was hallucinating the toilets, but no, they were really real – wonderfully, wonderfully real. Carrie and I each sat inside one beside the other and we giggled for about 10 minutes.
After that rejuvenating experience, we went back to the main field where people had started huge bonfires and it quickly began to look like a scene from Lord of the Flies. Then larger objects were being set on fire and suddenly there were a few loud explosions. What the fuck? It was terrifying, but luckily the mushrooms made it a bit more manageable and we found humour in it. We found our way back to our site and since we were camped really close to a radio station that was there, we got all the latest information from them. Apparently, the explosions were the propane tanks from the trucks blowing up. Soon, there were helicopters flying overhead and the smell of burning rubber over-took the entire area. We would shout out “We’re going to die!” and then I would laugh so hard I nearly peed myself. If nothing else, it was a unique experience. I thank you, Mother Nature, for magic mushrooms.
If this is was happened in 3 days... then what have we done to the earth? It was a humbling moment for me, and I’m sure a disappointing moment in our history. This festival’s slogan was “30 years of music and peace” – and a small number of people sure pissed on that ideal and ruined any hope in the future of having another one. I originally wanted to go to experience it and to say that I had been at Woodstock ‘99 – but instead, I say that I survived Woodstock ’99.