Blast from the Past

Yes, I've been negligent with this blog this summer. Mea culpa.

The following is a video from a dance piece choreographed by Doris Humphrey, danced by her company in 1946. My first and long-time teacher, Ernestine Stodelle, was a member of this company, and is dancing here. Enjoy!



Craig Explains the Universe

An ongoing theme here is Why We Love Craig Ferguson (not to be confused with the similar theme, Why We Love David Letterman). Here is the latest reason:



High Five

Got to Citifield this weekend, the last day of the Subway Series, and the first time I've been to the new Citi Fiield. It's still "Shea" to most of us Mets fans, but damn, the new stadium is really pretty.

The Mets had been trounced by the Yankees both Friday and Saturday, and while I didn't have high expectations, especially with 9 Mets on the disabled list, I was hoping for at least a respectable showing.

When you're a Mets fan, it pays to be an existentialist.

You kind of know when the first pitch is hit for a double (Derek Jeter, of course) that this does not bode well for the rest of thee game. Three runs in the first inning. I was hoping that we would not be tortured like this throughout the whole game. And my, those Yankees fans can be smug.

But the Mets defense for the next 6 innings was hot, truly beautiful to watch. If they could only hit and pitch!

... all hope died when they walked Mariano Cabrera in the top of the 9th with the bases loaded... ouch... an AMERICAN League pitcher. How can they walk an American League pitcher? What do those guys have, like a .126 batting average?

I got out of the Astor Place subway, holding my Citifield program, sporting my Shea Stadium memorial T-shirt, and I was stopped in front of Cooper Union by a young, blond-haired, tee-shirted fellow who said to me, "High five!"
I stopped, my weirdo radar triggered, scanning for incoming. He was a bit inebriated but otherwise seemed to know where he was, and had probably bathed in the last 24-hours. The conversation went like this:

"Where you coming from?" he said.

"Uh..." I was about to say "Shea." "Mets game."

"Oh. You're a Mets fan?"

What? Oh, yeah. Inebriated. "Well, I'm wearing the shirt..."

"Who were they playing?"


"Oh. So they lost, then."

There are days when I'd have gotten mad at this statement, but this time I laughed. "Yeah. They put up a fight, though."

"So... You married?"


"Oh. Well... High five!"

I high-fived him again.

"Hey," he said. "How old are you, anyway?"

I laughed. "You're not supposedd to ask a lady her age..."

"Oh, c'mon. I'm 31. You like 31, too, right?"

"Something like that. A bit older."

He high-fived me again, for good measure.



The bowels of Brooklyn... or maybe it was the gall bladder

Sunday morning, Father’s Day, I’m in the Telephone Bar with my computer. The music on the restaurant stereo is a 60s compilation: first up “My Girl,” now it’s “Build Me Up Buttercup.” Even though this music’s original intention was to be played through tinny AM radio speaker the stuff sounds really good.

Now “Stand By Me.” Yes, songs were short back then.

The older British dude that comes in here on Sundays just walked in. He’s customer 3, Customer 1 left just before I got here. It doesn’t get busy here until 2p or so. Right now, everyone is either at Café Orlin or the Mud Café.

Last night, D, my partner-in-crime, and I went out to the middle of nowhere that is "East" Williamsburg (!!!! I know: what the heck is THAT?) to see a band called the Reveling. Their claim to fame, or at least, the reason one would hunt them down if one weren’t a friend or a relative, is their drummer, the phenomenal Jay Weinberg, son of the famous Max. Happily, it turned out the band he's in is just as good as he is.

After a confusing ride on the J train – normal people don’t take the J train unless they can’t avoid it -- we got out at the scary-looking Lorimer Stop, an elevated stop that was begging to be renovated, much like all the other stops on the J train. We followed a terminally hip couple down one of the staircases to the street; we figured they must know where they were going. They didn’t. Besides, it turned out they weren’t going where we were going, anyway. We had a map we printed out from HopStop.com, and managed to find the right street, and even the address, but there wasn’t a club there.

Now what?

There was still some daylight, which was good, because the neighborhood seemed a bit sketchy. In front of the address, a band was unpacking their gear. The Reveling. We were in the right place. But where was that?

The band was very nice, and pointed toward a door.

“Is this someone’s apartment?” I said.

“Kind of. It’s a recording studio.”


After walking through a hallway of what looked like dorm rooms, we got to the room where the bands were setting up. It was one of those lovely unfinished spaces that has multiple uses. There was a card table set up that was the “bar,” and the “stage” was a throw rug. There was graffiti all over the walls, not the spray-can or air-brush variety, but the kind you might see in a men’s room stall, executed in red and black Sharpie. (Yes, I have been in a men’s room stall, Go ahead and come to your own conclusions.) I didn’t realize that there was any significance to it, other than self-expression, until I noticed the large red letters that were prominent just behind the stage that read, “Kidney Cancer.” Oh. Of course. These are all band names. The Rodeo Bar in Manhattan has a similar thing, with their bar covered with stickers from various bands who have played there over the years.

