Saturday, June 06, 2009

From Here, Overlooking Desolation Row

The here being, actually, a now-2009. The other night I watched "Message To Love-The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970". Those of you old enough to have attended a rock concert probably have heard of this infamous event. The documentary was amazing to watch on a few different levels-it was a snapshot taken of when the world was crazy, the generation gap was going through a rough divorce, and Tiny Tim was paid to perform on the same stage as Jimi Hendrix. Thankfully, not at the same time.
Keith Moon was alive and drumming. Hendrix (18 days left) and Jim Morrison (10 months)were playing their last major gigs.
The show promoters didn’t plan the event very well, and nearly 600,000 freeloaders showed up demanding to watch the greatest show of their lives for free. The cost of the four day festival ticket? Six pounds. Less than ten dollars American in 2009. To see the greatest show of their lives. About 60,000 paid, leaving 540,000 upset barbarians at the gates screaming bloody murder.
The documentarian, Murray Lerner, gave much screen time to the barbarians, and also the concert promoters scrambling to collect enough money to pay the performers.
The music was wonderful-the rest?
Sad. An ugly mirror held up to humanity, documenting man at his worse.
Desolation Row was the nickname for the makeshift refugee camp, where the totally empty pocketed indigents stayed. From the stage the promoters made an appeal to the crowd to share food and whatever with them. There were fences put up through which the paying customers would pass with their tickets. The denizens of Desolation Row were given ‘makework’, asked to paint the fence.
They decided to spit in the hand that tried to feed them, creating garish obscenities and petulant slogans (We Want The Stones!).
No Stones. No Beatles. But a listing of the performers who did show up reads like a history of Rock and Roll.
Bob Dylan, of course, wrote his song, Desolation Row much earlier; he wasn’t there either, although his song does play over the end credits.
Give a man a fish, and he will hit you over the head with it and take your wallet.
Teach a man to fish, and he will never have time for golf again.

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