Something's Happening Here

A Sixties Odyssey from Brooklyn to Woodstock

By Mark Berger

Subjects: Memoir, New York/regional
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438474625, 242 pages, May 2019

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Table of contents


Lost in Brooklyn
Tennessee Reel
Back to the Boro
Going North

The decade comes alive in this whirlwind ride through the Sixties that begins in Brooklyn and ends at Woodstock.


The meadow outside Bethel, New York, is eerily empty and silent. Yesterday it held half a million cheering people, and only a few hours ago, the closer, Jimi Hendrix, recast the "Star Spangled Banner" as a firefight in the Mekong Delta. Mark Berger's been here the whole time. Arriving four days early, he helped set up kitchens and paths. During the festival, he worked to calm kids tripping out on bad acid, maneuvered a water truck through a sea of spectators, and fell in love, twice. Woodstock was the sixties condensed into seventy-two hours, and proof that peace and love could turn a potential disaster into a mythic celebration of life. Now, it's decision time: Does he drop out and move to a commune in New Mexico or return to Brooklyn and become a teacher?

Something's Happening Here begins in Brooklyn eight years earlier, in 1961, where Berger, determined to be true to himself, pledges to live his life boldly. With buddies like Zooby, Bird, and Spider, he experiences the thrilling fear of joy rides and the roller coaster of mind-altering drugs. He's swept up in the energy of revolutionary writers and musicians and connects with the counterculture's spirit. Scenes abound, from catching the Coasters at a Brooklyn R&B club to digging Allen Ginsberg reading his poetry in a Tennessee steak house to having only a second to talk his way out of being sent to Vietnam.

At Woodstock it all comes together—who he is, what he believes, and which path he has to take. Berger's vivid storytelling brings the moments to life with an immediacy that show you why something's happening here.

Mark Berger lived most of his life near Prospect Park in Brooklyn. He has driven a potato truck, been a real estate agent, and worked as an elementary school teacher and guidance counselor. In 2012, attending a memoir writing class, he found his voice as a storyteller and discovered a memory trove of tales from his life in the 1960s that were demanding to be told. He and his wife, composer Rain Worthington, live in rural Nassau, New York.


"…a joyful memoir about the rollicking days of the 1960s … The strong writing allows the reader to relive those culturally important and historic days. " — Albany Times Union

"…Something's Happening Here is a valuable addition to the study of New York State in the 1960s as it presents a well-written and historically accurate account of the cultural and interpersonal experiences of its author. " — New York History

"Mark Berger's memoir of the sixties and its climactic event, the Woodstock Music Festival, is so richly evocative in its detail and presence, you'll swear you were there. " — T. C. Boyle, author of Outside Looking In: A Novel

"In concise and thoughtful episodes, Mark Berger has recreated his entrancing and eye-opening experiences through the years that culminated in the extravaganza of Woodstock. Fresh, honest, by turns gentle and wry, this is a rare and engaging firsthand look at an important time in our cultural history, with all its delirious ideals and sheer energy. " — Lydia Davis, author of Can't and Won't: Stories