Tiber picks up where he left off in Taking Woodstock (2007) with this memoir of the years thereafter, pivotal ones both for him and the gay community.
At the age of 34, the author was helping his parents run the bedraggled, customer-free El Monaco motel in upstate New York. A “secretly gay Brooklyn-bred yeshiva boy,” Tiber actually had a life before El Monaco—he was a successful interior designer in Manhattan—but he was a dutiful son, even if his mother was a “smug and kosher bird of prey.” Woodstock, which he helped arrange by getting his neighbor Max Yasgur, “our milkman,” to rent his field for the concert, was his salvation, giving him faith in humanity just when he needed it. This memoir scans Tiber’s life progress since that August weekend in 1969 with a fair degree of adrenaline (“I barreled through the Midwest like a man with his pubic hair on fire”), cogency (despite the wild chronicles of all the recreational intoxicants and late-night, leather-bar sex) and straining-at-the-leash humor. There was a promising, then fizzling, stint in Hollywood, followed by a return to El Monaco, where Tiber managed to sell the place—“Is this guy actually about to make me an offer for this shithole?” Then there was Andre, who would become the love of the author’s life and with whom he would launch numerous artistic endeavors. Tiber writes about their life with unvarnished intimacy. Fortunately, Andre brought with him a measure of class to rein in the absurdist, wear-it-on-your-sleeve Tiber, though it has not diminished his zest. His political and literary high points are balanced by the low points of breakups and the AIDS epidemic, captured with dazed immediacy.
Tiber squeezes life for all it is worth, ringing out the last quarter of the 20th century with the offbeat, at-times twisted humor of a survivor.