An angrier, happier Bruce Springsteen, and an E Street Band dealing with a huge void

On Tuesday, April 3, I walked through the doors of the Izod Center for the first time since the New Jersey Nets played their final game there in April 2010, to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for the first time since October 2009.

Photo courtesy of Backstreets.com

It was a very different experience, which I fully expected. The death of Clarence Clemons left a huge void, both musically and in terms of the band’s personality, and, while his nephew, Jake Clemons, and Eddie Manion performed flawlessly and admirably, there’s no replacing a legend.

Springsteen’s music has also branched out in several different directions for his past few albums, and Wrecking Ball is no exception. Very few of the songs on Wrecking Ball really sound like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. This is not to say that it’s not quality music: It’s just different. It’s a very angry album, with a lot of edgy folk-type songs, and a lot of Irish influence.

One of the biggest differences I noticed was Springsteen’s demeanor. I am obviously a die-hard fan, and have seen him live several times, and I am used to seeing him sing with a pained expression that looks like he’s holding back a giant dump. But he was exceptionally animated during this show, singing the angry parts of songs with legitimate anger, and smiling during the more festive material, more so than I have ever seen him do.

The set list was heavy on newer material, which was no surprise. The songs from Wrecking Ball sounded like the band had been performing them for years, and the newer sounds were quite refreshing. Naturally, some classics were sprinkled in throughout the show, as well. And continuing the Springsteen tradition of pulling at least one song out of the vaults that no one in the audience ever expected to hear, the surprise selection on this night was “So Young and In Love.”

Clarence Clemons, the late, great Big Man, was recognized twice during the show. When the band was introduced early on, Springsteen saved him for last, as usual, and said to the crowd, “Am I missing anybody?” After allowing a few seconds for cheers and tribute, he added, “If we’re here, they’re here,” repeating it a couple of times for emphasis. And during the last song of the night, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” the entire band paused after the verse, “The change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band,” for a very long, very emotional standing ovation. Well done.

It’s a new era for the band, and for Springsteen. The classic songs will never be abandoned, but that being said, there will never be another set list like the one from Giants Stadium (R.I.P.) July 31, 2008, which was, by far, my favorite Bruce show of all-time.

However, if you leave a show with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band feeling disappointed or cheated, you just weren’t paying attention. It may be a new chapter in their history, but they are STILL the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, earth-quaking, nerve-breaking, Viagra-taking history-making, legendary … E-STREET BAND!

The set list, from Backstreets.com:

  • We Take Care of Our Own
  • Wrecking Ball
  • Badlands
  • Death to My Hometown
  • My City of Ruins
  • So Young and In Love
  • E Street Shuffle
  • Jack of All Trades
  • Seeds
  • Prove It All Night
  • Easy Money
  • Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
  • The Promised Land
  • Apollo Medley
  • American Skin (41 Shots)
  • Because the Night
  • The Rising
  • We Are Alive
  • Thunder Road
  • Encore:
  • Rocky Ground (with Michelle Moore)
  • Out in the Street
  • Born to Run
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • Land of Hope and Dreams
  • Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out

My new neighbors: Heat Miser and Puff the Magic Dragon

We’ve had two sets of new neighbors move in over the past few weeks — one in the building directly across from us (we face the backyard), and one in the apartment upstairs. So far, I’m having a hard time deciding which ones are weirder, and I may just opt to go soccer-style and let this competition end in a draw.

I'm Mister Heat Miser ...

When the neighbors across the way moved in, I noticed how much they took advantage of their outdoor space, and I was a little envious, since they have a deck and a small backyard, while we have a terrace that barely fits two chairs and a small table. But after a couple of weeks, the envy turned to confusion and dismay.

For the benefit of anyone who has been in a cave for the past few weeks, it has been brutally hot and humid, every single day, with temperatures often drifting past 100. We are both on the second floor, and while our buildings and the ones around us are far from skyscrapers, they’re tall enough that there is no breeze whatsoever. I will always try to opt for open windows over air conditioning when possible, yet I gave up that battle weeks ago.

