Monday, December 29, 2008

An Ever Growing Epidemic.

We all suffer from some sort of regret... all the what ifs, the could've beens... it's the grief we experience when we didn't do something we realize too late that we SHOULD have done. I try to keep all forms of grief to a bare minimum... but every now and then something goes amiss and it happens...

I suffer from Non-Attendant Concert Remorse (NACR). The symptoms vary, but the most common are, Nausea. Depression. Lack of Sleep. Bankruptcy. Carpel Tunnel.

It's a terrible affliction, one I would only wish on those who deeply annoy me. What are the causes and symptom's to this disease?

Well... there are several common factors...

Perhaps the most common cause of Non-Attendant Concert Remorse is being in Financial Dire Straits. All too often, the best and most memorable concerts of the year seem to be reserved for the obscenely rich. It's a travesty. If you want to see the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, or Paul McCartney you will not only have to save for a few years... but may also have to sell a few organs- or at the very least reserve your first born for auction- and that's just for DECENT seats. God only knows how many bodily fluids, parts, and deblooms would have to be thrown at Ticketmaster for the best seats in the house! The newest element added to absurd concert pricing is the "Final Tour" or the (ever growing in popularity) "One Time Only Reunion Tour". Go ahead- threaten us avid fans with the idea that we may miss our ONLY chance to ever see you and your bandmates! Then- once we're good and scared- PLEASE bend us over the nearest barrel and royally fuck us in our wallet's ass!

Money money moeny money. That's the first and MAIN cause to Non-Attendant Concert Remorse.

As much as I know money is the real issue, it's not the one I am most bothered by. The most IRRITATING cause of NACR for me, is the dreaded PRESALE. What sadistic son of a bitch in the seventh circle of ticketmaster came up with this one??? Missing out on a presale is like being in grade school all over again. You're not part of the "in" crowd-you never were- who cares if you have this particular band's every import and bside? You're not a big enough fan to get THIS access code- sorry, by the time these tickets go public-only the shitty nosebleeds are left for you. Meanwhile... a fair share of those "presale" assholes show up late and barely give a flying fuck about being there in the first place- it's really just a "different" way to get drunk.

Let's say you DO manage by the grace of God to have access to the presale. Now, not only do you have to stress about money- but you have to stress about the internet catastrophically crashing the instant you click "look for tickets". The nausea- the AGONY you experience as you watch the web browser's gears grind. Then... the sheer horror you experience as after TEN MINUTES have passed the page reloads to reveal "We're sorry, your request cannot be processed" and the line, "Try looking for other tickets with different specifications". HA! You may as well throw yourself out the window now you poor bastard. You were willing to pay whatever disgusting price they charged, AND you were cool enough to get in to the presale- yet you're still denied. There's just too many other not-so sorry sons of bitches who's computer's were a few millisconds faster than yours. Don't even get me STARTED on the phones... or worse, if you were waiting in line... I can't even touch on the wallowing depression experienced when they literally slap you in the face LIVE and in person. Once upon a time it nearly caused a nervous breakdown and had me crying for days... those were dark times indeed. I don't want to talk about it.

Missing a concert because you couldn't get seats, is the most painful cause of NACR.

Another cause of NACR is lack of company. I know I know, some people can fly solo to a concert no problem- but it's NOT for the weak hearted. Let's put it in simpler terms... as a female there are certain precautions that I must take- I am not happy about this, but sadly it's a fact of life. I can not attend a concert alone for several reasons:

1. A female requires a buddy system when in a GA crowd- if it's not a crowd surfer kickin' you in the head- then it's some weasel dry humping you while simultaneously attempting to cop a feel. You need an extra set of hands to poke, scratch, punch this said bastard in the face. If you're in a seat- you need a buddy to watch your shit- in case you have to desperately pee. Having a buddy while waiting in a GA line is VERY important as well- again for this same reason. Mosh pits are a hazard as well- you need someone to watch your back.

2. After the show has ended- the trek home can be sketchy... and outright terrifying if it lands you in an industrial area of Brooklyn at 2 in the morning... even if you make it to a cab- it's better to have an extra pair of hands with a lighter and a can of mace.

