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Stories: The Most Awkward Car Ride Too

NOTE: People seemed to love yesterday’s story which got me thinking of a specific ride that had much more of an impact on me as a child. I hope you read it with the humor it is intended to have, but I think you need to know my father to fully appreciate it.

It was the summer of 1990, Philadelphia was typically hot, sweaty, and a little smelly for mid-July. Since it was the middle of the summer, my old man decided we should go on vacation. My family was hit and miss with vacation; Sometimes my father would take a week off, sometimes it would be a few days, sometimes not at all. If we did go on vacation, we ALWAYS went to the Jersey Shore (Southern Shore – Wildwood). That summer, I was nine years old and my sister had just turned 11 – my father announced to us that we were going to the Catskill Mountains for a few days and my head started spinning.

I had never heard of the Catskills Mountains. This was a massive break from the routine and was outside my “comfort zone” of South Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Reflecting on my youth, I developed a philosophy about the typical South Philadelphia upbringing: it is very insular – “the world outside South Philadelphia does not exist”. Once the shock of change wore off, I started seeking information about our summer destination. My first source was my mother; she was trying to hide her own lack of enthusiasm, but managed to inform me that at one point in it’s illustrious history, the Catskill Mountains was a hotbed for stand up comedy. This had me excited until someone told me that the good comedians don’t go there anymore and was now a place that old people go to – I was not pleased.

As we packed our things into my father’s 1983 Buick Regal, I wondered what this vacation would be like… I should have been wondering “how long is the car ride?”

To understand this situation, let us begin with a brief description of my father: He is a man of medium height and average weight. He works in the food industry (you may even catch him on TV sometimes) and doesn’t talk. Let me repeat – He doesn’t talk – unless you have managed to do something wrong. Over the years I have come to admire and appreciate his silent nature: most people can’t shut up, but you can’t get a word out of my old man. In addition to his own quiet nature, at the time, he enjoyed complete silence around him. This meant no radio (which he has since changed his mind about) and of course, no conversations in the car besides basic questions.

Having been around the man my entire life, I was used to his “modus operandi”; However, I was not prepared to be in a car in complete silence for 4 hours. Nobody told me this trip would take 4 hours as I would have most definitely stayed with a relative. Remember: This is before iPods and DVD players in the back seat of the car. You know what our back seat had? A big rotting hole in the car’s floor – it was like that for months – I lost countless toys to that hole. He placed a metal plate to the floor before the trip to prevent any potentially fatal slippage. I was not a complete moron – I did have a walkman (with tapes) but of course after 2 hours – the battery ran out and the extras were in the trunk. At one point we stopped for refreshments and gas. My old man got me a Snapple Iced Tea. I remember this because after I finished the iced tea I was mindlessly clicking the cap until my father asked if he could see the cap. Out the window it went.

People have their own way with dealing with silence – I tend to get lost in my head which I managed to do successfully for a few hours, but not everyone takes that approach. My sister kept it under control for a few hours but then she started to get bored. As children, my sister was very much the alpha personality and I was much more passive (that has probably flip-flopped at least outwardly). She also takes after my father a little bit in the fact that she can hold a grudge and she can be a world class ball-buster (I mean comic villain ball-buster, it’s pretty admirable when you aren’t on the receiving end). By the third hour my sister was ready to enact revenge for some past transgression. Make no bones, my sister was an expert at setting traps to get me in trouble. She knew exactly how to push my buttons to make me lose it. I don’t remember what she did exactly, but her move was to always ask a seemingly innocent question to my father which would highlight a recent screw-up on my part. I would immediately attempt to defend myself which of course would break the silent harmony that my father craved. She managed to replicate this trap and like an idiot I fell for it every time. Looking back I think my father knew exactly what was going on and was playing his part to entertain himself for 4 hours.

My sister’s traps ate up the remaining time and when we finally pulled into the parking lot of the “resort” I almost kissed the ground. That is until I noticed that this place had obviously seen better days. Rusting fence around the tennis courts, buildings in need of paint, and of course the rooms had a medicinal smell similar to a hospital (“Of Course!” I thought – “Old People”). My father was more silent than normal. He would usually be making some comment how he was going to spend his time. He was just walking around eye-balling the place. My parents friends met us in the lobby and it was then that I discovered where my father got this bright idea – his buddy. His friend reminded me of Jack Tripper’s neighbor Larry (from Three’s Company). While his friend went on about how great this place was with the tennis, the golf, and the streams, my father walked around with a disgusted look. That disgusted look remained during dinner (which was infested with the elderly). When we got back to the room, he made the announcement: “Pack up your things, we are getting the hell out of here tomorrow”. And that is exactly what we did. We hopped in the car the next morning and drove the 4+ hours in silence to… The Jersey Shore.

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Stories: The Most Awkward Car Ride Ever

I spent a few days with “Woody” from the story last week; being in his company make me think of this story, which I had to capture while still fresh in my mind. Some facts, places, and people might have been changed to protect people’s identities and to make the story better. Deal with it.

[Background]

The events of this story took place on Sunday, August 10th, 2008 in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. My friends and family rented a house for my bachelor party. Through the course of the weekend one of the guys whom we shall call “Gambo” took offense to the antics that were taking place in the house, especially one that indirectly-directly impacted him. This one specific event caused Gambo to mope around the house and not talk to anyone. On Saturday evening, a minor confrontation broke out between Gambo and a gentlemen we shall call Woody (actually a confrontation between me and Gambo also broke out). Woody was one of the principles in the act that caused Gambo to freak out and stop talking to us. Woody took responsibility for any damage and called in a specialist at a very low cost (a fraction of the deposit on the place). Gambo, who booked the house, wasn’t satisfied for some reason. Gambo came out of his funk on Saturday night, but still wasn’t talking to Woody. This leads us to Sunday Morning…

It had been decided after the specialist repaired the damage to the house (outstanding work I might add), we would all go out and get lunch. I picked a local Indian place to piss off my friend “Nuesbaum” who doesn’t like ethnic food. The pressure from the last few days had lifted since the damage was fixed and the security deposit was coming back (which nobody expected to be returned except for Gambo). Woody and I got into Republicaster’s car. As we were pulling out, Gambo got into the back seat next to me. The next 6 minutes won’t ever be forgotten.

[The Ride]

{Scene: Republicaster, Woody, and I are in the driveway of the house, getting ready to leave for lunch. Gambo is looking at the car.}

Woody: I hope he doesn’t think he is getting a ride with us.
Joey: I doubt he will get in the car, Gambo is non-confrontational, he knows better than to come in here with you.

