06 November 2010


Locus Focus: Take Twenty-Six!

Welcome to the Non-Fiction in November Challenge!

A new month, a new theme! =D

I'm considering making December our "Wildcard" Month. No theme: just post about the settings you might have liked to feature over the past few months, if you hadn't been so distracted by my challenges. What do you think?

As for my first featured non-fiction setting . . . I was planning on being really profound this week. I had a great setting from a very philosophical book, and I was planning on waxing poetic. But my blogging muse wasn't interested. He just wanted to rock. To keep him happy, I settled on a book which, for all its good qualities, makes me call its author a "prissy prima donna" whenever I see him on TV.

JFK Stadium, Philadelphia
Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran
by Andy Taylor

Welcome to Live Aid. It's a boiling hot summer afternoon and I'm about to perform with Duran Duran at the biggest gig on the planet. I'm standing backstage, from where I can hear the roars of the audience reverberating around the JFK Stadium. The noise is deafening, and I've been told that steam is rising off the crowd because the crew have been hosing people down in the searing heat, just to keep them cool and prevent htem from passing out. The sweet, pungent smell of marijuana is wafting in on the warm, moist waves of air from outside, where hundreds of people are smoking weed, drinking beer, eating pizza and having the time of their lives. Officially, there are supposed to be 90,000 rock fans in stadium; however, the turnstiles have been swamped and they're maybe upward of 120,000 bodies, could be even higher--nobody really knows for sure, but it's stacked to the rafters.

Rock guitarist Andy Taylor's memoirs gave me a nice choice of settings (secularly) sanctified by the music of Duran Duran. I was originally planning on featuring The Rum Runner, the club where Duran were first discovered; and then seriously considered Sri Lanka, where they forever changed the way music videos were filmed. In the end, I settled on the JFK Stadium, where Duran took part in the huge charity rockfest that was Live Aid 1985--for I remain haunted by Taylor's reflection that "as one half of the earth [was] eating and watching, the other half [was] starving."

By the time Taylor came out with his other band The Power Station (minus Robert Palmer), the former group would have been glutted with music. It was already early evening, and the concert in Philadelphia had been going on since mid-morning.

If you were alive at the time and are reading this now, then you were very likely among the lucky half. I know I was. And so, like Taylor, I wonder "whether or not the awareness and goodwill it generated had any lasting effect . . . because twenty years later, Africa is still in a mess." Well, twenty-five years, now. All the more damning. But it's easy to see why people were so optimistic about making a difference. Or should I write, "easy to hear"? We feel less "over-privileged" when we indulge in something as frivolous and as excessive as live rock music, if we get to tell ourselves that it's actually for a good cause. I mean, check out the end of Led Zeppelin's epic set . . .
What any Duran Duran fan will be able to tell you is that Duran had to get on stage after that! Probably the toughest Live Aid act to follow, aye? =P But when our Wild Boys stepped out onto that stage, they looked nothing less than professional . . .
They shouldn't have been able to go wrong with A View to a Kill, which was actually the No. 1 single in the United States at the time. But this is also the performance with the famous false note from lead singer Simon LeBon, which some fans joke "killed" Duran Duran. But Taylor isn't kidding around in Wild Boy, when he cites Live Aid as the band's biggest performance . . . and its final curtain. Duran performed three other songs: The Union of the Snake, Save a Prayer, and The Reflex. Then they walked off the stage and finally fell apart--as a band. Taylor stuck around to watch the finale . . .
He writes, "Ronnie [Wood] and Keith [Richards] were so off their nuts that their performance was a shambles, but nobody gave a toss--I guess people were just happy to see them at all. . . When they made a mess of the songs on stage it seemed to give everyone else license to get roaring drunk . . ." And while half the world got roaring drunk, the other half was dying for lack of clean drinking water . . . or any drinking water at all. Let's finally admit it, if we haven't already: Live Aid wasn't about others; it was about us. And it wasn't even about us being charitable towards those who needed it the most; but about us being generous because there was something in it for us. Live Aid, 1985 was a rock epic that mustered a force of two billion . . . and did not win a single war. That it was also the backdrop of the demise of a rock band that could have then laid claim to the title "Biggest Band in the World" seems only typical.
Now it's your turn! Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky and take some time to check out and comment on those of others. I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D
This Week's Other Locus Focus: 84, Charing Cross Road @ Birdie's Nest
Image Source: Wild Boy by Andy Taylor


Lesa said...

Someone needs to organize a Library Aid concert! ;o)

Birdie said...

LOL I agree with Lesa!

For those about to rock, we salute you! Thanks for the fun links as well. I think I like this theme

Enbrethiliel said...


Lesa: If you can't book your first choice of gigs, I'd be happy to offer my amateurish services!

Birdie: Thanks, Birdie. =) What do you think of leaving December an "open" Wild Card month?

Birdie said...

I think having December as a wild card month would be great, especially since most people I know are so crazy busy in December.

And the term "Wild card" made me think--are you planning anything for Twelfth Night? *innocent eyes*

Enbrethiliel said...


Oh, just spill your big plans already, Birdie! You know there's a 99% chance I'll go along with them, anyway! As of now, I have nothing settled for Twelfth Night. So plot away!

But that was an oblique way of asking what Locus Focus will be all about in January . . . Well, I was thinking about honouring Ianus and going with either settings from historical novels or futuristic settings.

Lesa said...

Great idea-- you can perform a bookish parody of 'We are the World'! We'll have a library in your city in no time!

Birdie said...

LOL! I swear I haven't any plans...yet. I just LOVE Twelfth Night and the idea of the Lord of Misrule and all the upside-downness of things in general (um, yeah, and the whole Magi thing). I will have to come up with something!

DeLynne said...

That WAS a sour note! Thanks for the trip down memory lane, and the thoughtful observations. I am pretty skeptical of 'donations' that are actually purchases. They make it easy for us to assuage our guilt.

Enbrethiliel said...


Lesa: Of course, the catch is that I might not bring in very impressive donations! =S

Birdie: You know . . . you've just reminded me that I have a William Shakespeare Comedy smackdown brewing on one of my many back burners. And in case it never pushed through, I wanted to do Top 5 Cross-Dressing Heroines in Shakespeare. But I could only think of four! =(

DeLynne: You're welcome! It's true that these types of donations are suspicious. Yes, Live Aid raised a lot of money; but would it have raised half as much if there weren't two huge concerts thrown into the bargain? I don't want to play down the good that Live Aid was able to do, but the whole story is a sad reflection of the audience, isn't it?