Nothing’s free in this world. Especially when it’s offered by a corporation. Is it worth it to accept freebies from the Man when he seemingly expects nothing in return? Not when it’s box seats to a concert. You’re better off watching it at home with relatives you hate. At least you can kick them out…or kill them. This Glono feature looks at the sick world of corporate boxes and how they can kill your favorite rock stars.
Boxing Bob Dylan
The evils of corporate boxes uncovered.
We do some corporate bashing here and why not? They don’t seem to be too concerned with things like arsenic in the water, ecoli in your burger, or signing good artists. Corporations are inherently anti-people but knowing the rules of the game makes it easier to play. Glono team member Sab suggests we stick it to the Man at every opportunity. So, when a pair of corporate box seats to see Bob Dylan came my way, I jumped at ’em. What better way to sock it to ’em than to see Dylan on their dime?
It’s easy to get caught in the trappings of the corporate world. They lull you into submission with free t-shirts and dinners. Hey, free is free, right? But nothing’s free in this world, sonny. Nothing.
I motored down to the United Center in Chicago’s west loop instead of taking a $20 cab. I had a VIP parking pass that allowed me to park right up front. I couldn’t help but grin as I passed the poor saps waving their flashlights outside of the pay lots. “Up yours!” I yelled as I drove by. “You won’t be getting twelve bucks from me, you dogs!”
I pulled my ’88 Jeep, Grand Wagoneer, a true MONSTER of a truck, up to the gate where we were greeted by security.
“Got yer pass?” a yellow-jacket attendant asked.
“My pass? Oh, yeah. Hold on…” I dug around looking for the pass as cars lined up behind me. As the seconds ticked by, my yellow friend got more impatient.
“You got a pass?” he asked again.
“Yeah, hold on, it’s right here.” Suddenly a horn sounds. I knew it was coming. You can’t be stopped ANYWHERE in Chicago for more than one second without some nitwit laying on the horn. I shot up and peered in my rearview mirror at the graying man behind the wheel of a Lincoln Navigator. I hate those things. They’re not trucks. They’re luxury cars hopped up on steroids. Just try taking one down a washed out mountain road and see.
“Ok, I just fucking had it,” I say to Old Yeller.
“Well, come on. I got people waiting.” He said looking at the growing line of luxury SUVs.
Finally I found the window pass and handed it to him, but not before the Navigator could get one more honk in.
“Fuck you!” I screamed out my open window. “Not you,” I said to Old Yeller as he jerked his head up to my scream. “It’s that Navigator.”
“Oh,” he replied. “Yeah, that is a nice truck though.”
“You call that a truck?” I grabbed my pass back and stepped on the gas. Another yellow man directed me to me parking spot.
Now, I wasn’t alone. Mick, guitarist for the Blue Ribbon Brothers, was there too and he hates Navigators with a passion that matches mine. He can’t even look at ’em. See, Mick is anti-rich. He hates everything about wealth and wealthy people, whereas I just hate obnoxious pseudo-trucks and some of the hair-brains who drive them. Mick is also a top-notch drinker and I should have considered that before asking him to come to the show with me. It was going to be a long night.
We parked the Beast and walked up to the gate. After showing our tickets three times, we were hustled into a suite on the first tier of boxes at the United Center. The mood was somber. It felt like we were being escorted to Lincoln’s box and the Old Boy was just about to take one in the melon. Right away we knew we were in the wrong place and so did everyone inside.
The box is a dingy little apartment decorated like a suburban Rent-A-Center. Tacky paintings and tweed couches feel more like the living room of the Roseanne show than a luxury suite. But we weren’t there for the décor. We were there for the show-and the free food and booze.
Corporate boxes are really only for schmoozing clients and other assorted VIPs a company may have. It is a palace of ass kissing and if you’re ass isn’t pretty, powerful or rich, you might as well back it the hell out.
Mick and I stood in the doorway for a full five minutes. People looked up from time to time but nobody said a word to us. This was good and bad. Good because I didn’t want to talk to anyone about ad space or marketing promotions, but bad because I felt like they were going to call security and get us thrown out of there. Who needs a couple of stoned dirtballs hanging around when you’re closing a six-month, three-quarter-page deal?
