A Day On The Green

The Day on the Green was a late Bill Graham concert series in the Bay area in the mid to late 1970s. He featured the big acts of the day on a single large bill. Ho hum today but back then an innovation. Graham in part did so to help exhausted touring talent take a break from playing to collapse in multiple small venues. His festivals let everyone reach the same aggregate audience at the same time. To make it a special event for fans, Graham pioneered setting stages up as fantasy castles or other ‘fun’ images.

D.C. had an faint echo of that vibe today. Only thousands of people of all ages came to sit in the sun, rock out and simply enjoy immersion in the World Cup. From a DeMint-esque point of view, it was all obviously open subversion. The South African/Mandela/UN/One Government/Kenyan socialism kind. In Dupont Circle, several jumbotrons showed the U.K-U.S. match for free (a tie at 1-1) Everywhere we turned, young and old wore U.S. flags or the Union Jack, sported body paint and generally reveled in America’s participation (an implicit welcome back to) the global sport and community.

There were still a handful of Serious Policy People walking around the ever growing, swirling crowd. It’s Dupont Circle. Sweltering proudly In their utterly inappropriate black suits (it’s Saturday, people) clutching their briefcases doubtlessly filled with precious draft Op Eds. But their stern, judgmental mien usually melted fairly soon. By the time the various traffic lights changed in sequence to allow pedestrians to negotiate Dupont CIrcle traffic without suicide, one could see those Serious Men of Policy — more often than not — start grinning and dropping La Facade D.C.. Now, that’s magical.

A pleasant departure from the D.C. norm. So many diverse people supporting their teams and diving right into the excitement of huge vocal surges. Fans also happy for each other all being part of something greater in the world. A nice day. We could use more of them. Back to the posting tomorrow.


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Couldn’t agree more. Well said. I, too, share your recollections of a better, more honest place.

    A less-cosmpolitan Foundation-era Trantor in the air, although filtered by Dolce & Gabbana and Tyvek-clad McMansions.

  2. Tbilisi says

    Sounds like it would have been a nice time, Doctor, but still Dupont Circle, Unnecessarily Dark Suits, and American Soccer Love are three big signifiers to me of how DC has declined in its rise to imperial glory.

    I grew up (and loved growing up) in DC. It was a great town, which no longer exists.

    Take Dupont, there used to be 2 or 3 homeless dudes in Dupont Circle – always the same ones, crazy, and they had been there for 10 years. How many homeless people live there now. 15? 20? And all those kids ‘doing DC’ don’t give a f*ck, especially the Obamaniacs. Dupont angers me now. Not too long ago, one could go to the Roxy or 18th Street Lounge and meet literally all sorts – hill types, middle aged Middle Easterners with their hair gel, poor ghetto kids, poor suburban kids, earnest civil servants, whatever (and sometimes even a Congressmen or two). Today it’s just an outdoor strip mall in urban format. Dupont’s not even as gay as it used to be.

    Second, unnecessarily dark suits used to be a sign of that special American earnestness – naive yes, but naivete born out of humility and dedication to public service, or at least the pursuit of power not money. When DC got rich, it died. DC was special because it was probably the only place in the world that the pursuit of power was decoupled with the pursuit of wealth. No more, for reasons we all know and have discussed. But, back in the day, the sight of those suits at an event like this would have given me a smile, but also no more.

    Finally, I read the infatuation with soccer among 20/30 somethings as just their attempt to present an image of cosmopolitanism without actually being cosmopolitan. Just like probably most of those kids voted for Obama but ignore the homeless just as consistently as the most hardened winger.

    Whenever I visit DC, I have good times, like you did yesterday, but I just don’t think anything other than that the open, earnest power town I knew is gone forever.

  3. BDR says

    Good on you.

    You know, I would buy you a beer at halftime if you let me know behind which section your favorite vender works.

  4. Comment says

    World cup also provides a predictable stream of commentary from unathletic wingers saying that real Americans don’t like soccer despite the conspiracy to shove it down their throats.

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