Saturday, July 2, 2005

Pretzels, poverty and poo: My experience at Live 8

Five hours since Live 8 ended and I still have a pounding headache, probably from standing in the heat all day. As I write this, I have an ice wrap around my head. And I am wearing my Mickey Mouse nightshirt for those who need a visual of RandomReality.

All in all, a really good effort on the part of Bob Geldof, Bono and the other organizers of Live 8 and the One campaign. ( They really raised awareness about poverty and AIDS in Africa and the G8 summit.I mean, come on. How many people in Philadelphia even knew what the G8 summit was before this concert?

A whole lot of OTHER people raised awareness too - some good, some odd. In the span of a 10-minute walk, I saw people handing out fliers and leaflets for: Scientology, the Communist party, Lyndon LaRouche,Falun Gong, pro-life and conservation. (Of the environment. I think.)

Best parts of the concert: Linkin Park and Jay Z. He is my dawg. I say that even though I am quite un-hip. I didn't use to like Linkin Park because I thought they were whiny white boys, but they truly rocked.

Boring act: country singer Toby Keith.

Sorry I missed: Sarah McLachlin. Sniff! Had started walking out by then.

Most frightening enthusiastic crowd reaction: to Bon Jovi. The crowd loved them some New Jersey rockers.

Thought they had broken up: Def Leppard. Nope. They were there. With their one-armed drummer (incidentally, the Def Leppard story is the best VH1 "Behind the Music" EVER.) Def Leppard is responsible for the most-awesome rock lyric:  "Looking like a tramp/Like a video vamp/Demolition woman/Can I be your man."

Got a ride down to the concert from Dad, a.k.a. Poppa Q. Was not sure I would make it there in one piece because Dad can not STAND when a car wants to pass him. He speeds up, in some sort of testosterone-reaction way, even if he is approaching a red light. He dropped me off at the outskirts of the no-drive zone and I started walking. Wore my straw hat and pink shirt and carried a back pack.

First thing I noticed were all the helicopters whirring overhead. Some of my former students were at the concert and I tried to find them. No luck. I also spent most of the concert trying to reach Phyllis and her friends, who were near the oval. Again, no luck. Phyllis was close to the stage and it was just too darned crowded to weave my way through. Believe me, I tried. Sorry I missed you Phyllis! Text messaged with my students, including Christina who has an unnatural obsession with Will Smith, a.k.a. The Fresh Prince.

There was actually a lot of space to move around at the beginning of the Ben Franklin Parkway. Lots of people walking, but I didn't feel squished. Lots of vendors selling soft pretzels, a Philly staple. Water sold for $3 a bottle. But by the late afternoon, the price dropped to $1 a bottle. Too bad I had already drank four bottles by then.

It was HOT. Not awful, icky-sticky hot. There was a breeze. But in the sun - HOT. Hence the water. Even my straw hat was sweating.

I survived the port-o-potties at Live 8. I didn't see those shirts this afternoon, but they should have created them! Using the port-o-potties made me extremely glad that I do not live in poverty-stricken Africa or Bangkok or even attend summer camp. Horrid vats of poo.

Heard part of the Black Eyes Peas. The sound was actually quite good all along the Parkway. Don Cheadle (of "Hotel Rwanda" - have you seen that movie? You should!) introduced Bon Jovi. The crowd. Went. Crazy. Hoo boo.

I sat on the curb to take notes. People almost trampled me in their enthusiasm.

Kanye West sang. The crowd bopped. I ate a cheesesteak with tasty onions. Bottle of water #2.

A fire truck is spraying a huge stream of water. I walk under it. Little kids are running and dancing in the water and splashing in the puddles. It is quite cute. The camera man from Channel 6 thinks so too and starts filming.

All colors and kinds of people at the concert. Cool. However, an alarming number of people were wearing ill-fitting tank tops. Sigh.

Destiny's Child perform. Lots of women sing along.

