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I Spent A Million Dollars On Concert Tickets, Maybe More...

My friend texted me today to tell me she was suffering from "post-vacation depression". She'd been on her first trip with her new boyfriend and apparently it went so well that settling back into her normal life has been a complete let down. I immediately have flashbacks of the scenes in Almodovar's "Broken Embraces" where they are hiding out in the motel.

I started to think about how I've kind of been suffering "post-vacation depression" for most of my life. Out of boredom I started attacking the big box of unsorted ticket stubs the other day and it's forced me to look back in a way that I always avoid because it's quite uncomfortable.

My ticket stubs from 1992-2000 are carefully bound in a notebook, but then after that I began dating my ex-wife and they just turned into stacks of ticket stubs bound with a rubber band. Those stacks turned into ziploc bags, the ziploc bags into a box, that box into a larger box, and so on.

None of these include stuff like all the shows where you just get a hand stamp, a lot of ticketfast that got lost, will-call only stuff, paperless tickets, etc.

For example I know that I was in the front row center at Def Leppard's Irving Plaza show on 7/29/2002 but I was on the guest list and the venue just gave you a generic movie ticket kind of ticket, so there's no concrete proof of it in this pile. 

I know that Steve Propas walked me backstage at the Dave Matthews Central Park concert and slapped a sticker on me, and I had that sticker on my office wall for a long time, but it's gone now.

My point is that this pile isn't the whole story but it's a lot of the story.

I sent the photo to my friend and she replied "That's crazy."

She's not entirely wrong.

As an adult I think of things like "I could have bought a house with the money I spent on tickets" but there's so much more to it. 

Think of all the things you take for granted that you did in your twenties (or thirties) like go to your friend's birthday parties, weddings, graduations, weekend trips to wherever, stuff you did with your coworkers after work (or at work), the car you bought, the house you bought, the move you made for the new job, the baby you had, the dates you went on and all the people you went on them with.

I had pretty much none of that stuff. 

I had all kinds of other stuff. The kinds of stuff that leave you with a strong case of "post-vacation depression" most of the time because normal people's normal is just not your normal. I remember that interview with Paul Williams where he talked about needing to be famous enough that strangers on the street knew who he was and wanted to talk to him. That's sort of my kind of normal. Only I never got to be that kind of famous. I got to be the person on the street that could engage Paul Williams in conversation because I understood exactly what he was talking about and could keep him interested in my response. Which in itself is a weird kind of weird to be stuck in. 

Recently I was at a bar alone with a few semi-famous people who I did not know. A band was playing. We were all watching the band intently to figure out how they were accomplishing what they were accomplishing. Unprompted and speaking to no one in particular, I subconsciously blurted out how they were doing the trick. Everyone around me heard me, looked at me, realized I was right, acknowledged I was right, and then went back to talking to each other (and ignoring me). I have no doubt they all went home and tried to duplicate what the band was doing now that they knew how it was done. 

This is a scenario that has played out countless times throughout my life. 

I was very moved by the film "Off The Rails" about Darius McCollum who knew more about the MTA than the people running it. I related to certain things about his personality. I would never break into a box office and pretend to be working there or anything crazy like that, but the way that they wouldn't even let him volunteer at the MTA museum was heartbreaking. TicketMaster was like that for me. I interviewed a few times over the course of several years. Once they even told me I was hired and then never called me back (which I later learned was normal for them). 

I interviewed with their competitor AXS a few years ago (and had good internal recommendations)  but it was the same as with the MTA guy, if you know too much they never want to hire you. I was always going to be forced into making a way for myself somehow. 

Do you know at one point I spent almost a year going to a career coach just to try and ace a TicketMaster interview? That was the one that I "passed" (even though they failed to actually hire me), and afterward she told me "some people just don't fit in corporate culture". 

That was really the final push that let me be OK with just being myself. 

Anyway back to these ticket stubs..

So this is basically the diary of the last 19 years of my life. The closest thing I've kept to a journal. I began shooting a YouTube video about it but of course there was some problem and the camera shut off ten minutes in. I will figure it out and try again. 

I want to share what I've learned from going to all these shows. 

It's a strange thing, most people go to concerts to get intoxicated and/or socialize. I almost never do. This has been a big part of my arts education. I go to study and learn. I remember a few years ago sitting in the back row of a theater that (again, for free) I'd helped design (and the NY Times gave nice compliments to my design elements without ever getting a hint of credit). The promoter comped me tickets from time to time in exchange for those ideas and he saw me in the back row of the theater. "What are you doing back here? I gave you a good seat," he asked. He saw my hand full of index cards taking notes. He rolled his eyes and laughed. 

I've faced the fact that the world won't accept me as a new musical artist at my age. I'd like to find a way to channel what I've learned into something viable. I still want to write songs and play shows, but I have to face the reality that it will never be anything more than a really expensive hobby. 

I don't know how or if or why or when I will ever make a living from being creative. It's a burden that weighs on me every minute of every day. As I've said before I know the format states that I should be doing stand up comedy, but if you saw stand up comedy the way I see it, well it just looks like sad people sitting in prison to me.

I'm 42. I'm overweight. I'm in debt. I'm single. I've been living like this for a really long time. I'm done. 

My story is complicated and weird, I don't even really understand it myself, but these scraps of paper are the guide map that hopefully will lead me to understand everything that I've been through so far and that will propel me to wherever it is I'm going next.

This is what nineteen years of my life looks like. Yours probably has a door frame and some windows.


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