Friday, February 3, 2012

Genuine Fans Scalped When Springsteen Tickets Go On Sale

If Bruce Springsteen fans held Occupy E Street (OES) demonstrations to protest Ticketmaster’s slipshod public ticket sales, they’d harmonize, like they do to songs during his shows, with the “Network” movie catchphrase, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”
For decades, fans have coped with the frustration that to make it to the promised land of tickets to Boss shows, similar to what OWS demonstrations have drawn attention to, it’s one percent against the rest of us. In the realm of concert tickets, the one percent is made up primarily of illegal scalpers and legit ticket brokers who seem to work hand-in-hand to stockpile as many prime seat-location tickets as possible, then resell them to the highest bidders.
After entering personal and payment information on the Ticketmaster site last Friday morning for five upcoming metropolitan area Springsteen concerts at three different arenas, most fans were greeted by a screen alert loop that there would be at least a 15 minute wait. Fifteen turned in 30 minutes, which dragged on to 45. Finally making it to the land of hope and tickets, after almost an hour, only scattered tickets remained. Nonetheless, brokers, like StubHub, which sell such tickets at two to three times the face value, managed to accumulate a generous amount and already listed them on their sites.
A Ticketmaster spokesperson subsequently issued a statement that claimed much of the traffic was from “highly suspicious sources,” implying that scalpers and brokers used top-notch computer programs to inundate the ticket seller’s system with the sole aim to secure tickets for a profit on the resale market.
Sounds logical, but this has become the norm during Springsteen ticket sales, as well as for some other acts, for a long time. Little has been accomplished or attempted by Ticketmaster or politicians to thwart the scalpers and the resulting irritating, dishonest manipulation.
By the way, Ticketmaster controls about 70 percent of the market for tickets in the U.S.
In New York State reselling tickets is legitimate, but there is a limit for the markup over the face value. As a result, brokers, who resell tickets to an event at Madison Square Garden, are not subject to local laws when the sale takes place outside of New York. Consequently, most local ticket brokers have offices in New Jersey and Connecticut. FYI, StubHub is based in San Francisco.
The more things change, the more they stay the same; especially when it comes to buying concert tickets. It used to be that one had to get to a box office several hours before it opened to secure a place in line and hope for the best when you finally reached the ticket window. Though the annoyance of standing in line on a cold winter’s night or damp spring day became a thing of the past when ticket sales became available only on the internet, it now seems like that was more reasonable. Nevertheless, back then it was presumed that scalpers hired people, for a pittance, to stand in line to gobble up lots of tickets that they resold near venues on the day of an event.
In spite of an outcry a few years ago from fans and a few politicians, including New York senior Senator Charles Schumer and New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell, who each introduced proposals that barely saw the light of day, when a similar predicament riled Springsteen fans trying to purchase tickets for his 2009 “Working on a Dream” tour, yet nothing was accomplished.
It remains to be seen if this latest snafu will result in an evenhanded plan the next time around, though that’s highly unlikely. Short of forcing primary buyers to pick up tickets with photo IDs at the box office the night of the performance, there really isn’t much that can be done to make the process fairer.
For now, however, I’m grateful that I’ll see the “Wrecking Ball” concerts this spring in two arenas as I managed to score tickets for a few friends and myself. I’m certain that soon after the lights go down and Bruce and the E Street Band take the stage, the ordeal of buying tickets will quickly fade away.

Monday, January 30, 2012

GOP Family Values Not As Pure As They Claim (January 27, 2012)

One definition of a newt: A small, slender-bodied amphibian with lungs and a well-developed tail, typically spending its adult life on land and returning to water to breed.
The political Newt we’ve come to love or hate  depending on which side of the political spectrum you follow  doesn’t need water to breed. But, from his own admission, we know he prefers engaging in extramarital trysts on dry land.
As a matter of fact, Gingrich admitted to engaging in an adulterous affair years after the Clinton impeachment proceedings, for which he was quite judgmental. 
Once again, the conservative wing of the Republican Party that pompously parades family values as its core philosophy ever since President Bill Clinton got caught with his pants down in the White House, chooses to ignore the moral dilemma of its current favorite son.
In some circles, marital transgressions are tolerable, but those who preach and promote family values, obviously turn the other cheek when they have a black sheep — or, in this case, a white knight — in the fold. Nor do they care that Gingrich was forced from Congress after he breached their ethics, also.
After a last minute surge before the recent South Carolina primary, it was clear that self-righteous, holier-than-thou conservatives preferred former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as the next president, rather than Mitt Romney, the more liberal ex-Massachusetts governor. And this, despite Gingrich’s philandering, can only mean that as long as a presidential candidate touts a few cherished conservative issues, violating marriage vows gets a free pass.
Fueled by fiery debate performances and assisted in part by his Southern roots, Gingrich’s double digit victory in the South Carolina primary catapulted him into the top tier of White House GOP hopefuls.
But Gingrich was visibly upset at the start of a debate before the SC primary when questioned about an ABC interview in which his second of three wives claimed he asked her to participate in an open marriage after she discovered he was cheating with a mistress, who is his current spouse, and wanted to prolong the affair.
Gingrich insisted he offered witnesses to counter to his ex-wife’s claim, yet told CNN that the other network’s claim that character witnesses weren’t offered was “just plain baloney.”
However, a Gingrich campaign spokesperson later admitted they only offered the speaker’s two daughters from his first marriage, who were both part of ABC's report.
Not only is he hypocritical, but while ranting at CNN debate host John King, he lied to defend his outrage; just like politicians often do when cornered.
When he saw his support fall in the wake of the South Carolina vote, Gingrich ignored the decline and said “polls are good, votes are better.”
And who can forget Gingrich’s “consultant” position with Freddie Mac for which he received over $1.5 million. For a while Gingrich claimed he was their “historian,” but with that large a payday, it sounds more like a lobbyist, as Romney has repeatedly noted.
As we’ve seen in his current quest for the Republican presidential nomination, we need to keep a sharp eye on what he does — or has done  not what he says. After all he strongly endorsed the unfair Defense of Marriage Act and we know too well his resume on that matter.
But what else can we expect from a man who has failed to live up to the principles he parades and his party regularly and eagerly advocates?
Above all, let’s not forget that hypocrisy in politics has no boundaries. Double standards, unlike political debates and issues, are bipartisan. However, it sometimes seems that those who demonize the most often and the loudest tend to be the most hypocritical.
In politics, the Biblical quote, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone…” should always be on the mind of those who point fingers. After all, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
While few believe politicians are squeaky clean  who of us is  some might argue that over the last three presidential elections GOP merely stands for “Grand Ol’ Phonies,” after a handful of Republican politicians have been involved in sex or other scandals.
Incidentally, at the outset of the 2008 race, all but one of the current GOP presidential contenders admitted to or was linked to extramarital trysts or divorce. Not exactly conventional family values. Despite the South Carolina outcome, it was, for the most part, just another chapter in the escalating tome of hypocritical politicians who publicly express what they believe constituents want to hear, yet privately follow a different drummer. Yet, intolerant conservatives blindly support them as they clearly pay no heed to the biblical proverb; do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
The political party that preaches morality in red states, ‘til it’s blue in the face, is again flush with double standards as another skeleton emerges from the closet of hypocrisy.