Natalie Portman introduces an act. "Natalie Portman? Who is that?" says the man next to me. Hello. She is only Queen Amidala. Padme. Wife to Anakin and mother of Luke and Leia!!!!!

Coldplay from London. Madonna from London. I thought she was too busy writing children's books to sing. She performs "Like A Prayer." That was the "scandalous" video where the religious statue cries and she shows her bra straps.

Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff! Yea!!!! The crowd goes nuts. They love him. I love him. Wish I could go out dancing with him.

Toby Keith sings. Crowd not interested. I sit on the grass. Am hot and tired. I nap on the grass, then I obsessabout possible grass stains on my khaki shorts.

Linkin Park and Jay Z!!!!!!!!! I stand near a fence and peer at the video screen. I have a pretty good view, except for the branch that is cropping off the top part of their heads. So I can see the lead singer of Linkin Park only when he comes downstage.

About 4:30 p.m., I decide to start making my way back. I wanted to stay, but could not deal with having to use the port-o-potty again. Instead, I used the icky bathroom in the gallery. Not much better, but it was air conditioned. Took SEPTA home and it was fine, but I remembered why I went to college and got a job and a car so that I no longer had to take SEPTA.


If you want to read another blog of the concert, check out Dan Rubin's "Blinq" blog in The Philadelphia Inquirer.


cpac24 said...

i had a great day at live 8.
everyone was skeptical about going but i was deadset on it; in fact, i said i would do it alone if no one wanted to go.
i didn't acutally want to do that, so im glad people decided to go.

not only do i support the cause, but it was bands i wouldn't mind seeing. stevie wonder is one of my all-time favorite artists so just seeing him made it worth it.

im sorry we couldn't meet up. i mean you couldn't find it in a sea of a million people! come on, i told her i was wearing a black shirt!

oh i cut my hair. you'll have to see it.

anyway, back to live 8. when will smith and dj jazzy jeff played the theme to the fresh prince, i knew i could die happy. i kept joking to tom that they were gonna play it and i really didn't think they were going to. it was amazing.

maroon 5 really rocked out to keep on rockin in the free world. that guy can play guitar. and def leppard was fun. make me think of the bar.

all in all, a great day. im so glad i went and i really feel im lucky to have gone.

did you see my name up there?? i texted them!

ksqwrite said...

Yeah! Glad you went. I know there was no "emo" music on the bill, bit some of the acts were great. And you got to fulfill your Fresh Prince fantasy. You cut your hair??

bobking144 said...

Hey, thanks for the great review.

You were lucky to be able to see the show in person, because the MTV coverage absolutely sucked. Just like MTV no longer shows entire videos, they don't seem to think anybody wants to view an entire song in a concert -- hence they kept cutting away from the bands so that the veejays (are they still called that?) could yammer endlessly, interview clueless concert-goers and then cut away for more commercials. U2 got one complete song on the air, from what I could see. Stevie Wonder, Green Day and Pink Floyd got cut off in mid-song. They aired the final minute of that "Hey Jude" finale.

I don't think this is just bittter GenX nostalgia. I remember watching the entirety of U2's performance at the 1985 Live Aid, including that great extended version of "Bad," and the Led Zeppelin reunion and the Who falling all over the place and Madonna showing up unexpectedly as a brunette. I don't remember tons of commercials or songs being heard faintly in the background while some announcer says "Let's see what Coldplay was up to two and a half hours ago." (By the way, my sister taped the whole 1985 concert on my dad's Betamax, but I think my dad eventually taped over it.)

People tell me the AOL online coverage was much better.

On the other hand, the event itself was pretty inspiring, and that dying Ethiopian girl from 20 years ago showing up as a grown happy woman was incredible (this was during the London show). I kept thinking about the fact that in 1985 you wouldn't have had  a concert broadcast to the world from Johannesburg, and you couldn't have had one from an undivided Berlin. Maybe the 2025 version will include Tehran or a free, non-U.S.-occupied Baghdad.

ksqwrite said...

Live Aid from 1985 is now on DVD, which makes a great present, so nag your family for Christmas.