{Gambo gets in the car. I hear Republicaster saying “Oh shit” under his breath. The car is silent for a full minute}

Joey: Man I can’t wait to get me some Indian food. I wonder if Nuesbuam is going to make it through lunch before he ruins himself.
Gambo: He isn’t coming, he is going to get Burger King with some of the other guys
Joey: What the hell…
Woody (to Republicaster): Man, that specialist did a great job today.
Republicaster: No doubt man, we got lucky finding him. Good work.
Woody: Gambo, you like what he did?
Gambo: Yeah it looks fine.

{Woody nodds}

Gambo: I just want to let you know that I am not paying you for the specialist, I don’t think I should have to.

{Woody remains silent}

{Woody turns around to face Gambo}

Woody: You don’t think everyone should pay for the damage. Everyone was down there laughing and half the people in the house were in on it. It’s a bachelor party – everyone should pay. It should just come out of the deposit money.
Gambo: I don’t think I should have to pay for that damage.
Woody: That’s because you are a rat.

{Silence from everyone. There are much nastier words in the English language, but when Woody called Gambo a rat, it sounded like the absolute worst thing in the world}

Woody: Republicaster, can you believe this guy? He can’t relax and be part of the group, he needs to create a problem… needs to act like a RAT

{Gambo is looking at me with pleading eyes, I just look back with a a sad nod. I felt bad for the guy, but he got on the crazy train, now he need to sit back and enjoy the ride}

Woody: I can’t believe I am sharing a car with a rat. This guy has a been a complete jerk all weekend. A total RAT. You ever see a rat chew a hole in a wall? Then he climbs in the wall and makes more holes. And then he gets in your kitchen and eats your food and poops all over your counter. That’s what Gambo is doing. He is crapping in my kitchen!
Gambo: You think I should…
Woody: RAT!
Gambo: Why should I be expected to…
Woody: RATS CAN TALK! When a Rat got into our house, my mother made me chop off it’s head with a shovel….

{Woody is now sweating with rage and the thought of rats. Republicaster and I are fighting the urge to laugh.}

Woody: I am done with this guy. Nobody should talk to RATS, it’s bad for your health.

{Republicaster nods in agreement as we pull into the Indian Restaurant’s parking lot, Gambo is just staring out the window like nothing happened}

[Conclusion]

Lunch was a curry flavored session of tension. The other guys didn’t know what happened, but they knew something was up. Gambo and Woody stayed away from each other and when the meal was over he did not join us in the car ride home. Actually, I think we just got in the car and left knowing that Nuesbaum’s car had room (they met us after they got back from BK). Woody and Gambo kept their distance until the car ride back to New Jersey as they were both in my car. Gambo put on his earphones and listened to his iPod the entire ride home not saying a word to either of us. Woody made a few Rat comments, if Gambo heard them, he didn’t react. I didn’t speak to Gambo for a few months (actually not until days before the wedding). That is another topic to be covered in another place.

The boys didn’t get their deposit money returned for months, but none of them said anything to me about it – not even Woody, who told me after he got the check that he wasn’t expecting to get one. Eventually Gambo stopped talking to the group and after some initial questioning from the guys, they stopped asking about him. I have no doubts that this incident had something to do with his previous self-imposed exile.

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Thanksgiving Eve (2006)

[A Brief History]

About 8 years ago (when I was still in college and interning), my cousin’s business was located in downtown Marlton, NJ. I used to meet him for lunch regularly at his office and I often brought my co-worker “Shame” (I am going to keep the naming methods from “The Night We Got Beat Up”). During the holidays at my office, people used to leave around lunch and never came back. We got the wink that we could leave at noon the day before Thanksgiving and decided to meet up with my cousin and his business partner. When we got there, we couldn’t agree on a place to go, so my cousin looked at his buddy and said – “Follow Us” with an ominous tone.

We ended up going to the Jug Handle and for the next few years it became a mini-tradition. As my cousin and his partner stopped going for various reasons, I started supplementing the crowd with other work buddies. The Jug Handle was great because it had cheap food, cheap drinks, pool, darts, and shuffle board. Eventually people switched jobs and meeting at the Jug Handle became a pain in the ass because nobody worked or lived around there anymore and the cops were out looking for DUI’s. In 2006 we agreed to meet in a small bar attached to Fuddruckers because we knew nobody would be there and we could have a few hours to ourselves. This is the story of that day.

[Fuddruckers]

I decided to open up the invitation to my cousin and a few college buddies, Fudds is near my cousin’s place so I thought he could make it, but he couldn’t that year, but my college friends did. Republicaster made the trip from Pa and agreed to spend the night. With Republicaster involved, I knew it was going to be a crazy night. Another friend agreed to drive us to our liquid lunch and my future wife would meet us there when she was done work. On the way to the bar, we picked up The Mongolian from my Fear and Loathing stories. On this particular day, Republicaster had just discovered the video “Two Girls and a Cup” and made us all watch it. If you don’t know what this video is, I wouldn’t recommend googling it unless you like watching people eat freshly squeezed feces. Republicaster played that damn video on every computer he came in contact with that day and on his iPhone.

We were really early and the other guys informed us they were getting out of work late, so we stopped at a Chinese Buffet down the street and loaded up. After 20 minutes, The Mongolian looked like he was going to pass out in a food coma. He stopped eating which had me concerned for his whole day drinking stamina. After 40 minutes of killing time, we got the word that the others were on their way, so we left for the bar. Clowncar and “The Professor” were already there and we quickly settled in and started taking advantage of Fudd’s Blue Moon special (I don’t know how I remember that). Shame and Grapeape were the next to arrive and we started playing pool and darts. We were having a great time and then Shirts walks in sporting a 1992 US Basketball Dream Team Jersey complete with head and wrist bands. The verbal beating that Shirts took that day became legendary (check out the video). Shame actually had to tell us to stop because Shirts was really upset over the verbal lashing. It didn’t stop Clowncar.