We were late; the show was supposed to start at 8p, and it was well after that, but it turned out we were actually really early. It kind of felt that we had come 3 hours early to the prom, and they were still putting the streamers up in the gym. The long-haired dude who was manning the door told us they would probably be starting around 9p, so we went to Bushwick Avenue to get coffee.

They started at 9:30. There were about 12 people in the audience, but somehow, with the lights out, it seemed like a club.

The first band was Aquadora, fronted by the aforementioned long-haired dude. He explained that he usually plays guitar, but both of his wrists were injured in a car accident, so he was just singing tonight.  The music was fast, melodic, kind of psychedelic, rock and roll, and it was quite good. Our frontman sang the whole set with his back to the audience, which I thought maybe was his signature pose, but we found out that my friend D was right: he was being shy.

“I’m usually holding my guitar,” he later explained.

Unfortunately, the mics were not working properly, and the vocals were barely audible, almost completely drowned out by the bass and drums. Now I understood why my ex-insignificant other used to obsess about the volume of his vocals.

At one point, a tall, friendly, red-headed guy caught my eye and said – well, yelled, “Are you excited yet?”

Rather than yell back, I gave him a thumbs up.

 "I'm excited," he said.

 D informed me that this was the Reveling’s bass player, Dennis,

The Reveling was next. While the other band was clearing off the stage, and Jay and his girlfriend were setting up his drums, Dennis was going around offering ear plugs.

“We’re okay,” I said. “That wasn’t that loud.”

“It’s going to be,” Dennis said. We took the earplugs.

Their music was a mix of the Ramones and the Cure. This was their last night of ten-straight nights of gigs, and their front man’s voice was shot. No problem; the band that would follow them, the Young Hearts, all surrounded him and joined in on the vocals. Seven guys singing. And we could just about hear them.

Jay Weinberg was a man possessed, a thrill to watch and a bigger thrill to hear, but that doesn’t at all take away from the other musicians in these three groups, all of them madly energetic, wildly proficient musicians. The Young Hearts had a similar song style to the Reveling, maybe a bit less melodic, but, hard to tell when all you’ve got is the rhythm section. But great energy, and I look forward to hearing these songs with the lyrics and everything.

The Reveling will be playing at the Ace of Clubs at 9 Great Jones St, under the Acme Bar and Grill, on September 18th. That’s a Friday, so if you’re anywhere near New York City, you should check it out.

The Reveling website. If you get on their mailing list, you can download some of their songs for free.

Aquadora on MySpace.

Young Hearts website.

I would like to add a link for the venue, as well, but I have to double check that I have the right information. (I was told to list it under a different name than what we were originally told.) Stay tuned.



Lost Tunnel of Atlantic Avenue

It's hard to believe that I've lived in New York City for three decades and have never climbed down a manhole.

Until yesterday, when my friends K and V and I took a tour of Brooklyn's first subway tunnel. Of course, one doesn't have this kind of adventure without it being photo-documented.

The next tunnel tour will be on July 19th
, 11 am and 1pm. It's BYOFL (bring your own flashlight).

UPDATE: For some reason, the LA Times had a story about this. Link is here.



New Yorker, Cooler

Add this to the New York Cool list:

Article from EW here.



New York Cool

Sometimes what's cool about New York is not what you would think.

Here, briefly, a sampling of events I witnessed or attended in the City this past month, latest thing first:

1) Book Expo America conference. A friend convinced (er.. coerced?) me to attend the Book Expo at the Javitz Center this weekend. Yesterday and today we came home with about as many books as we could uncomfortably handle. Since I've been in the publishing business for 100 years or so, one would think I'd have gone to this event before, but no. I suspect this is because no one I've ever worked for has ever considered me important enough to be sent to such an event.

This morning, we attended a BEA "Breakfast" Round Table event (and the word "breakfast" really needs to be in quotes here, as it turned out to be nothing fancier than muffins and bagels), MC'd by Craig Ferguson. My cohort, M, made a beeline for a table at the front, albeit all the way to the left, as the center ones were reserved for more important people. Sharing the table with us were some folks from Oklahoma. Okay, so I know I tend to be overly cynical, but these people were so completely stereotypical of buttoned up, corn fed , humorless midwesterners that you'd think they were sent by some local casting agency. They sat with their backs to the stage, and although Craig was his usual charming and witty self, our tablemates had these pissy looks on their faces the whole time. Did they come all the way from Oklahoma just to get some fancy New York breakfast, only to be gravely disappointed by the sparse fare? Because they didn't seem any more interested in the three other authors who were speaking, and they left the complimentary copies of the authors' books on their seats. No worries; these books were quickly picked up by book scavengers. One woman came over to our table and scooped up five extra copies of Craig's book. (I'm really thrilled to have an advance copy of Craig's book, too, but I don't need five copies.) I'm sure the other authors' books found homes as well: Except for those folks from Oklahoma, everyone around us seemed to be proper bookophiles.

