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LAUGH LINES : A Few Changes and Woodstock Will Be Fine


I was 17 in 1969, but I didn't make it to the original Woodstock for a number of reasons, the main one being that I was a jerk who spent that weekend working in a pharmacy in Upstate New York.

"You can't go to any concert," the boss said. "There's no one to fill in for you."

"A chimpanzee could fill in for me," I said.

"There are no chimpanzees in this area," he said.

This was just my luck, of course. Here the seminal event of my generation was taking place just 40 miles away, and I was stocking shelves with milk of magnesia. A quarter of a million people were sitting around this huge field, listening to music and smoking dope and making love. Me, I was stomping around and snarling at customers: "Nose drops? Aisle 3. Get 'em yourself, pal."

Now, 25 years later, they're holding another Woodstock. I'd love to go. But as I'm a few years older now, I have a few small requests of the concert promoters:

* Do we have to sit on the ground this time? I don't know whether you've noticed, but the ground is very hard. I guess a person can handle this when he's 17 and zonked out on acid. But when you're 42 and the strongest thing you take is Bayer, you quickly lose circulation in your legs. I know this would probably be expensive, but if you could provide 250,000 or so BarcaLoungers, it would make folks my age very happy.

* Not to beat this to death, but I'd prefer not to sleep on the ground, either. Is there a Ramada or Sheraton in the neighborhood? A Holiday Inn would be fine, too, although there you run the risk of bumping into people in the lounge line-dancing in cowboy outfits.

* They tell me there was a lot of pot smoking at the last Woodstock. This time, could we have a no-smoking policy? Cigarette smoke really bothers my eyes.

* I know a focal point of this gathering is music, but do we have to play the music so loud? Instead of cranking those guitar amps all the way up to 10, could we keep them on, say, four? This would be appreciated by many of us fortysomethings, especially those of us with cellular phones who are checking with our stockbrokers or ordering pizza.

* Speaking of music, is there any way we can wrap things up each night by, oh, 10 or so? See, I can't stay up real late anymore. I can make it through "Seinfeld" OK, but by the end of "Frasier," I'm nodding off big-time.

* The traffic won't be too bad, will it? God, I hate traffic. At the last Woodstock, they had to close the New York State Thruway. I hope things are better organized this time. Look, I don't care if it's Dylan, the Dead and Springsteen on that stage together--15 minutes before the set ends, I'm heading for the parking lot.

* What are we going to do if it rains? I hate to sound like a worry-wart, but that's a very real possibility. As I understand it, people just sort of sat there in the rain and mud in '69 and got into the music, with the help of a headful of peyote, of course. Me, I'm not a rain and mud guy anymore. Perhaps a large tent or awning-like material could be erected over the field to keep us all dry. Thank you.

* It would be helpful to have an ATM somewhere on the grounds for those of us who run out of cash buying souvenir T-shirts or stocking up on running shoes and athletic gear at the Nike booths.

* I'm assuming someone has done something about the mosquitoes. I'm not sitting out in the middle of some stinking field slapping at mosquitoes for three days. Uh-uh. Forget it.

* As I recall, the food at the last Woodstock wasn't all that nutritious. People ate things like hero sandwiches, potato chips, Slim Jims, et cetera. Do you realize the fat content in that stuff? Would it be possible this time to have healthy foods such as yogurt, fresh vegetables, garden salads, pasta dishes, bran flakes, et cetera available?

Anyway, if we iron out a few these details, it sounds like this new Woodstock could be a lot of fun.

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