Seeing Chip Monck in the clip from
Woodstock I had in my last post reminded me of the fundamental role he played at the festival. Please meet him.
Edward Herbert Beresford Monck was born in 1939. While attending boarding school on athletic scholarships, he started dabbling with machinery. He designed a potato picker that International Harvester bought.
In 1959 Monck started working for the Village Gate in New York City, lighting music and comedy acts. He lived in the basement under the club. One of the performers, some guy name of Bob Dylan, wrote “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” on Monck’s typewriter.
He landed other jobs lighting the Apollo Theater in Harlem and the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals in Rhode Island. He lit the Monterrey Pop Festival in 1967, which was then lit up by acts such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Who. Concertmeister Bill Graham recruited Monck to help him renovate the Fillmore East and West venues.
When Monck was hired for Woodstock, he was paid $7000 for ten weeks work. Much of his original plan had to be dumped when town officials of Wallkill, New York, reversed a decision to lease an industrial park for the festival. The truncated schedule caused by relocation did not allow him time to build an adequate stage roof. The lighting rented for it stayed under the stage floor.
Monck was hired as master of ceremonies at the last moment when promoter Mike Lang realized that no one had taken care of that particular detail.
Four months later, Monck helped plan the infamous Altamont Free Concert for the Rolling Stones in the Bay Area. With 100% hindsight, most anyone would agree that hiring Hell’s Angels for security was not prudent. A concertgoer was stabbed to death by an Angel as he rushed the stage.
Monck himself was the victim of violence. He confronted an Angel stealing a carpet from the Stones stage set and lost some teeth to a pool cue. Chip tracked down his attacker and traded a case of brandy for the carpet.
He went on to briefly host a rock and roll talk show, and to help out with the Muhammad Ali – George Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle” match and accompanying music festival in Zaire.
Today Monck lives near Melbourne, where he’s Director of Production on the “One Great Night on Earth” music festival, which will raise funds for victims of Australia’s various natural disasters. He hopes to present a high-tech version of Woodstock with “a classic rock feel”.
It seems like the world has been extra busy of late, but please let’s pause a moment for the loss of Richie Havens last month. Havens rose from organizing street-corner doo wop groups in Brooklyn to international fame after he electrified the crowd with an acoustic set at Woodstock. He toured from then until last year, when health problems forced him to pack it in. He died at home from a heart attack.
He was the opening act at the storied music festival, setting the tone that helped 400,000 or so folks endure rain, food shortages and severe sanitation problems. Stomping out the beat in scuffed leather sandals, Havens did a nine-song set that ran longer than planned because some of the other acts were stuck in traffic. And he was called back for encores.
Here is “Handsome Johnny” — a stirring look at human violence — from the film Woodstock, prefaced with a warning from Chip Monck about the brown acid.
As his popularity burgeoned, Havens started a record company and promptly rewarded us with an exuberant cover of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun“. He co-founded the Northwind Undersea Institute, an oceanographic museum for children. It spawned the Natural Guard, a group to educate and activate kids about the environment. He performed at numerous benefit concerts.
He made commercials and promos for TV, and acted in films and on stage, once playing Othello. Last year’s blockbuster Django Unchained featured his famous “Freedom“, a song he improvised at Woodstock when he was stretching his set.
Thank you, Richie, for reminding us of the circularity of life.
I’ve never considered CNN truly partial, but at least it falls between Fox News and MSNBC. Its coverage of major elections features pundits of all stripes, even though the network is starting to trim off some of the fringe like Erick Erickson and James Carville.
It languished in obscurity until the Challenger explosion in 1986 and the Baby Jessica rescue in ’87, then rose to prominence. Now it’s sinking and I have a guess as to why.
Fox and the big three networks routinely pound it in the ratings. In desperation it mimics what works for its competitors. Anderson Cooper’s show now looks like Fox and Friends. Newscasters like Carol Costello and Ashleigh Banfield cannot report a story without putting themselves in the middle of it (“that reminds me of the time I . . .). Costello recently said “that’s terrible” about a tragic event she was relaying.
