Regular readers of this site have probably noticed that I’m a bit obsessive on the subject of the Republican Convention in New York City, scheduled from August 30 to September 1. Call me paranoid, but the combination of hot temperatures, a very contentious election, legitimate security concerns, official over-reaction as seen in other recent NYC protests, 50,000 Republicans, maybe ten times that many mostly young, very pissed-off protesters, and some unknown number of Secret Service and policefolks, and it just feels like trouble in the offing. I’m worried about political blowback a la Chicago 1968, and to some extent I’m worried about my personal safety. I’m disgusted that the Republicans are coming here, to a city that’s been hurt badly by their policies, basically to celebrate themselves on the bodies of our September 11 dead, and I’m planning to be out there—well-dressed, respectful, American flag in hand. I don't have any illusions about what this is likely to accomplish, though, and though I wouldn't miss it as either a concerned citizen or a historical voyeur, I'd just as soon not have the circus come this way at all. (For those interested, the always-informative Gotham Gazette has a good package of stories about convention and protest preparations this week.)
But I’m starting to hope I might have something better to do—something more affirmative—on September 1. As you’ve probably heard by now, a New York concert promoter is trying to "draft" Bruce Springsteen to play at Giants Stadium while Bush is re-coronated at MSG:
I have put Giants Stadium on hold on September 1 in the hope that you will lead the music industry in coming together and perform in a concert for change. Once it is known that you are involved, many other artists will want to perform with you. Together your collective voices and music will send a clear message to all Americans that our country needs their vote to create change. The event is called VoteAid: "Concert for Change" and we think that it has the potential to become the largest concert in history. We would like the money that this concert generates to go to support voter registration and participation throughout the country, but more importantly your decision to play at exactly the same time George Bush is being nominated will focus all Americans on the importance in this election for their future as well as the future of the world.
Could it work? Would Bruce—no fan of the Bushes or Republicans in general—accept the "draft"? I have no idea, and his web site isn’t saying (though the links regarding the election—to moveon.org and ACT--aren’t exactly neutral). But the promoter, Andrew Rasiej, who stated that Springsteen’s online "message" praising Al Gore’s May speech at NYU inspired him to make the effort, claims that he’s already reached out to R.E.M. and Bon Jovi among others about joining Springsteen on stage, and both have indicated serious interest.
The Yahoo! article says that "Springsteen's publicist… told Reuters the music star does not plan to perform at any events tied to the Democratic or Republican conventions." Not encouraging, but not exactly a blanket denial, either. So stay tuned, sign the petition, and maybe we can all do something a lot more fun on Sept. 1 than just rage at the Republicans and tour the inside of NYCPD paddy wagons.