I know I should leave it for “better” people; to the critics, perhaps, or the people who know more about the politics/ economics/ issues/ money-trail/ cultural divides/ musicians than I do.
But I won’t.
Live 8 was an experience. Great weather, good people, good music (mostly). Fun. It was a perfect excuse to hang out and yap and eat the afternoon away. It was good to feel present. It was great to feel some measure of connection, however small. Lot’s of the presenters expressed sentiments about how this connected feeling needs to last beyond the day in order for there to be lasting change and I agree. I’m glad I was there.
I’m in that funny position where age has carried me over some unforeseen threshold. Now I’m more likely to hear from the parents that worry over letting their young kids attend some mass event like this virtually unattended, instead of hearing from younger peers about how much fun it’s gonna be, if only the adults don’t screw it up. I’m in the crowd that worries about whether we brought enough water for everyone as well as enough beer. I think about if we have a spot to spread out and sit instead of how we can get so close to the stage that we can feel the spray of sweat from the performers.
And yet, the attraction was still there. Shifted, somewhat, in focus but still there. That need to be a part.
I found myself scanning for the ironies: the bits that make a statement about how far we need to go, regardless of how far we’ve come. Like the mass of food vendors that stretched for a mile or so along the parkway to sell fattening deep-fried treats to the masses attending a free concert to help (in part) eradicate world hunger. Like watching the “entrepreneurial” folks selling knock-off Live 8 gear all around the official sales point, hoping to cash in on those hungry to connect and walk away with a souvenir. Like the teeming, mindless throngs of people that, true to crowd behavior everywhere, refused to think through the consequences of their little rudeness; their tiny thoughtless invasions of privacy. Like the advertising sponsorships that are become mostly solution and part problem…
And there was a great sense of belonging. A sense that we were there for a singular purpose
But (perhaps) despite all that, and a musical guest list that seemed to morph like a Power Ranger, It was a pretty cool thing. I won’t get into how happy I was about how we managed to export some artists, and how sorry I was it didn’t get us others. I was glad, for the most part, that we had who we had. Alicia Keys? Destiny’s Child? Jay-Z, Sarah McLachlan, Dave Matthews, Stevie Wonder, Maroon 5, Linkin Park? Estimates of attendance vary, but it was a lot of people either way. And there was a great sense of belonging. A sense that we were there for a singular purpose, albeit with differing levels of commitment. It was all rather personal, of course, but palpable nonetheless.
And dare I say it? We didn’t screw it up.
As far as I am aware, there were no major issues, no police events, no riots, no drunken idiots, no political backlash, and no bad Philly moments. Could it be that even the washed and unwashed masses of Philly understood that this event essentially outweighed their personal issues? Was it all the tourists (and the fact that many City folk got the “heck out of Dodge”)? I dunno. Can’t say. But I’m so happy it was an event-less event. And I’m so glad I attended.
Now maybe next time I can get within a half-mile of the stage…