Monday, July 16


The idea of driving to Alexandria to pick up a pal Kimberlie Orr to drive to Philadelphia for a rock show (not the boring trade-show kind fit for a petrologist) was steaming with my own envy.

I remember a wall of a story from the late 70's into the early 80's that linked and blended the mental breakdown of Syd Barrett with the turmoil of losing a father in WWII (Roger Waters story). It was a story, a concept album, that became a $22m movie powerhouse directed by Alan Parker. Everyone involved was cooler than cool. Bob Geldof became Pink with shaved eyebrows.

The show in Philadelphia was eons away from those original days when children could not sing and the New York Times and likely the London Times could not print the words for what was then sung and printed as brick in the wall to cover up dick in the hole. Just another dick in the hole. The tour was nixed back when because it was too costly to parade it around (what? it earned $22m at the box office!!!). There was a stopping point, a no-no light came on from a censor, a manager and their crew with the pen and the check could say no and they did and there were pens and checks back in the day.

And back in the day and long before the day there were the civil wars, WWI and WWII, Vietnam and Korea; and nearly immediately following, the Falklands, Afghan, the Gulf, and SHOOT all these wars just up to 1989 since 1945.

But the original story of the Wall was as I'd basically described. It was kind of Quadrophenia except Jimmy in Quadrophenia wasn't a famous rockstar. He was you if you had lived back in the day. And Q is a far better story but I'm not battling it here between rock bands or stars or whatever.

There were loads and loads and tons of wars before the making of The Wall, the record The Wall, the movie The Wall.


So, I was looking forward to seeing the live show in Philadelphia. I'd read a review in the NY Times. I'd read where Roger Waters believes or he even touts, if you can do this, neutrality. (He once studied scriptwriting books, and I am quoting some source that I would want the source to be Woody Allen.)

Neutral[ity], according to the Oxford Compact Dictionary: Of rulers, states, etc., not assisting or actively taking the side of either party in the case of a war or a disagreement.

We (me and Kim) were flying in a car to get to new points fast. Strange was driving into Philadelphia, and passing the location of the show except we needed and we deserved to freshen up. I adored Kim's patience. Truly. She was glad to be there. We were running late, but nearly strangling my GPS for screwing us up every fraction of a second (learn your Philly streets!) to get us to the hotel ... we arrived, checked in, handed over the car keys (even this was a decision: drive or valet it for a cab), freshened up, decided well by waiting for a cab, and we even sealed a deal with the cabbie (he would pick us up if we were stuck for a cab after the show). In the cab an opening act, someone to warm up the crowd, was discussed and I doubted this could happen. Who could open for a rock theatre piece? Not even Dave Gilmore could which (I won't go into it). MIA.

We arrived in front of the opening by two minutes and we decided to not go hunting for our seats because we did have the better view from where we stood (see Kim's picture on Facebook of the show taken from behind section 125).

Something happened during the performance though. The show or the story had changed incredibly so, wonderfully on the one hand to make the wall about anti-war except you still have Pink behind the wall and coming out with the anti-war slogan someone might have made Pink peaceful. (Sorry to ramble.) I mean, Pink wasn't toting a machine gun back in 1982 even though there were all the wars and innocent lives truly lost, and corporations didn't just begin investing in wars yesterday (someone had to keep the wars running); all of the same goes way back. Geldof's Pink did wear a Nazi kind of uniform because, of course, Nazi's were responsible for a certain death but more than that to wear that uniform was extremely controversial. But the violence of wars go all the way back. Pink in Geldof would not have waved a gun at his audience and turned it on to shoot in the name of theatre at the audience. He wouldn't have been allowed to. But to argue its relevance today because there have been so many wars since WWII is to make no point whatsoever.

