Karen Stabiner and Sarah Dietz are mother/daughter music fans, headed to Chicago for the Lollapalooza music festival August 1-3. Watch this space for more posts about the trip.
I'll be honest: I didn't really have any overwhelming desire to go see Nine Inch Nails on Sunday, the third day of Lollapalooza, but Kanye West was the only other option in that time slot and there was no way I was going to see him. I don't have anything against Kanye; I actually enjoy a fair amount of his music. But I saw him at Madison Square Garden the last week of school, and hearing him refer to himself as the "number one artist in the world" once was quite enough. I was willing to forgive the somewhat preposterous space odyssey storyline, even ignore the repeated self-references to the "biggest star in the universe," brushing them off as part of the story. I deal with enough people at work who believe that they're number one; I don't need to devote hours to standing around waiting to see an artist declare himself the same. Obama changed all of that.
Obama has received endless press about how he is the candidate of the next generation, of my generation, a candidate of hope, one to bring new voters to the polls with a message of change. It's hard to disagree. I used to worry about my friends not voting, whether they forgot Election Day or didn't remember to register for an absentee ballot in time. But after hearing about how many were inspired by Obama to vote in primaries they otherwise wouldn't have, I was reassured. Instead now I worry about the friends of my mother who have stated that since Clinton did not win the nomination, they will be sitting this election out.
As a member of that aforementioned younger generation, when I find out Obama will be introducing Kanye, I feel that I can't possibly pass up the opportunity to see him live. The last time I got this close to a presidential candidate my father was holding me on my shoulders as Bill Clinton's motorcade drove past our house. This summer my family and I traveled to Morocco where one of the vendors in the outdoor market could recite Obama's speech from the Will.I.Am's video "Yes We Can" by heart. He believed so absolutely in Obama's power to change the face of the United States and therefore positively influence the rest of the world. While I'm not sure that any candidate can work the miracles he was hoping for, I do believe that Obama is the one who can get us closest to those lofty goals.
And so I'll go see the "number one artist in the world," even stand nice and close to get a better glimpse of Obama, although it's not where I had planned to be. I'll tolerate Kanye's ego to see the man I believe to be the brightest star in the political universe, the candidate who can bring the country together in a way we haven't been since the protests against the Vietnam War. Thanks to Obama, even my mother will be there for Kanye, bopping along to "Golddigger." And if that isn't a change, I don't know what is.
I liked the idea of listening to Nine Inch Nails instead of Kanye West on the closing night of Lollapalooza 8, even though I have no idea what NIN sounds like. No matter; Kanye West has been a sore loser at more than one award shows, and any parent who's preached the virtues of the humble winner and the philosophical loser has to take a stand on such high-profile bad behavior. I made my pick on moral grounds. By the end of three days of outdoor rock, I wouldn't be able to hear anything, anyway, so I might as well take the high road.
All that has changed with the announcement that Chicago's favorite son and political rock star Barack Obama will be introducing Kanye's act. Suddenly we've reconfigured our entire day's listening schedule. We have a single, simple, shared goal - to be as close to the front of the crowd as we can be for Kanye's performance, or, to be more accurate, for the introduction to Kanye's performance.
My daughter wants to see Obama because she has been a supporter since the get-go, along with probably everyone in the Lollapalooza crowd except for me, and possibly a random artist's grandmother or aunt. I want to see him despite the fact that I supported Clinton. Or rather, I want him to see me. Not literally; we're not going to be that close to the stage, no matter how hard we try, and I'm not the kind of compelling figure who stands out in a crowd. I want to be the not-twentysomething, the skeptic, the worrier, the latecomer, who hangs out all day just to catch a glimpse of the putative Democratic candidate for president, because I'm going to make phone calls for him and vote for him and exhort my friends to vote for him even though I am not firmly convinced. Maybe the kids standing behind me will call their reluctant moms to tell them about the lady they saw listening to Obama.
There are plenty of us - too many of us; even one would be too many of us - who still say we're going to sit this one out rather than vote for the man who kept a woman from clinching the nomination. I would never go that far, but I appreciate the sentiment, I do; I too often play the role of spoiler in our household, deconstructing speeches and random comments, taking my colleagues in the media to task for letting their preferences show. I stopped watching Keith Olbermann after one too many hour-long ego-pumping Obama lovefests, but that is now beside the point. Standing with my daughter, listening to Obama, is a nice metaphor for why we have to get with the program.
Take the long view: The next president gets to appoint a couple of Supreme Court justices, who, health willing, will preside until my daughter is standing in the crowd at Lollapalooza 18, or 28, or even 38. One of the random thoughts I had when Sarah was born was that at least her generation would not have to face the perils of illegal abortion. Was it naivete? Post-partum hormone chaos? Clinton supporters who say they're standing on principle are standing on the wrong principle, I'm afraid, and a woman's right to choose is only one of the many rights they're putting at risk. Not voting is a vote for McCain, and I'm not that much of a sore loser. Given what's at stake, I'm willing to stand in the Chicago sun - or the Chicago summer storm - to be part of the crowd shot on the nightly news, no matter whom I have to listen to.