Yes, Carol, any rational person would agree with you, but your job as a journalist is simply to report the facts.
I think the slide started in 1994 with the Kerrigan-Harding kerfuffle and the O.J. murders. The only reason I viewed Simpson’s infamous low-speed chase was because the station I was watching an NBA playoff game on kept cutting away to it. I remember wondering why the cops needed 50+ cars to pursue him when 45 or so would have been plenty.
When Michael Jackson died, I understood the wall-to-wall coverage because he was an icon. But the recent feces-covered wall-to-wall coverage of one of the early Carnival Cruise Lines debacles utterly disgusted me.
“Great!”, I thought to myself, “the sequestration and Syria problems must have been resolved.” Today the lead story is the escape of four kidnap victims in Cleveland. Again, the coverage is so lavish that it has actually disrupted the constant flow of minutiae about the Boston bombings.
Chalk this post up to the grumblings of an old man, but I miss Walter Kronkite. Thank Random Chance for the PBS Newshour.
The streams are ripe and filled with rain here, thanks to a strange storm yesterday that alternated 20 minutes of showers with 20 minutes of sunshine all morning. There was an eerie precision to it.
I didn’t want this month to end without noting three anniversaries of significance to me. On April 16, 1943, Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann was fooling about with a substance he had synthesized five years before, then shelved. It was lysergic acid diethylamide, an amusing little number that Albert accidentally absorbed through his fingertips.
He “sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination” featuring “an uninterrupted stream of pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors”.
Since it was not unpleasant, Hofmann decided to delve deeper. On April 19th he took 250 micrograms of his discovery, marking the first intentional acid trip in history.
He died at age 102 on April 29, 2008. In between those dates, he became famous for his find. He thought it could be of immense psychiatric value. Just before his death, he wrote Steve Jobs for help in his research.
On his 100th birthday, Albert said this about his “problem child”, as he called it in a book: “It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation . . . I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD. It is just a tool to turn us into what we’re supposed to be.”
I love the psychedelic experience. I realize it’s not for everyone, probably not for most. But why should those who wish to go further have to risk criminal prosecution? For fuck’s sake, even the CIA dabbled with it. I don’t see the day that a world steeped in ignorance and fear will ever embrace it, but I’m cheered by the growing acceptance of recreational pot. It’s a start.
Anyway, thank you, Albert. I hope you’re cruising around somewhere in a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition.
Most of our biggest clean-up projects on the farm are done and I’m feeling less pressured for time. I hope to post more often.
What you would pay for an idyllic pastoral scene with mild weather, great neighbours and affordable health care? You could nap in a hammock next to a soothing creek, swim in a pond teeming with trout, pick blueberries from the garden and collect organic eggs from a friendly flock of hens.
If your answer is $629,000 or more, I have the perfect place for you. Jude and I are selling our farm. It is with the heaviest of hearts that we have realized that none of our five kids will ever be in a position to move up here to see us through our drooling years.
We’ve known this for some time, but finally started talking about it last November. With me retired and Jude just a few years from it, we did the math and concluded that we can’t afford to stay here without family help.
So the last few months we’ve been giving away and throwing away much of our stuff. We told our community of our decision about a month ago. We are quite sad about it. Yesterday a neighbour asked “are you sure you want to move?”
I said “I’m sure we don’t want to move. We don’t expect to ever have such a great situation again. But we see no other choice.”
We’ve listed the farm on Green Homes For Sale. If you’d like to check it out, click “Browse Homes” at the top, then “British Columbia” and “Heriot Bay”. I’d post a link but we’re having some technical problems with the site. We can’t delete or replace some of the photos, we can’t change the asking price of $629, and we can’t rouse anybody at tech support.