[La Casa de Shirt]

My future wife showed up just as “The Professor”, Grapeape, and Clowncar were leaving. My college friend left to pick up his lady friend and never came back – typical. Shirts suggested we enjoy a few beverages at his place. Off we went. Shirts had recently moved into a nice condo and he was definitely entertaining often based on the amount of booze at the place. Republicaster immediately went up to the loft and started showing everyone “Two Girls and a Cup”, even after repeated viewings, I threw up in my mouth a little bit. Republicaster must have had it on repeat as I heard him belly-laughing for several minutes. Up to this point, I hadn’t really noticed how much Republicaster was drinking, but I started to see bottles of Shirt’s scotch start to pile up next to his recycle bin. Shirts had invited some of his other friends over as well because he was leaving the country for the holidays for a few weeks. Shirts also invited his neighbors over. His neighbors were divorced women who were dressed just a little bit provocatively. Republicaster was all over this. Somehow they started talking politics and George Bush. At some point in the night, Republicaster said “George Bush is a great president – how can you deny it? – we won the war on terror”. If you haven’t figured it out, this is how Republicaster earned his name. This started a shouting match between Republicaster, Allison, and I that Shirt’s semi-tramp neighbor had to break up by getting Republicaster to go outside with her for a cigarette. Looking at the recycling bin there were two empty bottles of scotch, 2 empty bottles of rum, 3 empty vodkas, and at least a case of beer. Allison didn’t have one drink at Shirt’s place and I stopped well before my shouting match with Republicaster which was good because Shame, The Mongolian, and Republicaster wanted to leave. Shame’s dad was playing music at an old-school Italian bar near Berlin, NJ so we agreed to go there.

[Volare’s]

This place was totally “Guido’ed” out. Lots of dark slicked back hair, gold chains, teased hair, Frank Sinatra covers…. Shame immediately started doing shots of tequila with family members at the bar. The Mongolian got sucked into the vortex and quickly became a drunken zombie. Republicaster found his way to the outdoor patio and started making friends outside. Me and Allison were sitting at a table waiting for Shame to find some girl to take home so we could leave. We stayed a while as Shame performed with his dad’s band, but I could see most of the women at the bar were more like family to Shame and the girls that met his approval – well, I think he already slept with most of them. Shame decided it was time to go to a bar near his house. At this point Allison said enough. We promptly told the guys we would take them to the bar but they have to find their own way home OR we would drive them all back to their houses. Shame wanted to go to the bar (because he could walk home). Republicaster got caught up in Shame’s spell thinking he could actually get his run off. Shame left no run off. If there are three girls, Shame will try to get all three. I tried to warn Republicaster but he wasn’t listening.

[Home-bound]

As we pulled into the new bar’s parking lot, I looked at The Mongolian who had not spoken a word in over an hour, I told him we could take him home and he looked like he really want to leave with us, but Republicaster pulled him out of the car. I looked at Republicaster – who was supposed to be staying at my house – and said “if you leave with them, I am not coming back out to get you. You will have to find your own way.” He said he understood and with that I shut off my cell phone. Getting home was terrible. There were so many checkpoints I was really glad Allison hadn’t had a drink in close to 7 hours, but I still took her down back-roads to avoid any possibility of conflict with the police. We got home and went to bed. I never did turn my cell phone on.

[The Morning After]

Thanksgiving day was misty and cold. As I turned on my cellphone I knew I was going to have several obscenity-laced message and I was right. As I predicted, Shame quickly found a girl and left Republicaster and The Mongolian behind. The Mongolian had enough and started to walk home (about 2 miles). Republicaster started following him back. As Republicaster followed, he called me on his cell phone to tell me to pick him up, of course I never answered. The messages became more desperate and crude. The Mongolian told me Republicaster was trying to hitch-hike a one point (Republicaster hates to walk). Eventually they made it to The Mongolian’s house. The Mongolian’s wife – Lady Death Strike – is a very clean woman. Their rug and couch are white and you have to be very careful not to mess up their pristine set-up. This was not a good situation for Republicaster.

Lady Death Strike later told me she heard snoring from downstairs and had assumed it was one of their friends but she didn’t know anyone that snored that loud. The Mongolian was still in his drunken zombie mode and offered no information. The good lady was left to wonder who was sleeping on her couch that evening.

As I deleted Republicaster’s half-dozen messages, Allison and I went to the gym. After we got out, my phone rang and it was a very panicked Republicaster asking me to get him the hell out of The Mongolian’s cave before they woke up. He didn’t want to deal with any awkward conversations with Lady Death Strike who he didn’t know well at the time. Allison and I laughed as we went to get Republicaster. I texted him when I was at the door and he snuck out.

Republicaster promptly informed me that he lost his credit card and I needed to take him back to the Guido Bar. So I had to drive to Berlin (about 25 minutes) and then back to my place (which was 40 minutes). When we got to the bar, some meat-head was yelling at his girlfriend; he peeled off when he noticed Allison and I were shamelessly watching him. Another girl dropped off a very shady looking character at the bar. He quickly got in his car and pulled off without saying a word. Ah, who doesn’t love the sights of trashy South Jersey one night stands.

Republicaster got back in the car and we went back to my place. He quickly grabbed his stuff and left so he can celebrate the holiday with his family. My family enjoyed our typical early meal and then I drove back to Berlin to take my Grandmother home and then off to my future in-laws.

[Conclusion]

Needless to say it was a long 24 hours. The last few years we have continued to meet at Fudds for a few hours. It has been getting harder as some of the guys have kids at home and they need to get back and help their wives with holiday preparations. Regardless of the obstacles, we plan on getting together again this year.

If you find yourself going out on Thanksgiving Eve – make sure you have a designated driver and don’t “Shame” your friends.

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A Thirty Year Retrospective

Since I am turning 30, I figured I would take a look back at the last 30 years from my perspective.

[1979 – 1983]

The first four years of my life are a little hazy. My father’s family was my whole world – literally – they all lived across the street from us, so I was always with my Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. I remember my Uncle Joe being a huge ball buster and always taking my legos, my sister attempting to kill me a few times, my Grandmother buying me vanilla ice cream cones with rainbow sprinkles from Mr. Softy, “Painting” my Grandfather’s shed (using water) with my cousin Laurie, chasing my Grandparent’s dog Pebbles under their couch (that was the dog’s name right?), my cousin Clara (aka Fonzie) putting Combos in my cheese sandwich starting a life long love affair with that particular snack, Clara creating plastic with an easy bake oven and it promptly being taken away from us, my Godfather shoving squid between my teeth (because I wouldn’t eat it) knocking out a tooth, my Grandmother (Mom’s side) buying me an organ, eating freshly grown grapes from everyone’s back yards, watching Thriller and “Faces of Death” with my cousins, My mom buying us 45s of “Born in the USA” and “Thriller” (and playing them non-stop), Ida’s Ice Cream shop, Eating Fruity Pebbles at Jackie & Paulette’s house, walking around with Ernie, the Lebanese Festivals where I went on my first rides and making friends with the Vietnamese family next door – they had a son my age that they called “Chewy”.

I also remember a show called “Automan” being my absolute favorite because the dude could make anything with a “computer buddy”.

