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Diana Ross, Baseball, Gandhi and Simon & Garfunkel

~ What I Saw in 1983 in New York City ~

Jun 22, 2008
Eiji Yoshikawa

The Diana Ross Concert

I think no one can forget the Diana Ross show in Central Park, on July 21st. I took a subway home with only my boxer trunks on, as I squeezed dry my top that was soaking wet before I got on the train from 79th Street.

Five minutes after her show started, we saw a fast-growing dark cloud rising behind the stage. It looked like the cloud in Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, or the one in “Ghostbusters”. Fifteen minutes later, the cloud covered the park, and 300,000 spectators were smashed like 300,000 ants running away in all directions from the flood-like rain.

I didn’t run away, but stayed on. So did Diana, although the people from the promoter’s group came on the stage and tried to pull her backstage. She refused, and kept on singing in the rain. From her attitude, you could tell that it was not just another show for her. Finally, the show was canceled. However, Diana fought hard, and asked the city of New York to let them do the show the very next day. 500,000 people came back, under a very hot summer sun.

Before the show, a man came walking down the path that led to the stage. As he walked, banana peels, apples, oranges and all types of garbage were thrown at him. It was Mayor Koch. In the front section, there was a group of young guys under a large blue tent that were scaring everyone away with a big long knife. After the show, I saw a man who had been shot to death in his belly, right outside of the park. Thousands of people just rushed home, ignoring the body. In a way, New York is a battlefield in the sense that no one cares who is dead on the grass or on the sidewalk.

Twenty years later, in 2003 or so, just by chance, I watched an American TV program called “The Most Memorable Shows”. The program featured the Diana Ross concert in Central Park.


July, 1983 was an interesting month for the New York Yankees. Dave Righetti pitched a  no-hitter on Independence Day, and George Martin, the famous Yanks manager, made George Brett, the legendary slugger from the Kansas City Royals, mad by pointing out that his bat had too much tar on it. This was after Brett had hit the deciding home run.


Although we knew in 1983 that President Ronald Reagan was rapidly expanding the US military, the opening day for the new film, “Gandhi”, had the longest ticket line in all of midtown Manhattan. That’s the interesting thing about the USA. There are so many, and too many, military actions taking place at every minute somewhere in the world, as well as so many antiwar activities that are going on somewhere in the very same country.

Simon and Garfunkel

Seeing the Simon and Garfunkel concert, sitting on the grass at Shea Stadium under the summer sky, was an unforgettable moment. My brother Kazushi was visiting me from Japan. Getting two tickets for us to see a show by the musicians who sang for the film, “The Graduate”, was a dream come true.

Kazushi’s impression of New York City was, “It seems that in this town, everyone is trying hard to reach somewhere they want to be.” From his short stay in New York, he got the idea. He is right.

Eiji Yoshikawa is a retired Pro Boxer who majored inFrench literature and did his thesis on Jean Cocteau and Cinematography. He founded the "Peacemakers", Japan's first neighborhood watch, and spends much of his time visiting schools and communities teaching children about non-violence. In 2004, Japan Inc. Magazine called him the "Compassionate Pugilist". We are proud to offer "Letters from the Compassionate Pugilist" as our first guestcolumnist. Contact Eiji at or via email.

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