WOODSTOCK CENSUS: The Nationwide Survey of the Sixties Generation by Rex & Deanne Stillman Weiner

WOODSTOCK CENSUS: The Nationwide Survey of the Sixties Generation

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Would Leu Harris think to explore the political implications of armpit hair on women?"" Well, the questionnaire filled in by a thousand members of Woodstock Nation (anyone 25-37 who identified with the counterculture of the Sixties) looks into such matters, as well as attitudes toward drugs, sex, politics, heroes, and culture. The authors admit that they are writers rather than pollsters, so the picture they draw from the data is skewed toward the personal and the humorous. They make no effort either to place their results in the context of the Sixties generation as a whole, or to relate them to sociological studies. Still, this portrait of the Sixties (which began in 1967 says the largest group; and which haven't ended, says 14 percent) corrects the media images of people then and now. Woodstock types are not the ones who have moved from ""upper"" drugs in the Sixties to downers in the Seventies--71 percent never used Quaaludes. The sexual revolution wasn't the orgiastic field-day suggested by Time; but the new attitudes toward sex and sex role which did emerge have grown even stronger. The census demonstrates that the middle-class fates of some ""movement heavies"" (Rennie Davis selling insurance, for instance) proves little because the Sixties Movement didn't depend on leaders--none of the stalwarts, at least, made the ten-most-influential-persons list here. The Beatles and Bob Dylan, on the other hand, were and still are near the top. In fact, it was the cultural crossover of 1965--when Dylan ""went electric"" and the Beatles jumped into social commentary--that marked the beginning of a ""giant party line with everyone talking at once."" The census recalls people's best moments (first-time-stoned, sex, protests--and all permutations) and the worst (bad trips, tear gas, disillusionment). It reminds us of the hippie smile--""a kind of wide-eyed open-faced grin that was chock full of innocence and wonderment, with just a hint of brain damage""--and of flipping out. A re-experience for some. . . that others will find almost quaint.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1979
Publisher: Viking