XXI. "Scalpers Sell Fake Tickets!"
Setting: Outside Irving Plaza concert hall, Irving Place, New York City. On the sidewalk, standing next to a girl reading an Elvis Costello biography, waiting in line. I'm standing just down the street from Pete's Tavern and Gramercy Park. Dusk.
Time: …for an aspirin. 12 pints deep after a happy hour at Pete's. About 7 PM.
Reason for being in said place and time: Ryan Adams and the Cardinals are headlining a Hurricane Katrina benefit. Tickets have sold out. There is a line of people in interesting t-shirts. (The Band, Elvis Costello, The Smiths, Dan Quayle). Other bands on the bill include Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Debbie Harry, Joseph Arthur, Jesse Malin. (Yes, Blondie is playing.) I need to buy a ticket.
Face Value for Tickets: About 35 dollars, plus or minus whatever the service charge would have been.
Accessories to the evening: Khakis and a navy-blue cotton shirt. Beer stain (embarrassing) near crotch of khakis. Red converse high-tops peeling at the sole. Black glasses. Unwashed hair, faint scent of Old Spice deodorant coming off green Notre Dame football t-shirt. Self-loathing ego. Book of Kenneth Rexroth's Japanese poetry translations, absurdly beautiful yet so short. (Like some gymnasts?)
Happenings: To follow in short verse form.
- I am a wasted youth, wasted with a longing for admission
- Last time I saw Ryan Adams and the Cardinals I was in Tennessee and it was like hearing the national anthem play after winning a bronze medal in an event you never trained for — it was odd, surprising, spectacular and huge
- Perhaps I have simply wasted myself with concerts, with music — it's an addiction, a craving to be satiated. I pass records for sale out of cardboard boxes and I halt like a junkie — Something, maybe there is something!
- I walk down the line. The last, no the first, no, the second to the last person in line is a girl in a yellow sweater, standing alone
- The girl in yellow sweater looks up, and, with an accent: "No. I have no ticket."
- Thwarted; no junk. I think we are all crazy criers for no reason
- There is something silent, far away from me, and I am afraid of it.
- "You need a ticket?" someone says, closer.
- "I need a ticket." I turn around and face the voice. It speaks.
- "I am a tall man in a black t-shirt with dark circles under shifting eyes. Buy a ticket from me. I am asking 70 dollars."
- I answer: "I am a person not interested in paying more than face value to a person with shifting eyes who is afraid to show me the tickets in front of the venue box office."
- I continue: "Do they know you here? Do they put up that sign because of you?"
- ("I am a sign above the box office. I say, 'Scalpers Sell Fake Tickets.' Please, please, believe me")
- I do not want to buy tickets from this man.
- "I am this man's ticket price. I drop from 70 dollars to 40 dollars in a matter of two minutes. I indicate shadiness. Move on, stranger. Move on."
- I tell the man Good Day, and I move on.
- The girl in the yellow sweater goes inside to the concert. She looks like a woman I love, who is not here. I'm not sure where she is. I sit down on the curb and lean against a lamp post.
- "I am a comfortable lamp post," the lamp post says, and I agree.
- I read out of the Kenneth Rexroth book. It was blurry, and I realized I was tired and should go home.
- "But I want to go to a concert! I want to see Ryan Adams! I want to go to this concert!"
- I…I think…I think I've realized something…
- I've been to a lot of concerts. Too many concerts. My Self-Loathing, loud and obnoxious, speaks out:
"You know as well as I do, my fat and ugly friend, that Ryan Adams and the Cardinals will not be onstage until 1 in the morning, and at that point you will be tired and think to yourself, 'I have seen them so many times; do I really want to be here?' And you will say, 'No, asshole. Go home and read. Be smarter. Take your vitamins. You are fat and ugly and unhealthy."
- Why, oh why, couldn't the girl in the yellow sweater have said this to me? I would have had someone real to talk to…