Despite the excessive heat and humidity, these people are outside all of the time. And even when they’re not outside, their door is usually left wide open, and there is no trace of an air-conditioning unit.

Are these people insane? Triple-digit temperatures, oppressive humidity, no breeze, bugs (no worse than anywhere else, but they’re still around), and they leave the door open?

Convinced that they are not human, I have decided that they’re direct descendants of Heat Miser, from The Year Without a Santa Claus.

This past weekend, I found out that not only do I live across the yard from Heat Miser, but I live on the floor below Puff the Magic Dragon.

My new upstairs neighbors have been quiet since they moved in, aside from the first couple of days, when they were moving furniture and boxes around, which is to be expected. Saturday night must have been their housewarming party. I have no issues with that whatsoever. If you’re going to throw a party, you might as well do it on a Saturday night during the summer, when the building is half-empty, and they weren’t particularly noisy or rowdy, so party on.

Puff the Magic Dragon

However, these guys played the worst freaking music ever during their party. Like much of Hoboken, our building was built in about 25 minutes, and one of the many details overlooked was noise protection between floors and ceilings. We hear every step our upstairs neighbors take and, when they do play music, it sounds like it’s coming from our apartment.

They played nothing but atrocious 1980s and 1970s songs all night. I don’t dislike 1980s music, but they stuff these guys were playing was pure crap, and not any of the fun 1980s tunes that at least make you laugh a little even if you don’t particularly like them. But the capper of the evening was when “Puff the Magic Dragon” came on. Really? Seriously? Who in the hell listens to “Puff the Magic Dragon?”

Moments after that disgusting song, the party broke up abruptly. I blame the song, either for making guests sick, or making another neighbor sick enough to call the cops (I did no such thing, nor would I). Five days later, I’m still shaking my head. “Puff the Magic Dragon?” Wow.

So, I don’t know if the Heat Miser folks or the Puff people are stranger, but they’re definitely keeping things interesting around here.

Nickelback: Why I don’t listen to the radio

For a city that claims to be the communications capital of the galaxy, the New York metropolitan area has always had nothing but shitty radio stations. The radio portion of my car stereo is only used to listen to Yankees games and get traffic updates. I rely 100% on CDs for music (the iPod didn’t exist in 1997, when Honda made my car, so I don’t have MP3 capability).

Pickle 1, Nickelback 0

We’ve been using my fiancée’s car more and more, and she keeps top-40 radio on, confirming my suspicions that radio has gotten even worse since I gave up on it. The repetition is beyond brutal, making me quickly tire of the few songs I actually do like. And the biggest victim of that has been Nickelback.

I actually used to enjoy this band. They were never among my favorites, but before radio and cover bands utterly destroyed “How You Remind Me,” I liked their sound and own four of their CDs – The State, Silver Side Up, The Long Road and All the Right Reasons. While their sound is a little more pop than I generally like, I thought they had a bit of an edge to them, as well as a sense of humor in their lyrics.

I thought the first three songs on The State – “Breathe,” “Cowboy Hat” and “Leader of Men” – were pretty good. Aside from “How You Remind Me,” which put Nickelback on the map, I also thought “Never Again,” “Woke Up This Morning” and “Too Bad” were decent, edgy songs on Silver Side Up. From The Long Road, the same goes for “Flat on the Floor,” “Feelin’ Way Too Damn Good,” “Another Hole in the Head” and “Yanking Out My Heart.” And from All the Right Reasons, “Next Contestant” is probably my favorite Nickelback song, and I thought “Rockstar” was hilarious until it became the first Nickelback song to be murdered by radio.

But two things have happened. The first is that it’s impossible to turn on the radio without hearing Nickelback. The second is that success has taken away the band’s edge, and they have put out some songs that are pure shit. “Photograph,” “If Everyone Cared,” “Gotta Be Somebody” and “If Today Was Your Last Day” are, to put it simply, garbage.

I hate when bands lose their edge and forget what got them fans in the first place. But I can’t say I blame them. I could probably retire on the money they’ve made from any one of the songs I mentioned above. It just sucks that I own four CDs by a band I used to really like, and there’s now a layer of dust on the jewel cases, because I honestly don’t remember the last time I willingly listened to Nickelback.

