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In this breathtaking cultural history filled with exclusive, never-before-revealed details, celebrated rock journalist Joel Selvin tells the definitive story of the Rolling Stones’ infamous Altamont concert in San Francisco, the disastrous historic event that marked the end of the idealistic 1960s. In the annals of rock history, the Altamont Speedway Free Festival on December 6, 1969, has long been seen as the distorted twin of Woodstock—the day that shattered the Sixties’ promise of peace and love when a concertgoer was killed by a member of the Hells Angels, the notorious biker club acting as security. While most people know of the events from the film Gimme Shelter, the whole story has remained buried in varied accounts, rumor, and myth—until now. Altamont explores rock’s darkest day, a fiasco that began well before the climactic death of Meredith Hunter and continued beyond that infamous December night. Joel Selvin probes every aspect of the show—from the Stones’ hastily planned tour preceding the concert to the bad acid that swept through the audience to other deaths that also occurred that evening—to capture the full scope of the tragedy and its aftermath. He also provides an in-depth look at the Grateful Dead’s role in the events leading to Altamont, examining the band’s behind-the-scenes presence in both arranging the show and hiring the Hells Angels as security. The product of twenty years of exhaustive research and dozens of interviews with many key players, including medical staff, Hells Angels members, the stage crew, and the musicians who were there, and featuring sixteen pages of color photos, Altamont is the ultimate account of the final event in rock’s formative and most turbulent decade.
Located on the western edge of the sprawling Van Rensselaer patent, the village of Altamont was originally called Knowersville. It first gained prominence as a stopping-off place for early travelers struggling along trails from the Hudson River to the Schoharie Valley. As time passed, roads improved and commerce grew. Once the railroad arrived in 1863, the trip from Albany took just 45 minutes, and travelers quickly embraced the beauty of the Helderberg escarpment. A commercial center, including hotels, shops, and small manufacturers, grew quickly around the new train station, and well-to-do Albanians seeking respite from city heat bought property for summer mansions on the hillside above the village. The Altamont Fair supported local agriculture and brought in visitors from around the world. Altamont reveals the beginnings of this little village under the Helderbergs.
“The most blisteringly impassioned music book of the season.” —New York Times Book Review A thrilling account of the Altamont Festival—and the dark side of the ‘60s. If Woodstock tied the ideals of the '60s together, Altamont unraveled them. In Just a Shot Away, writer and critic Saul Austerlitz tells the story of “Woodstock West,” where the Rolling Stones hoped to end their 1969 American tour triumphantly with the help of the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, and 300,000 fans. Instead the concert featured a harrowing series of disasters, starting with the concert’s haphazard planning. The bad acid kicked in early. The Hells Angels, hired to handle security, began to prey on the concertgoers. And not long after the Rolling Stones went on, an 18-year-old African-American named Meredith Hunter was stabbed by the Angels in front of the stage. The show, and the Woodstock high, were over. Austerlitz shows how Hunter’s death came to symbolize the end of an era while the trial of his accused murderer epitomized the racial tensions that still underlie America. He also finds a silver lining in the concert in how Rolling Stone’s coverage of it helped create a new form of music journalism, while the making of the movie about Altamont, Gimme Shelter, birthed new forms of documentary. Using scores of new interviews with Paul Kantner, Jann Wenner, journalist John Burks, filmmaker Joan Churchill, and many members of the Rolling Stones' inner circle, as well as Meredith Hunter's family, Austerlitz shows that you can’t understand the ‘60s or rock and roll if you don’t come to grips with Altamont.
Deliciously wicked satires about local and international celebrities, the poems in Portable Altamont evince an irrepressible grasp of the zeitgeist, its machinations and manipulations, its possibilities and puerility. Who other than artist and raconteur Brian Joseph Davis could have imagined Margaret Atwood as a human beatbox, Jessica Simpson applying for arts grants or the Swedish Chef reciting T. S. Eliot? Davis uses every literary form available to revel in and rearrange pop culture. Even the index turns into a short story about Luke Perry’s descent into a shadowy underworld of Parisian intellectuals and terrorists. A word of warning: this book is a complete and utter fiction. Philip Roth is not David Lee Roth’s brother. Reese Witherspoon is not a Communist cell leader, and Don Knotts has never been a New Age guru. The stuff about Nicole Richie, however, is absolutely true. Portable Altamont is that rare book that is both incendiary and compulsively readable. Get to it before the lawyers do!
First published in French in 1966, The Road Past Altamont pierces to the heart of a child's world, craeting a delicate, yet substantial network of impressions, emotions, and relationships. In her writing, Gabrielle Roy allowed "nothing extraneous or false to stand," according to the translator, Joyce Marshall. The literary style of Roy, whose fiction reflects her childhood on the Canadian prairie, has often been compared to that of Willa Cather.øThe Road Past Altamont takes a sensitive French-Canadian girl, Christine, from childhood innocence to maturity. Four connected stories reveal profound moments during her early years in the vastness of Manitoba. Christine's testament to Grandmother's creative power, her great adventure with an old gentleman at Lake Winnipeg and her clandestine one with a crude family of movers, her journey through time and space with aging Maman?all these characters and events convey Gabrielle Roy's preoccupation with childhood and old age, the passage of time and mystery of change, and the artist's relation to the world.