The gun bothered me on levels so deep I couldn't do a thing to stop the light from fading from my eyes. As romantic or as ideal as that sounds, to be fair, it was the second round that made me feel NOT dizzy or nauseous or anything like that. I'd had one beer and there was only a very little smoke (nearby), and I'd wondered about that very thing, but I don't think either of those would turn my own way of seeing into what looked like light through red and black leaves, Chinese maple leaves to be specific; slow and as though determined the leaves covered all of the light, after I'd told Kim (and who could hear anyone) that I thought I was feeling strange, I should go outside, and I made the move to leave for some air only to wake up on a board with paramedics looking down on me and preparing me for a journey into the ER. (I cut this short because honestly this is too long of a post.)

Violence has always genuinely been around that we know what it is, and some of us truly do not want to encourage violence, and we do not need to be subjected to even more of it. It was tasteless of Roger Waters as Pink to brandish a lifelike semi-automatic rifle and shoot all of its lifelike sounds and flashes into the audience. If you were to have millions of dollars would this be the anti-war show to put on? 

I leave not all akimbo but with a glimpse of likely Roger's number one fan who had driven a couple of hours to get to the show. I recall this man telling me that he lived where he can see the Poconos mountains every day. The clip is only a glimpse of him waving a cool sign and then of Kim's smiling profile. I can't leave without saying I feel terrible I was so sensitive that I blacked out. Ruined a perfectly fine open air night.

A little movie...


  1. am not sure what you mean about being so sensitive you blacked out. Do you mean, it was very emotional?

    Oh I just love reading about a road trip to a rock show. Especially....The Wall w/ Roger Waters. My Brother went so far with his 4 friends to dress in "uniforms" @ the LA stop. Not to support that view, just supporting the Album.
    Roger in Philly...super cool. Been to Philly before Gina? Why did the gun bother you?
    Thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Although short, the music got into me. Aahh. What a night, what a trip.

  2. Loved the road trip description too, and feel badly for you that you didn't get to see the whole thing. I'm in the middle of reading the very massive and heavy coffee table art book by Gerald Scarfe, who created all the visuals for the Wall album, movie and current tour. I'll let you know if I catch any insights into the use of the machine-gun. I suspect it was meant to shock us into non-acceptance of it, but that's just me madly in love with Roger Waters and the telling of his story.

    Funny that you liken the wall to Quadrophenia. I think it's a lot like Tommy, except that deaf, dumb and blind is a wall, and that RW can build a credible narrative that makes sense and has a conclusion where PT could not with Tommy.

  3. Actually, Jimmy breaks down from his use of uppers and downers and from the broken heart he dies or he attempts to die. Certainly the scooter of his rival goes over a cliffside. I see the breakdown far more real. Tommy is a rock opera. The Wall is theatre and the theatrical production I saw was too violent.

    I'm sorry it was entertaining for people to be shot at. I really hope the show didn't land in Colorado, Virgina, and many other places. I wonder how a person (as though there is only one) with ptsd was made to deal.

  4. ah, yes, guns are a tricky subject. I learned to use them when I was in the Military.

  5. I didn't see Jimmy as trying to die, but more realizing how shallow his Mod life was and killing that life, or the past and moving on. Tommy and The Wall, to me, are both about the trauma of that generation who had parents in WW2 and were traumatized by it- I think each work has very personal overtones for its writers, although I am sure The Wall is much more of a personal narrative than Pete's Tommy.

    I didn't, personally, feel as affected by the shooting into the crowd as you were, but you're right- people with ptsd would certainly react aversely. RW is very anti-war, most obviously because it took his father from him, but also because he has supported victims of warm. It's a question I'd love for him to answer in terms of its use in the show, given his stance.

    1. Perhaps Tommy and Jimmy lived up the street from each other except Jimmy is working class and Tommy isn't.

      Jimmy was the last to grow up. I've always wondered how pretty the scooter into the sea would have looked.

      I understand you weren't as you say about a real-looking semi automatic rifle shooting the audience, but my heart skipped over an electrode or some such and blood stopped going to my head. I shut down and the night was ruined.