Approaching the midway point of the Live Earth concert, with the biggest acts still a few hours away, and fans are continuing to stream into Giants Stadium. Max and I, however, have streamed in and then right back out again, after learning that our badges get us into the press tent in the parking lot and not much else. Our quick tour of the stadium concession area led to observations both expected -- $30 t-shirts, $7.00 beers, beefy security guys who wouldn't let us sneak onto the floor -- and unexpected, like the special veggie hot dogs, hamburgers and kabobs; and the compostable brown paper that much of the food came wrapped in.
Recycling stations are everywhere, many of them staffed by volunteers in light blue shirts emblazoned with a Pepsi logo who are there to help people recycle correctly. We spoke to one, Anne, who works as a scientist and recently relocated to New York from Chicago. She signed up for the gig online because she's always "cared about the planet" and wanted to lend a hand however she could. She wants to see more of these mega-concerts-with-a-purpose in the future, maybe one about balancing the budget and another about putting an end to the war in Iraq. We asked Anne whether she thought other volunteers and concertgoers were as concerned as she about the day's political message. She wasn't sure, but was staying optimistic.
Afterwards, we retreated to the press tent to watch a few of the live acts on a projection screen -- Fall Out Boy, Ludacris, Taking Back Sunday, KT Tunstall, and, most memorable thus far if only for sheer presumptuousness, a version of "Gimme Shelter" featuring Keith Urban and Alicia Keyes. An excited MSN press flack informed the assembled media folks that Live Earth was shaping up to be the "largest online entertainment event in the history of online entertainment events," and by midafternoon the MSNBC.com live feed was warning viewers that "Due to the huge number of fans tuning in, the site is a bit slow right now." Press people huddled around speakers and scribbled notes furiously during a brief stage appearance by Al Gore, during which the Live Earth champion promised to keep fighting for a "sustainable, just, and prosperous world for the twenty-first century."
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Good morning from New York. I am just about to meet up with Max Fraser to head over to New Jersey. The Nation was kind enough to give us access to the Notion this Saturday so that we might post a couple entries live from Giants Stadium, the North American venue for "Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis," the latest global concert-for-a-cause. (Lucky us, with ticket being sold through legitimate vendors for $83 to $348, no small commitment, they were also kind enough to obtain us two press passes, and with those, hopefully access to some of the event's performers for an interview or two.) We should be at the stadium by early afternoon.
If you haven't heard, Live Earth is a 24-hour event on 7/7/07 that will bring together over 100 musical acts to perform a series of nine eco-friendly concerts on seven continents (yes, seven -- apparently Nunatak, the house band at the Rothera Research Station on Antarctica, will slip on their fingerless gloves to play a set outdoors). The shows kicked off in Sydney, Australia last night and have been rolling westward through Tokyo, Shanghai, Hamburg, London, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, Washington D.C. (originally cancelled, then added again yesterday morning) and New York all night (China and Australia are on air as I write, watch them here). According to event planners, the music broadcast will entail total media saturation -- TV, radio, web and wireless channels simultaneously -- in hopes of reaching upwards of two billion people, prodding them to take up the good fight against global warming.