For the children

It was a weekend of and for the children.

It started at the Bridge School Benefit Concert at the Shoreline Amphitheatre on Saturday. My friends and I arrived early and found a place among the other lawn ticket holders. Chairs were rented, blankets were splayed out, eating and drinking commenced. It was encouraging to see all of those who packed their own, more environmentally friendly meals: canvas Trader Joe’s bags full of grapes, olives, crackers. And either security was lagging, or knives were allowed in, if used only to shank a tomato.

The amphitheater itself is attempting to green its stands as well. Although I’m not sure how that translated to my $7 lidless plastic soda cup, despite the woman at the counter’s insistence. Five minutes with that drink upon the 89-degree slope of the lawn, and “green” almost meant with envy—at the folks that hadn’t (yet) spilled their own.

We spent the beginning of the evening entertaining ourselves by identifying who was there to see whom from the amalgam of concertgoers, and taking pictures for my optician roomie’s blog ( Girl in the Where’s Waldo hat and fashion frames? Wolfmother, perhaps, or Monsters of Folk. How about the guy in front of us with the Lacoste polo and the Lacoste jacket with the super skinny, equally label-happy girlfriend? Probably Chris Martin of Coldplay, with a side of No Doubt. Was anyone actually there for Gavin Rossdale? And you haven’t lived until you’ve heard a woman in a parrot-head hat utter with attitude, “What? It’s Jimmy Buffett, bitch!”

All in all, it was an evening of comforting musical familiarities and pleasant surprises. The Fleet Foxes carried their usual sense of secular angelic awe through the Bay’s unusually tropic air, and juxtaposed with Neil Young’s closing performance, the vocal influence was uncanny. Wolfmother had an enjoyable energy, and I could match almost every guitar riff to some Rolling Stones song, but usually just to the Doors’ “L.A. Woman”—though not necessarily a bad thing.

Toward the end of the night, Gwen Stefani spent a large chunk of her emotional No Doubt acoustic set with her back to the audience, performing for Bridge School children onstage and reminding us all why we were there in the first place. The accomplishments of these kids, with severe physical and speech impairments, are nothing to be taken lightly. Like the alumni who’s a double major at UC Berkeley. At this point, I’m an eight-year city college attendee with an associate’s degree, shivering under five hoodies with earmuffs, just trying to stay awake for the end of the show.

On Sunday, when I return home, there’s a pumpkin-patch event in my backyard for the neighborhood kids of Oak Park, put together each year by my landlord. Little ones run around, paint their pumpkins and their faces, eat hot dogs and slurp Hi-C, say “please” and “thank you,” and head home in the early afternoon, with the sun still shining and the days ahead full of change and promise.

Yup, the kids are all right.