In between laundry, a trip to the beach, and various other things, I've been watching Live Earth today. A music nerd, it was fun to learn about a variety of artists I hadn't heard before. But I have a complaint.
For one thing, the United States had two concerts - both on the East Coast. Second, artists who've been activists for decades, artists who've led the charge on issues like alternative energy, were excluded.
My kids are fifth generation Californians, so I know that I suffer from myopia, but I can't think of a state that has been a bigger stage for the development and emergence of pop rock in the last forty years. The Grateful Dead and the Eagles, Jefferson Airplane and Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Little Feat, and Bonnie Raitt are just some of the artists who came to or from California and became music stars. And all have been activists in environmental causes. Even our Republican governor has signed off on environmentally progressive legislation.
I know that Bob Dylan & the Band, the Beatles, & the Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen have done more to define modern pop rock than the above-named groups, but California is still a place of enormous importance for both the environmental movement and the music scene. Certainly more so than D.C. (one concert location today) and New York (another). If D.C. is a music center, than San Diego is a ski resort. California is not just the biggest exporter of agriculture in the U.S. - it is the biggest exporter of pop culture. LA movie and music studios produce a staggering percentage of the world's movies and music. And California has consistently led the U.S. in environmental regulation.
So why would California be ignored as a venue and a source for performers? Probably because the event was organized by Al Gore. American politicians have learned to ignore California; in the last 20 years, Republican presidential candidates have come to believe that they can't win the state and Democratic presidential candidates have come to believe that they can't lose it. The result? The most populous and richest and creative state in the U.S. - the sixth largest economy in the world - is once again ignored.