21: Peace Tour Revisited
by Artie Taylor
We were really psyched when we boarded the ferry out
of Peacetopia at 5 am on August 12th, kicking off our 42-city
tour across America’s college campuses. We had carefully coordinated activities at each
location. 42 college
campuses, including Rutgers University in October, when I’d
get to perform for my kids in New Jersey.
Early in the campaign, in addition to the grassroots
BetterWorld Clubs network, we’d gotten the National Order of
Fraternities and Sororities back on board -- they did an amazing
job for our last Peace Bus Tour during the CountUP to January
1, 2000, considering the climate at the time.
Back then, “Peace” wasn’t exactly the most popular subject. After all,
as we were told numerous times, we weren’t at war, at the time.
Still, a good amount of people got it back then -- that peace is more than
whether or not your country is at war; it’s a process of learning to respect each
other, ourselves, and the planet we share.
We knew they’d be on the ball this time, too, working
with the BetterWorld Clubs network and getting local better-world
groups involved and inspiring swarms of students to participate. With the super-hype after the 150 day countdown
to Peace Day everywhere we turned, we knew we’d be facing capacity
crowds to honor August 12th’s better world occasion --
the United Nations’ International Youth Day.
really expected great things for the whole tour.
We’d assembled a fantastic team of entertainers -- Fred Stern, the Rainbow
Maker had agreed to come out of retirement and create his giant rainbows for world
peace; we had a world-class comedian, an amazing magic act, and of course, Jesse
and I would be singing together as “People For Peace.” In the weeks leading up to the launch we’d worked
together on a People For Peace CD of her songs and my songs, and we were both
proud about how it turned out. We had also
arranged for some big name music-stars to perform at the larger venues along the
tour route. And Merle had promised that
he and Maya would join us in several cities and we’d revive our King Arthur’s
Peace Table routine. Jesse seemed really
psyched about playing Guinevere, Sam’s old role.
The tour launch was at Washington State University that day. The freeway was packed -- everyone was apparently
going to the Peace Fair, and banners were waving from the cars declaring ‘142
Days till Peace Day’ and ‘International Youth Day for Peace’.
Even though, because of the traffic, we were almost late, we were more
psyched than ever.
But things didn’t
go at all like we’d anticipated. There
were more people there than we could ever have imagined. When we finally got backstage, we were told
that there’d been some changes -- some major acts had agreed to be on the program.
Our sets might have to be cut down in length a little, and there’d be a
little shuffling in the order.
Sure, we understood -- the celebrity names would definitely get more attention
from the media, so we could live with it. The
big name acts were great, with amazing songs about “Peace Day, January 1.” And the audience loved it. They were cheering and dancing and singing along.
And they all had “Peace Day, January 1” T-shirts on, and drank out of cups
with PEACE DAY blazing in neon colors. And
Peace Day banners were waving everywhere. And a blimp floated overhead flashing
“142 Days until Peace Day.” And the media
was all over the place, apparently with a live telecast on one of the networks
and several cable stations.
However, none of our troupe got to go on at all until late that evening
when most of the crowd had gone home, and the evening news had finished and the
TV cameras were long gone.
We chalked it up to an underestimation of the popularity of the United
Nations’ International Day for Youth. Obviously it was a much bigger event than
next day we were in Corvalis, Oregon-- a much smaller venue, and there wasn’t
much on the calendar that we could see. Lefthander’s
Day was quite safely the biggest event among the various commemorations.
Maybe there are a lot of lefties in the world, or at least in Corvalis. Because there was a capacity crowd again, and
a whole new line up of celebrities graced the stage.
Everywhere we went, it was the same. The
message of a day of peace was certainly getting out in the world, but we were
playing less and less a part of it. At
the end of each day we were left with an odd feeling.
Our dream was becoming reality before our eyes, but we were barely players
in the game.
Still, what else
could we do but continue on and do our part, however small it might have become.
It was really wonderful to be a part of the experience at each campus.
You could really feel the Oneness all around you as people -- young and
old -- were swaying and singing together. The
words they were singing were inspiring and uplifting and meaningful.
As you walked around and looked at the activists’ booths and the peace-games
and activities they were running, you could see the passion in their eyes and
their voices. You could see that the people they were sharing
their concerns with were really listening, too, and they got it. You knew that they were being inspired and that
they’d go home at the end of the day with more hope, more confidence in themselves,
and more dedication to trying to better their lives, their families’ lives and
How could we walk away from that opportunity to be part of that passion
every day? So what if only seemed like we were along for
the ride. It seemed well worth it just
to see hope being born anew each day.
A few weeks into the tour though, we did notice some changes. “Peace Day, January 1” wasn’t the only message
we were seeing on the T-shirts and banners, or hearing in the on-stage celebrity
messages. It was still about a worldwide
day of peace on January 1, but there were all kinds of permutations, like “A Day
of Peace on January 1” and “Just a Day of Peace.” and “One Day on Day One,” and
dozens of others.
We had been checking in each day with the Kid, and we gave him a complete
report about each event. The Kid promptly
posted them on our websites. We’d started
off the tour with the idea of featuring a live video feed over our sites, but
during the very first broadcast the plug for that idea was quickly pulled.
The network that was airing the concert on TV, slapped a cease and desist
order on us and our server shut our websites down.
Skyler’s office graciously offered to allow us to enter into a licensing
agreement to broadcast bits and pieces of the events, but of course we had no
money to do that, so a written article had to suffice each day.
Anyway, the Kid told us that there were now no less than a dozen different
cartels (ranging from corporate to non-profit and even governmental alliances),
peddling “day of peace on January 1” variations -- each trademarked and licensed
out to their own network of advertising, media and merchandising enterprises. Everyone was getting in on the action. Each TV Network and newspaper chain and radio
station now featured its own version, with its own count-down or count-up or count-out,
count-on or count-across.
Most of the talking heads on TV insisted that this “peace fad” would fizzle
out -- “You can’t maintain the public’s interest in any campaign for more than
two months,” they insisted. But it just
kept growing and spreading.
But where was it going? And how
did we fit in now?
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