Sunday, March 19, 2006

Rock & Roll Ain't Noise Pollution

I didn't get this published before the concert ('cause I'm a big slacker), but just the fact that it happened is news enough for me. I heard about it and I thought about the Monsters in Moscow concert in '91. I thought I remembered something about rock concerts being staged in West Berlin loud enough so they could hear it in the East before 1989. And I wonder if they ever played music on Radio Free Europe.

Maybe I'm reading a lot into this news. I probably am. I may sound like a big ol' hippie for it, but I think Rock & Roll - American Culture - is what will deliver us from our current troubled times. And I'm not talking about the McCulture of the suburbs, I'm talking the spirit behind Rock & Roll and all the good and true and fondly remembered things of childhood and youth. (Where I grew up, headbanging was as American as apple pie) It won't be the only thing that will win this for us, that is for damn sure, but I think the American Dream is intimately tied to rebellious youth and the spirit of Rock & Roll.

Those American Dreams - that Rock & Roll - make us the beacon of light in the world that we are. And when military options aren't on the table (as they weren't against the Soviet Bloc) Rock & Roll could be our most potent of strategies. I'd bet on Elvis over the Mullahs any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

Here's hoping we see more of this.


Harvard Students Hold "Iran Freedom Concert" in Solidarity with
Iranian Student Movement for Democracy and Civil Rights

CAMBRIDGE – On Saturday, March 18, Harvard University will host the Iran Freedom Concert, a rally organized by Harvard students to support their counterparts in Iran. Prominent Iranian student leader Akbar Atri and Harvard's Undergraduate Council president John Haddock will address the crowd.

"As tensions rise over nuclear issues, our diverse student coalition wants to spotlight the human side of the Iran crisis," said co-organizer Adam Scheuer, a senior and editor at the Harvard Middle East Review.

"Iranian students are denied basic rights Americans take advantage of every day. But there is a brave student movement in Iran working for change, and we need to support them." Widespread student protests in Iran have broken out in recent years, despite a brutal crackdown by the regime's security forces.

The concert, which begins at 9 p.m. at Leverett House, features leading campus musicians and speakers from campus groups exposing repression in Iran. Nine organizations are co-sponsoring, including an unusual alliance of campus Democrats and Republicans.

"The coalition doesn't take a stand on policy debates like foreign intervention," explained freshman co-organizer Alex McLeese. "But we agree that the fundamental rights of Iranians cannot be held hostage to diplomatic maneuverings over Iran's nuclear program."

The Iran Freedom Concert takes place just before the traditional Persian new year of Norouz – reflecting the students' hope for a new day for freedom in Iran.

"Iranian students are arrested for what they write on their blogs and have to take their exams in handcuffs," noted freshman co-organizer Nick Manske. "In fact, the essential elements of this concert are illegal in Iran: live singing, mixed dancing, and discussing social messages. Not to mention the restrictions on women, minorities, and journalists."

That message is being echoed on campuses across the country, with simultaneous rallies planned at Georgetown, UPenn, Duke, and other schools. Prominent Iranian dissidents, as well as the American Islamic Congress, are sending statements of support.

"This is a critical moment for Iran," Scheuer said. "Iranian activists need to know that American students are ready to help them hold the Iranian regime accountable. We want to help our counterparts in Iran seize the moment and advance their civil rights movement."

For more information, see or call 617.661.0053.


Dante said...

I think you've watched "Rock and Roll High School" one too many times. Rock and Roll has as much to do with the downfall of the Soviet Union as Rocky IV or the Red sitcom formula* had to do with it. And for what it's worth, 1989 wasn't the first time there were concerts so loud you could hear them in East Berlin.

A Rock and Roll concert in the Soviet Union is an effect of weakening social controls, not a cause. Likewise, a concert like this in Iran may be an indicator of the desire for social reform there, but it certainly would not be a cause. A concert here (here being the Harvard campus for the purposes of this post) for Iran is neither a cause nor an effect. It's merely preaching to the choir (the choir being the Iranian Student Movement for Democracy and Civil Rights for the purposes of this post).

* The Red sitcom formula is a particular kind of sitcom formula** dealing specifically with high schoolers and the Soviet Union. In this formula, an American team of high school students engages a Soviet team of high school students in some sort of intellectual competition. After treating each other like bitter enemies for the greater portion of the episode, they compete very well with each other and in the end decide to finish their competition in a draw out of the newfound respect they have for each other. The two best examples of the Red sitcom formula I can remember are the Family Ties where Alex plays the Russian at chess and Head of the Class when Mr. Moore's class plays the Soviet team at quiz bowl in the Soviet Union (Moscow I think).

** A sitcom formula is a basic but fairly specirfic plot outline that more than one sitcom will share with each other. One common sitcom formula is the the formula where someone discovers that a portion of their property actually belongs to their neighbor (they ususally later discover they read the plat wrong and the first neighbor actually owns a portion of the second neighbor's land). Cheers, Married with Childer, ALF, and several other shows have all had this formula.

ruby booth said...

Although it is certainly true that without a change ine social restrictions, holding rock concerts in Iran would be difficult, if not impossible. That fact does not diminish the ability of art (in practically any form) to simulate change -- first in individuals and then through them in sub-cultures and cultures. It's a cyclical process, but a powerful one. It is not naiveté to think that music changes us -- yes, it is, itself, an expression of change -- as Blues was, or later Rock&Roll, but that music also changed people. It, like most good art, provides an enjoyable medium of dissemination for ideas that might otherwise lie stagnant.

VDOPM said...

Somehow I heard "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll to You II" playing in the background while reading that. Then I screamed "WYLD STALLYNS!!!".

I got funny looks.

I could definitely deal with another Monsters of Rock, though. What a bad freakin' concert that was..., I'd love to play a concert like that. ;)

Call me a big ol' hippie myself, but I think I most definitely agree with this statement here:

"I think the American Dream is intimately tied to rebellious youth and the spirit of Rock & Roll."

Right on. I'd sign up, if I were famous that is, to play this concert - mainly because I somewhat identify with their goals, and with wanting to play the music.