2) There's a new little restaurant on Avenue B called Fu Sushi. Fu, the 32-year-old who owns the place, was our host, waiter and busboy the evening we were there. The place has innovative concoctions, and super fresh fish. They were even advertizing a fugu night. It's only six months old. I'm hoping it sticks around for a long time.

3) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex. It's a tease, because it's just a sampler of the real thing, but it's a whole lot of fun, nonetheless. It starts with a short multi-screen film reel of the history of rock and rolll, then you are given headphones and MP3 players that are be triggered to play appropriate music as you approach each exhibit. The whole thing ends with the John Lennon in New York exhibit, which is simultaneously fascinating and bone-chilling. If you can look at that paper bag filled with the clothes Lennon was wearing the night he was shot and not shudder just a bit, you have Coca Cola running in your veins.

4) The First Annual Dance Parade. I saw this quite by accident, because it happened to pass right by my door. You might not think so, but it's actually unusual for a bonafide parade to travel down St Marks Place. I've never seen it before, unless you count the time the Hungry March Band followed me home, or any Saturday with the Hare Krishnas. The Dance Parade better as a concept than it was in execution. By the time the various groups of dancers passed by my house, they were so exhausted they barely cared any more. Marching in a parade is one thing; dancing requires a different kind of energy, one that is intensely tasking. Try doing a routine over and over and then try to cover ground while you're doing it. I've done this in both the Halloween Parade and the Mermaid Parade, and let me just say: yikes.

5) The last significant conference at the Javitz Center before the Book Expo was the Furniture Show. This is only significant to me because of the in-store events. Each May my above-mentioned cohort, M, and I hunt down these events to consume whatever hors d'oevres and drink they provide. This year the first few we went to were kind of sparse, your choice of wine or NYC Tap Water and all the pretzels you could eat. But they got better as the month went on, until the last event we went to where the caterers kept offering us more and more food and we had to decline. It seemed this year that the number of tall skinny Italian designers in black leather that attended an event was directly proportional to the lack of food and drink. Maybe that was just a coincidence.



50 Songs for 50 Years

I created this play list for a friend of mine who, like me, was turning 50 this year. Seeing as that's the case for a lot of friends of mine, I thought I'd share this. Besides, everyone loves a list.

This was harder than you might think. I tried to have a mix of the Billboard Hits and the obscure. There are mostly original songs, but there are a few covers. I was trying, for the most part, to choose songs that my friend might not have, and also songs he probably would like. (This list would be a bit different if I were making it, say, for myself,) Some years just sucked, and some years I would have wanted to have chosen ten or more. That's the way it goes.

Poisoning Pigeons in the Park -- Tom Lehrer
1960 Stay -- Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs
1961 One Mint Julep--The Clovers
1962 Bobby's Girl (Demo - Stereo) -- Marcie Blane
1963 So Much In Love -- The Tymes
1964 Tell Me Why -- The Beatles
1965 Just One Look -- Doris Troy
1966 I'm A Believer -- The Monkees
1967 Try a Little Tenderness -- Otis Redding
1968 Punky's Dilemma -- Simon & Garfunkel
1969 Sugar Sugar -- The Archies
1970 I Think I Love You -- The Partridge Family
1971 Groove Me -- King Floyd
1972 I Saw the Light -- Todd Rundgren
1973 Angie -- The Rolling Stones
1974 You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet -- Bachman-Turner Overdrive
1975 Young Americans -- David Bowie
1976 Still the One -- Orleans
1977 American Girl -- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
1978 Surrender -- Cheap Trick
1979 Brass In Pocket -- The Pretenders
1980 (Just Like) Starting Over -- John Lennon & Yoko Ono
1981 See Jungle! (Jungle Boy) -- Bow Wow Wow
1982 The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum) -- Fun Boy Three
1983 Blister in the Sun -- Violent Femmes
1984 It's My Life -- Talk Talk
1985 In Between Days -- The Cure
1986 The Perfect Kiss -- New Order
1987 Sweet Child O' Mine -- Guns N' Roses
1988 A Little Respect (LP Version) -- Erasure
1989 Roam -- The B-52's
1990 Keep On Walking -- Spanic Boys
1991 Losing My Religion -- R.E.M.
1992 If I Had $1,000,000 -- Barenaked Ladies
1993 Mr. Jones -- Counting Crows
1994 Only Wanna Be With You -- Hootie & The Blowfish
1995 Surf the Wild Gowanus -- Simon and the Bar Sinisters
1996 Thirty-Three -- Smashing Pumpkins
1997 Tubthumping -- Chumbawamba
1998 The Boy with the Arab Strap -- Belle and Sebastian
1999 I Need to Know -- Marc Anthony
2000 Mama Told Me Not to Come -- Tom Jones & Stereophonics
2001 Family Affair -- Mary J. Blige
2002 Waitin' On A Sunny Day -- Bruce Springsteen
2003 Belleville Rendez-Vous (Demo) -- Ben Charest
2004 Trouble -- Bonnie McKee
2005 How to Save a Life -- The Fray
2006 See the World -- Gomez
2007 You Can't Always Get What You Want -- Band From TV
2008 Manhattan -- Kings of Leon



