April 4, 2009

Karma Got Me on Peace Sunday at the Rose Bowl

Here I sit in 2009 and just now figured out why I had such a horrible day on June 6, 1982! It wasn't bad luck - it was bad karma! God knew I was not their with pure motives.

I guess I should start at the beginning:

For any of you over 45's our there you may recall the days back in the late 70's - early 80's when there was a huge movement affectionately known as "No Nukes". It was started by a group of musicians and activists that were calling for an end to the use of all things nuclear powered, including weapons.

This was a great time for music lovers like me because of all the concerts! They even had one in my area in this HUGE empty meadow (which incidentally is now covered with buildings, including the one I work in). Check out this line-up:

It was a blast! So naturally a few years later when we heard that Jackson Browne was getting his buddies together for another big show, we got tickets, and being a fan of Bruce even back then, our hopes were that he would be there. It was never officially confirmed that he would be but if the truth be told: I WAS MORE INTERESTED IN THE POSSIBILITY OF BRUCE SHOWING UP THAN I WAS IN THE END OF NUCLEAR ARMS!

There, I admit it after all these years! And that is why everything that could go wrong that day did!

First of all, there is no parking at the Rose Bowl. We had to park on a residential street at the top of a big hill. As soon as I shut the door to my car I realized I had LOCKED the keys inside the car!!! So there we were, four semi-stoned girls at 7:00 am trying to figure out how to get the keys out. We walked all over and finally found a fireman to help us (that's what they called them back in the day - fire

Then we finally get to the concert and our seats were bad. It was blazing hot out and we were in the sun ALL day and each of us got bad sunburns. But it was worth it because we just KNEW Bruce would show up as a special unannounced guest.....right?

Sitting next to us that day was a very bizarre young man who was apparently years ahead of the trends...because he proceeded to pierce body parts as he sat there right next to me! He had some needles and he pierced each nipple, his lip, his nose, who knows what else. It FREAKED us out - we had never heard or seen anything like this and there it was two inches away. We were afraid of the guy and didn't say a word to him all day long.

So we sat there all day enjoying speeches by people like Ed Asner, Jesse Jackson, Cesar Chavez and listening to great music by Stevie Wonder, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Dan Fogelberg, Gary U.S. Bonds and Bonnie Raitt.

But as the day turned to night there was still no sign of Bruce showing up. Hmmm. We began to wonder if maybe he wasn't coming after all? So even after the encore, after hundreds of thousands of people walked out of the stadium, we sat hoping that maybe he'd just show up...he never did.

Tired and sunburned we started the long trek back to the car. There was only one problem. We forgot where we parked. All four of us had different recollections of which was the right hill to walk up. So we walked up one, then another, then another, and after two hours of walking up and down hills, intermittently crying, cussing and praying, we finally found my car.

To top of the day I entered the exit of the freeway but luckily by then it was so late (3 am) that no one else was on the road and I was able to quickly make a U-turn and get back off before the two hour drive home.

It was not a fun day. But now I know why! Karma. I was there to see Bruce, not to stand up for the anti-nuke cause.


Impure motives will get you every time.


Anonymous said...

Karma is indeed cosmic justice!

BTW, this is the first time I've come across someone else who has entered on the freeway exit. Not that I'm proud of it - we were lost, it was dark - but nice to know someone else has experienced that second of terror when you realize you're driving backwards, essentially.

Dan said...

Great story. BTW how was the weed back then. I remember, sort of, taking part in some pretty potent stuff in the day. That had to be pretty freaky with that piercer right next to you.

Sean Coleman said...

Still a pretty fine lineup, despite Bruce not being there. Live music always goes well with a "left-hander" or two :)

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Hey Stevie fan, thanks for stopping by. I'd like to clarify that I went in the wrong way on the freeway for the same reason, it was late, I was lost and very tired and the signs were confusing!

Dan, I've actually heard the weed today is far more potent than it was back then. I was a lightweight and didn't partake often so I am not a good reference point :)

Sean, it was a very fun day even though I pointed out mostly negatives.

Southern (in)Sanity said...

Wow, that sounds like a rough day - made worse by not being able to see Springsteen.

salem said...

Great story.

drewzepmeister said...

Barb, for what it's worth, you may not seen the Boss on that day, but you have a great concert memory there! That's priceless...

Empowering Women said...

Well, my friends and I too were there only for the concert but check out how that day changed my life!

I was perusing the internet to find information on Peace Sunday in 1982 for an upcoming workshop I am conducting. I plan on telling
the story of being at the concert when, somewhere around 11:00 AM a DJ announced that someone had left their dog in the car, windows
were rolled up and it was going to be a hot day. The crowd boo'd and the next band played. In between music, and speakers all day my friend and
I started chanting "What About The Dog?". We were sitting on stage left loge and it did not take too many sets before our entire section was chanting.
By afternoon, the entire stadium was chanting. I remember, it was somewhere after dark, sometime before Bette Midler's Rose that I heard it coming from the other side of the stadium. It was then that I realized my personal agency and the power of one voice. After all, we were there for the prolification of
nuclear war, while this "critical mass" of people were concerned about the humanity of one dog.

My life changed there and then. I should also admit that I was not there for the political or interfaith initiative. I wasn't educated on nor concerned with nuclear war. I was there for the concert. This led me on a journey of life towards interfaith reconciliation and community building. I speak to kids about realizing their personal power and I stand on this experience as paramount in my life. I wonder how many other people left that concert changed, and not just rocked out?

Sometime before Steve Wonder came out and asked for a moment of silence, the same DJ (Cynthia Fox???) came out and announced, "So, you want to know about the dog? The Dog is fine!" The crowd cheered.

Last summer I was on a panel with Dr. Leland Stewart, the founder of the So Cal Ecumenical Council who was instrumental in earlier Peace Sunday's. In our drive down to San Diego he happened upon this story and it dawned on me that he was the one in charge of the day that changed the course of my life.
It's not too late to make the most of that day Layla!
Do you remember What about the Dog??
Sande Hart

Michael said...

I was there that day. I am also guilty of enjoying the music without caring about the cause. Even though the music was great, it was not a fun day. Too many people to deal with. They wouldn't let me bring in a boda bag with water, but people all around me were bringing in ice chests full of supplies so I was pissed off at the start. Once in the Rose Bowl, there wasn't enough restrooms or places for water. It was hot crowded. It didn't keep me from staying all day. I remember people waiting for Springsteen but he was a no show. That was the last time I went to anything that was "festival seating". I saw Nash and Browne at Santa Barbara Bowl a year later at a No Nukes concert.

B Ross said...

I attended the concert that day and had a great time. It was hot and crowded but we made the best of it. It was history! My friends 72 Nova wouldn't start afterwards so we begged a cop to give us a jump. He refused at first because he couldn't chance blowing up his battery! Give me a break!!!

Want to know what was even more ironic than attending and not caring about the cause? I was in the Air Force at the time and stationed at a base with nukes on it! Talk about being a hypocrite!!!

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