Friday, November 05, 2004

Stipe's Got A Giant Noggin

Last night I volunteered for Oxfam to help push their Make Trade Fair effort at the R.E.M. show at Madison Square Garden. As was the case when I did this at the Coldplay show there last year, it was a lot of fun. It's cool to see people getting involved with important things like international trade policies, and it's easy to explain to people how Fair Trade really is just about doing the right thing by respecting local economies in countries that really can't compete with the U.S. "dumping" subsidized commodities in their backyards.

The small crew that I worked with were really smart, cool folks, and the R.E.M. people were totally nice, too.

I especially enjoy the opportunity to hang in The Garden when it's totally empty and quiet before the show begins, looking at all the retired Knicks numbers and championship banners in the rafters. At these shows, we get a "crew" pass, which more or less allows us free access anywhere in the building, including incredible vantage points for the show itself. We watched R.E.M.'s set from the rear corner of the stage, close enough to read Stipe's teleprompter. It's amazing to see a show from that angle, with the same perspective of the crowd that the band has.

I feel lucky to have the opportunity to represent such a noble cause, and to actually be rewarded with a great show immediately afterward. R.E.M. were much better than I had expected (I hadn't seen them since the Green tour in the mid-eighties), and they played one of my faves, "Cuyahoga" early in the set. I can't wait to work for them again.

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