Commentary: What Really Happened at the Aladdin?
Many people are starting to ask, What really happened at the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday night, July 17th? Was Linda Ronstadt removed from the stage because the crowd had become unruly and safety issues had been raised, or was it because the casino’s management disagreed with her political views?
On July 22, I posted an article here on Intervention titled Rock Against Bush in which I mentioned that Ronstadt was forcibly removed from the stage after the crowd became unruly due to her dedicating a song to Michael Moore and calling him “a great American patriot.” I used this story, which I gleaned from the mass media, to illustrate my broader point that many singers and musicians from all points of the rock and roll compass are speaking out against the policies of George W. Bush and urging their listeners to go out and vote in November.
The very same day, I received an email informing me that I was giving my readers “disinformation spread by the managers of the Aladdin hotel.” According to the author of the email, “the crowd did not get unruly,” and the only people upset by Ronstadt’s remarks were the hotel’s management.
It turns out that the mass media, including the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times, got the story all wrong. The crowd did not get unruly and throw drinks, and Ronstadt was not booed off the stage. So what really happened at the Aladdin? I started thinking the dreaded word, conspiracy, and decided to find out if Linda Ronstadt had anything to say about all this on her website. Near the top was a link, “Ronstadt Speaks about Aladdin Casino Events,” that took me to an article written by Daniel Buckley in the Tucson Citizen.
Well, what do you think I found there? This whole incident has been blown way out of proportion--or maybe it hasn’t.
Ronstadt told Buckley “that she left the Aladdin Resort & Casino immediately after the concert and was not aware that the management was irritated by her comments until an hour after she left the show.” So apparently she was not forcibly removed from the stage, and there was no near-riot, as I and many others were led to believe. But here’s where things get sinister. Buckley goes on to quote from a statement made by the Aladdin’s management: “Ms. Ronstadt was hired to entertain the guests of the Aladdin, not to espouse her political views. In an effort to diffuse the situation, Linda Ronstadt was asked to leave the property immediately following her performance.”
This begs an important question: Since when have performers in the United States been leaned on “not to espouse [their] political views”? I went to dozens of rock concerts in the 60s and the 70s, and almost every one of them was politically charged in one way or another. Take The Clash, for God’s sake! Going to one of their concerts felt like being in the middle of a revolution. (Hey, I was younger then, OK?) My point is that performers in the past had assumed that they had a right to make political statements at their concerts. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, John and Yoko! Doesn’t anybody remember? Now, we have Management telling us that Linda Ronstadt was not hired to say what was on her mind. What does Management want, a wind-up doll on the stage?
What is happening in this country? Is it possible that some people see Linda Ronstadt as a kind of threat because she openly supports a man who made a movie criticizing the President?
Joseph Smigelski is a rocker from way back and now teaches English in the California community college system. You can email Joe at http://www.interventionmag.com/cms/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=811