Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Public Access

Let’s consider one of the nicer features of ancient culture: access to public events. I’m talking about ticket prices, and ticket availability, for everyday cultural events in early America. Like the early Seventies. I don’t mean events like dinner at the White House, I mean things like Broadway shows, big concerts, comedy shows and sporting events, common mom ‘n pop cultural gatherings. It was all so easy then.

Please bear with me. I only mean to give this dead horse a couple of good whacks, not a total beating.

It has come to my attention that the top ticket prices at the new Yankee Stadium have been REDUCED to one thousand, two hundred and fifty dollars ($1,250). Reduced from $2,500. That’s for one baseball game during the regular season. Most of the really good seats go for more than $600 a pop. Further complication: most of the good seats are sold as season’s tickets, so even if working people could afford them, they are not available. Allow me to whack another dead horse while I’m at it: this may be further proof that some people need to pay more taxes.

During the afore mentioned early Seventies, I lived in Flushing, New York, over in the Pomonoc Public Housing Projects near Queens College. From my living room I could see Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets. The Mets had great, winning teams in those days. I was married at the time, but I have always enjoyed spending time and going places by myself, so there were times that I would see the lights come on and decide to go and catch a game. I was always, always, able to buy a single box seat ticket on the baseline.

The boxes at Shea had four seats, and surely most of the boxes were more or less occupied, but there were always single tickets available in boxes that only had two or three people in them. The tickets were just under five dollars.

A lot has changed since the early Seventies, besides the obvious, considering the absence then of anything like personal computers; cell phones; fax machines; cable TV; personal music players; Blackberries; and God knows what all else. But consider how great a change it is to go from five dollars to six-hundred-and-fifty (which seems to be the top price at the new Mets’ field), not to mention thousands of dollars elsewhere.

It’s not just the price that has become elitist, it’s the availability. Groucho Marx gave a one man show at Carnegie Hall, it was the very early Seventies I’m pretty sure, maybe it was 1968 or ‘9. I remember buying tickets, I just went to the Carnegie Hall box office and picked up two tickets in the middle of the orchestra. (I think I’m repeating an old blog here to some extent, maybe just an even older journal entry.) My companion and I were surrounded by celebrities. When I bought the tickets it was nothing like the first day of their being on sale, and I was alone at the box office with plenty of seats to choose from. These days, the tickets for an equivalent event would be “sold out” in about one hour, except for the ones that were still available from ticket resellers.

Note that ticket scalping was illegal then, and remains illegal, at least for individuals. Now, however, large blocks of the good seats go to “ticket agencies” which resell them at greatly inflated prices, as high as the market will bear, and the market includes investment bankers, lots of them. Add to that: the fact that the prices now would be beyond my reach in the first place, beyond the reach of working people.

Something has happened. These are symptoms of the disappearance of the middle-class America that flourished between World War II and the election of Ronald Reagan. Egalitarianism is now well and truly out of style. Soon we’ll be tipping our hats and saying, “good morning, captain (of industry).”

I’m just complaining, I suppose. I offer no solutions.


Anonymous said...

You know what happened as well as I do, Fred. "The Reagan Revolution" started the genocide of the middle class. The excesses of the 80's saw all the changes you described come into being. Every stupid hick voted Republican because he bought into the myth that he could lift himself by his bootstraps right out of the middle class and he too could become rich, if he just voted for all those breaks for the rich. How's that working for yuh, jackasses?

fred c said...

Yeah, I do know. The New Deal was a great equalizer, and WWII solidified the gains of the middle-class. The Reagan led push-back was a real class war against the middle-class and the poor, "we (the rich) want that money back." They got most of it too.

Rory Cripps said...

ANONYMOUS: The genocide of the middle class? The excesses of the '80s? Every stupid hick voted Republican? I've never read so many cliches in one sitting! YUCK and gag me with a spoon! Obviously you're self-consumed . . . don't you know that a new day has arrived and it's time for you to pull your head out of your pathetic/idealogical ass? Democrat Good/Republican Bad! Republican Good/Democrat Bad! DUH! What is the poimt to your idiocy?

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the price, in 1968 of a ticket to see the best music around at a Murray the K. show in Manhattan. We could go to 3 shows a day (and did). I think corporatization found its niche and took full advantage. Just look at the college sports world, or public education even. EVERYTHING has corporate funding, and $$$ and greed are the reasons for that.

fred c said...

Late Sixties the Filmore East was priced $2.95, $3.95, $4.95. Maybe somebody remembers, we used to go and get the cheap seats because the sound was actually better up there.

And Rory, nigger please, if all those "hicks" hadn't voted against their economic interest because they fell for the whole "values" thing and the "morality" thing, we wouldn't be in this mess. Pure and cynical emotional manipulation.

Signed: Blue Collar, Yellow Dog Democrat Voter (even though I'm not that crazy about the Democrats either).

nanute said...

I'm with you on this one. That good old Nixon/Republican Southern Strategy convinced large numbers of middle class citizens to vote against their own self interest.

I especially like H.L. Mencken's definition of a demagogue: The demagogue is a person who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrure, to people he knows to be idiots."

One doesn't have to be from the south anymore to be considered a "Yellow Dog Democrat"?

Anonymous said...

I always know when I've made solid points when cripps squeals like a stuck pig. Soo-EEEE! Soo-EEEEE!!

Rory Cripps said...

Fred: I know alot of "hicks" down here in Florida. And throughout the eleven years that I've lived here I've had many political discussions with those "hicks". The majority of them vote Democrat all the way (and that includes the recent presidential election). They loved Bill Clinton, by the way, mainly because they felt that he was one of them and shared their values. I simply think that for intelligent and well-read people to put their faith into one of the two major political parties and to blame one party for much of the country's ills is not the best approach. Again: most of the economic and financial mess occurred under W Bush's administration. So did the Iraq war and the list goes on. But history bears out that shit occurs under any administration and no matter which party holds the majority in the house and senate. In any event, I wouldn't waste my time fretting over the Republican party, because they committed political suicide years ago. I'd start worrying now about the Democrat party for many reasons--not the least of which is that America is now subject to virtual one-party rule. I'd like nothing better than for the Democrat party to succeed and make things better for the average American! But I'm highly skeptical of any political party's, or politician's, motives and I don't believe that my skepticism is irrational, unreasoned, or based on ignorance.

fred c said...

Nanute, if I voted for Dukakis I'd sure 'nuf vote for a Yellow Dog, so I'm comfortable adopting the metaphor.

Rory, you live in Florida! Remember the joke, "Florida, the deep South!" Florida is a swing state because the hayseeds, and I use these terms with love, have a little more going for them. They hang out with retired New Yorkers, it's good for them.

Rory Cripps said...

FRED: OK! I get your point. Meaningful and sincere discussions are meaningless. Emotion is king! So the hell with sincerity because sincerity is one big joke.

Nanute said...

I guess that makes me a Yellow Dog.
Rory: It is the Democratic party. Democrat Party is a term used by Republicans with contempt and derision.

Unfortunately, our system is a two party system. Talk of a third party, is wishful thinking. The problem, in my opinion, is that the special interest money corrupts the system, no matter which party is in power. Just yesterday, the mortgage banking lobby was sucessfull in getting the cram down provision deleted from legislation pending in the Senate. 12 Democrats voted with all the Republicans to strip the provision from the House version of the Bill.

fred c said...

Sincerity will never go out of style, and it is very important in my book, and you've got it Rory and that's a good thing, no bullshit. Thanks for reading, and it's always great to read your comments. That's without an ounce of sarcasm, although my doctor says I may never successfully control it!