Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Reflecting on Earth Day Festivities at BCC, 1995

Earth from Space with Stars

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey Flickr Page:

The old button from the Environmental Club days which I just happened to find on Earth Day! It is a little beat up (particularly the ends of the ribbon), but no worse for the wear, I think. And it is one of the few items that I have left from those days, so it carries a lot of great memories for me! Nothing Changes Until You Do!

Here is a picture of a very similar logo, with the same message, that was on the t-shirt that I purchased from the BCC Environmental Club and, if memory serves me correctly, may even have helped to make. There were a few projects like that which club members, myself included, were regularly involved with. It has been so long, however, that I no longer recall specifically if I actually helped to make these or not, although I do believe so, since I remember seeing the process of the t-shirts being dyed. In any case, I loved this t-shirt, and have kept it ever since, even if I do not regularly wear it. Since it was part of my experience with the BCC Environmental Club days, as well as more generally having an environmental theme, it seemed appropriate to share it here. 

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."

~Mahatma Gandhi

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
~John F. Kennedy  

Today, April 20th, is an important date in history. Not all of it is good history. On a sinister note, this date also marks some truly sobering anniversaries. April 20th was Hitler's birthday. And a not completely unrelated note, April 20th was the day that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and committed murder on a massive scale, with what was then the worst school shooting in history. Also, today was the day that President McKinley asked Congress for a declaration of war with Spain back in 1898, which was more or less the Iraq invasion of it's time. 

Yet, it is another anniversary for me, on a personal note. Two things actually (three, if you include my family's cat's 1st birthday is today). The first that I want to mention is that it was two years ago that my girlfriend and I went out on our first date. The second thing would be that on this date back in 1995, the Environmental Club of Bergen Community College (BCC), which I was then president of, celebrated it's annual Earth Day festivities. 

Since this is also around the time of Earth Day (it will officially be on Tuesday, April 22nd this year - two days from now), it seemed appropriate to start writing a couple of things here and there in recognition of this holiday that is growing in importance. And since this combines both Earth Day, and my own personal memories of one particular Earth Day that I was active for, it seemed fitting to post this here and now. 

It took a lot of work (months, really) to try and coordinate the event. I had not idea that something that took so much planning would come and go so quickly, but it did. The day went by remarkably quickly, all things considered. And, I will say, it was more or less a success, as well. A few glitches, and I think I get into that in the following piece which I first published a year ago, in recognition of this event. Here is what I wrote about it last year:

So, talking about Earth Day yesterday kind of got me reflecting a bit on my own, most memorable Earth Day  memory. This was from back in 1995, while President of the Environmental Club of Bergen Community College. In effect, it was an all-day festival, with poetry readings, tables with information involved, an educational presentation made to children from Early Childhood Development, refreshments, and, the main thing: a concert. For months, there was trepidation on my end that I would not be able to produce any bands, or at least not enough.

As it turned out, the problem proved to be too many bands, something that I never could have foreseen.

The names of the bands take some time to come to the surface of my memory, and even then, there is uncertainty, because a lot of time has passed: Blue Eden, Blue, Rest Assured with lead singer Jay Thought, Marble (who almost made it big, evidently, having had their song played once on Z-100, in the middle of the night -don't laugh, that is often how those kinds of momentum things work), Freak of Nature (they were freaks of nature, alright).

It was not exactly the best laid plans, however. In fact, much of the fiasco nature of some of what happened was directly attributable to poor planning, and much of that poor planning, admittedly, was directly attributable to me.

I mean, we had some ideas, and the ideas were great. But when it came to execution?

Well, let's just say that I felt a bit overwhelmed at the time. I mean, this was an actual concert (of sorts, at least), that I was trying to set up!

I remember the aforementioned Glen (you will see him again for my post on the Pearl Jam Uniondale show 10th anniversary, April 30, 2013) doing some makeshift stand-up that absolutely bombed. He threw jokes - tons of them, actually. But there was no reaction. i mean, zero, zip, zilch. Not even me, and we were pretty good friends! I laughed at the complete lack of reaction of everyone there (it became a running joke between us that night), but his spiel just wasn't funny, truth be told.

The one time that people actually laughed was accidental. There had been a girl who had read poetry, and she was quite short. Glen was the opposite, tall and awkward, if you will. So when he walked up after her poetry, and then clumsily tried to get the microphone back up so he could speak into it more easily, people laughed. But that was pretty much the only time people laughed, it seemed.

Here's one example that I remember, and you'll probably understand why after this descripiion. This was the time of the OJ Simpson trial, and anyone who remembers that time period will tell you that there was no escaping the news headlines that this generated. People were sick and tired of hearing about it.

Anyway, I remember him asking the room if anyone had heard the latest news on the OJ trial. I guess he was trying to get a laugh, I can't be sure. But what he got was total silence, with all eyes fixed upon him. it was hard to tell if it was in anticipation of something (which he never delivered) or indifference. One way or the other, it was embarrassing, and did not get the intended response. If there had been crickets nearby, they would have been heard quite clearly.

But as he walked off the stage, one guy (this guy worked in the library, and always was a bit strange) came  up to Glen very enthusiastically, and began to talk his ear off about all of the latest news tidbits from the OJ trial that day. I remember Glen feigning interest, and trying to suppress a smile as I stood behind the guy who was talking his ear off, and laughing.

One of the bands, Freak of Nature, wanted to personally kick my ass. And being six foot plus, muscle-headed monsters with vacant expressions in their eyes, I'm pretty sure that they could have (and would have) done it, if given the chance. They really lived up to their ban name, "Freaks of Nature".

The reason for that is that they did not get the chance to be on stage to play. We probably had booked too many bands - eight in all. We figured that they could all play for somewhere between half and hour to forty minutes (I forget which). But we almost got all eight on. Unfortunately, there was an incident when one of the lead singers for one of the bands struck the head of either his guitarist or bassist (I forget which), and he then needed medical attention. I thought it might be five minutes, a brief respite, while he got band-aids, or something. It wound up being a hell of a long time, and I should have told them, "Sorry, guys, but we have other bands waiting."

Instead, I waited, and distracted with other things (there were other things going on that day, not just the concert aspect). But if there was one mistake that I clearly made on that day, I think that was it.

I sympathized. At least, that was, until they literally physically threatened me. They started playing outside, and Public Safety came up to me with some urgency, and told me that they needed to stop, before they called the police. I talked to them, and they finished one or two songs. They just wanted to play. Can't fault them for that. But things don't go your way, and you physically try to threaten someone as a result? What happened was a mistake, not intentional. They lost any and all of my sympathy at that point.

Evidently, they even came looking for me, perhaps again trying to intimidate, during the summer, although I was nowhere to be found. That was the last that I ever heard from them. Good riddance!

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