Party at Bruce's Place

Last night Bruce Springsteen and 20,000 of his closest friends in New Jersey had a party in the Izod Center in the Meadowlands.

The thing about Bruce is, to anyone who has not ever seen him live, he seems like a cliché. I can say this, because before 1995, I was one of those people. It's probably irritating to folks who have never seen the Springsteen phenomena to hear about people trying to get tickets to every show, putting everything aside in their schedules to get to the shows, traveling across country, trading their first born for tickets. In New Jersey, it's kind of a given that many of the fans will get to most if not all of the shows he does in the area. This is why scalpers can get $2,000 (yes, you read that correctly) for a ticket in the GA standing area.

There are people, of course, who are not fans of any kind of rock, who would sooner leave their new car unlocked on the street with the keys in the ignition than spend $90 and up for a ticket to a stadium concert. Some of those people did see Springsteen play the Super Bowl, and many of those people have started thinking, "I gotta see that guy."

It is the nature of well presented music to be a brain-eraser. No matter how mad you are at your boss, how worried you are about money, how sad you are about your breakup, there comes a point that you cease to be a disembodied spirit and find you have gotten over your sorry self and are connecting with the performers on the stage.

With Springsteen, it happens dramatically: you feel an electrical charge and you're smiling, another one and you can't help but giggle, then you're raising your arms because Bruce has directed you to do so and blowing out your voice singing along to Born to Run, even though you only know about ten words of the lyrics.

Bruce will be back in New Jersey in the Fall to play Giants' Stadium one last time before they tear it down. Now that Ticketmaster has had their hands slapped for last January's ticket debaucle, maybe we'll get to see the show.



Rollerena's Birthday Bash

With a Studio 54 theme. Of course. (because it's also the 32nd anniversary of Studio 54)

Me and B, taken with V's iPhone

Me and B, taken with V's iPhone

The great Rollerena herself

Disco ball

A party-goer we were dancing with

I am shocked to report that Rollerena does not have a Wikipedia page. For those of you who are interested, here are two articles about the legend that is Rollerena:

Rollerena: A Forgotten Gem of Recent Gay History in New York City
Rollerena: Diva, activist, skater, legend



The Rest of You, Rattle Your Jewelry

Okay, so I'm not done with this topic after all.

If you haven't already, check out Ben Sisario's recent article in the NY Times.

I am today addressing this except of that article:
"Two years after the repeal of New York State’s decades-old anti-scalping laws, the ticket marketplace has become a fiercely competitive game in which major corporations compete over resale prices with the fan next door, scalpers have a Washington lobbyist and thousands of tickets disappear in a fraction of a second.

"... Once bought by telephone or at box office windows, tickets for concerts are now mostly bought online, pitting ordinary consumers against a network of professional scalpers who use ever more sophisticated technology to scoop up large numbers of tickets in a flash....

"After lobbying by ticket brokers to decriminalize reselling in the Craigslist era, many states in addition to New York have lifted restrictions on scalping, and large corporations have embraced what is called the secondary market for tickets, like eBay, which owns StubHub. New York’s scalping laws were softened in 2005 and have been suspended since 2007, allowing tickets for most large events to be resold at any price.

"Connecticut and Minnesota also revised their laws in 2007 to permit reselling, and in June, the New York Legislature will have to formalize its repeal or the old restrictions will return. The lobbying in Albany has already begun.

" 'This is a huge consumer rip-off,' said Russ Haven, legislative counsel for the New York Public Interest Research group. “There is no benefit to consumers in unlimited scalping.' "


Legislators should ask themselves: Who is benefiting from unlimited ticket resales? The consumers? (no....) The artists? (no....) the venues? (no....) Or the snake-oil salesmen? (ding ding ding, yes!) Frankly, I can see the reasoning behind softening resale laws a bit: While resalers like Stub Hub charge insane fees -- 15% charged to the seller, and another 15% charged to the buyer, for the same tickets -- on the other hand, when I had to sell tickets I couldn't use, I felt safe using Stub Hub, and the buyer on the other end was guaranteed that the tickets were not forged. But isn't there a middle ground between the old scalper laws and no restrictions at all? A cap on a resale ticket price, for instance? A time delay when tickets can be resold? An 80% tax on the price of a ticket over face value? Something?