Finally, I just pushed my way through the crowd. The box has four rows of seats in front of it and out in the stadium itself. I wanted to be sure we had our pick of the best and didn’t want to waste any more time. I’d never seen Dylan before and I wasn’t about to let some paunchy sales man in his Wednesday night best Dockers bump me out of a good seat, no siree.
Well, I was worked up over nothing. Though the BobFather was mere minutes from taking the stage, there was no mad rush for the good seats. In fact, the dimming of the lights that signals the coming of Him was met with minor interest at best and deranged heckling at worst.
Bob took the stage dressed in the country gentleman fare he’s taken a shine to in recent years. He had a four-man backing band and they launched into the folk standard “Wait for the Light” to the cheers of the floor and the rising din of the boxes. The chatter from the various ad-hucksters and their “guests” grew to an alarming decibel. Four mooks in particular really raised my dander when their leader stumbled to his seat during the fourth song and wittily exclaimed, “This guy’s been at it for forty years and he still can’t fucking sing.” All this as he assumed the obligatory air guitar stance.
This kind of tomfoolery continued throughout the first half of the set. My head was aching and I needed something to keep me grounded while the goon squad to our left continued to heckle and ogle 19-year-old hippie chicks in the seats ahead of us.
“I need a drink,” I said to Mick who was sweating and obviously suffering the DTs.
“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” he said.
We slowly shuffled between the rows of seats toward the aisle. We didn’t have to bother with the customary apologies because nobody was sitting there. Here was Bob Dylan putting on an education in folk balladry and the fat heads in the box were trying to squeeze the last drops of Chardonnay out of the Box O’ Wine provided by their guests.
Mick and I looked around the suite trying to pinpoint where all the beer was. Our eyes darted from one hand to another filled with the plastic cups still wet with wine and a few cans of Miller Genuine Draft. Nobody was giving up the location. It wasn’t anywhere we could see. We opened the fridge and looked under the table for a cooler but it was nowhere.
“God damn it, where is all the beer?” I hissed at Mick, now pale and surly.
“How the fuck should I know? This is your gig.” I got us the tickets but it was NOT my gig. We were turning on each other. All we could think of was the beer. The mindless yammering of the corporate heads was hypnotizing us into a stupor.
We fumbled around some more and eventually wandered back to our seats empty-handed. The four buffoons had gone back into the suite and we were left to watch the show in relative peace. Until a cell phone rang behind me. A piercing scream of a ring went on and on as the ditz who owned the phone giggled nervously and dug around in her bag for the damned thing.
“C’mon already,” I mumbled. “Answer it.” Be careful what you ask for.
She finally answered it and proceeded to talk for the next ten minutes about where they were, who was there and, more importantly, what they were doing after the show.
“What? I can’t hear you.” She yelped into the phone.
“No, I think we’re going to Cubby Bear.”
“No, Dan wants to see some other band there.”
“Yeah, he Loooves music.”
“What? It’s ok. His voice isn’t all that great and I haven’t recognized one song yet.”
“What? No, I think that’s a Jimmy Hendrix song. No, really. What?”
To Dan, her music expert friend.
“Dan. Dan. Aaron wants to know if he’s played the Jimi Hendrix song.”
“All along the Watch Tower?” Dan inquires knowingly. He’s a cheeky devil.
“Yeah. That’s a Hendrix song isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but Dylan wrote it.”
And on and on and on like this. My brain was swelling and my mouth was dry. I was actually praying the show would end soon. It did, too soon…too late.
From what I could concentrate on, Dylan really seemed to put on a good show. His backing band was fantastic and Dylan played a great variety of songs spanning his career and the timeline of American folk music. Unfortunately, my hatred for every other soul in the corporate box distracted me to the point of ignoring the concert. I stand before you now and swear to never accept a ticket to a corporate box again…unless beer and guns are readily accessible.
Have you had the misfortune of attending a show in a “luxury” box?
We want to hear about it.