Editor’s note: The following is a guest post from tech video producer Jason Sanchez, who sends us rockin’ ideas for the Tumblr all the time. This is the second time we’ve convinced him to write something up (both times about Radiohead).
Like the rest of New York City, this morning I was all ready to buy Radiohead tickets for a Roseland Ballroom show later this week. The tickets were slated to go on sale at 10am on Ticketmaster for $79.75 ($65 for the ticket + an especially ludicrous $14.75 in fees).
Now, readers, tell me what’s wrong with this picture. Here is a (blurry) screenshot I took of TicketsNow, the ticket resale site owned and operated by Ticketmaster — and please note the time.
Yep. At 9:55, five minutes before tickets went on sale, TicketNow’s resale tickets had ballooned to $621 at the cheapest.
At 10am on the dot I tried to buy tickets, but like many New Yorkers I wasn’t able to snag them. Going into this I knew that my chances were slim, even though I was on Ticketmaster’s site as they “officially” went on sale. But knowing they were jacked up by hundreds of dollars on TicketNow before they even went on sale is the worst part of this whole thing.
With outrageous service chargers for terrible service, Ticketmaster has long been regarded as one of the worst companies in America. Funneling tickets early into TicketsNow is just the icing on that $@#! cake.
If it happens in the streets, it’s called scalping. If it happens online, it’s just TicketsNow’s business model. -Jason
Steve Unwin, Senior Member Services Associate, Lot18
This week’s sports frenzy presents an issue for me, as I believe the closest I’ve ever been to a tailgate party involved a bad parking spot, mistaken identity, and a pack of Johnsonville Brats. It wasn’t pleasant for anybody involved. As such, I figured I would take this opportunity to digress from my normal shtick and pursue one of life’s greatest questions. One that has haunted the dream of scholars and poets alike: If a sport were a grape variety, which one would it be?
Football – Nebbiolo: Nebbiolo can be extremely harsh and aggressive. It’s acidic, tannic, angry and probably abuses horse hormones. Moreover, it takes longer to harvest, spends more time in oak, and needs more time in the bottles than a lot of other grapes. Anybody who has had to sit through four hours of commercials interrupted by brief bursts of football can tell you a lot about patience like that.
Soccer – Cabernet Sauvignon: It is everywhere. It’s been in Europe for millennia, it’s huge in South America, South Africa, and Australia, and has been embraced by a large and vocal community here in the US. If aliens were to come to earth and ask what our planetary sport is, we would have to say soccer. If they ask what our red wine is, it’s clearly Cab. It can be stunningly balanced and nuanced one moment; it can headbutt you in the chest the next.
Baseball – Zinfandel: Zinfandel made its way over to America in the mid 1850s, just around the same time baseball experienced a meteoric rise to prominence as the sport of the nation. It can be spicy, it can be over the top, and sometimes it can be accused of being a tad bit laborious. But just as baseball holds ancient roots in French games like la balle au baton, Zinfandel can trace its heritage back to the dawn of winemaking in Croatia.
Golf – Pinot Grigio: Big with retirees. It bores me to tears. You’ve no idea how hard I tried to work a Tiger Woods joke in here, but I can’t come up with anything. Ten bucks of Lot18 credit for whoever comes up with the best one in the comments.
Tennis – Chardonnay: A real crowd pleaser around the globe. Some of us find it skull-smashingly boring; some of us find it rapturously complex and dynamic. No matter which side you fall on, there is no doubt that Chardonnay isn’t going anywhere. Neither is tennis.
Olympic Swimming – Merlot: It is easy to dismiss for some, but anybody who has enjoyed Right Bank Bordeaux knows that this grape can be muscular, graceful, and downright sexy. Watch underwater footage of someone doing the backstroke, or look at Michael Phelps’ iconic screaming photo at and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what grace and power look like. It is also rumored that Paul Giamatti hates swimming.
Basketball – Sauvignon Blanc: Zingy, dynamic, and exciting, what this pair lacks in geographical proximity they make up for in pure volatility. At their best, they exemplify high energy, fast-paced coordination. At their worst they throw chairs and give you heartburn.
So there you have it. Mystery solved. With this new found information we can fed the hungry, cure the sick, and my editor will stop throwing bottle caps at the back of my head. The more observant among you will notice that I’ve left out some pretty important grapes. What sport do you think best suits Pinot? Riesling? What grape goes with curling? The people demand answers.
This fall marks Pearl Jam’s 20th birthday, a moment celebrated with the release of a Cameron Crowe documentary, soundtrack, book, a weekend festival, and a Canadian tour. I’m going to Toronto with Petra tomorrow to catch two shows, my 48th and 49th, not counting the times I’ve seen Eddie solo. Thanks to the PJ Stats iPhone app I can say I’ve seen 1,363 performances of 134 PJ songs and 50 covers. Even Flow was played at 43 of those 47 shows. Unfortunately I’ve only heard Hold On one time. I’ve seen Untitled 3 times, and it would please Petra a great deal if we get one this weekend. I’ve dragged her to a dozen of these things and she either really enjoys them or is as great an actor as she is a wife.
