A couple of dozen people showed up tonight for FODfest, an event I wouldn’t have known about at all if my friends Marc and Seth weren’t playing with several of the acts (Marc’s on the right here; Seth’s playing drums in the back; the guy in the middle, singing, is longtime local bluegrass guy Bob Perilla).
In a town with thousands of journalists, where Daniel Pearl was (and hopefully is) considered a martyr, my jaw dropped when I realized I was probably the only journalist in the joint for this concert in his honor. Perhaps it’s an indictment of the organizational skills of those involved, but this pitiful crowd was also a reminder about how soon people forget horrible things.
Before he died, I saw Pearl briefly once, at an open mic at (I believe) the Tiffany Tavern in Alexandria in the late 1990s, where someone mentioned to me that he worked for the Wall Street Journal. I thought he was a good fiddler, a guy who clearly loved this music, but honestly didn’t think much else about him. There are a lot of journalists who play music in this town, and he was better than most, but I didn’t talk to him and never thought about him again until the next time I saw him.
That was on a video in 2002, where some masked terrorist — possibly 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, possibly not — was sawing off Pearl’s head in a propaganda video. Pearl was kidnapped and killed in Pakistan, decapitated, cut up into 10 pieces, buried in a shallow grave. The pleas of his pregnant wife to his captors went unanswered, but his death was a stark reminder of what we were all up against.
And here we are, six years later, and a concert in his honor in his former home town draws two dozen people. How soon we forget.