Americans are lethargic about most things. The only one that seems to make them willing to lay down their lives is a big-name concert.
And that is why historians are still pondering how World War III started on Martha's Vineyard. Their conclusion is that it originated in August 1995.What happened was that the Agricultural Hall trustees decided to have a concert to raise money for its roof. They persuaded singers Carly Simon and James Taylor to reunite after nearly 17 years of not appearing together. At the time it sounded like a good idea.
But when word got out about the concert, pandemonium erupted. It was carried on radio and television and the Internet from Nantucket to New Zealand.
When tickets were put on sale they were gobbled up in a matter of minutes, and suddenly this tight little island was divided between those who held seats and those who didn't.
Once again, a conflict was created between the Haves and Have-Nots, which could lead only to terrible things.
It might not have gotten out of hand if the Haves hadn't flaunted their tickets in front of the Have-Nots. The Haves would flip them out on Main Street in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown - they made up Polish jokes about those who did not have seats, they demanded respect from the Have-Nots and treated the unticketed like the homeless.
The Have-Nots got sick and tired of catering to the privileged class. They said just because the Agricultural Hall had run out of seats didn't make them second-class citizens. They started to form militias and train in Chilmark for the showdown that was inevitable.
At this moment the United Nations became alarmed and sent in troops from Britain, France and Luxembourg to keep the peace.
The first hostilities broke out when a man in Menemsha accused a fisherman of stealing his tickets from his pocket at the Home Port Restaurant. The lobsterman said it was a lie. He said he found his tickets in a lobster pot off Gay Head.
The Indians said if this was true, then the tickets belonged to them.
There didn't seem to be any end to hard feelings. The Haves decided they had better protect themselves and brought in a boatload of arms from China. One person who held a $100 seat said, "The only thing the ticketless rabble understands is force."
At this point the Have-Nots set up a long-range howitzer on Naushon Island, aimed at the Vineyard.
The officer ordered the first shot fired. The projectile rose in an arc and exploded. Right through the roof of the Agricultural Hall. The trustees then decided because of the war not to hold a concert after all.