3. It's boring and depressing for me OK? I don't like being unable to share a special concert moment. It may seem lame- but I don't like to go to a show unless bonding is part of the experience!

Thus far we have discussed several causes of NACR- Money. Presales. Company. But wait, there's more:

Accessibility. Some shows go BEYOND the frustrating and demeaning exclusivity of the presale and are deemed "private" events. This includes in-store performances where only the psychotic and unemployed who wait in line on a Tuesday can get in. Again, even if you DO take time off of work to wait- you STILL may be denied. Every promoter, radio station, and TV channel will have bogarted the tickets LONG BEFORE you've even gotten a crack at them. You think that someone would tell you this BEFORE you waited 15 hours in the rain... but no, they want you to suffer the most agonizing sense of failure before NACR fully kicks in.

Information. Sometimes, there's just not enough promotion. By some cruel twist of fate- your internet hasn't been functioning , your TV blew up, and all your friends are M.I.A. What ever the case may be, you miss a show- because you didn't EVEN KNOW about it until AFTERWARDS. The agony of hindsight missed concert opps. Oh god, the gut wrenching agony. In this age of instant information- this seems like an impossible cause of NACR, but don't be fooled. It can strike at any time and WILL have you screaming at yourself "IDIOT IDIOT IDIOT!" over and over again. If anything, in this age of information has made promoters and bands alike quite lazy. Now that all have access to this information by a few simple clicks- there's no need to waste advertising dollars. The problem with this attitude? We, as consumers can't consume everything all at once. Sure, we try to- but we can't. Things will inevitably slip through our greasy little fingers. We can't be on EVERY mailing list, friends with EVERY band we love on Myspace... AND check their websites for info. Lack of information. A rather retarded cause of NACR.

Let us not forget the one cause of NACR that cannot be helped... acts of GOD. No matter WHAT preventative measures you take- it seems as if by some cruel twist of fate- or some bombastic karma- you just ARE NOT meant to attend this historical moment in concert history. Sure, we treat these entertainers as IF they're Gods, but they're NOT- and the REAL GOD likes to remind us of that every now and then. Whether it be pestilence. Massive storms. Electronic mishaps. Train delays. God will punch his hand into the fabric of your meaningless little life and put a massive blockade against you and your concert. Why would he go through all this trouble to upset you? Well, because you pissed him off somehow- better give to charity.

Non-Attendant Concert Remorse. It's real and it WILL affect you time and time again if you're not careful. Do yourself a favor. Spend the money. Join every club you can. Make friends. Take care of yourself. Be informed. Wait in those lines. Don't lose all hope. and go to church.

I've missed MORE concerts than I've attended. It's one of my deepest regrets. Don't be like me... do everything you can to live concert going life to it's fullest.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This is making me sick to my stomach...

APPARENTLY, a clockwork orange IS now and the future... Read this story from

Photo Credit: Brennan Linsley/ AP

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - Blaring from a speaker behind a metal grate in his tiny cell in Iraq, the blistering rock from Nine Inch Nails hit Prisoner No. 200343 like a sonic bludgeon.

“Stains like the blood on your teeth,” Trent Reznor snarled over distorted guitars. “Bite. Chew.”

The auditory assault went on for days, then weeks, then months at the U.S. military detention center in Iraq. Twenty hours a day. AC/DC. Queen. Pantera. The prisoner, military contractor Donald Vance of Chicago, told The Associated Press he was soon suicidal.

The tactic has been common in the U.S. war on terror, with forces systematically using loud music on hundreds of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then the U.S. military commander in Iraq, authorized it on Sept. 14, 2003, “to create fear, disorient ... and prolong capture shock.”

Now the detainees aren’t the only ones complaining. Musicians are banding together to demand the U.S. military stop using their songs as weapons.

A campaign being launched Wednesday has brought together groups including Massive Attack and musicians such as Tom Morello, who played with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave and is now on a solo tour. It will feature minutes of silence during concerts and festivals, said Chloe Davies of the British law group Reprieve, which represents dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainees and is organizing the campaign.

At least Vance, who says he was jailed for reporting illegal arms sales, was used to rock music. For many detainees who grew up in Afghanistan — where music was prohibited under Taliban rule — interrogations by U.S. forces marked their first exposure to the pounding rhythms, played at top volume.

