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Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life

Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life

4.2 19
by Elliot Tiber, Tom Monte (With)

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Taking Woodstock is the funny, touching, and true story of Elliot Tiber, the man who was instrumental in arranging the site for the original Woodstock Concert. Elliot, whose parents owned an upstate New York motel, was working in Greenwich Village in the summer of 1969. He socialized with the likes of Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and photographer


Taking Woodstock is the funny, touching, and true story of Elliot Tiber, the man who was instrumental in arranging the site for the original Woodstock Concert. Elliot, whose parents owned an upstate New York motel, was working in Greenwich Village in the summer of 1969. He socialized with the likes of Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, and yet somehow managed to keep his gay life a secret from his family. Then on Friday, June 28, Elliot walked into the Stonewall Inn—and witnessed the riot that would galvanize the American gay movement and enable him to take stock of his own lifestyle. And on July 15, when Elliot learned that the Woodstock Concert promoters were unable to stage the show in Wallkill, he offered to find them a new venue. Soon he was swept up in a vortex that would change his life forever.

Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review

"(Taking Woodstock) is absolutely amazing! This reviewer couldn't put it down - in fact, read it twice before writing this review. If you've ever dreamed of being at Woodstock or even if you were there, the author Elliot Tiber will take you back."

The New York Post

"The true story of Elliot Tiber, hero of the original Woodstock Festival . . . [a] snapshot of America Yesterday."

Foreword Reviews

"Gleefully candid and often hilarious . . . the story of a middle-aged gay man challenging bigotry, intolerance and the rural peace of Upstate New York's residents for the legal rights to sing, dance, and make love not war."

Publishers Weekly

A humble motel owner and his parents become the heroes in carrying off the momentous 1969 Woodstock rock concert in Tiber's occasionally improbable yet thoroughly entertaining tale. Tiber, né Teichberg of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, put on hold his personal ambition in the mid-1950s as an artist to help his aging Old World Jewish parents run their ramshackle resort motel in White Lake, deep in the Catskill Mountains. Hounded by the guilt that he can't live up to his parents' standards and riven by his own covert homosexuality, Tiber pokes fun at what he calls the Teichberg Curse, a scourge that won't allow the family to escape financial ruin. As head of the Chamber of Commerce in his small town, and possessed of the yearly permit to hold summer music concerts, Tiber gets wind of rock concert promoter Michael Lang's need for a venue to hold the Woodstock festival. A month of frenzied preparations ensues as Max Yasgur's farm is secured, the anticipated numbers swell, and tensions grow in the town. Yet the planning of the concert makes up only one part of Tiber's very human story, which includes affecting side chapters on brushes with artists (Mark Rothko, Robert Mapplethorpe) and standing defiant when the cops raided the West Village gay bar Stonewall. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Think Woodstock was all peace and love? Sure, but it also involved lawyers, mobsters and a few assorted pieces of B&D gear. Tiber, ne Eliyahu Teichberg, lived two lives in the '60s: Although he was a well-regarded mural artist whose "paintings were also displayed in galleries and sold," by day, he helped his parents run a fleabag motel in the Catskills, and by night he haunted the gay bars of Greenwich Village, falling into the arms of the likes of Robert Mapplethorpe and other rough men. "People with whom I had sex always pretended that they didn't know me when they saw me in the light of day," Tiber sighs in a characteristically self-doubtful moment. To trust his account, he was on the scene when, faced with yet another police raid, a barroom full of gay men and women decided to fight back. Regrettably, Tiber's account of the famed Stonewall Riot is less than glancing. Just so, his reminiscences concerning the detour the Woodstock Festival of 1969 made from Woodstock proper to Max Yasgur's farm outside Bethel-the site of that fleabag hotel, coincidentally-are disjointed and sometimes incoherent. The storyline, though, is of great interest to collectors of rock trivia and history, and it speaks less to the power of flowers than to that of greenbacks: Yasgur's escalating demands for cash; festival organizer Mike Lang's beatific grooviness amid trips to the bank with satchels full of cash; and the arrival on the scene of shady characters with drugs to sell, among other parasites. Clearly, though, Tiber had a good time amid the logistical headaches of hosting a million-plus visitors, even if his momma caught him kissing boys ("I am ashamed of you and Woodstock," she says toward the end ofher life, to which he rejoins, "Some things never change.") and his neighbors threatened to kill him for ruining their bucolic and apparently inbred retreat. Indifferently written, but a tale worth hearing. First printing of 25,000