I am going to assume that Albany is going to cave on this -- because caving is so easy and thinking about a better plan is so hard -- and I am going to offer here some alternate solutions for artists/venues to make the ticket-selling process a little fairer for consumers.

1) Fans could refuse to buy resold tickets. Ha ha ha ha ha ha, I make myself laugh. The reason that doesn't work, and will never, ever work, and the reason why scalpers have existed as long as popular music has been around, is that music and entertainment is an emotional, often irrational, purchase. The thing is, concert tickets aren't like memorabilia, which is another purchase that is often emotion-driven, but it can be argued that it is a type of investment. You don't spend the money on concert tickets and then own something tangible that you can pass down to your grandchildren or later sell to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If your kid has an insatiable crush on Taylor Swift, are you not going to try to buy him tickets for his birthday, even if they might cost more than you care to spend?

2) Lotteries. Before the internet, ticket lotteries were a common anti-scalper tactic. You would send in a post card, and either get a pass or an arm band with a number on it, which would entitle you to go buy a certain number of a certain value ticket. Of course, internet sales are easier to coordinate, since it cuts out the need to have people manning the phones or box offices, but the old-school lotteries, while by no means a perfect solution, greatly curtailed a certain amount of scalping.

3) Act like the airlines. A venue could set aside a certain number of seats that sell for face value. Then blocks of seats after another date would sell for a percentage higher. Then the last block of seats go for the highest prices. People are used to paying a cheaper rate for plane tickets bought 2 weeks in advance, and as those cheaper seats sell out, you pay more. The person next to you on a plane most assuredly did not pay the same price for his seat as you did for yours. Concert venues can just build that into their prices. Basically, this is what a lot of venues/artists are doing anyway, when they save blocks of tickets for "resale." This way, they are just being honest about it.

4) Set aside blocks of the best seats for insane amounts of money, and donate the profits, or a percentage of the profits, to a charity. Someone wants to pay a scalper $10,000 for a front row seat to see the Stones? Beat them to it. Have some premium/select seats available. Maybe have that price include champagne and a lap dance from Mick Jagger. Rich people can still feel special that only they can afford these seats, and the money can go to a good cause, or at very least, can be split between the venue and the artist. But it cuts out the snake oil salesmen.

original post:
Ticketmaster, We Have a Problem

Related posts:
Ticketmaster, We Have a Problem, Update
Bruce Gets the Last Word
People in the Cheaper Seats, Clap Your Hands



Fleetwood. And Mac. And Nicks. And Buckingham.

A short review here.

We went to see Fleetwood Mac at the Garden last night. Missed Broadway's one minute of darkness for Natasha Richardson because that was when the show started, and we were already inside.

The concert was fantastic. (I almost said "awesome" but that word is so overused it's starting to develop the connotation "passable.") Stevie Nicks seemed to be avoiding all of her high notes (especially on "Dreams," which started the show), but still was in great voice and I wonder if she even really needed to do that. Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood continue to be the same musical maniacs they've always been. I could have done without the guy in the aisle leaning on me, and worse, breathing on me with his stale beer breath, as he tried to find his lost seat. He eventually went away. And let me just add here: "Yuck."

A few young women across the aisle from us became quite animated at the end of "Silver Springs," angrily pointing and gesturing while singing along- with the lyrics: "You'll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you." No, none of us women could relate to that.



When Technology Fails

I got a text message this morning from a friend of mine.

"Stoopid [sic] question. Do you have [my ex husband's] cell number?"

I called her back to tell her I couldn't find it, and she explained that the problem was she was heading over to pick up a few of her things that were still in the apartment, and the buzzer wasn't working. She was supposed to call him when she got there... except....

"Wait a minute," she said, "Did we have land line?"

"You don't remember if you had a land line? You were married.... you were living there... "

"Wait. I think he had a phone in his home office. Let me try this one."

Nope. Disconnected.

I was instructed to send him an email to tell him that she would be outside of his building at the designated time, and that he should either call her, or just let her in.

I got a call an hour later. He hadn't gotten the email (because, of course, he wasn't looking for it), so she had resorted to screaming his name from the street.

He buzzed her in. Problem solved.



