| Entitled Patriot Penn - 7/04/01
I don't usually write
reviews of shows, but I went to the big 4th bash along the
River Charles in Boston, and I wanted to write a little bit
about it. I went to Greenfield to see my family, and I was
flying out of Boston so I would have a better chance of
getting my bass on the airplane (I'm a jazz cat). It was a
good chance to hang with Straz, and I like Boston, so I
planned to just hang on the 4th in that old Colonial city.
When my Sister found out that I was going to be in Boston,
she said that I had to go to the big Boston Pops and
fireworks show down by the river. Well, I guess I mind my
big Sister, because Straz and I found ourselves walking
along the river with the crowds.
As we got closer to Keith and the boys, the crowd got
denser. We were getting there about 5pm, and we were
getting to the area where you had to get there about 4am to
stake out your space. When we got right to the bandshell,
it was a fenced off area. They were allowing people in,
but you'd be stupid to go in, ALL the places had been taken
since before dawn. But, I figured, "hey, I'm the human
laminate, let's see what happens." I figured I just waltz
in (there wasn't really room to waltz, but you get the
idea) 15 hours late and get the best seat in the house. I
think I would find that sense of entitlement really
unpleasant on someone who didn't carry it as well as me. I
think I would find it disgusting on anyone that wasn't me.
Several people recognized me, but they didn't say, "Hey,
Penn, we have a place for you," so we kept fighting our way
through the crowd. It was awful; we had to climb over
blankets and people. It was dense. There were more people
than Woodstock and we were right up in the front. Finally,
recognition, but it was for Straz. Some MIT geek
recognized Straz. He'd been there since dawn, and he had a
great place. He said there was room for us. Score one for
Straz. There was a nice lawn chair for me, and I sat down
and took a little nap. A summer day, surrounded by people
and napping. Just wonderful. There was a sign up for
"Yahoo Auction Winners" and we wanted to explore after my
nap, so we disrupted everyone and climbed over people to
the sign. We met the guy from Yahoo. Yahoo had auctioned
a place for charity, and they sent someone to hold places
in the middle of the night. It went for 200 bucks. What a
deal. We talked and joked with them. They didn't offer us
any of the space. But, then - MORNING DJs. The mother
load. They were from WORC in Worcester. They did the
morning "zoo" show. They had Hawaiian shirts and loud hats
on. They were thrilled to see me. We talked and they
invited us to where they had staked out in the middle of
the night, "Club Paradise." They had chairs, and beverages,
and food. I went back and then Straz joined me. They took
pictures and gave me lots of food and drink. I kept guy
food in my right hand to look like I was a regular guy, and
then ate like a girl with my left hand. Cheeze-Its in the
right, rice cakes in the left. No one's going to catch me
dieting. They had cold Sprite and a hat for my head.
They sat on the ground and gave Straz and I the chairs (we
let his pregnant wife keep her chair). As people came up
to get their picture taken with me, I said, "Will pose for
food" and made them bring snacks into Club Paradise. We
were illin' and chillin' like little Bobby Dylan. I had a
perfect view, a place to sit, food, beverage, and I didn't
have to pee at all. The weather was perfect. My big
Sister was right; it was the place to be.
I'm not going to go into detail except to say it was a
perfect show. Just perfect. What I loved about it was how
it broke down demographics. It wasn't a show for people
who act disgusted and can't stand some kind of music. It
was a show for Americans. Real Americans that like the
fact that we're everybody. We had a kick ass symphony. We
had a military horn band. We had Debbie Reynolds singing
songs for "her generation" which was, happily, a lie. She
was singing songs for everyone. She sang "Singing in the
Rain" and killed, even more so because she wasn't. It was
perfect weather. Peter Jennings came out and read pieces
by Jefferson, Locke, MLK, the usual superstars of freedom.
While he read, Keith kicked it, and this woman sang
wonderful gospel. Now, I'm not fond of gospel, but it was
the gospel of civil rights and she sure could sing like
ringing a bell. We were close enough that we could hear
the orchestra mostly from the band shell and not from the
PA, and that rocked. I loved watching the basses all
bowing in unison. "A bass with a bow, the drummer relaxes
and waits between shows for his cinnamon girl."
Right after Peter, patriotism and gospel, Cyndi Lauper came
out and really rocked the house. She had a trumpet player
from the orchestra and she was rubbing her ass against
Keith Lockart and he conducted in a VERY non-Fieldler way.
He was bumping and rocking and she was rocking the house.
Man, it was great to see all this stuff mixed up. Hey
Canada, this is what a free country looks like, it ain't no
goddamn mosaic, it's a melting pot with everyone rolling in
the boil. Cyndi climbed on camera stands and ran into the
audience and hit all her marks while really looking
spontaneous. I tell you, she stole "We Are the World" and
she still kicking. And Keith, he's really good. I kept
remembering us doing the PBS show with him. He's a showman,
and an artist. I dig him. I hope in my lifetime, there's a
really sexy female pop star that conducts a symphony
orchestra while she sings. It would rock the house.
Who could follow Cyndi? Arlo Guthrie. His long gray hair
way down his back. He sang "City of New Orleans," and his
Dad's "This Land is Your Land." He stopped the band and
talked a little. He didn't make a Woodstock joke and that
bummed me, but he was great. "On the other side, it didn't
say nothing. That sign was made for you and me." He did
some world peace hippy stuff saying that "From California
to the New York highway" didn't mean it had to go in that
direction, it could go all the way around the long way . . .
of course, that would leave us out," it was a nice hunk.
We rounded it off with the "singing State Trooper" who had
opened the whole shebang with the National Anthem (just the
first verse, not the P&T no god verse), came back on and we
all sang a lot of songs together. Real patriotic songs.
It was way fun to hear all those voices, with some of us
out of tune, making it really thick. The people who had
been there since dawn, the entitled Straz and Penn, really
sang it out.
Keith kicked off the 1812 overture, which as David points
out, has very little to do with American Independence, but
celebrating anyone kicking ass on the French is a good
thing. The army was there with cannons and they did the
cannon part. It was loud, and stunning. Really stirring
stuff, with BIG fireworks at the end over the Charles River.
All that was missing was "Anarchy in the USA," but if they
did these shows just for me, they might cut down their
audience to below a half a million.
The band packed up and we watched a half hour of amazing
fireworks. They turned out the lights and we stood in the
dark. Straz and I passed up a great chance to cuddle, but
those around us did not. One of the DJs pointed out that
the song that was missing from the display was "Dirty Water.
" How could they miss that? It rocks and it mentions the
River Charles," "with muggers, buggers, and thieves . . .
ah, but they're cool people." I was, as always bummed that
they didn't set them all off at once. But, maybe I'm in
the minority that would like my kicks below the waistline,
Sunshine, in 1 minute instead of 30. But, if I ever have a
few hundred grand in disposable income (like I win a
freedom prize), I'm going to have someone really light up
the sky. Show that America really is quantity not quality.
So, that was it. We walked a few blocks to our car in a
crowd of really happy Americans. It was a great day. Man,
freedom. We just need the whole world to have it. Imagine
the celebration then, huh? I think we could have used
another 40 or 50 acts - even more varied than we have.
And fire all of our guns at once and explode into space!