And for anyone on Facebook who has seen the group, “Can this pickle get more fans than Nickleback?,” yes, I voted for the pickle. Now let’s see how radio manages to destroy the pickle.

Not the farewell I expected

I saw the last concert ever at Giants Stadium by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band last night, and I was a little disappointed. It was far from a bad show. I’ve never left a Springsteen show feeling cheated or unsatisfied. I just didn’t love the set list and thought many very necessary songs were left unplayed. I guess I was spoiled by my favorite concert of all-time, by the very same band in the very same location, last summer.

Even Backstreets, the fan site for Bruce junkies, pretty much agrees with me: “Closing night seemed to break very little new ground, however. The set list was a near carbon copy of the previous Saturday’s show, including the reprise performance of the Born in the USA album. The crowd certainly brought the noise, as exhorted by Bruce to do so, and the band’s performance was excellent, but as a whole, the show seemed to fall short of the heights that closing night in Jersey has brought in the past.”

The July 31, 2008, show was absolutely unreal, and there will never be another one like it. But last night’s didn’t even come close. If you would have told me that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band would play their final show at Giants Stadium and not play Rosalita, Jungleland, Thunder Road, Candy’s Room, Backstreets, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Prove It All Night or Two Hearts, I’d have probably laughed at you. I didn’t expect all of those songs, but I certainly didn’t expect none of those songs.

And while music is certainly a matter of opinion and there is no right and wrong, I’ve never been a fan of some of the songs that were played last night. Seven Nights to Rock does nothing for me. American Land is a great song, but it’s run its course. Kitty’s Back is a fantastic classic, but I would have gladly sacrificed it for one of the songs mentioned above, or two, since Kitty’s Back is well over 10 minutes long. And while I’m not a huge Rolling Stones fan and the theme of the song was appropriate for the evening, I could have done without The Last Time.

And in the, “If It’s on the Internet, It MUST Be True” department, none of the rumors being bandied about came to fruition. I read in various places that the band applied for a special permit to extend the show to 1 a.m., yet I was actually sitting on my couch watching the end of the Red Sox-Angels game minutes after midnight. And I read about special guests including Jon Bon Jovi, Mick Jagger, Elton John and Bono, yet the closest thing to a special guest was Max Weinberg’s son, Jay, playing the drums during Born to Run (and doing a stellar job, much as he did when he played the entire show at the IZOD Center a few months ago).

On a more positive note, seeing Jersey Girl live is always special, although I think 70,000 people were shocked to find out it was the last song. I love Wrecking Ball, the tribute to Giants Stadium, and sincerely hope they release a recording of it so I don’t have to rely on a bootleg. Spirit in the Night was awesome, and Tougher than the Rest was a nice surprise.

Don’t get me wrong: I am NOT bashing the band. As I said earlier, the effort and the performance last night were still fantastic, and I still believe they are, by far, the best live band around. And while I will probably not to go either of the November shows at Madison Square Garden for various reasons, many of them involving my dwindling bank account, I will definitely see them the next time they come around, although they are allegedly taking a two-year hiatus from touring. I just expected to close Giants Stadium out with an all-time epic classic show, and not an “average” Springsteen show, even though an average Springsteen show is still better than most other artists’ best shows.

Bring on your wrecking ball.

Last night’s set list:
Wrecking Ball (with Curt Ramm)
Badlands
Spirit in the Night
Outlaw Pete
Hungry Heart
Working on a Dream
Born in the USA
Cover Me
Darlington County
Working on the Highway
Downbound Train
I’m on Fire
No Surrender
Bobby Jean
I’m Goin’ Down
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark
My Hometown
Tougher Than the Rest
The Promised Land
Last to Die (with Curt Ramm)
Long Walk Home
The Rising
Born to Run (with Jay Weinberg)
* * *
Raise Your Hand
The Last Time
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
Seven Nights to Rock
Kitty’s Back (with Curt Ramm)
American Land
Jersey Girl

Image from Backstreets

Image from Backstreets

Removable stereo? Check! Case full of cassettes? Check! Radar detector? Check!

