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Woodstock Memorial at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Richie Havens' name appears first. Photo by Clark Norton

It was the cultural touchstone of my generation — three days of peace, love, and, of course, music, mud, and skinny-dipping.

Somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 young people somehow made their way to Max Yasgur’s farm in New York’s Catskills, drawn by almost mysterious forces that seemed to transcend even the lure of hearing Jimi, Janis, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Country Joe and the Fish, and Jefferson Airplane perform at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, as it was formally known.

More than 50 years later, the joke goes, at least ten times that many aging baby boomers swear they were at Woodstock, too — perhaps aided by memories of watching the movie and listening to the soundtracks while engulfed in a smoky haze appropriate to the occasion.

I can say with certainty that I was actually there — until, that is, I became one of the few benighted boomers… Continue reading

Here's the house you could win.

Here’s the house you could win.

If you can write a convincing 200-word essay on “How would owning the Lakefront Dream Home change your life?,” you just might win a very nice Lakefront Dream Home in New York’s  Catskills Mountains.

Entrepreneurs Andrew Bares and Kelly Livorgna are offering up their 5.5 acre retreat featuring more than 250 feet of lake frontage on Swinging Bridge Reservoir in the town of Bethel, NY, to the winning essayist. Bethel was the site of the original Woodstock Festival in 1969 and is now the home of Bethel Woods, a superb music venue.

The two-bedroom house is in a woodsy area and offers direct access to fishing, swimming, boating, kayaking, and cross-country skiing. It has a floor-to-ceiling fireplace, a large deck, and is well furnished.

I can vouch for the scenic beauty of the region, where I’ve spent a lot of time.… Continue reading

Washington Irving's Sunnyside cottage. Photo from

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside cottage. Photo from

Most everyone remembers the great Washington Irving tales “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” both dating from nearly 200 years ago.

In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Ichabod Crane, the stork-legged superstitious schoolteacher, was frightened into fleeing the area by a rival who posed as the Headless Horseman. (Johnny Depp starred in a movie about it.)

In “Rip Van Winkle,” Rip — a resident of a small village in the Catskills while New York was still an English colony — unwittingly had a drink with the ghosts of Henry Hudson’s crew and slept for 20 years, right through the Revolutionary War.

As some of you know, I’m a resident of the Catskills myself, so I’ve put together a little Washington Irving themed literary legends tour of the area.

You can start your Irving legends tour at the… Continue reading

Woodstock Memorial at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Richie Havens' name appears first. Photo by Clark Norton

Woodstock Memorial at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Photo by Clark Norton

This weekend marks the 44th anniversary of 1969’s Woodstock Festival, one of the iconic events of the 1960s, when hundreds of thousands of mostly then-young baby boomers poured onto Max Yasgur’s Farm near the small town of Bethel in the Sullivan County Catskills, New York.

(As I’ve written about previously in this blog, the festival was moved from Woodstock, NY, to Bethel, some 60 miles west, due to various snafus.)

And as always happens on this anniversary weekend, thousands of folks high on music, nostalgia and perhaps a few other things descend on  Bethel to honor the memory of the festival, which marked the height of the peace and love era. Many camp out around Hector’s Inn in Bethel, where volunteers are dishing out free meals to the tie-dyed visitors, or at what’s now called… Continue reading

The Woodstock Monument Memorializes the 1969 Festival. Photo courtesy of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

The Woodstock Monument Memorializes the 1969 Festival. Photo courtesy of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

Quick quiz: Where was the 1969 Woodstock Festival held?

If you said, “uh, Woodstock?” you’d be…wrong.

Due to various snafus, Woodstock — one of the seminal events of the baby boomer era, which brought many of the top musical performers of the day onto a rain-drenched stage before hundreds of thousands of mud-soaked, tie-dyed and oddly mellow spectators — was actually held in Bethel, New York, some 60 miles away from its original venue.

Bethel happens to be just 13 miles from where I now live.

Recently I took a friend over there to see the memorial monument at the site — now located on the grounds of the beautiful Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which itself has hosted the likes of Bob Dylan, Elton John and the Dave Matthews Band to… Continue reading






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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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