‘Plenty lost their minds’

The experience was overwhelming for many. Binyam Mohammed, now a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, said men held with him at the CIA’s “Dark Prison” in Afghanistan wound up screaming and smashing their heads against walls, unable to endure more.

“There was loud music, (Eminem’s) ‘Slim Shady’ and Dr. Dre for 20 days. I heard this nonstop over and over,” he told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith. “The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night for the months before I left. Plenty lost their minds.”

The spokeswoman for Guantanamo’s detention center, Navy Cmdr. Pauline Storum, wouldn’t give details of when and how music has been used at the prison, but said it isn’t used today. She didn’t respond when asked whether music might be used in the future.

FBI agents stationed at Guantanamo Bay reported numerous instances in which music was blasted at detainees, saying they were “told such tactics were common there.”

According to an FBI memo, one interrogator at Guantanamo Bay bragged he needed only four days to “break” someone by alternating 16 hours of music and lights with four hours of silence and darkness.

Ruhal Ahmed, a Briton who was captured in Afghanistan, describes excruciating sessions at Guantanamo Bay. He said his hands were shackled to his feet, which were shackled to the floor, forcing him into a painful squat for periods of up to two days.

“You’re in agony,” Ahmed, who was released without charge in 2004, told Reprieve. He said the agony was compounded when music was introduced, because “before you could actually concentrate on something else, try to make yourself focus on some other things in your life that you did before and take that pain away.

“It makes you feel like you are going mad,” he said.

Sesame Street’ tunes used for interrogation

Not all of the music is hard rock. Christopher Cerf, who wrote music for “Sesame Street,” said he was horrified to learn songs from the children’s TV show were used in interrogations.

“I wouldn’t want my music to be a party to that,” he told AP.

Bob Singleton, whose song “I Love You” is beloved by legions of preschool Barney fans, wrote in a newspaper opinion column that any music can become unbearable if played loudly for long stretches.

“It’s absolutely ludicrous,” he wrote in the Los Angeles Times. “A song that was designed to make little children feel safe and loved was somehow going to threaten the mental state of adults and drive them to the emotional breaking point?”

Morello, of Rage Against the Machine, has been especially forceful in denouncing the practice. During a recent concert in San Francisco, he proposed taking revenge on President George W. Bush.

“I suggest that they level Guantanamo Bay, but they keep one small cell and they put Bush in there ... and they blast some Rage Against the Machine,” he said to whoops and cheers.

Some musicians, however, say they’re proud that their music is used in interrogations. Those include bassist Stevie Benton, whose group Drowning Pool has performed in Iraq and recorded one of the interrogators’ favorites, “Bodies.”

“People assume we should be offended that somebody in the military thinks our song is annoying enough that played over and over it can psychologically break someone down,” he told Spin magazine. “I take it as an honor to think that perhaps our song could be used to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that.”

The band’s record label told AP that Benton did not want to comment further. Instead, the band issued a statement reading: “Drowning Pool is committed to supporting the lives and rights of our troops stationed around the world.”

Tactics to make men go mad

Vance, in a telephone interview from Chicago, said the tactic can make innocent men go mad. According to a lawsuit he has filed, his jailers said he was being held because his employer was suspected of selling weapons to terrorists and insurgents. The U.S. military confirms Vance was jailed but won’t elaborate because of the lawsuit.

He said he was locked in an overcooled 9-foot-by-9-foot cell that had a speaker with a metal grate over it. Two large speakers stood in the hallway outside. The music was almost constant, mostly hard rock, he said.

“There was a lot of Nine Inch Nails, including ‘March of the Pigs,”’ he said. “I couldn’t tell you how many times I heard Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You.”’

He wore only a jumpsuit and flip-flops and had no protection from the cold.

“I had no blanket or sheet. If I had, I would probably have tried suicide,” he said. “I got to a few points toward the end where I thought, ‘How can I do this?’ Actively plotting, ‘How can I get away with it so they don’t stop it?”’

Asked to describe the experience, Vance said: “It sort of removes you from you. You can no longer formulate your own thoughts when you’re in an environment like that.”

He was released after 97 days. Two years later, he says, “I keep my home very quiet.”