A Facebook status update from my old college roommate, asking if anyone had a radar detector he could borrow, got me thinking about all of the crap I used to take with me on road trips in my old 1983 maroon Honda Accord, just for the car ride.

Removable car stereo

Removable car stereo

I lived in Manhattan back then and, although my neighborhood was safe, there was a methadone clinic right across the street from my building. I’m not even going to touch the debate over whether methadone clinics are an effective way to treat drug addictions. I will state one indisputable fact: Every time I took one of the dogs I used to take care of for an early morning walk, patients from the clinic, while awaiting its opening, were constantly walking around my neighborhood and peering into cars, and I had to steer the dogs around broken glass from car windows on several occasions. YOU do the math.

So one of my primary accessories for a drive of almost any length was my removable stereo, which was referred to at the time as a Benzi box. While today, the idea of carting a car stereo around with you seems ludicrous, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was actually quite common. The problem today is that there’s no point having a removable stereo, because any thief worth his salt will just steal your entire car, rendering your removable stereo pretty much useless.

Cassettes ... remember these?

Cassettes ... remember these?

Of course, I had to bring tapes for the stereo. I have always been a firm believer that New York-area radio stations absolutely suck, and I still find that to be true, so bringing my own music was a necessity. Obviously, there was no such thing as an iPod the size of a cigarette lighter that could hold the equivalent of several-hundred albums back then, so I always toted around a case of cassette tapes (CDs were just starting to become mainstream back then, and I didn’t have one of those newfangled CD players in my Accord). Looking back, could this have been any more inefficient?

Finally, let me go back to the device that spurred this entry in the first place. For a trip that involved any length of highway driving, I always brought a radar detector. I was never 100% sold that the contraption really worked, but it did, in all fairness, save me from at least two tickets that I can think of off the top of my head. Of course, you have to know how to use a radar detector, unlike one of my moron friends from college. After being tailed by a trooper for two miles, when he got pulled over, all he did was bitch that “this piece of shit doesn’t work!” Um, it’s a radar detector, not a police car detector. If your dumb ass didn’t see the cop behind you for two miles, no gadget on Earth can help you.

radar detector

radar detector

Let me wrap up with a shameless plug: My college roommate runs a spectacular Web site, Ownersite, which bills itself as “the Internet’s most comprehensive Web-based preventive-maintenance reminder and expense-tracking system.” If you own a car — even a maroon 1983 Honda Accord — you should check it out.

Another Springsteen fix

I blame my Hebrew-school tutor for all of this. As a reward for successfully making it through the Torah portion of my Bar Mitzvah without puking on the sacred parchment or tripping up over the Hebrew words and accidentally telling the congregation to go sodomize sheep, he bought me the album — yes, the actual 12-inch, vinyl record album — of Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Born to Run

Born to Run

At the time — the time being 1981 — I knew a few Springsteen songs, but I wouldn’t have called myself a fan. I knew “Hungry Heart” because it was all over the radio, and I knew the title track from Born to Run, but that was about it.

Then, I brought the record home and put on the first track, “Thunder Road.” I was an instant Springsteen junkie about three minutes into the song, and it’s only gotten worse.

Thank you, Mark Elber, wherever you are.

I went to see the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, earth-quaking, nerve-breaking, Viagra-taking history-making, legendary … E-STREET BAND at the debacle of a facility currently known as the IZOD Center last night. Between how bland the home of my beloved New Jersey Nets is and how pathetic the half-finished Xanadu God-knows-what project looks, they really should drop a nuclear bomb on that part of the Meadowlands (the two football stadiums and the track can be spared).

Anyway, for whatever reason, I wasn’t as fired up as I usually am to see The Boss. I was excited, but I didn’t have that all-day adrenalin surge. I guess part of it is that I know I always like the end-of-summer Giants Stadium shows better — speaking of which, the final concerts at Giants Stadium will be performed by none other than Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, with three shows wrapping up Oct. 3. And part of it is that things have been crazy in my life, but in a good way — working part-time, tons of visits to the new Yankee Stadium, lots of softball games and, most important, my girlfriend moving in soon.

