ON TWO successive sun-baked afternoons, 180,000 ticket-holders gathered in Philadelphia this past weekend to enjoy the slash-and-burn music of the world's most famous rock'n roll band, the Rolling Stones.
Civilization did not falter. National security was not compromised. From all accounts, there were no serious disturbances and virtually everyone involved had a rousing good time. The people danced, Mick Jagger pranced, tickets, money and joints passed hands, and when the music died, neither the Stones, their fans, Philadelphia nor John F. Kennedy '40 Stadium seemed much the worse for wear.
Philadelphia was the first official stop on the British rock group's three-month American tour, its first in three years. The tour has aroused widespread interest and anticipation, and, as promoter Bill Graham acknowledged, the Stones' week-long platonic dalliance with Boston earlier this month did no harm in the way of advance publicity.
It is not this newspaper's role to assess blame for the debacle surrounding the Rolling Stones' near miss with Boston--the off-on-off-on-off-on-maybe-later concert that wavered mystically between reality and myth and ended finally in limbo. There is enough blame for everyone to share, and the strung-along and ultimately shut-out Stones fans in this area had no trouble allotting it.
But now is the time to look to the future. At some point on this tour, we are promised, the Rolling Stones really will play Boston. The key question is one of logistics: what site would allow both proper safety and admission procedures and still enable the maximum number of Stones fans to see their heroes? Only 2800 persons can be seated in the Orpheum Theatre--the initially proposed venue--and even the crumbling Boston Garden, with 15,000 seats, is much too small.
A possible solution occurred to some of us during the Harvard football team's disappointing loss to Holy Cross Saturday. It was a beautiful, crisp afternoon, the clear blue skies, the bright green turf, the skylines of Boston and Cambridge visible beyond the scoreboard....
Yes, Harvard Stadium. The Answer. Just think of it. Forty thousand in the stands, 20,000 on the field, and those without tickets could picnic on Soldiers Field outside and still hear the music. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the rest (assuming they don't have stomach flu, shoulder cramps, or whatever) could bash out "Sympathy for the Devil" from a stage adjacent to the big Crimson "H." For Harvard the advantages are obvious: a new image of hipness, relevance and public service of the highest order, and, one suspects, a lucrative financial reward.
And for President Bok, it could be a watershed, as he would gather esteem in places where he may not yet be a household word--The Rat, for instance. Students would love him--they could use the "Miscellaneous" stub in their coupon book for admission. And the crowning moment would come when Bok, perhaps dressed in cap-and-gown, stands on the stage and proclaims, in that inimitable stentorian voice: "Ladies and Gentlemen--and distinguished guests--the Rolling Stones!"
It would be glorious.