Product Details

Square One Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Elliot Tiber has written and produced numerous awardwinning plays and musical comedies. As a professor of comedy writing and performance, he has taught at the New School University and Hunter College in Manhattan. His first novel, Rue Haute, was a bestseller in Europe, and was published in the US under the title High Street.

A national best-selling writer, counselor, and teacher of natural healing methods,Tom Monte is a leading voice in the natural health movement. He has written and co-authored more than thirty books and many hundreds of articles on virtually every area of health. Among his bestsellers are Recalled by Life, Living Well Naturally, and Natural Prozac. Tom has lectured and conducted transformational programs throughout the United States and around the world. His eight-month Healer’s Program, based in New York City and Orval, Belgium, trains practitioners in the useof highly effective natural methods for healing body, mind, and spirit. The Healer’s Program is also an experience in personal transformation. Tom also conducts workshops that focus on healing the heart and personal relationships.He lives with his wife, Toby, in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
sara00 More than 1 year ago
Don't get me wrong, this book is very well written; however, it definitely caught me off guard. I was about 100 and some pages into the book and Woodstock had yet to even be mentioned. The book is more about a man learning he is homosexual, and the struggles he faces. I am not the type of person to stop reading a book half-way into it, but I just really didn't want to read anymore about this man's sex life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book...ALMOST went to woodstock....lived in the area in the early 70's...time period brings back lots of memories....loved the book..a must read....just too funny!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very entertaining book. It just isn't about the history of the most famous outdoor rock concert, but it is also about Tiber's colorful life. Not boring. Very interesting and in some parts very funny. Highly recommended.
ProReviewing More than 1 year ago
This buoyant, upbeat memoir is a vivid record of one young man's emergence from relative obscurity to becoming number one facilitator of one of the greatest rock festivals of all times. Taking Woodstock tells of how Elliot Tiber worked his way up from being a much put upon youngster, subjected to his own mother's verbal abuse as well as to the prejudices of broader society, to using his leverage as President of the Bethel Chamber of Commerce to arrange for the translocation of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival to his own home town, on the shores of White Lake in Napier County, upstate New York. Elliot's ability to triumph over the odds that so many times seemed stacked against him provides the backbone to the book. From a position as an underdog, feeling isolated and estranged, he tells of how his growing awareness that there were others like him in the world enabled him to express his pent-up rage in the Stonewall riots. He grows in stature throughout the book, from being a kid whose only form of close physical contact is being groped in a movie theater, through his encounters with such leading cultural figures as Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and Robert Mapplethorpe, to becoming a leading Manhattan interior designer who is single-handedly able to rescue his motel, the El Monaco, from the brink of financial collapse through his own foresight and determination. His relationship with his Dad grows, too, to one where they come to view each other with an equal degree of love and respect. Exposing his vulnerabilities to his readership, Elliot succeeds in conveying an overall sense of purpose and meaning in his life, despite his tending to downplay the importance of his own actions. Encountering a myriad of obstacles, he shows how he was able to overcome each one in turn. But this is not a moral tale-in fact, the more conservative readership might even regard parts of the narrative as leaning towards the immoral, or even the amoral. And, oh boy, he certainly doesn't mince words about his exploits, including, above all, his penchant for S&M sex (one of the bungalows at his motel, he does not hesitate to tell us, was dedicated to the pursuance of such ends during the six weeks surrounding the Woodstock mega-event). The spirit wins out in all respects over the flesh, though, and this tale is a triumphant and joyous one. This edition of Taking Woodstock was brought out to commemorate the 41st anniversary of Woodstock and the continued popularity of the film by the same name, directed by the Oscar-winning Ang Lee, and which is based on Elliot's account of events. Taking Woodstock should appeal to all those who have empathy with the gay cause, as well as to all those who are interested in the iconic legends of the second half of the twentieth century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