Does anybody else remember this show?

[1984 – 1994]

We moved into a bigger house in 1984 near the Philadelphia football and baseball stadiums. I remember my mother and grandmother going to the house cleaning it and getting ready to move in. I don’t remember much about my pre-school days, but it is where I inevitably met my childhood friends because the school nor the classroom changed much over the next 9 years. I remember my mother’s father passing away and my father’s mother following soon after while I was in Kindergarten.

There were plenty of kids in the neighborhood and typical of children, sometimes we got along, and sometimes we didn’t. One thing that was clear from the beginning was were were all very competitive with each other in the grades department I never really shook of the fear of getting anything “less than an A because I will look dumb”. Going to a Catholic grade school certainly had pros and cons: The nuns were excellent teachers who had complete control of the class (they didn’t beat us with rulers btw), but you had to deal with the whole religious aspect of a Catholic education, but I didn’t know what the hell was going on back then. I have a strong affection for nuns even though I loathe the church – they were good ladies.

First Holy Communions shifted into Confirmations and by that time we weren’t all sugar and sweetness. The desire to be “cool” started to manifest itself – it might have started with haircuts and clothes (fucking Air Jordans, Z-Cavariccis, and “spike” haircuts), then it was minor acts of vandalism, and then it was going out and wanting to fight the kids who lived on 13th street “by the tunnel”. My first window to the world outside of South Philadelphia came from my growing annoyance at my peer’s taste in rap music. Kriss Kross did not make me want to “Jump Jump” and I wasn’t into wearing my clothes backwards. I was sort of shocked how quickly Kriss Kross morphed into 2-Live Crew, Black Sheep, and NWA. This may have been historical music for a lot of reasons, but my 12 year old ears heard a lot of angry shit that I could not relate to. I ended up befriending an older guy named Mark who lived across the street that was in a bar band who taught me about Led Zeppelin, the Stones, the Beatles and that led me into the grunge age (I always liked Pearl Jam more than Nirvana in case you were wondering, but as an adult, I think the Pixies were the best of the genre).

My last years of grade school saw the Soviet Union collapse, ending the cold war and Bill Clinton take office (with a nice box of cigars in his desk drawer). Music was an entry drug to books, which then got me interested in history, which then got me interested in how fucked up the Catholic church was (this was heavy shit for a 12-13 year old going to Catholic school). By the time I entered my first year at St. John Neumann High School (SJNHS) I was done with the church but knew enough to keep that to myself. The school employed blatantly homosexual priests… okay I have to side track here for a moment because I will never have another reason to write about this:

At St. John Neumann High School, we were required to (of course) take a religion class. The messed up thing about this class was after a few weeks of teaching the new testament, the priest blows off the curriculum and starts teaching basic health, spending a considerable amount of time on “wet dreams”. I know what you are thinking because I was thinking it too while I was trapped in the classroom with this lunatic who threatened to spank us if we were getting out of line.

I didn’t have an issue with the priest’s preferences (whatever my understanding of the lifestyle was at the time) but I knew enough to determine that he had serious internal conflict between his orientation and his “employers” (thinking about it makes me very sad for this guy because I don’t imagine his life was easy).

Back to my time at SJNHS – it was terrible. It sucked at the time and looking back, it really sucked. That school was a dark and miserable place. The Catholic high schools in Philadelphia had track systems based on your ability. Honors Track and Track 1 were the best, Track 2 was average, Track 3 not so good, Track 4 – well – you didn’t see many track 4 kids leave the basement. I was placed in all Track 1 and honors classes, but it was clear to me that many parents got their kids into these classes who didn’t belong – there was a dude who used to sit behind me that I don’t think could read – he used to try to cheat off of me, which I would have been cool with had he not been so open about it. I used to get into fights with this dude and his cronies all the time. It was a joy to be educated in such an institution.

By the end of that school year my old man informed us we were packing up and moving to South Jersey. My sister and I were appropriately horrified at the time and after a few visitations to my new high school, my opinion did not change (the school smelled like cow shit and all the kids looked like they just got done surfing). Leaving the world of South Philadelphia was hard at the time, I knew it wasn’t perfect, but I liked the freedoms it afforded me (an ever increasing mobility thanks to public transportation). I knew Jersey would make me very dependent on my parents for transport and that was not appealing – but in the end it was one of the best decisions my father ever made.

[1994 – 1997]

By the time we moved, I don’t think I was talking to any of my childhood friends; most of it was due to the typical high school split – we just didn’t see each other and we moved in different circles, so it made cutting ties to the old neighborhood easier than I thought. The hardest part was not having the access to my family that I used to have, but weekly music lessons in the city kept up visitation for a few more years until I was independently mobile (but I am getting ahead of myself).

Moving to New Jersey was an adjustment; at first I thought the kids at my new high school were “simple”. That was a costly error in judgment. Having just gotten out of an all boys Catholic high school, co-ed public school offered unique freedoms regarding dress code and the opposite sex. I became friends with Rob Austin on my first day of classes and he still is one of my best friends and actually the only person I still talk to from High School. Rob was friendly with a group of girls that I had assumed would be friendly to a new person. They weren’t. That created an interesting dynamic and earned me a reputation with Rob’s merry little group of band-chicks (I wasn’t taking their shit lying down, hence the reputation).

I had a small window of opportunity to get in with the cool kids the first 2 weeks of class and I had no clue that there was a window, thus resigning myself to an odd form of anonymity. Most of these kids knew each other for years (all 264), so even though nobody gave a shit about me, they all knew me because I was a new face. A new school gave me a chance to reinvent myself a bit, but I didn’t really know who the hell I was, so I went through the motions, but overall I was relatively content in my new surroundings.

In the summer of 1995, my Uncle Joe agreed to take me to Italy for a few weeks (the same Uncle Joe that took my legos from me as an infant) – this was a game changer: 3 weeks left to my own devices with distant relatives who were awesome people. I immediately struck up a friendship with my cousin Luca and we spent the next few weeks playing music and running around my family’s ancestral home. I came back a changed man (internally).

The remainder of my high school years were blissfully uneventful. I joined a little rock and roll band and indulged some rock star fantasies for half a second (covering Oasis and Beatles tunes – which thanks to hours of practicing, I can’t listen to anymore), I remember watching the OJ trial in my English class and thinking justice does have a price, Smashing Pumpkins were the all the rage (“Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage” – I fucking hated that song and the douche-bags that wore the zero t-shirts). I worked at a woman’s shoe store in the mall and made friends with a lot of strippers. I had a few great mentorsteachers that steered me in the right direction career wise (Thanks Mr. Cromer) and then I went to college.