People in the Cheaper Seats, Clap Your Hands

I thought this subject was done for me, but then I wound up having a discussion this morning with someone who got me thinking. He had asked me, and I paraphrase, because I don't remember exactly how he worded it, whether I thought that Springsteen should do what other acts do: charge more for his tickets, since people are going to resell them for more anyway. My response was that -- again, this is approximate -- I love the fact that Bruce keeps his prices down, and what, is music only for the rich?

I kept thinking about this throughout my day, and I realized it's more than that. Because scalping tickets is no longer against the law, at least in this state, scalpers can charge anything they want. If the only solution to ward off resale is to raise the tickets prices to "market value" (kinda like the outrageous and unreasonable rent prices we have here in New York, but that's another rant), that basically means the scalpers are determining what Bruce's ticket prices are going to be, NOT HIM.

It's a price war, only in reverse.

I think Bruce Springsteen might be able to fill a stadium with rich people. Thing is, maybe he doesn't want to.

Okay, I'm done now.

original post(s):
Ticketmaster, We Have a Problem
Ticketmaster, We Have a Problem Update
Bruce Gets the Last Word



A Timely Subject

This was created for a contest sponsored by AARP. People were asked to submit a video with the theme "U@50." This one came in second. I saw the one that won the grand prize, and I have to say, it looked like an ad for Celebrex (not a good thing) compared to this one.

(Watch it all the way through.)




This was almost too predictable. Didn't we ALL see this coming?

The only news item in recent years that I've found less surprising was when I heard that Paul McCartney and Heather Mills were splitting up.

But one this is a close second:

"Alaska Gov. Palin's daughter, fiance break up

By RACHEL D'ORO – 15 minutes ago

WASILLA, Alaska (AP) — Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin, the teenage daughter of Gov. Sarah Palin, have broken off their engagement, he said Wednesday, about 2 1/2 months after the couple had a baby...."

rest of the story is here.

Gee, who could have guessed THAT relationship would fail?




Finally over my bronchitis. I have been neglecting this blog, of course, because I was too busy coughing. Anyway, I had to post these videos, because they are so cool.

The dancing:

The singing:



More Props to Letterman

I have been woefully negligent of this blog these past two weeks... there's been an evil head cold going around New York, which lingers for weeks. Anyway, while I will be posting a proper entry this weekend, I just had to plug my friend Arthur Neilson's appearance on Letterman tonight.:

"Hey Everybody-
This Friday, Feb 20TH at 11:30 PM, I'm going to be on the "Late Show w/David Letterman".
I'll be performing with Shemekia Copeland. We will be playing the title track, "Never Going Back To Memphis" from her new CD "Never Going Back". Barbara Walters and comedian Mike Birbiglia are on the show as well. Take care. -Arthur"

That's the other great thing about Letterman: his choice of musical guests.

For the twelve or so of you that read this blog, you might remember a video I posted last year with Rosie Flores . Arthur was the guitarist playing with her. If you missed it, the link to that post is here:


(As soon as the Letterman clip is available, I will post it here.)



Bruce Gets the Last Word

I received this via Facebook, but I'm sure it was sent via other means. Just thought I'd post it to clear (some of) the air.

"A Letter to Our Fans
Wed Feb 4th 3:48pm

We know there was much confusion regarding Ticketmaster and TicketsNow during last Monday's on-sale dates. We were as confused as you were, as we were given no advance notice of the major changes in the Ticketmaster-TicketsNow world. (Bear in mind that we are not clients of any ticketing company, and that all those arrangements are between venues and ticketing companies.)

Last Monday, we were informed that Ticketmaster was redirecting your log-in requests for tickets at face value, to their secondary site TicketsNow, which specializes in up-selling tickets at above face value. They did this even when other seats remained available at face value. We condemn this practice.

We perceive this as a pure conflict of interest. Ticketmaster is there to ensure that we have a good, fair sale of our tickets at their face value plus normal ticketing charges. TicketsNow is supposed to be a secondary site where people who already have tickets may exchange, trade, and, unfortunately, speculate with them. We have asked this redirection from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow cease and desist immediately and Ticketmaster has agreed to do so in the future and has removed its unwanted material from their and our site.

We know the many cynical arguments some make in favor of the Ticketmaster system: There are rumors that some artists or managers participate in Ticketmaster charges--we do not. There are rumors that some artists or managers are receiving a percentage of the amount above face value at secondary outlets like TicketsNow--we do not. Some artists or managers may not perceive there to be a conflict between having the distributor of their tickets in effect "scalping" those same tickets through a secondary company like TicketsNow--we do.

While many of you have sent notes to us and your local promoters, you may also send accurate informational letters to Albert Lopez of Ticketmaster [Albert.Lopez@ticketmaster.com] and he will try to address your questions.

A final point for now: the one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing. Several newspapers are reporting on this story right now. If you, like us, oppose that idea, you should make it known to your representatives.