300flowers More than 1 year ago
This book should be called "Taking Woodstock and Did I Mention I'm Gay?" In a classic case of oversharing, the first half of the book describes in detail the author's sex life beginning when he's eleven years old. And when he finally gets around to talking about Woodstock, he still finds it necessary to remind us every couple of pages that he's gay. Okay, we get it but that's not what we bought the book for. I found the Woodstock part (what there was of it) interesting but the rest was just TMI.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Born Eliyahu Teichberg, poor Elli struggles to break what he calls the ¿Teichberg Curse¿ and changes his name to Elliot Tiber¿hoping that would break the curse. Always on the brink of financial ruin and trying to hide his deepest secret, he dreams of the miracle that would change his life. In 1969, he got that miracle. Manager of his Jewish parents' failing resort hotel El Monaco in White Lake, New York on the weekends, Elliot runs during the week to Greenwich Village where he can live the life he chooses as an interior designer and meeting the likes of Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and Robert Mapplethorpe¿all the while keeping his gay life a secret from his family. That is, until June 28, 1969, when he finds himself at the Stonewall Inn and the famous 'Stonewall Riot' that would revolutionize the gay culture breaks out. With a newfound boldness, he finds out in July that the town of Wallkill has revoked the permit for the Woodstock festival. So he contacts Mike Lang, the concert¿s promoter, to offer his 15 acres for the concert. While Elliot hopes this is the miracle he has been waiting for, Mike Lang and his entourage arrive by helicopter but they end up feeling that the swampland of his resort hotel won't work for the concert. Tiber assures Lang and company that, since he has been the president of the Bethel Chamber of Commerce and has held a concert and art show for the past few years, he can get the necessary concert permit. Quickly, he calls his good friend Max Yasgur¿who supports everything Elli does and only lives four miles up the road¿and asks him to hold the concert. Elli explains to Mike that Max has a dairy farm on a hundred acres¿more than enough to hold a concert. Arrangements are made and, before he knows it, Elli is caught up in the magic that will change his life forever. He is introduced to the hippie scene where everyone is accepted no matter who or what you are and learns he can love himself. Whoa! Totally awesome and even far out and groovy! This book is absolutely amazing! This reviewer couldn¿t put it down¿in fact, read it twice before writing this review. If you¿ve ever dreamed of being at Woodstock or even if you were there, the author Elliot Tiber will take you back. The Sixties will come alive and you won¿t want the trip to end! But that is only part of the story, as Elliot takes you through the time of his troubled past and describes in perfect word pictures the struggles of his secret life, his childhood, the insanity of running the hotel resort, and dealing with bigoted locals who persecute him because of his Jewish heritage. In the end, you¿ll feel you know everyone and that you were there, too. See Woodstock through the eyes of someone who lived it, who helped bring it to life ¿ you¿ll never look at this period of history the same again. Don¿t pass this one by, as this autobiography guarantees to be one of the best reads of 2007 and is to be released just in time for the media's annual August remembrance of that great music festival. Also an awesome unique feature that this reviewer really likes is the reversible dust jacket¿one side conservative, the other psychedelic. This feature, according to Square One¿s publisher Rudy Shur in Publishers Weekly, represents ¿The notion of duality [that] has been a central theme throughout Elliot¿s life, and we wanted the book to represent that notion of difference in a very direct and colorful way.' So whichever trip you decide to take, this is one you¿ll never forget.
Cisley More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up a while back but haven't had time to read much lately. Among the 50-75 books I do have to read, I decided on this one. It was a fascinating look into the life of a young gay man unsure of himself in his youth and young adulthood, and suddenly, being in the right place at the right time (his parents hotel) the person who made Woodstock happen in Bethel NY, at Max's farm. One of the best, most original and interesting memoirs I have read in a while.