[1997 – 2002]

The guy I was in Italy made a strong comeback when college hit – I wasn’t afraid of offending people’s delicate sensibilities or worried about “what my mother might think”. I immediately made a new friend a few minutes on campus and we have been thick as thieves ever since. Sean and I quickly assembled a posse in college – we were all good kids that wanted to do well, some of them had their issues which led to some philosophical disagreements, but I didn’t really meet any bad people at Drexel.

Freshmen year was a haze of unrestricted freedom, building friendships, bi-sexual girls, and the end of any remaining threads of childhood. My grandfather (dad’s side) passed away in November of 1997 and effectively marked the end of childhood. School was turning into “punish the bad professors” with some professors supporting my verbal terrorism on the lazy professors. A funny side note – I had won a GPA based award in the spring of 1998 and they had a little dog and pony show for the parents; one of my favorite professors, John Hall, was there to give the awards. During dessert, I introduce him to my mother and he says to her “you look too nice to be his Mom!” I think my Mom started to actually believe the stories my friends were telling.

Sophomore year brought steady employment (with it some excellent friends – Jack and The Good Looks Crew) and steady romance which brought upon forced maturity; looking back I wished I had another year of not being too responsible, but responsibility suits me. During the next few years my cousin Anthony introduced nature into my social scene organizing camping and rafting trips which have become a staple for years to come (Nate in particular enjoyed these outings and has bonded with Anthony). Somewhere in the middle of this bliss George W. Bush managed to become president of the United States. Like an asshole I didn’t vote (but Gore carried in my town anyway) but I have never skipped an election since (and never viewed Florida the same way).

Some time in 2001 I went to see Glenn Philips (lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket) playing at the Northstar bar in Philadelphia. The guy opening for him was late and my friends were at the bar wondering what the hell was going on. This tall kid was drinking a beer next to us (overhearing us complain about the delay) says: “I hear the guy opening is pretty good”. We were all glad to hear that, so this dude puts his beer down, walks up to the stage, picks up the guitar and starts singing this song:

Remember, this is before John Mayer became any form of famous, and a douchy celebrity dater. I maintain that Mayer is one of the best guitar players of my generation and he blew our minds. Excellent performance. He was very nice after the show, selling his self-made EPs of what became “Inside Wants Out”. That fucking CD was the soundtrack of my college years.

I worked hard in college and graduated a term early, allowing me to start working early and earn some money, I shifted easily from full time student to full time worker.

[2003-2006]

In mid-2003 I broke up with a long time girlfriend and made some major life changes. I fully embraced the out with the old mentality: I rid myself of troublesome acquaintances, about 140 lbs of excess weight, started focusing on my corporate career, and opened a computer repair shop.

During this time I went on a ridiculous amount of dates. I tried all methods: bars, dating sites, blind dates – anything I could think of or suggested to me – why? – because why not? I met alot of nice girls and always tried to do the right thing. The added bonus about going out on all of those dates was it made me much better at job interviews. I had some opportunities inside and outside of my company (I kept my corporate job in addition to running my business for those not in the know) that I attribute to the girls I spent time with during those years. In the middle of this storm, I started my first blog – “Traffic in the Skyline” (I don’t mess with it anymore, but it’s still out there).

As Mayer got more famous and became more interested in being a celebrity, my musical mascot became and continues to be Ryan Adams. This song is a personal favorite:

Eventually I met my wife and those single days were all over.

[2006 – Present]

With my future wife in the picture, my life started calming down quite a bit (sometimes naturally, sometimes I forced it). We closed the computer shop down to everyone’s relief (eventually) and I started spending my free time looking at houses. Since the housing market was in such an unsteady state, it took us two years to find a place we felt wasn’t going to lose value. We moved in December 23rd 2007 – it was a pretty good Christmas that year. In October of 2008, I made an honest woman out of Allison and we got married…

With thirty years behind me, I am looking ahead to a future that is isn’t assuring: that pot belly has come back, the economy is still depressed, oil supplies will continue to drop as energy concerns rise, fresh water has the potential to be in short supply in thirty years as we continue to pollute the oceans (making it less beneficial to develop desalinization technology), but I maintain hope that everybody can get their shit together and I can bring a child into the world that still has potential to do amazing things. Responsibility: You can hide from it – but it will always find you, so you might as well embrace it.

Sure some other stuff has happened along the way – promotions, fights, reconciliations, new family members, a new president, – and I am sure all of those stories will be told in some way, by me or someone else, but this is good for now.

I will end this article and this period of my life with a few pearls of wisdom:

1. Be brutally honest with your family, it is better to have it all out in the open than to try to spare someone’s feelings or your concept of your own self-respect.
2. Good friends are truly a rare gift; bad friends are a dime a dozen (I like to throw my dimes at cars that cut me off).
3. If you can, make friends with people who are of different backgrounds and ages than you, it helps you get different perspectives of life and you borrow some of their hard earned wisdom.
4. Accept that you, like most people (myself absolutely included), are probably a total asshole. Once you accept that you can move past it and attempt to live a decent life.
5. Sitting on the couch will get you nothing but a fat ass.

That just about sums up 30 years, thanks for taking the ride with me. I am looking forward to the next trip.

Take it away Bruce…

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Reflections on Tour De Philly 2009

Hype and disappointment share different sides on a very fickle coin. In the flash of a milli-second you can go from bummed out to pumped up. That has been theme going into the TDP 2009. Many of the long term tourers couldn’t make it this year (which got us all down), and we saw the return of a TDP legend (brought us back up), then we had two heart breaking last minute cancels (down again), but when the dust settled last night… we had several surprise guests that raised our spirits and our glasses.

Like last year’s TDP, I organized the tour around the center city bars. We are too old for the college bars and the Old City hot spots are too crowded too bring in groups of 15 (although the center city bars proved to be crowded themselves last night). Personally speaking, I started my day drinking water and resting for the long night. I needed to head into the city a little early to drop off paperwork to Casey @ Jose’s for another event I am planning. Every interaction I have with the guy proves to me he is a class act. After an appetizer for the girls and a few new brews, we headed off to Fergies for the first official bar of the tour.

Getting to Fergies was a little daunting as I picked the wrong direction going out of Joses and walked 5 blocks before I realized it (Pistolas packs some strong beers). Once the correction was set, we quickly arrived to see a group of smiling faces. Four of our mighty group had arrived including TDP Founder Tom McCabe. Fergies had a live Irish Band jam session which was cool, but the band took up a good portion of the limited seating in the bar. We decided quickly to move on to the next bar because people wanted to eat dinner at McGillins (which was a late add to the tour agenda).

