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radio city blues

actually not blues. actually very very irritated. pissed off.

actually first a quick mention of souvenir, the new play about florence foster jenkins. it’s the funniest, most-touching, and best-written piece i’ve seen in ages. do yourself a favor and see it immediately if not sooner.

and now, on to my complete disgust about the radio city christmas show.

i’ve blogged before about how much i love the radio city christmas show and why, so i won’t repeat myself here. you’ll just have to read the prior piece, or trust me.

and this year, like nearly every other year i’ve been in new york, kirk and i got tickets. there are always great deals floating around, and we got buy-one-get-one-free tickets for an off-peak performance, so the total out-of-pocket wasn’t too bad. our tickets are for a december performance.

if you don’t live in new york you may not know this, but the union representing the christmas show musicians recently went on strike. actually there’s some dispute about even that. the musicians say that they accepted the offer from management but have been locked out. the management (cablevision, certainly not any new yorker’s favorite company) says that the musicians must sign the contract before they can come back to work, or something like that. it’s all very confusing and contradictory.

and some accountant at cablevision, with a clear eye to the bottom line, decided that the show must go on, except without any live music. so the rockettes are rocketing, and the dancing santas are multiplying, and the tin soldiers are falling down, and the camels are hopefully not crapping on the stage as they walk across.

all to a tape. recorded music.

i do not pay any money to a broadway musical, which is what this is if you ask me, to sit and listen to fucking memorex. i want to hear living musicians live. and at the christmas show, this is a particular problem, because the musicians are an integral part of the show. the orchestra pit moves up onto the stage and back down in front of the stage while they are playing, and it’s tremendously cool. and the two organists play the dueling pipe organs before the show, and it’s thrilling in an old-school way that can’t be duplicated.

and the press is giving me fits. they keep asking these dumb tourists from bumfuck egypt if they missed the live music. and what do you think the uniform answer is? “oh no, not a bit, the show was wonderful, the music was fabulous, blah blah blah.” and then they waddle off to times square making spandex shorts noises. and i have yet to see or hear the first quote supporting the musicians, although you know that there are plenty of people who do. wonder why not? cablevision is a big advertiser in all these newspapers and on all these tv stations, you know. money talks. doubt me? when’s the last time you saw a newspaper run an article about how car dealers rip you off?

but i digress.

i guarantee you that, if i had known that i was going to hear all the songs played back on an ipod or whatever, that i would not have bought tickets in the first place. i bought those tickets with an expectation of a certain show, a reasonable expectation based on the show that’s been playing since, what, 1930-something?

so this morning i strolled across the street (i work across the street. very cool, huh?) to ask a hypothetical question. if i purchased my tickets before the strike, expecting to see live music, and there is still no live music in december when it’s show time for me, can i get a refund?

the very apologetic box office person, who is, i must add, a union member herself, politely told me that there are no refunds.

i didn’t cause a scene. this was a quick reconaissance mission, and it’s not her fault, and i asked as nicely as i could and left immediately after getting my answer, and you could tell from the look on her face that she knew exactly where i was coming from and hated like hell telling me what she had to tell me. except that, of course, if she was a union member with a clue or with any self-respect, she and all her co-workers would not be at work in the first place.

it must be said that i am a big hardline supporter of unions. i belonged to a union in every job i ever had when the option was available. and it must also be said that the musician’s union ain’t exactly steelworkers out of a job in the rust belt. they make outrageous money, and have benefits out the wazoo, and cushy working conditions, and all that.

i don’t care. a union is a union, and i can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone associated with the show who belongs to any union is showing up for work. that includes stagehands, box office, rockettes, the whole schmear. they ought to be shutting the whole ball of wax down. whatever happened to union solidarity?

i bet you that utah phillips wouldn’t be seeing the christmas show under these conditions. and i bet he’d have a thing or two to say to those lousy caving non-supportive rockettes.

it’s my fervent hope that this is a non-issue by december. i hope that, whatever it takes, i see live music in my christmas show. but i have a feeling that this may be cablevision’s way of getting the live music out permanently, so that they can make that much more money.

and if that’s the case, and there’s no live music come my december showtime, i’m going to have a decision to make. i may go to the show, and i may not. probably not, but i’m not sure. i haven’t thought that through logically yet. i’m not as ideologically pure as utah. i may just go and ask every damn employee in sight where the orchestra is and what they think of its absence. kirk will love that.

but this i do promise you. i can be quite an irritant to a corporation when i choose to be.

and if i indeed feel i deserve a refund prior to showtime, i guarantee you that i will, very sweetly and efficiently, use their own corporate system to use up a huge amount of the available time of their employees in my attempts to obtain that refund.

and that the dollar value of their employees’ time will exceed many, many times over the face value of my tickets.

don’t believe me? ask at&t wireless. ask american airlines. it’s a real talent of mine, and one that i choose to exercise on a limited basis, only when necessary. but i always get results and satisfaction, one way or another.

in this particular hypothetical case, i’d be satisfied with a refund from cablevision. i’d also be satisfied if i use up hundreds or thousands of dollars in employee time and still don’t get a refund.

i hope it doesn’t come to that.