... life with John Lennon around for the last 27 years. It's easy if you try.
The Wrong Medium and The Wrong Message
I've watched and listened to as little of Live8 as a general scanning of the media allowed. I just can't bring myself to associate with this event in even such a peripheral way as listening on the radio.
From the very beginning I have been an extreme sceptic of the whole affair. The entire event has much more to do with flagging careers and strategic music biz PR than it has with poverty. It is no coincidence that Live8 is arranged just at a time when the music industry's reputation is in the gutter, with stupid legal cases against ordinary music downloaders scarring the marketplace.
Don't get me wrong, there is no doubt some genuine goodwill behind some of the artists involved, Geldorf included no doubt. But the managers and record labels and global businesses that actually allowed it to happen have nothing but the market in mind. And for the television and radio stations that carried hours and hours of it live and recorded, this is very low-cost high-impact programming.
So, it was a medium created to do most well for the industry that put it on and the other media conglomerates that could feed off it.
And as for the message? First of all, there is a great deal of doubt whether the majority of those attending and listening and watching LIve8 know what the background cause -- poverty -- was supposed to be. And of those few who did know that there was a "cause", most thought that it was fundraiser. Which it was not. My reading of the audience is based on a whole series of interviews that CBC Radio conducted with attendees of Live8 Canada at Barrie, Ontario.
The message was supposed to be -- get your governments involved in helping to solve poverty in Africa. In Canada, people were urged to write to their Member of Parliament and the relevant Ministries. In other words, get the government to help solve African poverty by hijacking my taxes without my consent. This is a stupid pro-big government message, promoting an inefficient and compulsory system.
Better the message should be, put your hands in your pockets and voluntarily support charities and NGOs and assistive agencies in general. If you want to take it a step further, withhold the same amount from your taxes this year. If a few million Canadians decide to do that, the Revenue Department won't lock us all up -- they'll sensibly come to a deal.
My message is: don't do anything to increase the ability of the government to use your money for any purpose without consent; and don't think better of the rapacious music industry just because they staged this grand PR stunt.
The man would have been 64 today.
I love radio. The finely-crafted radio documentary is one of the finest achievements of the human species. I love music, too, of all sorts. This morning, I was lucky enough to catch the first episode of what seems to be a really interesting radio documentary on American musical mavericks.
The first episode discussed the earliest discovery of "tonal groups" by Charles Ives (who wanted to imitate the sound of the big drum in a brass band and found the only way to do it was to punch his fist into a group of piano keys) and Henry Cowell (who played 31-note chords on the piano by using his entire forearm), and how that reverberated through Harry Partch, Leo Ornstein, John Cage and others. Fascinating stuff, and I'm looking forward to the next 12 episodes.
To have an early death caused by massive self-abuse is probably no longer the mark of a maverick in the rock and roll world; it seems to be a regular happening. The latest potential victim is Pete Doherty of The Libertines, the "next big thing" out of the UK. Doherty is described as "one of the great British songwriters of the last two decades. He is the real deal, a genius." Unfortunately, he also loves crack as an almost sympathetic piece in the Guardian this weekend describes.
For me, the most interesting parts of this all too familiar tale are the details of the various rehab facilities around the world that all these folks seem to know about.
"The Libertines are believed to be in despair after wasting money on Doherty's treatments in recent weeks, including an abortive stay at The Priory in London and at a clinic in France. He then got a place at the world's toughest clinic, the Thamkrabok monastery in Thailand, with the help of the actress June Brown, alias Dot Cotton in EastEnders, whose godson, Tim, has been hooked on crack. There he faced a pitiless regime, including beatings with a bamboo cane and being forced to drink a black concoction of vile herbs that made him vomit throughout the day to rid his body of impurities."Bizarre. But the truth is, if you have money there are a billion ways to use it up.