The abuse of our fans and our trust by Ticketmaster has made us as furious as it has made many of you. We will continue to do our utmost now and in the future to make sure that these practices are permanently curtailed on our tours.

Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and the entire Springsteen Tour Team"

original posts:
Ticketmaster, We Have a Problem
Ticketmaster, We Have a Problem Update

related post:
People in the Cheaper Seats, Clap Your Hands



Ticketmaster, We Have a Problem, Update

So I wasn't being paranoid:

Springsteen fans cry foul after Ticketmaster snub
Feb. 4, 2009, 10:10 AM EST

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- A New Jersey congressman is demanding an investigation after Bruce Springsteen fans were unable to buy tickets from Ticketmaster's Web site — which then promptly offered them more expensive tickets from a subsidiary. click here for full article from MSN music

Someone commented on this article and said "Ticketmaster sold 55,000 tickets for Springsteen in the first 5 minutes. Those people aren't complaining." That may very well be true, but my question is: Who exactly were they? How many of them were working for Tickets Now and StubHub? My complaint isn't that I didn't get tickets. My complaint is that mysteriously Ticketmasters' own subsidiary somehow had blocks of ticket for resale an hour after they went on sale. That to me is rather fishy.

Ticketmasters' comment was they didn't receive that many complaints. I was all over their website... where exactly do you complain about that? There probably is a customer service line or email address listed somewhere, but not anywhere obvious. Besides, most people, like myself, kind of figured the tickets were just selling out really fast; nothing you can do about that.

original post:
Ticketmaster, We Have a Problem

related posts:
Bruce Gets the Last Word
People in the Cheaper Seats, Clap Your Hands



One of the Many Reasons We Love David Letterman

It's interviews like this.

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich
on CBS' the Late Show, February 3, 2009



Ticketmaster, We Have a Problem

The day after the Super Bowl, the day after XXX million people watched the soon-to-be-60-year-old-yet-somehow -ageless Bruce Springsteen rock for 12 minutes at halftime, some intelligent person decided that it would be smart for tickets for several cities on the Bruce Springsteen tour to go on sale the next day. All at once.

If you weren't one of the people trying to buy tickets online, you can pretty much imagine what happened.

My experience was apparently shared by countless others who tried to purchase tickets online. I hit the "search for tickets" button at 9:01 am. The browser told me I had a 15-minute wait. And then, after 15 minutes, a screen came up, telling me that the ticketmaster service was down for technical repairs. I kept trying, and this was the message I kept getting, over and over. I tried different browsers, I tried different nights (in my case, both the Thursday and the Saturday May concerts at the Meadowlands, plus Nassau Coliseum), but the same message kept appearing. The website was working fine if you wanted to buy tickets for, say, The Dead. System was working fine for them.

And when I finally got a real message an hour later, it was to tell me that there were no tickets available.

Okay, so clearly the tickets sold out fast, there was a glitch in the software, the system couldn't handle the traffic, etc. etc. But what I found particularly disconcerting (ha! no pun intended) is right on the same page that was telling me there were no tickets available was an ad for "Tickets Now!", Ticketmaster's own ticket brokering site. And, imagine my surprise: they already had tickets to sell.

I had several other friends, in different parts of the country, having the exact same experience.

I was appalled last year to find out that the lazy assholes in Albany decided not to renew New York State's scalping -- I mean, resale ticketing -- laws. What, was that beneath you guys or something, or were you under that delusion that deregulating and letting the market just decide the price of everything is good for the average Joe? I could see maybe revisiting the law, I could see revising it, I could see making it less strict. But you guys just let it lapse. And now when an average person tries to buy tickets, the phone lines are down for an hour and yet somehow the ticket brokers already have have blocks of good seats -- whole sections, I am not making this up -- selling for 3 to ten times face value.

I know what some of you are thinking: "oh it's Springsteen, what do you expect?" I don't expect to be lucky enough to get front row seats, or even decent seats, or even any tickets at all every time. But I do expect to feel like I have a fighting chance. And I'm really mad that there is no law in this state that at least tries to curb the resale of tickets by cooperate scalpers. I mean, at least make them wait 24-hours before they mark them up 200%.

In the old days, pre-internet, to get tickets you camped out all night and waited your turn. If you were a huge fan, you didn't mind sleeping on the sidewalk or the ground for a couple of days. Then they started to get more "civilized." In the 80s the Rolling Stones had a tickets lottery, where you mailed in a request and you got a pass to buy a certain number of tickets, and the color of the pass determined what kind of seats you got. Springsteen used to have a similar thing, with armbands or something.

