Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jockeying for Position in the Circle of Jerks

While I am not sure what each and every sign of the Apocalypse is, I am fairly confident that I have stumbled across one of them. And I found it in what is always one of my favorite places to look: within the four walls of the Kingdom of Springsteen.

Full disclosure time. There is not an artist whose music I enjoy more, whose music has meant more to me and whose live performances I love any better than Bruce Springsteen. If you have subjected yourself to popping your head into this space at any time prior to four minutes ago, then you have read me talk about him here at length and all that his music has meant to me. It is not an understatement to say that this week I am enjoying one of my best, all-time weeks as a dad: having spent Saturday night with Suzanne @ Bruce's 3rd Giants Stadium show and preparing to spend Friday night with Rob @ Bruce's 5th and final Giants Stadium show. As you may or may not know, during these shows Springsteen and the E Street Band has played an album in its original sequence as part of a particular evening's set. The first Giants Stadium included a track-by-track trip through Born To Run, from the opening notes of Thunder Road straight through to the final notes of Jungleland. Night #2 was Darkness on the Edge of Town night. Night #3 saw Born in the USA receive full-album treatment. The two shows this week will see a replay of Nights #1 and #3.

I was not there for Night #1 so I do not know how many songs the band played on Opening Night. However, on Nights #2 and #3 - when I was in attendance - I watched them play upwards of thirty songs both nights. For those of you keeping score at home that meant on Night #2 the audience heard 20+ songs in addition to those on the featured album while on Night #3 we were treated to 18 songs or so above and beyond those on BITUSA. I would be hard-pressed to say that anyone in or about our area of the crowd either night felt short-changed or cheated by the decision to feature a particular album. I would go as far as to say that while I am not sure what the best antonym for "short-changed" or "cheated" might be, whatever it is it is in fact the word that best fits what I saw on the faces of those around us at Giants Stadium.

Nevertheless, because Springsteen's fan base is composed in large part of those who fancy themselves as true champions of discontent, there are those out there who have expressed their displeasure about the decision to turn a number of this autumn's shows into 'album' shows. Fortunately for these sad souls, an outlet exists for them to expel their bad karma throughout the universe: Backstreets is a fan-operated Springsteen web site that consistently provides excellent information on all things Springsteen-related. Among its features is "BTX", which apparently once upon a time was (as its name suggests) a place where Springsteen fans got together to buy and sell tickets from one another to and for various shows. Over the years - courtesy of the advent of the Internet - it has morphed into a place of "boards". People from all over the world get together to discuss any number of things. A lot of them are related to Springsteen. A lot of them are not. A lot of them are serious, substantial discussions. Candidly, a lot of them (including a lot of them that I have read with much enjoyment and amusement) are not.

As mentioned above, they do provide an outlet for those who wish to bitch and moan about everything Springsteen-related. This week, one of the trendy topics has been whether people who bought tickets for shows in late October and later, which tickets were sold prior to the announcement of the 'album show' concept at those shows, are entitled to have those tickets refunded.

The "issue" (using that term in the broadest definitional sense permitted by the Einstein Estate and all other champions of the concept of relativity) arose in the context of the fact that at a lot of the shows that are still to come on this tour, Springsteen and Ticketmaster sold "paperless" tickets, which tickets appear to be impossible to resell because the buyer has to appear at the venue on the date of the show to get them and to have with him/her at that time whatever credit card was used to purchase the seats. Apparently, among the "Faithful" there are a number of folks who think that the fact that the band announced in advance of certain shows - but after the tickets for that show were sold - that it would be playing a particular album as part of that night's set list had defrauded the public.

Think I am kidding? Think I am making it up? I understand. It seems as if it would be a particularly insane and inane way for actual adults to pass their time. But I assure you, it is true. Check out "Refunds" and get a good laugh for yourself.

I cannot wait for the day in my life when there is absolutely nothing else of significance confronting me - or confronting those who I love - so that I can clear my docket for just a single day in order to pursue such an important cause of action as this one. Actually, I lie. If my life ever disintegrates to the point where something this asinine becomes a tent pole issue for me, consider this an open invitation to one and all to feel free to enter my home as I sleep and smother me. One favor please, if I might? Grab my copy of Darkness on the Edge of Town out of my CD cabinet, slip it into the CD player and press "PLAY".

If I must go, at least let it be with a smile on.


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