No, they just stood there watching the Boss, one gigantic, pulsing entity unified in their good behavior. No booze-fueled arguments, no drug-induced romps through the woods with a wayward park police officer in tow; no smashing, grabbing, raping, pillaging or other felonious behavior. In short, nothing happened among the tens of thousands of fans that poured through the park, perhaps even picking up their garbage –down to the last cigarette butt.
Why were these fans so well behaved? Well, because they’re flag-waving Americans, that’s why. They’re the people that make this country tick. They are the heartbeat of a generation. They know how to stand at attention, keep a clean blood stream and watch a musical legend with uninhibited vision.
Or perhaps that’s the image the media and authorities would portend.
Wednesday’s rags gushed about Bruce Springsteen’s concert in the park. They prattled on about how the Boss belted out his best at the amphitheater and how the crowd swooned. But they never mentioned anything about clouds of marijuana smoke wafting over the crowd, or garrulous drunks bellowing into the night. The idea is that none of this ever happened, because the Springsteen crowd is older and more mature.
In reality, there’s no way to make 25,000 people of any flavor behave. In the realm of probabilities, it’s just not possible. There will always be one crazed addict among the bunch who will light up, party down and then play a game of grab-ass with the first fine piece of tail that saunters by. Unfortunately, this is the nature of humanity: There are assholes among us.
This is not to say the Springsteen crowd should be characterized by someone of this ilk. In fact, this sort of caricature stands in direct contrast to the image of a Bosshead many reporters would conjure: Late 40s, upper-middle class, law-abiding urban professional who probably came to the concert in a mini-van with his or her teenage daughter and their friends.
You can bank on the state Park Police having a similar concept of the typical Springsteen fan. Why side-step up to these people and demand to search their possessions? Why chase them like dogs or harass them intermittently? These are taxpaying citizens, not a bunch of dirty hippies, the reasoning goes.
This was not the case two weeks ago, when Phish took the stage at SPAC. Before the band could put down their instruments, the Saratogian was already demanding to know how many fans were arrested and what was seized. And the park police, county prosecutor and the Spa City cops were all the willing to oblige.
They even gave the reporter a weekend-long breakdown of the arrests: Cop assaulted on Caroline Street by a crazed Phish fan the day before the concert and lost a tooth; on the same night, an investigator gets splashed with liquid LSD by some drug manufacturing dopehead eagerly waiting to pawn his wares. The concert brings more assaults and arrests. The assistant district attorney’s phone is ringing off the hook; he gets no sleep that night. The jails are full. Saratoga is burning. The mayor is briefed and urged for a spell to call in the National Guard; maybe an airstrike. You can’t trust these fucking hippies; give them one night of bliss and they’ll take over the place.
In reality, the Phish concert brought about 22 arrests, which is less than a tenth of a percentage point of fans that were inside the venue. That’s not even taking into consideration the thousands of fans that were outside the sold-out concert that evening. Yet these are details that don’t make it into the paper.
Likewise at the Springsteen concert. Nobody wants to read about the drunks that were corralled for misbehaving or the tailgaters that were cited for a variety of indiscretions. These are things that Springsteen fans don’t do in the discriminating eyes of the media and law enforcement. Even if a curious reporter had bothered to ask about the tenor of the concert, chances are pretty good the cops wouldn’t have mentioned any of their work that night.
So there is a distinct flavor of injustice that is offered by this unlikely union between media bias and police prejudice. And it’s one they use with quiet precision to ensure only the right type of crowd is permitted into the homogenous confines of this upscale city.