We quickly headed over to McGillins and it was packed. The group was split up for a round until a family left and we managed to steal a large table. The drinks were cheap and the food is popular among my friends so we spent more time in there than I had planned. I have to mention we had a very plucky waitress and I couldn’t decide if she was being funny or a bitch. She found a forgotten purse that one of the girls left at another table which earned her a good tip immediately, but she was kinda mouthy – which I thought was funny, but I don’t know if she intended it to be that way. The Mongolian was running late so I figured it would be best to stay in one place so he could link up. The A-Team brought a surprise guest star – Liz from our Zane Patrick’s Day adventure. This is the second time this woman has met me and both have been at drinking events, I am sure she has a very high opinion. We ended up staying at McGillins for 90 minutes putting the tour behind schedule. But it was good to have the A-Team and another TDP legend, Tee into the fold. We left McGillins with bellies full of drink and food and went over to Nodding Head

The Head was packed and once again our group was split into two. It took a while for our waitress to find us, which led to one of the A-Team to break off and find his own beverage. Eventually she came and took our orders. I decided to go with a beer I used to drink in college and I will just say it was a mistake for older Joey (it had ginger in it – yuk!). The other table had warm beer… this isn’t England and our American beer palettes require beverages to be chilled, especially on hot summer nights. We left very quickly. As we were walking out, Tom had a conversation with a gentleman in the street, in Tom’s own words:

[Potential Homeless Person]:”What do you call a horse with it’s left side chopped off?”
[Tom]: I don’t know
[Potential Homeless Person]:”Alllll right. Can I have a dollar?”
[Tom]: “Ok….. that joke really was worth a dollar”

Guess you had to be there.

Our next stop was the Raven Lounge. I had never been to this bar, but I was trying to be economically focused for my friends and I read they had decent specials on Saturday night and it was on the path for the tour. $2.00 PBR Pounders pleased the men while the women delighted in the board games the bar provided for patrons. I had expected a one and done situation at Raven, but we stayed a while playing Jenga and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Tour founder Tom McCabe had to leave to check in with work and we all decided it would be a good time to move along.

At this point, I was hearing people talk about trains and times and decided it might be a good idea to nix the Misconduct Tavern and head back to Jose’s to end the night. We already had people waiting for us there: One TDPer’s long lost cousin and my buddy Pete (with his hilarious brother Paul and his girlfriend). I rushed over to Pistolas because there were lines for the restrooms at Raven and I needed to go badly (and I wasn’t going to pull a Republicaster and just piss on the sidewalk). Pete and his crew already beat me there and I politely (I think) rushed past them. Once I got back down, we managed to take over the whole back portion of the bar. Several of my friends were new to Jose’s and I pimped their fantastic nachos which earned much deserved praise. I partook in a few shots with the new tourists and had wonderfully incoherent conversations. At midnight approached our friends left to catch trains, the Mongolian disappeared with Pete, Paul took off when I turned my head (I saw him leaving out the window), and my wife told me there was a 12:05 train we could catch so we closed up the tab and said goodnight.

TDP 2009 offered genuine surprise moments and guests, a family reunion (I think – I was too “distracted” to notice what the hell was going on), and a night of good times. There is talk of expanding the brand next year and opening it up to people we don’t know. I think the TDP has all the makings of a legendary public bar crawl, but I hope it doesn’t lose anything in the transition. Either way, I want to thank all those who took the tour this year and hope they come back because you know you will regret it if you don’t.

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The Night We Got Beat Up

NOTE: The names, dates, and places have all been changed to protect the parties involved.

Weddings are supposed to be days of happiness and unity, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. A few years ago my buddy “Clowncar” took the plunge and exchanged vows. The ceremony and reception were great. Clowncar invited our group to attend (sans my future wife as we had only been dating a few months, so invitations and seating were already locked – this is an important because…). Since I was going stag and three of the other guys were single at the time, we agreed to go together. Let’s call the three guys Grapeape, Shame, and Shirts. Like any wedding with an open bar, we got drunk. Then we went to a bar at the hotel and drank some more. During the wedding, Shame was on the prowl looking for some wedding sex which he achieved in a classic story that is not mine to tell publicly. I will share my friend’s wife kept saying “he’s not going to have sex with that girl is he? She’s so nasty!” My reply was “what do you think her family is saying about him.” Because of that sexual conquest, Shame recommended we leave so he could avoid awkward cuddling or conversation post coitus. Off we went. I should note that I had stopped drinking during the wedding because I had to drive.

We ended up going to a semi-popular bar/restaurant in South Jersey that happened to be open late for some god awful reason. This is one of those places that is really a restaurant but decides to call itself into a club after 11:00 PM for the asshole patrons that think they are doing something with their night. We walk in as a fight is being broken up. Bad Omen. Shame’s intent was to get laid again and was in full capture mode. When Shame reaches such levels of self-interest I tend to take a few paces back, way too much for me to handle drunk let alone sober. As I watched my friends get progressively drunker another fight is broken up and the participants are ejected from the building… that makes two. I strike up a conversation with the bouncers, and say something to the effect of “for such a tame bar, there seems to be a lot of fights tonight.” The bouncer agrees saying he doesn’t know what is going on. Unfortunately, it would soon be our turn.

What happens next will first be told from my perspective sitting on the bench in front of the bar next to the bouncer and then I will tell the story from other accounts of what happened:

From my view:

I noticed Shame, Grapeape, and Shirts at the main bar talking to two girls, one attractive and one that wasn’t (of course she was throwing herself at Shame – like a lamb to the slaughter). I continue my conversation with the bouncer when I hear “Fuck you ” I look up and notice Shirts start to get up and look very angry. Shirts is of a non-Caucasian ethnicity (I won’t say what) and this was a very inappropriate thing to say (it was not the N-word). Shirts goes off on this guy, telling him he is going to do terrible things…bla bla bla. The bouncers rush over and the guy and Shirts are getting tossed out. I grab Shirts and try to calm things down, he agrees to go outside to cool off. Grapeape and Shame stay in the bar with the girls.

