It's a really excellent quality. Or can be, anyway. You don't really appreciate determination in a serial killer, a 106-year old man who will not stop driving, or an aunt who keeps trying new Food Channel recipes out on you, all terrible. I am thinking more of the admirable part of the determined character, where there is a drive and a will to to do good, to do well, to not be discouraged by roadblocks and failures. I have periods of great determination, surrounded by slothful laziness. I don't really know for sure if sloths are lazy, but in thinking that they enjoy sleeping and hanging from trees and not doing all the much, I will use the analogy. Perhaps I am a determined sloth. I see a children's book character there, The Determined Sloth. I digress.

I have recently been looking over some of my Kinks concert photos from the 70s and 80s for a project. Many of the shows they were taken at now all blend into my mind -- arena after arena, pretty much the same kind of place, whether it was in Hartford, Columbus, Minneapolis, or Houston. But one show was so different, and I smile looking at the pictures, because I had to have a little more than the regular determination to take them.

It was June 19, 1982 at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, a big multi-act show featuring the Kinks, Foreigner, Joan Jett, Huey Lewis and the News, and Loverboy. Good god. I didn't give a rat's ass about the other bands, and avoided the 60,000+ crowd on that incredibly humid hot day until I had to arrive for the Kinks' set. I had never been to a show that large, much less tried to photograph one. The stage was so high, there were so so many sweaty, shirtless. and drunken bodies already pressed up against it, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. But to be able to take pictures outside instead of the usual challenges of indoor stage lighting? Oh, I was going to make the most of this one way or another.

I made my way to the very front, by this time an experienced and bold and determined girl in the rock and roll crowd business. But it was not good. I am 5'4" and the stage felt like it was 30 feet high. I simply could not see, and moving back into the crowd was equally useless. Time was ticking fast and I needed to make something work. I spotted a red plastic milk case, the same kind I used to keep my LPs in, under the vast stage, asked security for it, and rammed it against the stage to steady it, and climbed up just as the band took the stage. It made me another foot taller, but the ground wasn't level and the crowd was pushing and surging against me as the opening music started to play over the massive PA system. BOOM! I fell off the carton, flat on my red miniskirted ass into the crowd, trying to protect my camera at all costs. Some asshole immediately got up on my carton and I got up and told him to get the fuck off with such venom that he complied and I tried it again. The band was now onstage and my usual superfocused nerves kicked in -- shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot! But unless Ray Davies came out on his ramp extended into the crowd, I got nothing, and even then I was shooting almost straight up. NO. NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

But what do to? I had to think fast, the show was rolling and I didn't want to miss anything more, and I didn't see anyone I knew. I desperately looked around for a option, somewhere to get the pictures I wanted to see. There really was only one place to go. Between Ray and Dave Davies' ramps, there was a small triangular area in front of the stage, open but blocked from the crowd. Spanning it was a single raised 2 X 4 beam. AHA. I eyed it greedily. If I could get there, the top of my head would be almost level to the stage. Now that I could work with. GO!

I abandoned the milk case to the asshole and made my way under the stage, the only way to get to the little oddly-constructed area. Uh oh. Two day-hired teenage security guards in yellow t-shirts stop me, despite my pass. They are only a few years younger than me, but look like babies.

"Uh, you can't come here, Miss."

"I need to take these photographs, and I can't do it from the crowd, and I need to do it immediately. I just need to get to this little area right over..."

"You don't have the right kind of pass for that. Huh huh huh huh."

I could hear the band roaring above me, felt the time swooshing by, and I was getting a little nutty in the heat.

"LISSSEN. I have got to take these pictures!! I am not causing you any trouble, and once I am done I will leave! Come on!!"

"Uh, well, I dunno..."

Hesitation! YES! That tells me I am in! I go on with them for another minute or so, drop the mad and replace it with a big old smile and tell them how grateful I am for their help. When I see the boys look at each other questioningly, I say "THANKS GUYS!" and bolt past them. I wriggle my way into the stage pit, somehow hoist my ass onto the 2 X 4 board, and I balance my cheeks there for the rest of the show, trying also to be semi-modest in my now-very-impractical miniskirt. I get more than a few big smiles from Ray Davies, no doubt amused to see what I had done. I give him a huge smile and a thumbs-up, and shoot roll after roll of film, jumping down into the darkness under the stage to change rolls in the camera, and to wipe my sweaty hands and face with my blue bowling shirt, before climbing up on the board again.

I know I am getting great shots, I can feel it, and I am thrilled beyond thrilled. Despite the band's seriously nasty mood amongst themselves that day, I catch Dave Davies looking over to his right at his brother, with the biggest smile I have ever seen on him. Click. Years later, it becomes the cover shot of Dave's "Unfinished Business"CD that was issued in the UK. I take a glance behind me. 60,000 people, and I am here, getting splinters in my sore wobbling butt, none more front, dripping sweat. I spot a man in the crowd holding a Flat-Coated Retriever dog on his shoulders. A full-grown dog, on a man's shoulders, in the middle of a huge rock concert. Well, I had to take a picture of that. It was absurd.

I leave my post post and wind my way to the grounds backstage after the first encore. Silly me. From there, I hear Ray bring Chrissie Hynde onstage, announcing her as "The World's Greatest Female Singer!" Then I hear Dave Davies yell "FUCK!" into his mic and he stalks off. Maybe it is better I didn't get pictures of that, huh? I liked the smiles better.

Determination got those pictures taken, certainly not so much talent or even my big goofy smile. I didn't cure cancer or anything, but I did the best I could at something at least for a day, and didn't give up. That is a really, really nice feeling. SLOTHS OF THE WORLD, ROCK ON!