On Saturday, rock and roll hypocrites from across the globe will gather in seven cities to perform for free in another of those ridiculous homages to their own egos disguised as social responsibility.
This time, the issue is the environment and the money they raise will, not inconveniently, be forwarded to an organization headed by Al Gore, the ex-US vice-president turned maybe-should've-been president turned enviroguru whose voracious appetite, if his bloating into a Jabba the Hutt type character is anything to go by, may be the single greatest threat to Earth's future. Well, okay, maybe global warming is a little more serious but still Al's giving Michael Moore a run for most obese propaganda artist out there.
Anyway, a few rock and rollers have been honest, refusing to play and stating that their opinions are no more valid than anyone else's. Plus, they point out, the jetsetting rock and roll lifestyle, complete with energy consuming stadium shows and conspicous consumption in all areas leaves them unable to preach to anyone else.
Sirius satellite radio will be carrying the concerts on its stations. I know this because I recently bought a new vehicle that came complete with satellite radio and a six month subscription. I must admit I'm not impressed with Sirius but that's beside the point.
What kind of vehicle did I buy? A Ford Escape hybrid. Why? Well because the environment is important but mostly because I like to protect my own pocketbook and because every cent of gas money I can save means, among other things, that another cent doesn't find its way into the pockets of rapacious oil companies and arab dictators. I don't need Al Gore or rock stars to convince me that buying a hybrid was smart; simply the fact that the federal and provincial governments in Canada offer enough tax breaks to bring the price down to that of a standard gas engine along with the future savings in gas consumption was enough all by itself.
And, therein lies the message of this post: people will help the environment when it benefits them directly. I've composted and recycled for years because that could reduce taxes on garbage collection and it offers me money for certain returnable products such as bottles and cans. What I can't return for money, I'm happy to throw in a box rather than a bag because it's just as easy.
The first great rock concert effort was, of course, Bob Geldof's inspired Live Aid that collected hundreds of millions for starvation relief in Africa. Geldof, former frontman for the Boomtown Rats (whose album the Fine Art of Surfacing I still love) was spurred on by the famine in Ethiopia. I was about 19 at the time and vaguely remember watching the concerts in London and Philadelphia (I think) all day while drinking beer and smoking pot. Sadly, much of what Geldof raised ended up going nowhere. The money was spent but a lot of the food ended up rotting on docks or on the black market and never did a damn thing to reduce starvation.
But, at least Geldof's heart was in the right place. Unlike his effort, I view Saturday's concerts as a cynical attempt for recognition while Al Gore's ego gets to grow as big as the rest of him. And, also unlike Geldof's attempt, this time I won't be watching.