U2? Me too!

U2 "3 Nights Live" ticket

The odds of me getting that ticket were so infinitesimal, I almost didn’t try. Seriously.

Look, I’ve been in this game a long time now, and I’ve gotten hooked up for some pretty exclusive gigs, but U2 in a tiny Boston-area theater, playing for less than 1,000 people, most of whom were contest winners from around the country? I know rejection when I see it, and this was rejection on steroids with a tire-iron in its hand, just looking for an optimist it could clobber the hell out of.

But I had to give it a try, right?

First, I emailed the group’s publicist. I’m still waiting for her to get back to me.

Then I carpet-bombed everybody at the band’s label. Again, no reply.


“Well, at least I tried,” I told myself.

Wednesday morning rolled around. The day of the show. There was not a single person in the state of Massachusetts who wasn’t aware that U2 was in town for an ultra-exclusive performance. You would have thought an alien spacecraft had landed in downtown Boston and that the E.T.s flying it were promising scenic tours of heaven.

Every radio station, television station and newspaper was wall-to-wall U2. There were multiple articles in both of the major Boston dailies, one of which—titled “No Bono for you, Boston bigwigs”—specifically addressed just how impossible it was to secure a ticket to the show, no matter how much juice you had in the city of Boston.

So, of course, I decided to give it one more try, because few people are more incapable of recognizing when to quit than yours truly.

I carpet-bombed the label folks again. A short while later, my cell phone rang.

“Hi, Jon, this is [Saint] Lisa from Interscope. I emailed you yesterday to tell you that I have you on the list, but your email bounced back ‘undeliverable.'”

[INSERT SOUND OF 5,000 PHONOGRAPH NEEDLES GETTING DRAGGED ACROSS A VINYL RECORD (and if you don’t know what a “phonograph needle” or a “vinyl record” are, ask someone who grew up in the ’70s.)]

In the roughly decade-long span that I have been a music journalist, I have sent and received hundreds of thousands of emails. I can’t recall ever running into a situation when a correspondence sent to my work email failed to arrive—you know, except for THAT ONE TIME WHEN A REPRESENTATIVE FROM U2’S RECORD LABEL EMAILED ME THE NEWS THAT I HAD SECURED THE SINGLE MOST DIFFICULT-TO-OBTAIN TICKET IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.

And this woman, this wonderful woman—no, this wonderful saint of a woman—who was being inundated with requests for this show, and who could have leveraged a pair of tickets for a free vacation at the Turks & Caicos Club (yes, I’m serious; scroll down in that “Boston bigwigs” article I told you about), instead picked up the phone and called me.

Which is how I came to be standing in front of this window later that same day:

U2 Guest List window

Now, as I’ve discussed previously, when you’re on the guest list for a high-profile show, things often go awry … and if ever there was a show at which things were likely to go awry, it was this one.

Which is why I was utterly amazed when, while waiting behind another guest-list recipient, I could already see sticking out of the pile of guest-list tickets the envelope with my name on it. Yes, that is how smoothly this whole thing went.

So I’m thinking my seat is going to be located, like, here:
Somerville Theater seating map
and certainly not, like, here.

But, hark, what is this I see? The usher to whom I have handed my ticket is leading me down the aisle … and, man, this is a small room … and, wow, we’re still walking … and he appears to be telling me I’m seated in the third row.

And it is at this point that I am expecting Ashton Kutcher to appear, and everyone in the room to start pointing at me and laughing while it’s all captured on camera for a special episode of “Punk’d.”

But Ashton Kutcher does not appear. No, the celebrity who appears is Bono … and he sings his ass off for five songs while The Edge and Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. play the hell out of their instruments, and I’m taking shitty pictures of it all with my BlackBerry (which, as it turns out, is still more than the contest winners can say, because they were required to park off site and surrender any camera phones before boarding the buses that transported them to the venue).

Now, I will be brutally honest with you here: The band’s five-song performance was the balls. Complete and utter awesomeness. Unfortunately, however, the performance was just one part of an hour-long radio special that aired live during the event. So, after blowing the roof off the place, Bono and company left the stage, then returned a few minutes later, sat down and were interviewed by MTV veejay Sway, who talked too much and asked the guys moronic questions that a handful of audience members had submitted before the show.

