Home The Soapbox The Soapbox: bash raises questions of me versus we

The Soapbox: bash raises questions of me versus we


I hate to sound like your father, I really do. 

But if you were among the vast swim-suited horde getting cozy with neighbors while crushing brews and catching tunes, there’s only one legitimate question that comes to mind.

What in the living hell were you thinking?

The Sand Bar Bash, held on Saturday on Lake Butte des Morts in Oshkosh, drew scorn from all directions on social media today. The live music fundraiser pulled in a huge crowd and it’s safe to say the pandemic wasn’t top of mind for the revelers. It’s pretty clear from circulating photos that it wasn’t on minds much at all. 

The intent here isn’t to pile on, but rather examine what it has to say about this unique moment in history — and how we might move to the other side.

Photos of the event depict a veritable buffet for contagions with folks standing elbow to elbow while knee deep in the murky water. 

The social media lashings were sufficient enough that posts were pulled down, and eventually, the event’s Facebook presence went dark. 

Organizers weren’t fielding questions, per reports from WBAY and the Oshkosh Northwestern.

Yeah, I do get it.

For many, the cabin fever looms far larger in the mind than an illness that hasn’t yet forged personal connections.

But I couldn’t help but see a paradox in the party photos.

The allure of the live music experience is very much one of “we.” Yet the images represent the refusal of so many to take even small steps beyond “me.”

I took a significant break from Valley Review at the front end of this pandemic based on my personal mulling over what would even be appropriate.

I eased back in, taking note of the creative means so many have taken so we enjoy together even when public health demands we keep some distance. We’ve moved things online and held  drive-in events. We’ve seen outdoor shows in which fans are encouraged to stick at a distance from fellow listeners.

Even amid the constant stream of Facebook videos showing mask battles in the grocery store lobby, we’ve shown we have the capacity and imagination to crawl our way through this. We just need to make some adjustments. 

But Saturday’s event once again begs the question: are we willing?

And if not, why not?

As to “we,” there’s real power in the shared experience of a show. Live music provides the opportunity to step outside the anxieties of the day-to-day and lose one’s self to something bigger for a couple of hours. It’s in our nature to seek those moments in which we’re part of something larger than ourselves.

And in spite of that energy, the appeal to compassion hasn’t been convincing enough on the covid-19 front. For too many, it’s too much to ask for some inconvenience in the name of something greater.

Perhaps, we should turn our appeals in more selfish directions. 

Let’s be louder about the fact that opportunities will be smaller and they’ll be fewer until we finally get a handle on all of this. Let’s not paint hopeful pictures. Maybe if we’re real about it, the reality would improve.

If all else fails?

I suppose there’s always shame. It seemed to shake a few folks to attention today.


  1. We’ve become a terribly selfish society — from our elected representatives hiding behind “the law” to this mass of irresponsibility called the Sand Bar Bash. But I’m hopeful. Even if it takes shame.

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