Photo by A.M. Saddler, from Backstreets.com

Photo by A.M. Saddler, from Backstreets.com

But as usual, the boys didn’t disappoint. This was yet another fantastic show, with some songs that I hadn’t seen played live since the Born in the USA tour in 1985. Pleasant surprises included “Seeds,” “Johnny 99” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad” — it seemed like a mini-set tribute to the unemployed — and always welcome classics included “Thunder Road,” “Jungleland” and “Rosalita.” And I saw the band play one of my personal favorites, “I’m Goin’ Down,” for the first time since the previously mentioned Born in the USA tour.

I am exhausted and drained, but I will be sure to get my energy back by June 1, when tickets for the next assault on New Jersey go on sale. What a fucking great show.

The set list (thank you, Badlands.com):
Badlands
Adam Raised a Cain
Outlaw Pete
Radio Nowhere
She’s the One
Working on a Dream
Seeds
Johnny 99
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Raise Your Hand
Growin’ Up
I’m Goin’ Down
Prove It All Night
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
The Wrestler
Kingdom of Days
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run
* * *
Hard Times
Thunder Road
Jungleland
Land of Hope and Dreams
American Land
Rosalita

Remember blank tapes?

I listened to a lot of 1980s heavy metal this past week. This is not necessarily unusual for me, but finally seeing The Wrestler last Saturday night probably contributed to it, as the movie’s entire soundtrack is made up of the music that got me through high school and college.

I realized how different things used to be after listening to three straight albums — The Scorpions’ Love at First Sting, Accept’s Metal Heart and AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock — that were all 10 songs or fewer and all around 45 minutes or less.

TDK blank cassette tape

TDK blank cassette tape

I had to laugh because it brought back memories of when I used to buy all my albums on either vinyl or CD (obviously depending on the time period) and transfer them to blank cassette tapes so I could listen to them in the car and on my Walkman.

I remembered worrying about the length of albums. If they were longer than 45 minutes, it really fouled up the entire taping process, because you had to use the B side of a 90-minute tape for the spill-over, and you couldn’t put an entire other album on it. If they were much shorter than 45 minutes, you had way too much empty space at the end of the tape, and fast-forwarding to the end was a pain in the ass.

I remembered the still-unresolved argument over whether there was really a difference between normal cassette tapes and chrome cassette tapes, and if the latter were actually worth the extra 50 cents or so. And don’t even get me started on the really expensive metal cassette tapes.

Is it live ... or is it Memorex?

Is it live ... or is it Memorex?

I remembered arguing that although the Memorex ad with the guy sitting in the chair getting blown away by the sound was an all-time classic, when it came to quality, TDK kicked Memorex’s ass up and down the block, at least in my opinion. So did Maxell. And Sony wasn’t bad, either.

I thought back on times when I left on a road trip, only to realize that the carrying case that held 12 cassettes — about 20 times the size of my current iPod and containing around 1% of the music — was never refilled, meaning that I’d have to listen to the same tapes I had on the previous road trip.

And anyone ever have the miserable experience of trying to clean out all of what was left of a destroyed tape out of your tape deck?

Yeah, I’d say music distribution has come a long way in the past few years. Wouldn’t you?

Opening Day? Fail! Dinner at Waffle House? Win!

In my ongoing quest to take advantage of the free time I have due to being unemployed, I did something I’ve never done in my illustrious career as a baseball fan: I went to Yankees Opening Day on the road.

The good news is that I showed up. The bad news is that most of the Yankees didn’t.

Yankees and Orioles line up for Opening Day

Yankees and Orioles line up for Opening Day

The drive to Baltimore started in silence — one hour of silence, to be exact. It turns out that when I got the transmission fixed on my car, they obviously had to disconnect the battery. When the battery is disconnected, it activates an incredibly annoying security feature in my car stereo that requires inputting a five-digit code before it will work again. If three attempts are unsuccessful, the stereo locks up. My mechanic apparently tried three times, and the only way to unlock the stereo is to drive for one hour with the system on, so I had no tunes until I was nearly off the New Jersey Turnpike.

