LIE, CHEAT, STEAL: THE TICKETMASTER STORY

Ticket-LiarsOriginally Written for TheBlot Magazine July 21,2014.

When I was growing up and wanted to see a concert, it would, at times, be nearly impossible due to an infestation of ticket scalpers who would have their hands in ticket draws, making ticket prices unobtainable by the young. As time went on, laws governing ticket sales tightened, and although scalpers will never be completely gone, seeing shows had become less of a challenge.

As time went on, however, the greed once associated with the scalpers were adopted by an already overfed pig of corporate epitome: Ticketmaster.

Living in New York, one of the world’s biggest and most culturally aware cities, it has been a while since I had to deal with Ticketmaster, my second least-favorite company in the world. It proves far easier, and WAY cheaper to cut out the cancerous middleman and go directly to the venue to get the tickets for the event I’m interested in. Our public transportation system here makes it pretty easy, but every once in a while, getting to the venue it is just not possible.

That was the case when I was looking for the perfect Christmas gift for that someone special in my life almost a year ago, and what is better than the gift of music, especially for a music lover? Her favorite artist, Nick Cave, had announced a midsummer concert at Prospect Park in Brooklyn and having started a new job, I had no choice but to use Ticketmaster. I say this in the most negative tone possible since I had a previous horrible experience with Ticketmaster just a few weeks prior.

After logging onto the Ticketmaster site at exactly 10 a.m. EST when tickets for the show went on sale, I was offered a few options to choose from. Again, this was a Christmas present for a literal super fan, so, finally being at an established point in my life, I went for the VIP package, which included two VIP seats, two VIP lanyards and two limited-edition signed posters. Aside from making my gal super happy, I personally felt like I made it to a point where I could break free from those days as a kid and actually afford those awesome seats I always longed for.

Months went by, and the closer we got to our July 26 concert date, the more the excitement grew, but there was a little concern about our VIP swag. It wasn’t until the week of the show that our posters and, even more importantly, VIP passes finally came. After eight months, we were finally ready!

We got to the park on the day of the show with our tickets in hand and VIP passes proudly displayed around our necks. The way the Prospect Park is set up, upon entering you are pretty easily guided through the lines to get in. We checked out the merch stand and made our way to the gated area close to the stage where the seating was. It looked like this would be one hell of a night! We waited for a few people to shuffle in before we made our way up to the guard. “Can I help you?” She asked. We showed her our VIP passes and asked where we should go for our seating … and that is when the bottom started to fall out.

The guard had no idea what our passes meant and asked us to inquire about a special wristband from a help tent, which wasn’t too far from where we were standing. So we made our way over to the tent where we showed our tickets and badges — and were again met with very confused looks. No one had seen or knew what our passes even meant. After explaining our situation to three different people, we were escorted out of the concert area to a small VIP check-in tent by the box office.

“This must be the right place,” we thought. We had VIP tickets, and we were standing at the VIP tent. We once again explained our situation — third time’s a charm, right? — and were told our VIP passes weren’t worth anything. As far as the reserved seating that was sold to us as part of our $199 fee (each), no one knew anything about it. We talked to the person in charge of the VIP tent, and he said all seats for the show were now general admission, excluding the seated area, of course.

So now the special gift was reduced to a poster, a worthless trinket for $150 more than what everyone else paid and not to mention two wet asses from sitting on damp grass for the show my girlfriend waited nearly a year to see. How is this even possible?

Having spoken to Ticketmaster in the past, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that its position is to deflect any blame from itself and immediately blame the venues it represents. But if I am paying Ticketmaster for a service, as I am sure many people do, shouldn’t it accept some of the responsibility? It is typical corporate entitlement to which so many of us are held hostage to. When does this blatant disrespect for the people who use its apparently ineffective, broken system end? As soon as we — the people who control its cash flow and existence — decide we have had enough. Between preferred ticket sales, which have a way of keeping fans from seeing their favorite artists, scalper-esque ticket price additions and now blatant theft, which they will most likely not accept responsibility for, I have personally met my limit.

From here on out, if I cannot pick my tickets up from a venue hosting a show I want to see to avoid any interaction with Ticketmaster, I will not attend the event. The service is a textbook case of corporate greed and lack of accountability, and although my money will be of little loss to the company in the grand scheme of things, I hope that my story lets those of you who have had similar mishaps with Ticketmaster find some comfort in knowing you are not alone.

In fact, I’d love to hear some of your stories if you would like to share them in the comments below. I am not ready to give up this fight yet. Everyone must be held accountable for their actions — even corporations such as Ticketmaster.

ANTHONY CUMIA: A SAVAGE ANIMAL OR A PREJUDGED WHITE MAN?

Blot_3-22_CoumiaOriginally Written for TheBlot Magazine July 8,2014.

We are all racists to some point, but we are at a crossroads in modern-day society where social sensitivity has blurred the actual meaning of the word. Racism is now a blanket statement to describe almost anything done by someone who does not look like us that we don’t agree with. The latest example of this happened last week when Anthony Cumia of the “Opie and Anthony” radio show on Sirius XM was fired from his job at the same channel that bears his name for comments made on his personal time. Were the comments of hate directed toward a specific group of individuals that were not of the same race as Mr. Cumia? Unquestionably yes, but does that make him a racist? Not necessarily.

The alleged incident happened early Wednesday morning when Mr. Cumia claimed he was taking pictures of Times Square here in New York City and captured an image of a woman walking down the street. As anyone who uses social media knows, taking pictures of random people, whether it be by mistake or not, is not meant in any way to be a hateful act. Photography is a form of artistic expression, and thanks to today’s technology, many of us do it. Regardless of whether the woman in question was the focus of the image or not, what happened next was where the true act of intolerance took place and started the events that would end the career of an employee of an uncensored pay-to-listen radio program.

