FOR WOODSTOCK ANNIVERSARY, A COMPUTER BULLETIN BOARD
Before the first Woodstock festival, Peter Walther gossiped about it on the street and by telephone. As two 25th anniversary concerts approach, he's spreading the word 1990s style - on-line.
Walther and a friend developed Woodstock Online, a computer network designed to distribute festival news. Computer users around the world can read the latest rumors about performers, find the quickest routes to the concerts, and learn how many portable bathrooms will be trucked in.
Promoters are trying to pull off two separate shows to mark the anniversary Aug. 13-14. The original Woodstock organizers want to draw 250,000 fans to a two-day contemporary music concert in Saugerties, about a two-hour drive north of New York City.
The second concert, considered less certain to take place, would be a nostalgia-fest geared to older fans on the Bethel farm where the first Woodstock festival took place.
Walther and his friend, Lenore Benefield, keep track of all the plans from a cabin on the side of a mountain overlooking Woodstock.
Walther was 24 when he joined the mud-covered masses at the first Woodstock show. A free-lance television producer, he and Benefield are also computer junkies and adherents of the peace-and-love 1960s philosophy that still thrives in this Catskill Mountain enclave.
``We invite people to come early, stay late, or never go home at all and see if we can make it a constant Woodstock festival forever,'' Walther said.
They offer Woodstock Online for free - all anyone needs is a telephone line hooked into a computer. They hope to make money by selling advertising to Woodstock-area merchants.
Woodstock Online provides maps of the festival sites and a ``Woodstock survival guide'' that talks about local swimming holes, how to get along with police, and the best places to hang out.
Walther has been attending town meetings about the festivals and promises that breaking developments will quickly be sent worldwide.
The network is also interactive. Computer users are given access to a brief interview with Saugerties festival organizer Michael Lang and will soon be able to dial in for snippets of music from bands expected to perform.
Woodstock Online: (914) 679-3040.