Cameraman Alfred Wertheimer

Cameraman Alfred Wertheimer

November 16, 1929 – October 19, 2014

Why is Woodstock Woodstock? That is a question I’ve asked myself many times and so have guests to the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

The biggest festival ever? Pretty big, but no.

The most famous performers ever? Many were, but more were unknown. Some became known from the event.

The peace that prevailed under difficult conditions? Certainly violence would have stymied its positive reputation.

That it occurred in New York, the center of national media? Must have helped, but like any “big” story it fades with the next headline.


Woodstock Ventures made the  decision  to record and film the concert. That was quite a financially irresponsible risk given the money pit the festival’s preparations had already put them in, but in many ways it was the album (an unheard of triple disc release) and the film (It received the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Thelma Schoonmaker was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing, and Dan Wallin and L. A. Johnson were nominated for the Oscar for Best Sound.

With their releases, thousands more attended the event and say so today.

Film crew


NYT obit

LA Times obit

Boston Globe obit

Mike Pisani



Free University

Free University

Boston Latin School

The idea of free education for all is well-established in the United States, but it has not always been so.

As far back as 3000 BCE, the Greeks had a system of free education for its future priests, but not for other areas.

Here in the United States, on April 23, 1635, the first public school–meaning free to those who could attend was established in Massachusetts Bay Colony in Boston. Known as the Boston Latin School, this boys-only [it did become co-ed 337 years later] public secondary school. The Boston Latin School was strictly for college preparation.  [National Geographic article]

Free University

United States

The idea of free public education for all children was not widespread in the United States until the late 19th century when the government introduced compulsory education as free or universal education, which extended across the country by the 1920s.

The availability of a free university education was rarely a reality. A young adult had to exhibit an outstanding ability and at that point a sponsored scholarship might be granted to reduce partially or entirely the costs involved.

Free University

Cultural Revolution

Free UniversityThe United States, like any society, has gone through many cultural changes. Sometimes the changes are seen as so drastic that the term cultural revolution is used to describe the epoch.

Most would agree during the 1960s, particularly the decade’s latter half, that the United States was in an epoch of cultural revolution. While all disenfranchised groups had always tried to effect changes to allow them a fair chance at achieving the “American Dream,” the 1960s saw an upsurge in those attempts. An alphabet of groups demanded their chances: Asians, Blacks, children, disabled, females, gays, Hispanics,  Native Americans, students, and others.

And while the American Dream remained the goal for most, some saw the goal more of a nightmare and offered alternatives to that dream or alternative dreams altogether.

Free University

Free University 

Some students at tuition-based schools demanded reductions or elimination of tuition, arguing that by the mid-20th century, the importance of a college-level education had become as important as a grammar school education had become at the start of the 20th century.

Others extended that argument stating that not only should universities be free, they should offer more relevant courses.

Free University

Midpeninsula Free University


I Left SF for the Peninsula, and I Don't Miss It | by Christina Bonnington | The Bold Italic

Enter, among others, the Midpeninsula Free University. A college without a campus.  [midpeninsula refers to the middle of the Californian peninsula that San Francisco is the tip of]. It grew out of the Free Speech Movement that had begun with Mario Savio at Berkeley University.

From his MFU site, Jim Wolpman writes: anyone could teach a class. From Marxism—of every ilk—to Non-violence to Encounter Groups to Crafts to Art to Computers to . . . .  It published a handsome, quirky newsletter that printed anything anybody was interested in.  It sponsored be-ins, street concerts, a restaurant, a store, a print shop, and more.  It was heavily into the Anti-War Movement at Stanford. Right-wing bombers attacked it, the FBI kept track of it*, and The Palo Alto Times hated it.  At its best, it was a place—a forum—to thrash out the divergent political and cultural aspirations of those years.  At worst, it was foolish, naïve and self-indulgent.  It may even have corrupted the youth.  It was born of New Left politics, grew to embrace the entire counterculture, and died from a heavy dose of doctrinaire Marxism.

*On November 4, 1968, the Special Agent in Charge (SAC), San Francisco, wrote to Director in Washington, describing the MFU Fall 1968 Catalog and noting 2 courses—Urban Guerrilla Warfare and Marxism-Leninism and the American Revolution—at least one of which was attended by an FBI informant

Free University


From MFU’s spring 1969 catalog:

The system has become rigid; it is no longer receptive to meaningful change. A revolution in American education is required to meet today’s needs, and a new type of education–a free university–must provide the impetus for change


The freedom of inquiry is the cornerstone of education.

That each individual must generate his own most vital questions and program his own education, free from central control by administrative bureaucracies and disciplinary oligarchies.

that the class character of age in our society subverts education, and that the young are not too young to teach, nor the old too old to learn.

That education is not a commodity, and should not be measured out in units, grade points, and degrees.

That education aims at generality rather than specialization, and should supply the glue which cements together our fragmented lives.

That education is a process involving the total environment, which can only occur in a total community, in which each individual participates equally in making the decisions which importantly affect his life.

That education which has not consequences for social action or personal growth is empty.

That action which does not raise our level of consciousness is futile.