And I can assure you that there was not a single, solitary soul in that room who was glad that, instead of rocking out while the band played five or six more songs, they were instead hearing Bono get asked when he lost his virginity courtesy of a question submitted by a 16-year-old, and no, I’m not kidding.

Chances are my displeasure with the lame interview segment was exacerbated by the fact that, seated where I was (because everyone sat during the snoozefest, er, I mean, interview), I could see the backs of two cameramen, the enormous belly of the security dude assigned to my aisle, and Sway. And perhaps you didn’t notice, but the folks I just listed? None of them are in U2. So that kinda sucked.

It was not lost on anyone, however, that all of the band’s gear was still set up throughout the interview, and when the radio broadcast ended and the guys left the stage, we all erupted in a boisterous chant of “One more song!” And I could totally tell that they were going to play at least one more song, because the roadies weren’t breaking down the gear, no, they were double-checking to make sure everything was just so, and the drum tech was placing Larry’s in-ear monitors lovingly atop the snare drum so that they’d be at the ready when Larry sat back down to kick out the jams, and the chanting continued, and the excitement swelled to a crescendo …

And the houselights came on and some canned music sprang from the speakers, and it was time to go home. Damn.


I was there.

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Posted in Music | 15 Responses

Berated by Bono

Bono berating me from the stage.

Um, well, actually, Mr. Bono, now that you mention it …

(Sorry, kids. You’ll get the story, but not tonight. Aiming for tomorrow.)

(Also, FYI: This kind of unfortunate incident can be avoided in the future if one of you would like to make an enormous donation to the “Help Daddy Scratches Quit His Day Job” fund. I’m just sayin’ …)

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Posted in Life, Music, Parenthood | 5 Responses

Job perk

This photo proves two things:

1.) BlackBerry-maker RIM has a ways to go before their image-capturing technology achieves the kind of quality results I would like, particularly when I’m not allowed to bring an actual camera to the event I would like to photograph.

and …

2.) I really was in a tiny theater watching U2 perform tonight.

Story to follow … mañana. Daddy must sleep. G’night, Bono.

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Posted in Featured Photo | 6 Responses

An even bigger prick

“Are you going to write about it?” she asked me from across the table while we were eating lunch yesterday.

“I don’t think I really want to,” I said. “I mean, it’s just a little too moronic, dontcha think?”

She paused for a moment, presumably because she knew I’d arrive there on my own.

“I guess I kinda have to, don’t I?” I asked.

“I think so,” she answered.

So here I go.

Thursday night, there was a book fair at Zan’s school, and since Jayna had already morphed into a screaming, crying, porcupine-badger-Tasmanian-Devil-electric-eel type of thing by the hour at which it was time to leave the house, plans for the whole family to attend were spiked.

* * *

We interrupt this blog entry for an important update on Operation Release the Pahpiece: The pahpiece remains banished from Casa de Scratches, and the child whose mouth it had occupied ’round the clock for three full years has been doing remarkably well … except when she becomes very upset (which, we are told, she only does about 9 gazillion times per day, often for no apparent reason, and always with the fury and intensity of a Category 5 hurricane) and no longer has a pahpiece with which to soothe herself. One such time arose on the evening of March 5th, 2009. Neighbors reported the spontaneous shattering of their windows, and the yelps of visibly pained and distraught canines could be heard for miles around. Eventually, we are told, she reached the point of total exhaustion, at which time her father was able to successfully cage her—er, place her in her bed, rather—for the night. Stay tuned for further updates.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog entry, already in progress.

* * *

Once the Ambien I had slipped her was working its magic, I was able to carefully escape from her room. (Relax; I’m just kidding. I would never give her Ambien. It’s much too expensive. Tequila is what we sedate them with in our house.) And, for the second consecutive night, I decided I’d try to help facilitate an easy bedtime transition for Zan by turning on his light, lowering the shades, turning down his bed, etc.

