Colin McEnroe: Nedstock puts The Man in charge of peace and music
My hope is that we will all come together at Nedstock.
On Labor Day weekend, at the Woodstock Fair, Gov. Ned Lamont will oversee a tribute to Woodstock, the 1969 music festival, which was not held in Woodstock, Conn. In fact, it was not even held in Woodstock, N.Y. The location was a farm 43 miles away from Woodstock, N.Y.
The plan for Nedstock is a Battle of the Bands. Five bands, covering material played at the 1969 festival, will compete for cash prizes. The money will be put up by Lamont, whose current short-term approach to Connecticut’s fiscal crisis is to just pay for things himself, as they come up.
Lamont will be one of several “celebrity judges” picking the winner, who will get $7,500, which was probably a lot of money in 1969. Maybe it still is. You might be able to get one of the original Woodstock acts for $7,500. How much, for example, does Melanie currently charge?
A Lamont aide has dangled the idea that there might be a surprise performance by Lamont, who plays piano and would occasionally, during the 2018 campaign, plop himself down on a bench at one of the venues and pound out a little boogie-woogie until he just couldn’t boogie no more.
Setting aside the question of whether a thing retains its status as a surprise if it is announced months ahead of time, is this a good idea? Gov. Bruce Hornsby? Really?
As one of the few people alive to remember Ella Grasso ascending the stage with her Stratocaster during the 1975 Iron Butterfly reunion tour and pouring out a wailing, screaming, psychedelic guitar solo on “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” I can say this about Connecticut governors and jamming: don’t do it if you’re not fully committed. Grasso was that way about her music and about Freedom of Information, and that’s why we love her today.
The idea of musicians competing for a small cash jackpot under the judgmental eye local celebrities seems antithetical to the spirit of Woodstock somehow. But still ... we need something like this right now.
Ned is struggling.
He probably can’t get his highway tolls plan passed anytime soon. This leaves the state with no way to pay for repairs to our crumbling transportation matrix. And because marijuana was not legalized, people are probably going to notice.
Even a keen student of the governor would be hard pressed to lay out the central tenets of Lamontism. Whatever it is, it hasn’t really worked so far. The apex moment of the first six months may very well have been the announcement that Ray Dalio, head of the world’s largest hedge fund, would donate $100 million to Connecticut public education, an amount to be matched by $100 million from the state.
Said money will be overseen by a Council of Hooded Figures — state officials and private citizens — who will be exempt from normal state oversight including Freedom of Information and ethics laws.
To put this in perspective, even the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, a quasi-public agency whose last four years look like a story arc on the TV series “Scandal,” is nonetheless not exempt from FOI and ethics laws, even if it occasionally seems like not everybody has been briefed about that.
It’s possible that the signature accomplishment of Lamontism, six months in, is to establish a price threshold above which people don’t have to obey the law. And if it seems premature to judge a new administration after six months, let me remind you that Lamont insisted that the normal daily cyclings of life stop last April so that we could all behold the magnificence of his administration’s first 100 days.
Last week, two key members of his team departed. Colleen Flanagan Johnson, senior adviser, will be replaced by political insider Jonathan Harris. Maribel La Luz, communications director, will be replaced by Max Reiss, a TV political journalist. Two ladypersons replaced by two manpersons.
And it’s not as if there are a lot of other women on Lamont’s core management team. When Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz sits down with Ned’s inner circle now, she’s going to look like Shirley MacLaine hanging out with an especially nebbishy Rat Pack.
You have to be somewhat indifferent to optics to let a thing like this happen.
This is why we need Nedstock. We need to feel that, like a true nature’s child, we were born, born to be wild. We need the mud and the rain and the candles. We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.
And if none of that happens, well, Nedstock takes place on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. Later that day, at the Woodstock Fair, the schedule lists something called the “Adult Golf Cart Karaoke Contest,” and on the following morning there’s a “Senior Grapefruit Bowling Contest.” Either of those could be transformative.
Meanwhile, don’t eat the purple cortisone. There’s a warning out on that one. Of course, it’s your trip. As long as you pay the toll.
Colin McEnroe’s column appears every Sunday, his newsletter comes out every Thursday and you can hear his radio show every weekday on WNPR 90.5. Email him at email@example.com. Sign up for his newsletter at http://bit.ly/colinmcenroe.