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Woodstock – The East Village Other – Vol.4, No.37 – August 13, 1969

  • Publisher: East Village Other, New York
  • Date: 1969
  • Dimensions: Magazine: 29 x 41 cms


“East Village Other”, a popular 60s magazine of counter-culture, its Aug 1969 cover a “psychedelic” map of Woodstock Festival

About this piece:

Woodstock – The East Village Other – Vol.4, No.37 – August 13, 1969

Complete original issue, 20pp with numerous photographs, comic strip cartoon page, illustrations and colour-printed map as front cover. Some old surface wear and a couple of small areas of paper loss & damage along outer spine/central fold of magazine. Further small triangular area of paper loss on spine, at bottom left corner of magazine, not affecting printing on cover or pages of internal text.

The East Village Other (EVO) was renowned as New York City’s leading magazine of late 1960s counter-culture. Published by Walter Bowart between 1965 & 1972, it attracted a group of remarkable writers & cartoonists including such figures as Robert Crumb, Kim Deitch, Spain Rodriquez, Trina Robbins & Gilbert Shelton. As a result, much of its popularity lay in its remarkable Comix cartoons and comic strips, such as the adventures of Bill Beckman’s dope-superhero Captain High & Kim Deitch’s psychedelic Sunshine Girl, and for the invariable left-leaning anti-war contrarianism of its articles & content.

This remarkable August 13th 1969 issue was published just two days before The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, that now famous (or infamous) three-day weekend Festival of Peace & Music that took place in the fields of Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm at Bethel near the town of White Lake in up-state New York, some 40 miles south east of the town of Woodstock itself. Presumably due to the popularity, a second identical issue of the magazine was reissued the following week as well, with the date amended to August 20th 1969, an example of which is the Paul J Mode Persuasive Cartography Collection at Cornell University

A double-page centrefold (pp.1-11) by John Hilgerdt features photographs of many of the participating groups and continues on pp.14 & 15 with details on the ongoing preparations gleaned from publicists & organizers of the event. A quarter page advert also appears on page 15, featuring the famous Woodstock Festival bird & guitar logo and listing the “who’s who” of rock taking part: Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Ravi Shankar, Credence Clearwater, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, The Who, Jeff Beck Group, Joe Cocker & Jimi Hendrix.

The Festival organizers had gone to some lengths to try to prevent the traffic chaos that the anticipated 150,000 visitors might bring, setting aside large peripheral parking lots and organizing 200 buses to ferry ticket-holders back & forth to the site itself. Free camp sites were also to be made available and inflatable day-glo vinyl tents were also being offered for sale locally for just $3 (“sound groovy but probably as hot as hell”!) A special team of 356 off-duty New York cops (wearing casual blazers, not their usual NYPD uniforms) had also been hired to provide on-site security & policing, whilst, according to John Roberts, President of Woodstock Music in the nearby settlement of White Lake, local townsfolk had generally been very enthusiastic about the venture, excepting “some local nervous nellies…”, who were, “getting uptight. As expected.”  Talk of a possible attendance of 250,000 was described as a “nightmare” by Roberts. The feature also provides detailed instructions on how to get to the Festival site.

The rest as they say is history. The Festival ended up as one of the most famous counter-cultural & rock music landmarks of the late 1960s, attracting perhaps a quarter of a million visitors over the course of the weekend, that is those who could get there through the unimaginable traffic gridlock which brought the surrounding roads in and around White Lake & Monticello to a complete standstill. Jams of upwards of 20 miles were reported in some places, despite the best preparations of the organisers. Food & water supplies quickly ran out and frequent extra drops had to be made onto the venue by local helicopter; toilet & washing facilities proved woefully inadequate and dope, hash, mescaline and narcotics of almost every form abounded, with few, if any, drug arrests and local medics & ambulances on hand to whisk away those worst affected to nearby hospitals.

The remarkable map design which appears on the cover of the magazine captures something of the drug-fuelled Woodstock psychedelia of that Summer of ’69 in its weirdly wonderful surrealist artwork.  The Woodstock poster logo of catbird (often thought to be a dove of peace) & guitar originally created by New York artist Arnold Skolnick for the 1969 Festival is radically transformed here, as these two motifs symbolically merge & transmute into a trio of strange guitar-headed birds, each presumably representing one of the three days of the  Festival.  A further trio of guitars appear, their bodies opening to reveal strange hidden contents, interior mechanical hinges and snake-like intestines, perhaps a symbolic metaphor for the amazing range & variety of music that was expected to follow in the coming weekend. The theme continues as several of the local roads and highways seem to transform themselves into the electric leads, straps and distorted heads and pegs of several other guitars. Two naked women emerge from tubes labelled “Glee”, whilst an unattended giant spliff smokes unattended in spiralling psychedelic rings from its home beneath a small (& most probably day-glo!) canvas tent. In all, a remarkable surrealist map design.

Examples of this specific issue of the East Village Other, because of this map cover & its direct association with the Woodstock Festival,  have become increasingly scarce and hard to find.

Refs: David Rumsey Collection; Paul J Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography