I was at a rock concert in Jersey City. Some promoter got the wonderful idea of staging a mini Woodstock at the old baseball stadium, down where Home Depot is now. Just the ride into that part of town was enough to kill any Love-Buzz portrayed on the flyers. The place was a death trap, with only one gate, and we mooed like cattle entering the tunnel, spreading out over the infield. The whole thing stank of crooked fire marshals and union carpenters.
The stage was above home plate, the requisite wall of Marshall amps forming a menacing, heavy metal backdrop, not what I wanted from the Beach Boys and CSNY. Over by the right-field pole a guy in a lime-green leisure suit was hawking Orange Barrel Sunshine.
“OB, man, OB.”
We bought enough for our group and everyone dropped. Pulling a bag of Qualudes from his pocket he said, “It’s speedy, bro, for later?”
“Now you tell us.”
“A Lincoln for five,” he offered.
“There’s six of us.”
“I can’t break the bag, bro.”
The music was good. Mike Love kept saying if this were LA the girls would all have their tops off. One girl actually did get naked, but six guys had to play guard. It was Jersey City. When “The Boys” finished their set I went to find our iridescent friend to have a little chat, but he’d closed up shop. Suddenly, Steve Stills came running out on stage waving his arms.
“Guess what?” he said, grabbing a mic, pausing to get our attention.
Crosby also came out. Steve couldn’t see him, and just when he was about to announce the news, David ran up and ripped the mic from his hand.
“Nixon’s resigned, man!”
Crosby started a chant, No More, No War. Steve just glared at him. I saw his fist get tight. People were going ballistic, hugging and chanting with tears in their eyes. When Steve looked out at the crowd and then back at Crosby, his fist began to relax. The others came out and the band launched into “Ohio”. The rest of the show was a bad acid blur.
But later that night, under the harsh glare of the outfield towers, I stood in front of the stage and watched the clean-up crews working. I was strung-out and tired and sad. Under the awful white light the dilapidated stadium showed its age, the pre-packaged litter of love being swept into piles and burned. I had been fighting that man and the war for years; I couldn’t believe it was over. Up through the haze at the foot of the stage I saw Neil, hands in his jean pockets, surveying the carnage and shaking his head. He saw me and we both smiled, soldiers after the battle.
“You live around here?”
“’Bout an hour,” I said.
He thought for a moment, looking out again at the fires.
“Well, drive safe, man.”
Even our heroes had nothing to say.
Author's Bio: The other night I watched Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon. It brought up memories. Whether you fought that war, or the war against the war, the scars remain. Unlike today, we all knew people who died: some in the jungle, some on the streets, some, years later, long after anyone cared.