Woodstock, the Festival/Woodstock, the Wedding
(originally posted June 23, 2003/Fred Sez)

Some of you might recognize those fellas in the above photograph. Yup, it's the legendary rock group, The Band, as pictured on the cover of their second--and most would agree, best--album, the one simply titled "The Band". What, you may ask, has this got to do with anything? Well, I couldn't rightly tell you where those five gents were twenty four years ago today, but I CAN tell you with some authority exactly where the shutterbug who snapped that iconic pic was on June 23rd, 1979--he was serving as official photographer for the Hembeck/Moss nuptials!?!...

Yup, that's right--Elliot Landy, renowned for his portraits of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and designated the official photographer of 1969's landmark Woodstock Music and Arts Festival--HE was the guy behind the lens at our wedding!

How did this unlikely pairing occur, and why am I telling you about it today?

Well, the "why" is simple enough--today is our 24th Wedding Anniversary, and after making a big deal marking such dubious occasions as Macca Day, Bob Hope's centennial, and the conclusion of Julie's Soccer season, well, I just figured skipping over our very special day would be kinda insulting to certain other members of our family (no names, please). On the other hand, I was warned by my beloved to not get all mushy and embarrass her. Not sure exactly which tack to take to commemorate the event, I was nudged along this track whilst paging through a recent MOJO magazine and saw a short squib about a Dylan retrospective of Landy's that was being mounted in England. "Hey--that's the guy who took the pictures at our wedding! I'll tell the folks about that! Forget the lovey-dovey stuff--name dropping's way more fun!!" (For the record, next year will be the magical 25th, and THAT'S when I'll unleash with the sonnets! You've been duly warned.)

HOW did we manage to snare this world famous lensman to immortalize our union, you ask? Well, I myself wasn't totally aware of the actual behind-the-scenes maneuvering until just a few years ago, but the simple answer is "Woodstock". Mr. Landy, just like Mr. Dylan, Mr. Robertson, Mr. Helm, Mr. Manuel, Mr. Hudson and Mr. Danko were all based in that now-famous small arts community located about a hundred miles upstate from the metropolitan environs of New York City. As it turns out, so were Mr. Larry Moss and Mrs. Terry Moss and their two children, Robert and Lynn. In fact, they'd lived for many years in a house on Zena Road, the very same thoroughfare Bob Dylan spun out of control on his motorcycle at the peak of his fame in 1966, causing him to retreat from the public eye for over a year! As far as I can tell, the accident didn't occur right in front of the Moss residence--or anywhere particularly close for that matter--but it still makes for a teensy bit of interesting Moss minutia.

Lynn's mom Terry worked in a real estate office in the town of Woodstock in those days, and when the subject of her daughter's wedding came up in conversation amongst the folks employed there, eventually the matter of snaring a photographer was broached. Somebody mentioned a local fella, well known but looking for work. This was, after all, 1979--Jimi and Janis were long dead, if the Band hadn't broken up yet, well, it was only a matter of time, and the second--and third--Woodstock Festivals were years off on the event horizon. Even a big deal shutterbug's gotta eat, so he was more than ready to take on a simple wedding gig to amass some cash.

Mom Moss probably had no idea he was the fella who took the portrait that adorns the cover of Dylan's "Nashville Skyline" LP, but his price and terms were reasonable, extremely so considering what we received in return. While I've always gotten the impression that professional wedding lensmen take only a specific, limited amount of photos, Landy snapped away continuously, filling up roll after roll. True, he didn't plan things quite as well as he might've, running out mid-way through the reception, but the sheer mass of images we do have are definitely impressive. For instance, there's a wealth of pictures taken of the wedding party hours before the ceremony out in back of Lynn's house. They have none of the stiff, posed qualities one usually associates with wedding photography. Everyone looks natural, everyone looks great. So what if the uppermost top of my head is cut off in some of the photos? Believe me, despite that small oversight, I've never looked better. And Lynn? Wowser! Okay, it's not Helmut Newton, but she's looking mighty swell, mighty swell!...

You might be wondering what I thought of the situation at the time, and was I aware of the gent's impressive list of credentials? The answer to the second part of that query is "But of course!" While I may've ably and often demonstrated an obsessive memory for comic book trivia here at Hembeck.com, let me assure you I possess, for better or worse, a similar facility for the minutia of the sixties and seventies Rock Pantheon! So yeah, I knew exactly who was clicking away that long-ago day. The thing that strikes me odd now is that I have virtually NO memory of the man himself at the event in question. I suppose I must have spoken with him, but absolutely nothing comes to mind. Despite his obvious fame, I apparently had my mind on OTHER matters that particular afternoon! I was, after all, getting hitched! And no, in case you're wondering, there were no jitters whatsoever. Fact is, I clearly remember it as one of the happiest days of my entire life! (Okay, all in unison now--"Awwwww....")

Literally hundreds of photos were delivered to us in the form of slides, and after carefully reviewing all the images, we culled the best and most representative, chose proper sizes and made up our very own wedding album. I just looked at it for the first time in quite awhile before I sat down at the keyboard, and I gotta tell ya, it's one nifty document! And boy oh boy, did we ever look young! Of course, it being 24 years ago, that shouldn't come as any sort of surprise I suppose... Anyway, talking about all this with my sweetie might very well motivate us to finally put all the remaining pics--still on slides--on one of those new fangled CD ROMs. It'd sure be fun to see them again without having to sit in a darkened room, listening to the incessant clickity clickity clickity as we go from slide to slide...

I know what you're thinking--"Why don't you show us some or shut up?" Well, no. Sorry. I realize it's a bit of a cheat, but as of yet, this site doesn't sport any photos of yours truly. Doesn't mean it never will, just that their introduction into the proceedings must be carefully planned. Besides, I kinda like hiding behind the little caricature you're all so familiar with. Seeing the real me would probably just be a disappointment. For now, we'll maintain the mystery, but when I do post photos, well, you can be sure a generous selection of Mr. L's will be included...(And getting me to shut up is virtually impossible--my darlin' wife'll be the first to tell you THAT!?!...)

I was asking Lynn the other day if there were any other conditions put upon us regarding the photos. She said, yeah, he reserved the right to keep any of the photos from our nuptials for his own purposes. Hearing this, I brightened, wondering if we fell anywhere in the Landy canon, amidst the likes of Lennon and Townsend, McCartney and Slick. "Did he?" I asked hopefully...

"I think he kept a picture of one of my cats..."

Oh well. I guess that's something. Still, after a quick perusal of the over 500 images available for viewing over at his Landy Vision web-site, nary a glimpse of good ol' Blanche was to be seen. I DID spot Hermione Gingold, however!...

(Say, did I mention that the ceremony itself was officiated by the judge who had some months earlier joined Lucie Arnaz and Lawrence Luckenbill in Holy Hollywood matrimony? No? Well, that's the extent of THAT story. Gotta go now--only have a little over 360 days to get those love poems into shape, y'know. I wonder--do limericks count?...)

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