Second Hand Account:

Shame, Grapeape, and Shirts were talking to the two girls (Shame was trying to lock down both) when a few guys came over and tried to talk to the girls. Shame immediately got pissed at this act and told the two guys to fuck off. Things escalated from there until they called Shirts the racial slur. I should have guessed Shame was at the center of it…

Once I got outside, Shirts was calming down when we noticed several guys were coming to my car from other parts of the parking lot. I quickly (and correctly) guessed that all of fights were connected and all of these assholes were together. There were initially ten guys trying to start something with Shirts outside. You know that part in Thriller when MJ and the girl are surrounded by the zombies and the camera goes around in the circle, and then comes back on MJ and he is a zombie? That’s what happened to us except Shirts didn’t turn into a zombie (or in this case a greasy European looking guy) and nobody was breaking out into spontaneous street dancing. Being the only sober one in the general area, I start talking common sense: everybody is drunk, it’s not going to end well, their group is going to get into way more trouble since we were basically being jumped; they started to back off. Then Grapeape comes out.

[HULKING UP]

He burst out of the bar doors like Hulk Hogan and in my retro-memory he is waving his finger and “Hulking Up”. He immediately gets in this giant greasy kid’s face as more of their friends follow out of the bar. There is now close to twenty guys surrounding the three of us. Angry words are being exchanged and I look over at the bar for the bouncers and I see Shame talking with them. Shame comes over. One of the smaller guys manages to dart behind Grapeape and the big greasy kid pushed him down. The thugs swarms around Grapeape. He never even had a chance. It seems to me that Shame was their original target and he was quickly taken down once Grapeape was neutralized. Shame’s survival instinct is strong as he rolled into a ball and protected his pretty face. Eventually they grew tired of him and moved to join the gangbang on Grapeape.


(Example of what the offenders looked like)

Shirts and I were still on our feet. There were three guys on Shirts and he somehow made them move away from Grapeape and Shame and took them on himself in another portion of the parking lot. There was one guy left and he was gunning for me. I am completely sober and have the benefit of adrenaline clarity. This guy is staggering before he even throws one punch. I keep telling him he doesn’t want to throw that punch but I am thinking I don’t want to throw a punch. Being sober in a fight as one huge disadvantage: logic. I am thinking if I hit this guy and he gets hurt, am I going to get sued? Jail? As I am deep in thought, he punches me. This kid has no heat and his fist literally bounces off my head. I say fuck it, self-defense time. One open palm to the face and he is down and bleeding. I look back at Grapeape and the swarm around him is huge and kicking. I scream at the bouncers to call the cops and probably an ambulance. I then jump on Grapeape and try to absorb some of the kicks to his head. I noticed Shame pretending to be passed out by a car.

The cops arrived quickly leading me to believe someone else called earlier. The twenty assholes actually ran away. RAN AWAY. The cops quickly caught up with them. As the ambulance arrived, their attention was first focused on Shame. Shame was fine and kept asking/proclaiming that “It’s got to be illegal to punch someone in the face, it has to be illegal.” The EMT kept telling him he was right, it was assault, but Shame kept saying it until the EMT told Shame to shut the fuck up. Eventually they focused on Grapeape – he was in bad shape. They cleaned him up, patched up the cuts, and made sure he didn’t have a concussion. As they checked my friend, I looked at the other part of the parking lot where the cops managed to wrangle up most of the thugs. They were allowed to leave on their own accord.

They left. The ambulance left. The cops left. We left.

I dropped off Shirts and Shame. Then I went to Grapeape’s place. I stayed with him to make sure he wasn’t exhibiting any signs of a concussion – he wasn’t. He kept telling me to leave and after an hour or so, I agreed to go (which I regretted then and to this day). I found out he went to the hospital the next day to get stitches and to be treated for a minor concussion – something good came out of that trip, but that’s not my business to say, but I think it worked out for him.

Shame and I went to the police station the following week as Shame was exploring any and all options to capitalize on his beating. Nothing came of it. No surprise.

I wish I could come up with some profound way to end this story. To my knowledge, none of us have been involved in a fight since. Grapeape deplores going out and being around people and likes to stay home with his girl, Shirts and I are married and living our lives, and Shame is… still Shame.

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Dreamscapes: My Dad & R.E.M.

After indulging in too much beer and Vietnamese food last night, I went to sleep. At some point in the night, dream sequences began to take over and while I forgot most of them, this one particular dream managed to stay with me…

The setting was formal, like it was a wedding or a charity event. People were walking around in tuxes and fancy dresses with wine glasses in hand (with those fancy little plate clips so they can snack too). My attention is focused on a group of four men: my father of course being one, Michael Stipe and Peter Buck from R.E.M and I think my dad’s friend Lee.

They are sitting in four red chairs, two on each side with a round table between them. My father and his friend are eating. Peter Buck seems very interested in talking to my father and is going on about a local Athens, Georgia act that he is currently producing (if my mind came up with a name, I don’t remember it). My father, as in real life, has no fucking clue who these people are and no idea what they are saying… but, he is being polite. As he shoves veal medallions into his mouth and nodding in his head in some semblance of agreement, I can see my father trying to figure out how to get the hell away from Michael Stipe and Peter Buck. His friend Lee just gets up and bolts as Peter is talking about the acoustics of an old church (something I would have loved to talk about). As my father is about to make his break…

… my wife wakes me up.

This dream is odd to me because I wouldn’t consider myself a crazed R.E.M. fan and haven’t listened to any of their stuff in months. I didn’t hear any R.E.M. songs yesterday, and I sure as shit wasn’t thinking about Peter Buck. The mind is a strange and beautiful thing.

Here is a little R.E.M. for those who, like my father, don’t know who the hell they are (be ashamed if you don’t)

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A Moment in my Head: The Surprise Weekend

In an effort to break out of the “Sunday Leftovers” style of writing that has been featured on the blog lately, I have decided to recount (and offer commentary to) a series of recent conversations with a friend. This is one of those “this is how my mind works” sort of things and I am most definitely making fun of myself and the friend I am telling the story about. I know he is going to read this and I hope he finds it amusing.

A few weeks ago one of my good friends called me and told me he had a surprise for me and was going to stay over a weekend in July. I enjoy this friend’s visits and always try to make sure he has a good time (sometimes I do well and sometimes I feel like he wasted his time; so I feel a little pressure to deliver when he comes over). I checked my calendar for the weekend he mentioned and I noticed it was another friend’s birthday – this friend sometimes wants to celebrate and sometimes does not, but I always keep the weekend opened. So I go back to my visiting friend and ask him if his plans are flexible, he said that he didn’t have a specific agenda for when he was coming. For the moment I think “this is good”: it means we could potentially go to my other friend’s birthday celebration should there be one and if not, we would do something else. Then I started to think “this is bad; if he doesn’t have plans, what the hell could the surprise be?”

