Doing It in the Park:
Column Inches #8 with Live 8

by Tony Phillips

Not one to take our international rock floozy rep lightly, we skipped across the pond for Sir Bob Geldof’s Live 8 concert in London’s Hyde Park. And like every other queen in town, we found ourselves double-booked as London’s Gay Pride was set for the same day.

Pride organizer Jason Pollock guilted us into at least attending the march, chiding, “Anyone who’d rather be watching Madonna really ought to question their commitment.” And we lucked into Ian McKellen, Stephen Frye and Sir Bob before the noon kick off.

Hopping onto a white marabou-ed “Brits 4 Kev” float, Sir Bob made an impromptu speech over a barely audible mike saying, “What you’re doing over here is the same thing as what we’re doing over there.” Yeah, only you’re doing it with Madonna.

He elaborated on Africans being a repressed minority just like gays. And with that, the march, including at least one tank — albeit one Amnesty International painted pink blowing bubbles from its turret — commenced to Victoria Embankment.

Over in Hyde Park, Amnesty vet Bono commenced Live 8, proving rock stars really can change the weather as the only bit of the day’s sun peeked out for a moving rendition of U2’s “One.”

The remaining program dragged like an overly-slick Real World marathon. In fact, we wandered to the overflow area, where an additional 50,000 Brits watched the entire affair on two outsized monitors, and the static vibe was identical.

The overflows jumped to their feet whenever a band came on, cheered and clapped on cue, even though they were watching a flat, 2-D representation of the same exact thing happening just across the park.

What happened? Daily Mail wag Pete Clark suggested the gig had the life over-produced right out of it. Clark remembered Live Aid happening at “the height of cocaine madness. Everyone was coked to the gills.” And like Studio 54, anyone who was there doesn’t remember a damn thing about it.

Or perhaps the problem wasn’t not enough white, but rather too much with African acts banished to a second stage miles from Hyde Park. When Ms. Dynamite passes for African authenticity, your gig’s less red, black and green and more cappuccino half-caff.

Still, there were some high points:

Annie Lennox pulling it out for an electric, seventh-inning set.

Open-air urinals arranged in facing rows so one pissed staring directly into the eyes of a stranger.

A BBC-1 presenter actively encouraging George Michael’s lecherous Jake Sheers shirt-chasing.

Madonna desperately trying to shoo “ten-minutes left to live” chick offstage once she froze like a ShopRite pea during her opening number. Which was not “Frozen.”

The crowd outside Hyde Park tearing up metal retaining fences and hurling beer bottles at the police to get inside.

Where’s that pink tank when you need it?

The Angry Inch: Speaking of about-facing urinals, former leftie Christopher Cole pissed away precious Los Angeles Sunday Times editorial space trying to link NEA 4 culture wars superhero John Fleck to Newsweek's false reportage of US soldiers flushing the Koran down a Guantanamo Bay toliet.

Cole points out that many of today's troops were kiddies when Fleck's 1989 performance piece Blessed Are The Little Fishes, featuring a holy crapper Cole describes as "an altar toilet with a picture of Jesus on its lid" debuted. He then asks if we tell our kids “desecrating a holy symbol” is okay, won’t they grow into people who’ll desecrate “a religious symbol, especially if that desecration is carried out in the name of a greater good, like national security?"

First of all, Chris, I've never attended a John Fleck performance where he hasn't graciously doled out cocktails to the audience beforehand, so I doubt any of your Hitler Youth actually made it past the bouncer. And Pee Wee's Playhouse was all the rage when I was a kid, yet I don't talk to my fucking furniture today.

As Fleck — currently in town with his new show Johnny's Got A Gun —rightly states, his tidy bowl man is one moment — meant to "to expand our views of how religion and personal experience coexist" — taken out of context. Fleck concludes, "I doubt the US soldiers allegedly splashing the Koran with urine at Guantanamo Bay did so with any artistic intent."

Fleck also points out that theaters and prison are two very different things and the sold-out Guantanamo house, "Forcibly and possibly illegally detained, had no choice in staying or leaving." Right on. Fight the fucking power, Chairy! And where’s my pink tank?