Lack of audio aside, I pretty much drove through car-wash-like sheets of rain for the entire trip, but on the bright side, there was very little traffic, as only a moron would drive from Hoboken to Baltimore for a baseball game in that kind of weather.

Weather.com was dead-on, though. It stopped raining literally seconds before I parked my car, and the precipitation held off, other than a half-hour shower right before game time, which delayed the start a bit.

My first stop was Pratt Street Ale House, an outstanding brewpub a couple of blocks from the ballpark. It used to be known as Wharf Rat. My visit there consisted of a pint of outstanding porter, a pint of decent stout, another pint of porter and some good-natured ribbing from Orioles fans, whom I affectionately refer to as Baltimorons.

Then I entered Oriole Park at Camden Yards and headed straight for Boog’s BBQ and the pit beef platter. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Orioles fans are lucky. Camden Yards was built just before suites and luxury boxes became the top priority for a ballpark. As impressed as I was with the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, frankly, I’d take Camden Yards over either one of them. Of course, neither of the New York ballparks has something like the warehouse building to work with, and, as I mentioned in my blog about Citi Field, the Yankees were trying to keep attributes of both previous renditions of Yankee Stadium prominent. But Camden Yards set the standard for the wave of new ballparks, and it’s still a special place to catch a ballgame.

My seats were also in a great area that has no counterpart in either New York stadium. It’s called club seating, but it’s nothing like the various clubs and suites in Yankee Stadium or Citi Field. For $50, I sat in the first row down the right field line — very decent vantage point — and had access to a climate-controlled indoor concourse area with various restaurants, bars and its own bathrooms. I first sat there on a 102-degree Sunday a few years ago, so I welcomed the air-conditioning break. Of course, Baltimore is going to be cheaper than New York, but neither the Yankees nor the Mets offer anything resembling this value.

Anyway, everything was great until the game started. CC Sabathia had nothing and the Yankees’ bullpen had even less. In a mirror image of too many games last season, the Yankees stranded 10 base runners and wasted numerous opportunities. Final score: Orioles 10, Yankees 5.

Dinner, Waffle House-style!

I figured I’d break up the three-hour-plus drive home with a stop for dinner, likely at one of the fast-food restaurants in a rest stop on I-95. Then, a stroke of genius occurred: WAFFLE HOUSE!

I absolutely love Waffle House and would probably weigh more than a circus elephant if there were any locations in New Jersey. In fact, the woman behind the counter told me the company explored expanding into the Garden State but didn’t do it because the way they clean their dishes doesn’t conform to New Jersey’s regulations. This made me sort of nervous, but it’s been more than 24 hours and I haven’t dropped dead yet.

After a waffle the size of a small pizza, scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon and toast, I bid goodbye to Maryland and headed back home, defeated but full.

Mmmm … Waffle House!

Waffle House

Waffle House

How does Ticketmaster get away with this crap?

Ticketmaster has been in the news quite a bit lately, and for all of the wrong reasons. Yet, despite the rhetoric of performers, venues and lawmakers, nothing ever seems to be done about all of its wrongdoings.

Ticketmaster SUCKS

Ticketmaster SUCKS

When tickets for the upcoming tour by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band went on sale in February, potential ticket buyers, myself included, were left out in the cold. It seems that Ticketmaster conveniently decided to perform “routine maintenance” seconds after tickets to see one of the most popular artists in the world were made available for sale. But fear not, fans of The Boss: Tickets were available through TicketsNow, an online ticket broker selling seats at 10 times their face value. In a shocking coincidence, would anyone care to take a guess which company owns TicketsNow? If you guessed Ticketmaster, you are correct, but you win nothing.

Then, as if the entire process of trying to get Yankees tickets for the 2009 season hasn’t been enough of a fiasco, I read about this gem on a blog called New Stadium Insider. Apparently, a potential customer shelled out $900 for a ticket for Opening Day (don’t even get me started on the Yankees’ ticket prices), only to go through the Ticketmaster process and find that he was given a completely different ticket, nowhere near as good as his original seat, while the original ticket was relisted at $2,650. Someone spending $9 on a ticket should be entitled to the location they were promised, much less someone spending $900.