If Pearl Jam were a stock, I’d be rich. I bought it close to IPO and held on even after everyone sold. (the metaphor doesn’t really work but I’m going to leave it in here anyway). I heard Daughter and Jeremy on Z-100 in the early 90s and have basically been a die-hard fan ever since; ironically, those songs are big downers at shows, none of the die-hards want to hear radio-hit-sing-alongs. From a technical perspective, I am drawn to Eddie Vedder’s melodies and the guitar sound beneath those melodies. Pearl Jam are skilled lyricists as well but that particular talent is secondary to the music for me. I enjoyed all the 90s Seattle bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots, but Pearl Jam has always been in its own category. For almost 20 years and likely for the rest of my life, they are my one and only favorite band.
I remember the afternoon my friend Billy Tillman came over and let me dub to cassette tape his copies of Ten and Vs (and STP’s Core). Then, in the summer of 1994 my camp counselors had full Pearl Jam shows on CD purchased at bootleg shops in the west village. I still talk to those counselors, Dan and Shai, though I have eclipsed them in obsession. I remember listening to Pearl Jam in Atlanta (April 3rd, 1994 — I don’t have to look up famous Pearl Jam dates… I just KNOW them, all the die-hards do) on my clock radio on Z-100. A few months later these older dudes had them on CD. This was before consumer-grade CDRs and it blew my mind. On visiting day my parents brought me some blank tapes so I could copy those too.
In 1995 I remember going to the Sam Goody the day Vitalogy came out. Same for Merkinball, No Code and Yield. After that I think I did pre-ordered from Pearl Jam directly. They were one of the first bands to sell records directly to their fans rather than going through record stores where CDs retailed for $17.99 plus tax in the mid 90s.
I didn’t get to see Pearl Jam live until 1996, the beginning of the 9th grade. Best $27.50 I’ve ever spent. I was supposed to go see them with my friend JM (I’m not going to use his full name because I don’t want to embarrass him… I don’t think he even likes PJ anymore… sad) but his parents didn’t let him go at the last minute so my cool-Dad took me. That show at Randall’s Island, September 29th, 1996, was among the longest shows they’ve ever played… at that point it was the longest. It was also the first time I smelled pot. Thanks cool-Dad for pointing out the smell.
There were two particularly memorable moments. One was Eddie stopping the show mid-song (Animal, around the 2:00 mark) when the mosh pit got too heavy. He calmly told everyone to calm down. A few songs later he stopped the show again and asked if we had all escaped from looney-bin next door (The Manhattan Psychiatric Center on Ward’s Island, next door). The 14 year old me, very much not in the mosh pit, thought that was extremely funny. I still do.
The other was a little speech Eddie made during the interlude to Porch (around the :30 mark):
If you trust me at all, if you listen to me at all, which you certainly don’t have to, speaking from experience I can tell you that things change. You can believe me, you don’t have to, they probably won’t change unless you make them. The best way to change something that’s around you, something you don’t like, is to change yourself. I don’t think you want other people changing you, I think the only person you want changing you is yourself. So if you ain’t happy, if you’re reading magazines about Generation X-ers and thinking “yeah I’m one of them” well fuck that. Don’t let anybody tell you who you are. Oh no. No one can tell me who I am. I could tell you who I am but that would be a long story. I could tell you who I am and it wouldn’t fit in a Rolling Stone, it wouldn’t fit in a video, it wouldn’t fit, it’s my life. It’s your life. You’re the only one who knows who you are. I hope you know who you are. If you don’t know who you are figure it out, cause you are somebody. And I’m probably stating the obvious but I just thought I’d do it anyway. So if you feel like you’ve got a piece of duct tape on your mouth, if you feel like you can’t speak, take it off! Speak up! Speak your mind! Shout it out! Let ‘em hear ya! Shout out!
It’s a little bit rockstar-dribble, but the message is clear. Eddie Vedder actually cares. And this point has been demonstrated time and time again over the years, in everything they do. Every show is completely different. Very few bands do that. Fan club members get priority seating for a very modest fan club membership fee (it was $5 for a while, it eventually went to $10, i think it’s $20 now, compared with bands like the Rolling Stones that are several hundred). So whenever I go, the fact that I’ve been invested in this band since the 90s gets me in the first 20 rows.
(The fanclub also sends out a free “christmas single” ever year to the fan club on 45 RPM vinyl. I have every single one including the 1991 “Let Me Sleep” of which only 2000 copies exist. The full set of singles, which I own, could likely net thousands of dollars on eBay. I wouldn’t sell them for a million dollars.)
They release every show on CD, sell them at modest prices, and encourage fans to copy them for one-another. They encourage piracy of their own music. Some bands sue their fans when they do that. (Metallica comes to mind)
They champion important causes. They took Ticketmaster to the Justice Department to fight their monopolistic business practice of nailing fans with exorbitant handling fees. They defended the West Memphis Three when no one else did. They rally against the GOP even though they know it loses them fans. They preach love. Eddie Vedder and John Lennon are the only people in this world who have ever bothered to let me know that Love is all you need. And it’s not just hyperbole.
I am a Pearl Jam super-fan and I’m not afraid to admit it. Cheers to Pearl Jam on their first 20 years. You’ve never looked or sounded better and I’m going to bring my kids to see you someday!