That the ultimate politics will be based on knowledge, liberty, and community, rather than on hate, fear, or guilt.

That the most revolutionary thing we can do is think for ourselves, and regain contact with our vital centers.

That the most important questions which confront us must be asked again and again and answered again and again until the millennium comes.



Outside Recognition

In Street of Dreams: the Nature and Legacy of the 1960’s, author Douglas M. Knight [President of Duke University, 1963-69]  wrote of MFU’s free curriculum “These courses, these catalogs are the perfect embodiments of attitudes and approaches which flashed like moonlight on the sea and were lost again, replaced by those mundane, conventional, but less alive patterns to which we quickly returned in the 1970’s. Once again we saw Camelot, crazy and beautiful; once again we lost it.”

At its height, MFU’s enrollment varied between 1,000 and 1,275

Free University

Not Just Classes

From Jim Wolpman’s site: It sponsored be-ins, street concerts, a restaurant, a store, a print shop, and more.  It was heavily into the Anti-War Movement at Stanford. Right-wing bombers attacked it, the FBI kept track of it, and The Palo Alto Times hated it. … It was born of New Left politics, grew to embrace the entire counterculture, and died from a heavy dose of doctrinaire Marxism.


In the summer of 1969 concerts were run by local high school students and street people, organized, with the help of the MFU, as the “Free Peoples Free Music Company.”

In fact, concerts, however minimally they brought in revenue, helped defray the constant need for finances.


But the university just couldn’t sustain itself.

In December 1970, MFU’s Full Circle [MFU’s co-operative coffeehouse-restaurant] went broke and closed it doors.

MFU’s newspaper, The Free You, ceased publication February 1971.

Membership in the MFU plunged from 900 in the winter of 1971, to 70 the summer of 1971.  At which time the MFU was disbanded.

Many thanks to Jim Wolpman for his site and the tremendous amount of information he has collected and provides to interested readers.

Free University

Shere Hite Awakens

Shere Hite Awakens

Shere Hite Awakens

Shere Hite was born on November 2, 1942 in St Joseph, Missouri. MO. She died in London as a German citizen on September 9, 2020.

To oversimplify, Hite was a feminist writer about female sexuality, especially a woman’s orgasm. Perhaps you can begin to understand her dying in a country other than the one she was born in.

Shere Hite Awakens

Shirley Diana Gregory

Hite was born Shirley Diana Gregory.  After her parents divorced, she would take the surname of her stepfather, Raymond Hite.

In 1967, she received a master’s degree in history from the University of Florida  and moved to New York City to enroll at Columbia University in a doctoral program.  While there, she posed in Playboy and also posed for a typewriter ad that unbeknownst to here would have the tagline: “The typewriter is so smart she doesn’t have to be”

Hite joined the protest against the ad’s chauvinistic attitude.

She did not complete the doctorate because of her dissatisfaction with what she felt was the overly conservative views of the university.


Hite taught at Nihon University in Tokyo, Chongqing University in China, and Maimonides University, North Miami Beach, Florida.

The Hite Report

In 1976, she published The Hite Report on Female Sexuality. The book challenged the traditional view of female sexuality which meant that it scandalized many people. The discussion of sexuality in the United States is always controversial and the publication of a book that challenged the then staid view of female sexuality outraged many.

The male-dominated academia refused to accept the well-researched work.

Erica Jong

In an October 3, 1976 New York Times article, Erica Jong wrote about the Hite Report: We learn…just how much sexual starvation exists in the midst of this seeming plenty. We learn that 95 percent of women (even those who think themselves “frigid”) always reach orgasm when they masturbate, even though no one taught them how and even though most of them feel guilty about it. We learn how they do it, how they hold their legs up for or gasm, what they think about, whether or not they make noise, move, lie still, what devices they use (from electric toothbrushes to water spouts!). We learn how they feel about intercourse, their anger at not reaching orgasm when their men do, their real pleasure in giving pleasure, their paradoxical tendency to suppress anger (and their own feelings) in an attempt to win love and approval.

In 1995, she renounced her U.S. citizenship and accepted German nationality, because she regarded German society as more tolerant and open-minded about her endeavors.


Among her works are:

  • Sexual Honesty, by Women, For Women (1974)
  • The Hite Report on Female Sexuality (1976, 1981, republished in 2004)
  • The Hite Report on Men and Male Sexuality (1981)
  • Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress (The Hite Report on Love, Passion, and Emotional Violence) (1987)
  • Fliegen mit Jupiter (English: Flying with Jupiter) (1993)
  • The Hite Report on the Family: Growing Up Under Patriarchy (1994)
  • The Hite Report on Shere Hite: Voice of a Daughter in Exile (2000, autobiography)
  • The Shere Hite Reader: New and Selected Writings on Sex, Globalization and Private Life (2006)


In a September 11, 2020 New York Times obituary, Katharine Q Steele wrote:  Her most famous work, “The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality” (1976), challenged societal and Freudian assumptions about how women achieved orgasm: It was not necessarily through intercourse, Ms. Hite wrote; women, she found, were quite capable of finding sexual pleasure on their own.

Shere Hite Awakens

What's so funny about peace, love, art, and activism?