July 3, 2005
Yesterday, Joan and I accomplished something we have never before done. We attended a marathon rock concert with about one million music enthusiasts on the Parkway across the street from our condo. Live 8 was indeed a happening with Philadelphia’s own Will Smith hosting and performances by Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews, Destiny’s Child, Sara McLachlan, Toby Keith, Jay-Z, Keith Urban, Kaiser Chiefs, Linkin Park, John Groban, Maroon 5, Rob Thomas, Black Eyed Peas, Def Leppard, Jars of Clay, the Marleys, Kayne West and a finale by Stevie Wonder. For many of these performers, it was the first time we heard their music…shows our age!
Lots of people had predicted a disaster for this concert--- a bunch of wild people who would certainly tear up the city. Indeed, the attendees were quite diverse---several hundred thousand college students, a large group of hippies revisiting their past, tons of visitors from across the USA and around the world, lots of people of color and of course some brave new world explorers like us. However, contrary to the naysayers, Live 8 was an amazingly positive experience in how well everyone “blended in” and “rocked so peacefully.”
Beyond the music, this concert had a serious purpose…the idea was to call attention to a human crisis and challenge the powerful political leaders who will attend the G-8 Summit starting Wednesday to relieve the debt and other financial constraints on African nations. The thousands of people on that continent who die everyday simply because they were born into poverty and cannot access common pharmaceutical drugs that we in Western nations take for granted is a moral challenge of the first order. The UK’s Tony Blair is chairing the G-8 Summit and has put the African tragedy on the front burner for discussion by world leaders.
The City of Philadelphia was superb with its organization and management of Live 8. You have to wonder how many cities anywhere could bring one million people into a center city urban environment with just a few weeks notice and not have chaos as the result.
This morning the concert area across the street is quiet and rapidly being cleaned up by city workers. That’s because another million people are expected in the same place tomorrow night to see the Fourth of July parade followed by an incredible concert by Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, Patti La Belle and Sir Elton John.
We’ll be there!!!! Rock on, Philly!
Joseph P. Batory
Philadelphia, PA 19130