So I reached for the lamp, and I turned it on, and lo and behold, it sprang to life, so there was no need for me to reach for the wall switch and possibly cause another catastrophe like the one that played out the previous evening. With the light now on, I withdrew my hand from the lamp and turned away from the dresser, and as I brought that hand and arm back to my body, one of the large, white cactus needles—which I so foolishly disparaged in my previous entry by saying were “just for show”—went all jihad on my ass, and achieved martyrdom by drilling itself into my sleeve.

Terrorist cactus spine

More terrorist cactus spines

And then, for the second time in roughly 24 hours, I heard the scattering of little pebbles as the terra cotta pot containing the cactus again toppled, and again spilled its contents onto the dresser and floor. And then I heard the dry, muffled thud of the little cactus as it, too, fell to the floor.

Déjà vu. Except, this time, I didn’t say “fuck.” No siree. What I said was, “You have got to be fucking kidding me!” And I said with gusto.

My choice of profane exclamation wasn’t the only way in which Thursday night’s cactus-toppling incident differed from the previous night’s … because this time, instead of falling behind the dresser, where who gives a shit what’s back there?, the cactus fell directly in front of the dresser. And instead of coming to rest partly against the moulding along the base of the wall behind the dresser, which the night before had kept the cactus itself raised slightly above the carpet, the cactus landed smack-motherfucking-dab on the carpet. And when the clusters of tiny little red cactus needles were introduced to the carpet, it was love at first sight.

During the half hour that followed, after I had gathered up the pebbles and returned both them and the cactus to the little terra cotta pot from whence they came, I was on my hands and knees with a flashlight and a pair of tweezers as I attempted to locate and remove from the carpet the hundreds of little needles, several of which found their way into my flesh during the operation.

Let’s go over that again: I was on the floor. On my hands and knees. With tweezers. And a flashlight. Removing cactus needles from the carpet. Who’s life is this? Mine? How is that possible?

Once I finished tweezing the needles from the berber carpet—whose mostly beige weave is accented by a smattering of rust-colored fibers that look exactly like the tiny little red cactus needles I was hunting, and can you even believe this shit?—I busted out the vacuum, which I used to suck up whatever I could from in front of the dresser, as well as the mess from the previous night’s incident, which was still behind the dresser.

And then, in an act that defines the kind of dedication it takes to be a parent, I ran the palm of my bare right hand back and forth and to and fro and hither and yon on the carpet in front of the dresser to determine if I had succeeded at extricating all of the needles, because better they end up embedded in my hand than in Zan’s or Jayna’s frequently bare feet. Fortunately, it seemed to be all clear.

Of course, later that evening, while getting ready for bed, I felt one of the renegade needles skewer my thumb … and, this morning, Zan discovered one in his lower leg, which I had to tweeze. And I fear that we will be finding these little fuckers all over the place for weeks to come, despite my best efforts.

And if that cactus so much as looks at me the wrong way, I am going to terminate its prickly ass with extreme prejudice.

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Posted in Buffoonery, Life, Parenthood | 13 Responses

A real prick

We’re in the midst of an economic crisis, and two wars, and there are droughts and disease and famine happening around the globe … and yet, I still am able to get disproportionately annoyed by the little things that go wrong during the course of the day. Here, let me tell you about one such thing—and let me take my damn sweet time getting to the thing itself, because it’s all about the journey, not the destination, am I right?

Wonder Woman had a work commitment this afternoon and evening, so I was home with the kids, who were delightful. Seriously. No, I’m not being sarcastic. It’s actually easier to manage them when I have them to myself, because then my rulings go uncontested, and they know this. When Mommy’s here, she is their go-to person, and any rulings I make in a two-parent situation are fast-tracked through the appellate process, with appeals heard by the Honorable Judge Wonder Woman of the First Parental Circuit, who may or may not know that she’s being played against me, and who, either way, might overturn the lower court’s decision.

But anyway …

After I successfully bathed my two cherubs, my mother came over to spend some time with them, so I decided to do some prep work in hopes of speeding along the bedtime ritual: close the shades, turn down the beds, turn on the electric heaters and fire up the white-noise machines. (Oh, you don’t even know what a production we have going on over here.)

So, first up: Jayna’s room. No problems. I’m in, I’m out, ta-dah.

Next up, Zan’s room, which was dark when I entered it—and, as we all know by now, nary a good thing can come of me being in Zan’s darkened room; I have the scar to prove it.

