In the middle of Felice’s deliberations on what skis to buy, the phone rang.

Felice had been weighing this decision for six weeks, it still wasn’t clear, whether to buy the Dynastars or the Volkls.  Billy, the salesman at Gorsuch, was imparting pearls of wisdom, having to do with flex, snow conditions and aging.

The phone number on my cell didn’t have a name attached.  But it was an 818 area code.  Although I’m on Verizon, reception isn’t ubiquitous in the mountains (although I did get a call from Lisa at the bottom of the Back Bowls over Christmas…try THAT on Cingular, never mind Sprint or T-Mobile), so I decided to take the call.

It was Tommy Nast.  I told him I’d call him back.  But Tommy said it would only take a second.  He wanted to know if we were taken care of for MusicCares.

And after telling Tommy to connect with Larry, I clicked off my phone and the conversation resumed.  Everyone had stopped speaking when I took my call.  Actually, when I got off, there was still silence, so to break the ice, I told Felice it was about the Don Henley show.  And then Billy started talking again.

Eventually Felice decided on the Dynastars.  Because the Volkls are almost impossible in the bumps.  Secretly, I wanted her to buy the Volkls, to be like me.  I’d passed on the Dynastars.  But the men’s Dynastars were wider, they didn’t turn as fast, whereas the women’s have the same waist.  But like Billy’d told me over Christmas, my AC3’s were bad in the bumps.  I mean we were banging them hard yesterday on Minnie’s and Ledges, but whenever I got caught between two mogul peaks, my AC3’s didn’t fold into the trough, but hung in space, their stiffness preventing them from flexing to fit the space.

So I’m debating buying bump skis.  Well, not really, since I’m not about to drop the dough.  And Billy’s cashing out Felice.

And while we’re all by the register, Billy looks up and says "Are you going to the Grammys?"

I didn’t think he’d really been paying attention, I didn’t think he really cared.

And after replying that my connection was forced out, and no, we weren’t going, Billy asked, "Do you know Ron Stone?"

Turns out Ron’s the father of a Gorsuch employee.

And after we speak a little Bonnie Raitt, a little Nirvana, Billy starts waxing rhapsodic about Widespread Panic.  How he sees them every tour.

I mean we didn’t stray from skis for half an hour, but now Billy had jumped subjects, he couldn’t stop talking about music.

Billy liked people who could PLAY!  Who gave it their all in concert.  He wanted them to put in the effort, he wanted it to be about the MUSIC!

On a roll, Billy told us he loved the Clash best.  Did I remember when the band did three weeks at Bonds, in Manhattan?  He was going to the University of Maryland at the time, but during school vacation he saw the band TEN TIMES!!  After all, it was just FIVE BUCKS!

Oh the history we share.  Oh how different it is from that of today’s younger generation.

It’s like Marc Reiter always says.  He used to go to SPAC all the time during the summer.  If it was Saturday night and people didn’t know what to do, they’d go to the show.  The band didn’t have to be their FAVORITE, but after seeing them, maybe they WOULD BE!

The whole culture has changed.  A concert is a special event.  Whereas we used to go once a month.  Not quite as frequently as seeing a movie, but CLOSE!

It was the music, the vibe.  That was the peak experience, the concert experience.

Maybe it still is.

Then again, too many bands play to hard drive.  The performance is formulaic.  The acts come and go.  Careers are a thing of the past.  It’s who’s hot NOW!

The live business isn’t like recorded music.  It can’t be stolen by the Internet.

And too many of the old farts still rule.  Sure, Rapino’s a young ‘un, but so many of the managers he deals with are old wave, they want ALL the money, and they want it NOW!

And this circle jerk leaves the public out.  The people are last.  They’re literally PRICED OUT!

Even the merch.  A t-shirt costs in excess of thirty bucks?  When everybody knows the raw materials don’t even amount to double digits?

It’s pure unadulterated greed.

We’re doing a very good job of killing the golden goose.

You can’t hear the music on the radio, they don’t play it.

But the labels want you to buy it without hearing it first, even though everybody believes overpriced CDs only have one good track.

Now twenty five years later, Billy’s five bucks is not the same.  According to the Federal Reserve Consumer Price Index

What is a dollar worth?

it’s $11.09.  STILL, there was no Ticketmaster charge back then, no facility fee.  Today that same ticket is seventy five bucks BEFORE fees, and that’s CHEAP!  Of course you buy a t-shirt, you buy a souvenir when you go on vacation, don’t you?

Yup, going to the show is an annual event today.  One you can afford that rarely, one you’ve got to save up for.

But really, wouldn’t you rather buy a Wii?

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