London's Hyde Park apparently has a rule. Ah yes, what would this world be without rules and without folks to rigorously enforce them?
Anyway, the Hyde Park rule invokes a 10:30 p.m. curfew on concerts. Now, mind you, I'm not necessarily against enforcing a ban on loud noise after 10:30 p.m. If I lived near a park and had, say, young kids who needed their sleep, or, let's say I was a cranky curmudgeon who just wanted some peace and quiet on the weekend (okay, you're right, I am a cranky curmudgeon but let's just keep this hypothetical for now), why, sure, let's cut out the loud sounds at that late hour.
So, you know, it's not as if this Hyde Park rule is totally off the wall. In fact, In fact, local residents of Mayfair and the encompassing Westminster City have been engaged in pitched battles over the staging of such concerts - it's the same disputes as in any other urban setting: too many damn folks urinating in the streets, too many drunks and druggies, too much noise, not the right place for this type of event.
Then again, on Saturday night the park was hosting its annual Hard Rock Calling summer concerts andBruce Springsteen and the E Street Band happened to be banging out some tunes as the evening wore on. Ten minutes before the ironclad no-noise rule kicked in, the Boss invited this guy on stage - someone who was in a band that was known as the Beatles and folks seemed to know him by his first name: Paul. Apparently, this Paul McCartney fellow hails from Liverpool, which is near London and makes him something of a local boy.
Some of the young folks in the audience had heard of this Beatles era and some of the older folks claimed that there had been no music since. Regardless, the Boss and Paul began to blast out "I Saw Her Standing There," a pop tune that helped launch what was Beatlemania. For you kids, think of Biebermania or Bieber Fever but on a much bigger scale, or so you're grandparents will tell you (they may also add that the Fab 4 had more talent - and also more nicknames than Bieber).
Alas, that Beatles hit of yesteryear seems to have been started near 10:20 p.m.. Although it only ran for about three or so minutes when it first hit the charts in the early ‘60s, no one expects the Boss and his band to play anything in three minutes - the E Street Band is known for three hour sets, after all. As the last chords of "I Saw Her Standing There" rang and vanished, the Paul and Bruce launched into a rendition of the Beatles "Twist And Shout." Would they manage to get done before 10:30?
Among the clapping and singing throng of some 76,000, the music died. Not in the Don McLean manner of "Apple Pie." No lives were lost in Hyde Park; however, the music did die. Springsteen's lips were seen moving but nothing was emanating from his microphone or the amps. No - he was not lip synching to a broken backing track.
On this night, about a week before the Olympics are staged in London, at a time when if it weren't for bad luck, Europe wouldn't have any luck at all, the local authorities simply watched the clock and at the appointed hour got an itchy trigger finger and, as that appointed hour came and went, well, what can I say, ten minutes past the cut-off time in the rule, someone move "ON" to "OFF" and the power died.
Of course, that Paul guy should have warned the one they called Bruce. Wasn't the first time the local London authorities shut down one of his outdoor concerts. On a cold afternoon in January 1969, seems that Paul and his bandmates John, George, and Ringo, started playing atop a roof in another London neighborhood, Saville Row. That impromptu performance didn't make it past three-quarters of an hour before the cops made a fuss and pulled the plugs.
Oh well, thankfully by August 1969, a half million Baby Boomers crashed on a farm owned by a man named Yasgur, and, go figure, the authorities let that nonsense rock and roll for a few days. Some say the Woodstock organizers had welded all the plugs into the outlets and turned all the "ON/OFF" switches upside down just in case any U.S. authorities got ideas from their London counterparts.
Anyway, back to the future and 2012 and Paul and the Boss and London's Hyde Park.
Here's the one thing that I don't get: Authorities. Oh wait, two things I don't get: Rules. So, I don't get authorities and rules.
A bunch of neighborhood authorities have their eyes on the almighty clock and a copy of the holy rule book in their hand. Comes 10:30 at night, there's a lot of grumbling and finger pointing. It says no more noise after 10:30. Shut ‘em down!
But it's Paul. It's the Boss. It's nearly 100,000 folks singing along at a time when the whole world is crashing down among us. Can't we just let them finish this one song?
No! Rules are rules are rules.
All of which prompted some bureaucrat to do his or her duty. OFF. Plug pulled.
Odd though, isn't it? In this same city of London there were all these financial rules about the London Interbank Offered Rate, which, now, everyone seems to know as LIBOR. There was this whole detailed process about how LIBOR was supposed to be calculated and managed. The weeks of noncompliance became months, which, in turn, became years. No authority found the OFF side of the financial fraud switch, or the place where the rigged plug met the unsuspecting wall. Now, years later, it's a big fuss.
Makes you wonder, no?
Neighborhoods seems to get around to enforcing the rules much quicker than national governments and international organizations. Maybe we need to keep in mind that smaller is more efficient than larger when it comes to these rules things? Not saying it was right to shut down the concert but if you have rules and you believe that they must be enforced, there's no doubt that the residents of Hyde Park got their justice. Of course, let's not forget that your mother she's an heiress, owns a block in St John's Wood and now she gets her kicks in Stepney, not in Knightsbridge anymore. Oops, sorry, wrong band but we're still in London.
How is it that those in power always seem to find ways to short circuit the fun in our lives but never quite seem to figure out how to curtail the harm.
The music can't run ten minutes late.
Financial fraud runs amok for years.
The lilt of Paul and Bruce falls victim to law and order.
The corruption of LIBOR rolls on unabated.