My friend has baseball season tickets and he often goes to Sunday games. He usually times his visits with those Sunday games because he lives a few hours away from the baseball stadium and my house. It is a good setup: Less driving for him, and we get to hang out the night before the game. I started to put the clues together. The surprise had to be either a person or a thing, and I know he isn’t much of an items person, so I focused my thoughts on people. I surmised that this person must be going to the baseball game. I narrowed my list down and came up with two candidates and I was leaning towards one heavily. I will digress for a moment and say that the reason I put so much thought into this is because I might be having another guest at the house that weekend, and I needed to know what the room situation will be and most importantly, if someone is going to stay over I like to be prepared (this is where my crazy lives).

Flash forward to last night; I am in Hartford, CT and my friend calls. I step outside of the restaurant to talk to him (I had been in an all day team meeting and it would be good to hear some irreverent filthiness coming out of his mouth) and he tells me he is all pumped out for the surprise weekend. I hadn’t thought about it for a few weeks, so this was a good opportunity to pump him for information. I mentioned my other friend’s birthday again and he assured me it wouldn’t be an issue, so I said his surprise has to be a thing or a person. He said he didn’t want to tell me anymore because I would guess. We did this dance for a few minutes, and then I said “I think you are bringing Bla Bla Bla (good Christian name isn’t it?) and then you will go to the game the next day”, he kinda gets quiet and says “that’s your guess eh?” A few minutes later he is calling me an asshole because I had guessed correctly. As he is confirming the additional guest I am thinking “okay I am going to need more beer, what else does this guy drink, I should probably buy two boxes of microwavable white castle because I am not cooking when we get drunk, oh shit where is he going to sleep if Allison’s friend is staying over…” and then my mind starts to shift into “well this is one hell of a surprise, now I got to make sure two people don’t have a sucky weekend, thanks alot buddy!”.

I tend to think about the way I think about things (Stop. Re-read that. Get it? Good.) So during the 4-hour drive home from Hartford I thought about my initial mental reaction to hearing that this other guest, a friend I haven’t seen since my wedding, would be visiting. The reaction wasn’t happy or sad (or any of the other dwarfs) it was “Oh shit, I need to prepare”. I don’t think this is good or bad, I just think this is me. But I also thought about the nature of surprises; was this really a surprise? Should it even be a surprise? If I was bringing someone over to someone else’s house I would let them know, but I am also the same person who wrote 850 words and counting about such a situation. So what do you think blogger-verse? Am I too uptight? Should a guest inform a host of another potential guest even if it is under the guise of a surprise? Does that even count as a surprise? Get back to me here, I need to be validated or shut down.

You can reach me via facebook comments (if you are reading this post there) or via email: blog at joeylombardi.com (screw you spammers!). I will post the replies for amusement’s sake.

PS: I’d like to thank my friend for giving me an additional 1000 words to write about this week (Well 985 to be exact).

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Joey vs. Ticketmaster: Part One

A few weeks ago, I attended a concert at the Trocadero in Philadelphia (reviewed here). I decided that since I had such a shitty experience, I would write Ticketmaster, just to see what would happen. Here is the summary so far:

[My First Letter]

June 02, 2009

Ticketmaster
attn. Customer Care
1000 Corporate Landing
Charleston, WV 25311

To: Ticketmaster Customer Care

On Saturday, May 30th I attended the Avett Brothers Concert at the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia, Pa. I purchased tickets via Ticketmaster. Regretfully, I would like to inform you that the quality of the venue seriously detracted from our enjoyment of the show forcing us to leave early.

My issues are as follows:
* The show was oversold: 90% of the capacity was standing room only, but the bar section contains seating in a balcony. Behind this balcony there is an area to sell alcohol and behind that, a full bar. Both of the aforementioned sections offer no view of the stage at all. It is my belief that tickets were sold with that space counted as stage capacity.
* Since there was no space in the upper section, as the main act – The Avett Brothers – starting playing, hordes of people came down from the upper area blocking views and forcing us to move to the side.
* The acoustics in the building focus the sound down the middle center, making the sound in the area we were forced into muddled and dampened.

We could not see, would couldn’t hear the band well, and it was incredibly cramped. We left.

I have been going to concerts for years and while I have been to some I did not enjoy for lighter variations of what I mentioned before, it has never been as bad as it was Saturday evening at the Trocadero, and I never felt the need to write a letter before. Is there anything you can do to correct this? I would appreciate a response via mail or by phone at the number listed above. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Joey Lombardi

[Ticketmaster’s Response]

[My Second Letter]

NOTE: At this point I said to myself “fuck it – I have nothing to lose, I might as well have some fun”. You may be wondering why I removed the customer care associate’s name – it’s because I am sure this is a low level person and I don’t want this to come back on them, working for ticketmaster must suck enough already.

Ticketmaster
attn. [Name Omitted] | Customer Care
1000 Corporate Landing
Charleston, WV 25311

To: [Name Omitted] & Ticketmaster Customer Care

I want to thank you for your response to my letter regarding my bad experience with the Trocadero Theatre and the Avett Brothers Concert held there on May 30th 2009. I understand that Ticketmaster acts as a middle man selling tickets for the venue, but I would have hoped the corporation would hold the venue/themselves to some level of quality standards. Scenarios like the one I experienced on May 30th greatly discourage me from wanting to spend my entertainment dollars on concerts.

As a consumer, I feel there should be a channel/accountable party when the event is sub-standard. I honestly never complain, never write letters regarding bad experiences at concerts (and there have been many). The Trocadero took it too far and to have my initial complaint arbitrarily dismissed because they successfully completed a ticket sales transaction and managed to get the band on the stage doesn’t preclude them or you as a service provider from trying to make amends & improvements.

I would like contact information to the Trocadero office. I could not find an address to send a letter to get them involved in this issue. This isn’t about money, its about acknowledgment that these events can be improved and as the ticket service provider your company has the ability to influence the venues instead of throwing customers to the wolves and taking every available penny on the table.

I want to go to concerts. I want to enjoy them. You should want me to go to concerts and pay your ridiculous transaction fees (I know – cheap shot, but I had to do it). Let’s help each other out.

Sincerely,
Joey Lombardi

I honestly don’t know how far I am going to take this; I don’t expect a refund – it would be nice, I don’t need it. Writing letters the old fashioned way and taking shots at a business that I loathe is far more entertaining. I hope they come back to me with the Troc’s business address, I do plan on sending some letters there (if any of my readers know a contact, send it my way blog at joeylombardi.com).

I will post the rest as it comes.

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REBLOG: The Tale of my Paver Patio

Check out the full story on the Timbercrest Blog:
Tale of My Paver Patio

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