Then this morning, a good friend whom I had e-mailed information about a presale for U2 tickets informed me that Ticketmaster was pulling the exact same scam for U2 that it did for Springsteen — saying the site was down for maintenance and directing people to TicketsNow. Unreal.

Those three examples aside, anyone who has ever tried to get tickets has experienced the following scenario. Say, hypothetically, tickets to see Rush become available at 10 a.m. Why is it that upon getting through to the Ticketmaster system at 15 seconds after 10 a.m., the only seats available in a 20,000-seat arena are in the upper sections? Are we expected to believe that 12,000 or so of the 20,000 seats were sold in 15 seconds? Yet, should you surf to any online ticket broker, the prime seats that were never made available to you are mysteriously right there for the taking — at several times face value, naturally.

I really wish more performers, teams and operators of venues would follow the lead of Pearl Jam 15 years ago and fight Ticketmaster in every way possible. It’s sad that Pearl Jam tried to take a stand in 1994 and, 15 years later, the situation has gotten worse, not better.

Ticketmaster should be brought to its knees. Will anyone have the guts to do it? I doubt it.

Mc9?

I was adopted and never had the burning desire to research my natural parents. I’ve always been fine with the fact that I was adopted, and my lack of desire to pursue the truth isn’t based on resentment — rather, the opposite: I’ve always assumed there was a good reason for what happened and left it at that.

McJew

McJew

When I was a kid, a lot of people guessed that I was German because of my platinum blonde hair and blue eyes — practically Hitler’s wet dream. But since my hair darkened around age six, the guess I hear the most is Irish.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve actually found myself drifting toward many Irish traits and products.

I definitely like to have a few drinks, and my beer of choice from the first time I tried it has been Guinness.

I love Irish whiskey — John Powers, Jameson, Tullamore Dew, Bushmills.

I took a liking to Irish music after initially playing it on jukeboxes to annoy a friend of mine who hated it, and I consistently listen to The Pogues (just saw them this past Friday), the Dropkick Murphys, Black 47, the Wolfe Tones, the Clancy Brothers, The Tossers, etc.

And I love the way the Irish express themselves. They always seem to find a nugget of humor, often self-depreciating, in the direst circumstances.

I was brought up Jewish, but my family isn’t very religious and, after my Bar Mitzvah, I pretty much dropped religion. I still consider myself Jewish, although I love to tweak people by telling them Yankee baseball is my religion.

I’m certainly not ashamed of being Jewish, and I’d never even think about converting to another religion, but I find religion in general, frankly, to be a gigantic bore, and nothing I’ve ever heard in a house of worship ever really moved me.

Yankee baseball being my religion isn’t that far from the truth, actually. I’ve been far more moved by Yankee rallies, Nets buzzer-beaters and Cowboys sacks of the opposing quarterback on third down than by anything from any religion. If this offends anyone, it’s not meant to, but that’s how I feel.

So is it strange that I feel so much more in touch with the Irish — which I may or may not actually be part of — than with the religion of my childhood? Is it weird that being at the Pogues show Friday night almost gave me a sense of pride, or that I’m extremely excited to go to the St. Patrick’s Day parade tomorrow, while nothing in religion has ever given me feelings like that?

Before anyone makes any suggestions about specific houses of worship, religions or whatever for me to try, please save your energy: It won’t work. At the age of 41, I’m not about to suddenly see the light and find inspiration in something that I’ve found to be nothing but a bore, a chore and a task for most of my life. Religions in general make no attempt to change with the times, and they’re not for me.

Writing this almost makes me want to find out if I am, indeed, of Irish descent. But after 41 years, I will more than likely leave things alone.

That being said, I will not feel the least bit guilty while I’m hoisting a pint of Guinness in a pub somewhere in Manhattan after tomorrow’s parade. I just wanted to get this off my chest, I guess.