These days, a lot of performers charge insane amounts for their tickets. I guess they figure that people are wiling to pay $500 and more to see the show, why don't they just charge that, and thus deter the resale issue? It worked with the Rolling Stones. The best seats in Giant's Stadium and MSG were over $400. And there were still some of those tickets available close to the day of the show. Take that, scalpers. If you wanted to go to the one-day Cream reunion at MSG, the tickets were selling for something like $800+ a piece, without the scalpers. And then there was what I hope was just a rumor of the Police selling front row seats for something like $20,000. Sting better be in my lap, servicing me, for that price. Meanwhile Bruce, bless his heart, or whoever is responsible for this, keeps his tickets at around $70 to $100 or so. And it used to be, with the GA seats (the ones where you stand in a herd at the front of the stage and feel Bruce sweat on you), that you had to pick them up at the venue the night of the concert and then there was no reentry, but I don't know if they still do that.

Until they changed the law last year, I found that if I got online right at the minute the tickets went on sale, I almost always could get something. Not something all that good, but something. Other people had other techniques: calling an out-of-town Ticketmaster, for example. The laws certainly didn't stop scalping, but it did make it a little easier for civilians to see their favorite bands. Now it's a free-for-all. Last year Cheetah Girls tickets, face value $40, were being sold for over $300 a piece. Yes, little girls, you can only go see the concert if your parents are rich. (Of course, one could argue that not being able to see the Cheetah Girls in concert is really a blessing, but when a kid's 8, she isn't going to agree with you.)

I will no doubt see Bruce again. I might even be lucky enough to buy a ticket off someone who can't go in May. But Ticketmaster has been in business a long time -- and in business with Bruce a long time. I can't help thinking they deliberately had half the entire tour's tickets go on sale at the same minute so the system would get over loaded and frustrated people would go pay the resale prices. Yeah, that's very cynical of me, but the whole thing seemed rather fishy..

related posts:
Ticketmaster, We Have a Problem Update
Bruce Gets the Last Word
People in the Cheaper Seats, Clap Your Hands



And the Pendulum Swings

Crowd on the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets, watching President Obama's inaugural address outside of the Stock Exchange.

I can't help seeing a parallel between our new president and our hero of last week, Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger. The captain landed a plane that would most certainly have crashed and caused a terrible tragedy. He was exactly the right man for the job, and as luck would have it, he happened to be right where he was needed, at the moment he was needed.

Many of us feel our country is like that plane, in serous danger of a crash landing. Here's hoping that Barack Obama is indeed the right man for the job, as a lot of us think he truly is, and that he lands our plane heroically.

Note to Rush Limbaugh, who was quoted today saying he hopes President Obama fails: Shame on you. And you call yourself a patriot.



Hey Kids, We've Got Video!

Video footage of the US Airways Airbus landing on the Hudson.



"In the Unlikely Event of a Water Landing..."

...you will be rescued by Circle Line!

Plane Crashes into Hudson River
Trela Media/Associated Press
Published: 2009.01.15
A US Airways plane that took off from La Guardia Airport Thursday afternoon landed in the Hudson River, but all the passengers and crew appeared to be safe. more...


Burning Question

I thought sure that I would find the answer to this in either IMDb or Wikipedia, but to no avail.

I don't usually turn in to Letterman until Two and a Half Men is over, so I often miss his monologue and catch him just as he's about to do the top ten list. But every time I do see his show from the beginning, I see a curious thing:

Just before the announcer says, "Da-vid LETTERman!", Dave runs across the back of the stage, and then enters from stage left.

Why on earth doesn't he just enter from stage right?



A Blast From My Past

This is a clip from a show I produced at University Settlement in New York the weekend before 9/11. That was when I fancied myself a dancer and spent all my hard-earned cash producing shows that I could choreograph and dance in. After 9/11, there was no more money for that.

"Dog Ears" was an instrumental piece that was included in the show with the dances. (None of my dancing will ever be posted on the internet while I'm still alive, not if I can help it.) The musician and composer is my friend Gary Fieldman, who also composed something we did dance to. The instruments, by the way, are found objects.



A New York Moment

Uptown R train, Saturday afternoon. I had just left my friend D after some shopping at JnR. We got on the R, me uptown, him downtown. It wasn't too crowded, but then the first stop at Canal about 100 people boarded my car.

A man with a backpack, who at just boarded the train, took off his jeans, revealing a festive pair of Christmas boxers.

A lot of people on the train did not notice him. A lot of other people, like me, noticed him but did the New York thing of pretending not to notice him. I was expecting him to put on a different pair of jeans, or dress slacks, or something, but when he didn't, I couldn't help myself; I started to smile.

He exited the train at Prince Street and just stood there with a silly grin on his face.

"Must be a thing," I thought.

When I got out at 8th Street, there was a man wearing tight black briefs, a girl wearing a coat that just covered her butt with nothing covering her legs, and two other guys in boxers.

Definitely a thing.


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