There is only one light in Zan’s room, and it sits atop the very dresser that ambushed and battered me several weeks back. Under normal conditions, that light must be turned on by activating the switch on the lamp itself. However, occasionally—like this evening, for example—I turn the switch and, “click” … nothing. When it happened tonight, my gaze immediately moved to the spot occupied by the digital clock-radio-CD-player thing that sits adjacent to the lamp, which I couldn’t actually see, because it, too, was not illuminated—which meant that someone had turned off the wall switch. (The wall switch in Zan’s room is wired not to a light, but to the outlet into which the lamp and clock are both plugged, thus necessitating the re-setting of the digital clock whenever the wall switch is clicked off, and I really should just tape the damn wall switch in the “On” position, but that might make my life a little easier, and I am deathly allergic to doing things that might make my life a little easier.)

Which reminds me (if I may go off on a tangent for a moment … shocking though that may be, given the laser-sharp focus I’ve maintained on the original topic thus far):

Yesterday, someone else shut off the wall switch, so, at bedtime last night, I reset Zan’s clock … and because of that, the clock knew exactly when midnight arrived … which is relevant here because, as it turns out, after losing power and then having its power restored, the clock sometimes defaults into the “Alarm: On” position, and the default time at which the alarm is set to demonstrate just how “On” it can be is midnight. I discovered this at 12:23 this morning, when I finally regained consciousness after spending 23 minutes in a semi-dreamlike state wondering why I was hearing the Jonas Brothers … and surely you can understand my confusion, because if I was to dream a soundtrack to the images in my head, I can assure you with great certainty that such a soundtrack would include exactly zero songs by the Jonas Brothers.

But anyway …

So, tonight, the light was out, and the clock was out, which meant I had to turn on the wall switch. This required me to move my hand from the lamp to the wall, and wouldn’t you know it? The path that my hand traveled from the lamp to the wall, which normally is clear, this evening contained an unexpected and, at the time, unknown obstacle that my hand hit and sent tumbling off the back of the dresser… and when it fell, it sounded like I had knocked over a bucket full of BBs.

“Fuck,” I said.

And as I was saying “Fuck,” my mind took a mental inventory of things on the dresser that could have made such a sound, and it settled upon a plant—the plant Zan had asked Wonder Woman to purchase and place in his room, atop his dresser. And the plant in question lived in a miniature terra cotta pot, rooted in soil on top of which had been placed a couple handfuls of tiny pebbles … which would account for the BBs-spilling sound.

Now, cleaning up a toppled plant is enough of a good time as it is, but it becomes a downright joy when the plant in question is this one:


Amazingly, the picture shown above was taken after the recovery operation, and let me just say that picking up a plant like that with one’s bare hand and placing that plant back in its terra cotta pot is an act that requires tremendous concentration, because those long, white, intimidating-looking needles? Those are just for show. The real problem is those little red dots to which those long, white, intimidating-looking needles are anchored. Those red dots are actually little clusters of short, thin, fibrous needles whose greatest joy apparently comes from embedding themselves in a person’s fingers and causing that person a surprising amount of discomfort. I mostly avoided them when returning the cactus to its pot, but subsequently discovered that they are capable of going renegade, and had done just that in large numbers when the cactus fell behind the dresser and came to rest amidst the pebbles. It was while gathering up those pebbles that I experienced the wrath of the untethered little red needles and the challenge of plucking them from my flesh.

Most of the pebbles made it home, but there are still quite a few on the carpet behind the dresser, and woe be unto them for getting mixed up with a bunch of hostile cactus needles, for that union has sealed their fate, and it is a fate that involves getting sucked into a vacuum tomorrow morning. Sorry, pebbles.

(Can you even believe that I just used 1,133 words to say “I knocked over a plant and then cleaned it up”? Like I said, people: It’s about the journey, not the destination.)

In another life, I might have just picked that bitch up with some salad tongs and thrown it in the trash … but it belongs to my 5-year-old son, for whom I would move the moon and stars—which probably would be a lot more difficult than enduring a few cactus-needle piercings … so I suppose I got off easy.

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Posted in Buffoonery, Parenthood, Zan | 20 Responses