a Cheap Holiday

Cheap Holiday

Welcome to a cheap holiday in my life. At least you get to go home at the end of the day!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Gee, Bob...thanks a lot

By now, I'm sure most people are acquainted with the upcoming performance nightmare that are sure to be the Live 8 concerts. Well, let me rephrase...the upcoming nightmare that it is sure to be for Philly. You would think with Philadelphia being the only North American location for one of these shows (and one of the locations for the original Live Aid concerts twenty years ago) that Philly would have gotten a better shake. First off, the roster of acts for Philly Live 8 just seems sub-par to me. I mean, look at the list for Hyde Park and look at the list for Philly. Was it absolutely necessary for Hyde Park to get every single decent headliner available? What do we get...Maroon 5?! Please. Rob Thomas?! Yeah, he's good for playing at the TLA, but for a show with an estimated one million in-person attendees? There was a recent rumor that Prince had been added to the Philly lineup, but I've yet to see it confirmed. If that is the case, that would be the one saving grace of the situation, but I'm doubting it will actually come to pass.

The primary downer is that the Live 8 organizers struck a deal with the city to hold this thing on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and not in one of the major sports stadiums that dot the landscape like mushrooms along the South Philly stretch of I-95. What does the new Lincoln Financial Field hold? 60,000? Live Aid was originally held in one of those stadiums (I can't find a verifiable citation, but I'm guessing it was the now-demolished Veterans' Stadium) and it was good enough then. The infrastructure was in place: bathrooms, plumbing, seating, and a place for a stage. The only reason to have it on the Parkway is for the stunning view from the foot of the Art Museum down to City Hall when the camera pulls back for a long shot. And yes, it is stunning. But for this they're going to disrupt the lives of an entire city?

If all this sounds like sour grapes coming from me, it is. I live within a three block radius of the Parkway. There's a good reason I've only spent one July 4th weekend in Philly since moving here--cause it's a pain in the ass to be here during that time. July 4th in Philly is a major tourist holiday and it's impossible to do anything, other than leave town, on that weekend. Sure, the fireworks are purty, but it all just becomes too annoying. This year they'd already planned a major Elton John concert for July 4th on the Parkway ("Philadelphia Freedom"--get it? get it? *yawn*), and now we gotta have Live 8.

Now, with the creation of a "no car zone" for a 10-block radius around the Parkway during that weekend--encompassing my domicile, of course--I am more committed than ever to not being here during that weekend.

Frankly, I'm still unclear on what all of this is supposed to accomplish anyway. Sir Geldolf claims that what he wants is the ears and hearts of the people, not their money. But the original Live Aid has raised a substantial sum of money from it's original shows, continuing sales of the audio CD, and the recent DVD release--one website I located estimated $100 million worldwide has been raised by this effort. (And there are more websites that ask exactly how that money was distributed, but that's enough fodder for numerous blogs, so go do your own research.) So leaders of the G8 see a buncha people at concerts listening to a bunch of bands. Yeah? So? How exactly does this translate into action for debt relief for Africa? I'm not seeing the critical path here, someone please help me. One columnist I read (and damn me for forgetting who), indicated that wouldn't it make more sense to charge all these concert attendees a small fee and then those proceeds could be applied to Africa's debt? Kinda like a big rent party for Africa.

But then, I suppose, all the other countries would want to get in on that gravy and Bono is just too busy with his Nobel Peace Prize bid nowadays to play every weekend.


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