Bernie Sanders GOTV Concert At Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Saturday June 4th 2016
I spent the whole afternoon and evening at a Bernie Sanders event in Los Angeles, ‘A Future to Believe In Los Angeles GOTV Concert’, free for all and featuring music by local bands and energizing talks by celebrities. I am home after spending 7 hours standing on my feet in the heat then in the cold of a California night, watching the local news on TV, and nobody so far is covering the event, mostly because there is a wild fire at Calabasas, where all the celebrities’ mansions are! Is this a conspiracy of the media? I even have a hard time to find an estimation of the turnout in the media, and only the Washington Post gives an estimation of 13,000. All I can say is that the crowd was already dense when I arrived around 3 pm, it took me more than 2 hours to get in, the line was first not moving at all, then very slowly moving toward the entrance. All around, it was the expected circus of buttons, t-shirts, lemonade vendors, and once inside, there was another fight to get as close as possible. However I loved this crowd, it was a patient, calm crowd, young but diverse, and certainly very caring: there were 2 small incidents while I was waiting, a man almost fainted and suddenly everyone was taking care of him, then a guy climbed a tree to save a bird stuck in a branch. Would you have seen that at a rally for another candidate? Let’s say Trump?
Young actor Max Carver (Desperate Housewives) energized the crowd before Iration, a reggae-ish indie band, which took the stage and declared: ‘you probably have no idea who we are, so we are going to play a few of our songs then some covers’. And they covered Bob Marley and Tom Petty, to connect more with the black and white middle-age crowd.
Motivation speeches alternated with musical interludes for a few hours. Mark Foster (of Foster the People) with his black leather jacket and cute rocker look gave us a fun solo set, as he played a few playful acoustic songs. Some fans behind me knew all the lyrics, which he changed in ‘Don’t stop for Bernie’ at the crowd’s great appreciation. ‘Gasland’ film director Josh Fox gave us the environmental speech, as he talked against fracking and told us that it was time to avoid climate apartheid and defeat the oil industry.
Best Coast changed the lyrics of one of their songs which became ‘Crazy for Bernie’, and since they also played ‘Boyfriend’, it was just an all-set-long love declaration to the man of the night.
Actress Shailene Woodley (the Descendants) talked about the broken political system. It was amazing to see how these very young speakers were able to give great and empowering speeches. The crowd was on fire, people were shouting and cheering non-stop at each one of the political, environmental and economical issues, and I had often a hard time to even hear what the speaker was saying.
Silverlake band Local Natives blew up a mic just after Woodley’s speech, but since the bands did not have a monitor – Best Coast’s Bethany kept saying ‘I can’t hear a thing of what we are doing’ – they continued playing their pleasant psych-pop without noticing. It was fixed, so they played two more upbeat poppy tunes, but the band knew they were not here to shine for themselves or their music, it was Bernie’s day and the crowd was chanting ‘Bernie, Bernie, Bernie’ after each act.
I was so happy to see Ozomatli as the next musical act, I have followed their career since their beginning in 1998 and there is not a band which represents LA cultural diversity better than them. Their mix of salsa-rap-cumbia-funk-hip-hop has to be what this campaign represents, an embracement of all cultures and colors.
If I have insisted on everyone’s youth, Susan Surandon and Dick van Dyke, were certainly representing the other part of the population, as Dick told us he had just turned 90, while jumping around the reading stand! Representing Bernie old-school support – whereas it is less than certain that Hollywood is rallying behind the man – they were both warmly acclaimed by the crowd. ‘This man is saying everything I have always said’, told us Dick van Dyke, whereas Susan reminded us how the media had repeatedly tried to sabotage Bernie’s campaign by telling us this would never be possible. They both gave to everyone hope for Tuesday’s elections,… but should we have hope? Is the bubble going to burst next week? Will all this be over or will it be the beginning of a real hope? I can tell you there was not one person in the crowd who was not a believer, everyone was energized and happy, and truly respectful.
Then came the man of the moment, and the level of energy could not have been higher, Bernie Sanders was welcome like the biggest rock stars of the evening by this overwhelmingly young crowd. After a hug from Dick van Dyke, a nice photo op of two white hair guys hugging each other, Bernie gave us what we were waiting for, a long and detailed speech about all the issues that matter, from climate change to racism, from taxing Wall Street to finding a solution to water pollution, from reforming the prison or the energy system to changing the education system, from woman salary equalization, gay and transgender rights to marijuana legalization, from war to the 1%. He covered it all, I can’t think of one issue he didn’t talk about. He started his long speech with a moving homage to the greatest, Muhammad Ali, insisting on his Muslim faith and his opposition to the Vietnam war, and he talked about all the communities, even the always forgotten Native Americans had a long mention. If Trump and the other candidates were talked about, Bernie once again insisted he could do much better against Trump than does Secretary Clinton, there was not one moment dedicated to hate and negation, it was a discourse of love and inclusion, a discourse of equality, of change and hope for a better world. Is this pure utopia? Could he even apply the tenth of what he is talking about? This wasn’t not what people had in mind, at this historic instant, Bernie Sanders truly represented a people’s movement, and we will know on Tuesday night if all this energy was wasted in vain after the very decisive California elections. Everyone came back on stage for Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land’… What better campaign anthem could they have found for a man who has managed to rally such a diverse and peaceful crowd?