But it’s out in the universe now, at least. Real estate is moving very slowly here. It could be a long time before we sell. Until then we’ll keep prettying up the place. These last few months have been exhausting and exhilarating. There’s something very liberating about looking through all your stuff and assessing which of it still has value to you.
This process has been the main reason I haven’t been been posting much lately. But now that we’ve gone public, I promise to keep you updated.
Last night Jude and I were channel hopping (it was too cold to surf) and dropped in for a few minutes of A&E’s new series Bates Motel, which drew 3 million viewers in its debut, the most ever for an original drama on the channel. It’s a prequel that somehow propels psycho Norman Bates and his hyperprotective mother Norma from 1960 into current day AND youthens them about 15 years.
A still-normal Norman sneaks out of the house to rave with some new high school friends. While he’s gone, Norma is raped. Norman returns in time to cold-cock the rapist. When he’s out of the room for a first aid kit, Norma stabs the assailant repeatedly.
That was enough for us. We switched to 2011′s The Thing, a prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing from 1982, which was a remake of 1951′s The Thing from Another World. In no way is this recent film related to 1989′s Things, or Thing from The Addams Family. Nor does it have anything to do with Linens ‘n Things.
Anyway, we tuned in just as someone was transforming into a hideous, many-tentacled creature and menacing yet another young, attractive mesomorphic female. We fled to Friends, fully knowing we’d risk seeing the perpetually-whiny Ross.
Here’s my point: Jude and I know that we had other options, such as talking to each other. But if it’s electronic visual stimulation we seek, it’s difficult to avoid violence. You can have it served up simulated and stylized, or you can watch or read the news.
Today, for example, we can follow the Jodi Arias murder trial as ghoulish Nancy Grace awaits the Oscar Pistorious murder trial. We can read about the murder of Tom Clements, Colorado chief of prisons, or the shooting of seven in a Chicago night club.
It’s just three months since the Sandy Hook massacre, and support for gun control is eroding. Congress cannot even push through something as simple and sensible as closing the gun show loophole.
The U.S. is awash with violence. It’s as American as baseball. We all know that soon enough we’ll have another mass slaying, outrage will spike, someone will say “it’s different this time” and nothing will be done. Again. Why can’t we start connecting some dots?
Now that we can count the number of days until the vernal equinox on one hand, how can we not turn our minds to baseball? Usually at this time I’m impatiently awaiting the end of spring training. I know it’s important to bust off the rust and evaluate talent, but the games are meaningless. My beloved world champion Giants have a 7-8 record, and the Kansas City Royals — one of last year’s worst teams — is 15-2.
This late winter, however, we are blessed with some games that matter. The World Baseball Classic, started after the Olympics dropped the sport in 2005, is about to begin its championship round. Unlike the misnamed World Series, the WBC truly is a global event.
Sixteen teams are invited. This year the first round of competition was held in Japan, Taiwan, Puerto Rico and Phoenix AZ. Tokyo and Miami hosted the second round, and AT&T Park (home of my Giants) will host the final games.
Participants don’t have to be born in the country they play for if they have some other type of connection, like a parent born in that nation. So ace Giant closer Sergio Romo, born in California, played for Mexico. This allows for a better distribution of talent from Major League Baseball and a more competitive tournament. It’s like watching a bunch of all-star teams.
Last night the Dominican Republic beat the U.S. 3-1 in a thriller. The Dominican starting pitcher held his own against R.A. Dickey, who won the National League Cy Young Award last season. The DR scored two runs in the top of the ninth off Atlanta Braves’ Craig Kimbrel, one of the best closers in MLB. Then THE best closer in the majors last year, Fernando Rodney of the Tampa Bay Rays, finished the U.S. off with 16 pitches.
DR now goes to San Francisco to face either Japan or the Netherlands in the semi-finals. The U.S. plays Puerto Rico today at 4 p.m. PDT for the final slot. Ryan Vogelsong of the Giants will start for the U.S.
Do yourself a huge favour and catch the game. It promises to be a rip-snorter.