According to Mr. Cumia who took the event to Twitter after it occurred, the woman immediately made it known that she was not happy about her photo being captured, first by verbally assaulting Mr. Cumia, followed by a physical assault. At some point during the altercation, a group of men came to the woman’s aid, which helped in quickly escalating the event. Although the dreaded N-word was not actually mentioned in any of Anthony’s Twitter rants, he did unleash a series of racial slang, along with the woman’s image, leaving no doubt to the race of the alleged victim, which has become the fuel of this issue, and which led to the removal of Anthony from his 20-plus year on-air career.

The event is a familiar phenomenon where employers are digging into personal matters and passing professional-altering judgment, but is it fair? In essence, Sirius XM is paying for Mr. Cumia’s opinions on a daily basis, a profession that has made both parties a lot of money over the years, so why has this become a problem now? The simple answer is perception. Sirius does not want to be perceived as a racist-supporting company, and in an effort to solidify that idea, they themselves prejudged Anthony Cumia before hearing all of the facts.

In essence, Anthony Cumia did not attack an entire race; he attacked a small group of people who allegedly attacked him first. Yet, there is no shortage of people on standby just waiting to immediately take up a cause they were no part of and know little about. Calling someone a “cunt,” “pig,” “animal” or “savage” is not racist and shouldn’t be treated as such. However, what can be considered racist is skewing a half-told story to meet personal agendas based on the color of the original two parties’ skin. The fact that a person was called out for not acting civilized has nothing to do with their race.

My personal opinions are based not only on my support for the show, but also for my belief in free speech — for everyone. Through most of my school career, I was bullied because of my color on a daily basis, to the point where I was hospitalized on more occasions than I care to count.

Yes, America, reverse racism is a thing, but I did not blame an entire race of people for what a few did. I blame those who attacked me, not their parents, other members of their race or anyone else — just them. When I was in my senior year of college, I was robbed at knifepoint. The feeling of helplessness following and event like that is beyond description, and the ability to stay calm while being fueled by a mixture of adrenaline and fear, is almost impossible. I found the nearest police officer and said, “Some nigger just robbed me!” The cop told me to slow down and tell him what happened. I explained my story with as much detail as possible and was told by the officer that he would file a report, but the chances of catching this guy wasn’t likely. He than went on to say, “I hate niggers, too, but I wouldn’t recommend yelling that word out. It ignites cause for people just looking for a reason to start trouble out here.” Before I even continue with the lesson I learned that night, it is probably important to mention that the officer I am referring to was black.

We, along with the help of the media, have created an index of hate which has gotten so out of control that some words are not only (arguably) banned, but can now be seen as just cause to attack another person personally, professionally, physically and mentally. Our quest for political correctness has now had more negative impact than some of the actions it was created to protect against. We are all provocateurs sacrificing our beliefs to help expand the definition of what racism is in our country today. A comment that was directed to anyone who associated the words “savage,” “animal,” “pig” and “cunt” with a black woman when they heard the story are the ones who are racist. The color of the woman’s skin means nothing if she acted the way Mr. Cumia described. She could be considered all of those things, but that is for the people involved in the situation to decide.

For those of you who know Anthony Cumia from his radio career, you will agree that he is not a saint. Depending on his mood when hitting the air, no one is a soft target. His mouth has gotten him in trouble in the past, as it is all part of being a “shock jock.” It is his opinions that people pay to hear, and those people span all races. So is it justifiable to fire someone over words that didn’t even take place at his job, especially considering that Sirius has paid him to say worse in the past? No, it is not — it is just another case of how quick people are to disassociate themselves with any political incorrectness regardless of the back story which does tend to skew more in the direction of once minorities.

You heard the story about the black woman who was called a bunch of names, which was turned in to a racial argument leading to the end of a person’s career, but did you hear the one about the white man who was physically and verbally assaulted by a black woman who walked away consequence-free? Chances are, you haven’t and never will, at least in regard to this situation. Equality means on all plains, not just the ones that make a better headline — and until we learn the difference between actual racism and the exploitation of a situation, there will continue to be unease for everyone.

My Latest Writings Samples For My Blog, Will Be Coming From TheBlot.Com!

BlotLogoIt literally feels as if I’m in a blender these days with work, freelance and you know, regular life stuff. I guess the one thing you cannot prepare for, is how fast the days go the older you get. As busy as I have been though, the writing I have been doing has not stopped, it has however shifted in direction a little though. These days I feel as if I am hitting a creative stride, out side of my usual comfort zone thanks to TheBlot.com.

TheBlot is an Arts and Entertainment blog that has given me voice in areas I have not had one previously. This does not mean that I will be giving up on writing about advertising, marketing and design, but rather I will be adding both entertainment and social issues to my body of work as well. In fact, I have already started and now that I am a little ahead of the curve, I can start sharing some of those stories on my blog as well. Finally, an update on my own site!

So, as I continue to write for this new outlet, the stories will eventually show up here on my blog, under the above menu item cleverly named “TheBlot.” As for what to expect there? Well to date there is a variety of articles covering topics such as racism to book banning and a whole lot in between. I have been VERY fortunate to have the viewership I’ve had to this point on these most recent stories, and felt it was only right to share them with the people who have been following me through my personal blog. Thank you to all of those who take the time to read my ranting’s, you are all greatly appreciated and are the motivation that keeps me going, even when things get insane!

365 Day Project: Week 13

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365 Day Project: Week 11

365 Day Project: Week 10

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