Friday, January 22, 2016

January 22, 2016

Dave Chapelle is coming to Toronto. This is a big deal because he hasn't done a lot of touring as of late and he' s still immensely popular. I saw an ad for the shows on Facebook and took a note to try and get tickets, but then promptly forgot about it. No tickets for me.

But the story doesn't end there. There were some very restrictive stipulations on the website where tickets were being sold. From the show's description
Admission to this event is STRICTLY NON-TRANSFERABLE. At the venue you will be required to present the credit card associated with your order and valid photo ID in order for you to be granted admission to the show. All members of your party must be present when your credentials are being verified for admission & enter the venue together. Name changes, refunds or any other revisions to your order will not be permitted
I have heard of and seen artists doing lots of this lately. Because concert tickets can be purchased online, people have developed pieces of software that are able to automatically buy up large swatches of tickets which someone (a scalper, let's be honest) can then resell potentially at a huge profit (which seems to have happened already for this show). It's a practice which makes artists pissed because it turns concerts into elitist events where only those able to pay the 300% markup are able to get in, and it means the majority of "real revenue" generated from ticket resales goes to scaplers and not to the promoter or the artist or literally anyone else doing all of the work.

My interest in this particular show was reignited when I spotted a reddit thread on the topic. It also made me angry about scalpers all over again. I know that we're all capitalists and money talks and you can basically buy whatever you want for enough money. I also know that I have done this for a show which turned out to be one of the greatest performances that I have ever seen, but I get so angry about the injustice in all of this. Someone does work in concert with a pile of other people to put on a concert. You get an artist (or group of artists), a booker, a promoter, a ticket resale company (I'll complain about them another time), sound and lighting people, ticket takers, concession staff, and a landlord that has a venue worth using for shows. All of these people divide up these ticket revenues between them. But then on the side a bunch of greedy scalpers discover that they can buy a piece of that pie and sell it for two more whole pies, all for the small price of setting up some bots, communicating with desperate concert goers, and ignoring the shame that this whole process should bring about.

I wish there was a solution to this problem, but sadly it's about incentives. There is an incentive for people to put on shows, there are incentives for people to go to them, and there are incentives for you to be a terrible person and game the system for huge profit. Yet another example of things that make me endlessly angry.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January 20th, 2016

I read part of a book a few years ago called "Crazy Like Us" which talked about how Psychology impacted the rest of the world. As Psychology developed quickly in the West in the 20th Century, its ideas were shared with those in other countries and something odd began to happen. Disorders which were listed in resources like the DSM began to appear in places where they had never appeared before. It wasn't just that people were seeing things for the first time. Some behavioural changes occurred in other countries as they learned about American Psychology. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anorexia began to occur in countries where people had previously not dealt with such things. By spreading American Psychology as "the way we work", there was an enormous amount of cultural expressions of mental health and well being that were lost. Simply by giving diagnoses, people's behaviour changed.

I worry about that kind of suggestibility for one reason. In the winter I typically slow down. There's usually a few weeks where I notice that I do not have flashes of inspiration or bursts of energy. I nap a lot if there's time. I drag if there isn't. I play a lot of video games. Then sometime around March when they days are noticeably longer, I start to pick up again. I've started identifying this as seasonal depression, but I hesitate.

What if it's not depression? What if I'm just giving into my own selfish desires to nap all the time, be a lazy irresponsible butt, and ignoring everyone else? Being depressed and being an asshole can look the same from the outside and I'm afraid that I'm being the latter and not the former. I don't want to use what fogginess I feel in the winter as an excuse to ignore my responsibility to the rest of the world.

I'm still napping more. I'm still playing video games. But I'm trying to do things I don't like. I'm trying to read and visit people and get out of the apartment occasionally. I may be foggy, but I won't be fogged in.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January 12th, 2016

I get scared by things. Not like spiders or heights or the dark. I get scared by big things. Things like death or loneliness, or a stock market chart that goes down and down and down. Those are the things that scare me. And those things never go away. They linger, happy to ruin my day over and over and over again as they carry their hefty burdens and cast them over my back to drag me down.

The stock market or the economy in particular is the one that really gets me. How will I continue to survive? It's awfully selfish of me but I think about others to. I think about other friends with student debt or children or aging parents with small pensions all the while thinking about how it is that we will survive. How we will pay rent. How we will pay medical bills. How we will keep more going out than coming in.

But I am also worried about survival. How will I keep food in the pantry and a roof overhead without creating insanity in my household? I was looking at the chart for the Canadian Dollar. It's fallen thirty cents over the last three years. That's a little scary. With oil dropping lower, that is even scarier. I don't know what major industries Canada has left to prop it up. I work in the service industry, but we survive on the backs of other industries that pay people enough to use our services. Will there be enough of those people to keep service alive?

Probably? Maybe? The world changes so fast and I'm never sure if I'll be able to keep up or if I'll get turfed with no job and no way of working my way back into the system. On top of all of this, there is an endless sense of futility as I don't see any way of improving the situation. Politics is a gong-show because in order for the government to do stuff they need money but they don't have money when no one is working, and no one wants to give them more money ("My tax dollars, blah, blah, blah"). I don't really feel like I can trust businesses to think about the good of the country they operate in since they can just pack up and move and other countries are only too happy to have them.

Here's what I truly fear about the stock market. I fear a world ruled by selfish people serving exclusively selfish ends, seeking to enrich only themselves, and ignoring everyone else around them. I fear that no one will step in to do the noble thing or the good thing and share their wealth in a way that benefits their neighbour. I worry that I will watch many become increasing rich and comfortable while everyone else whither away to nothing in service of this greed.

I'm not scared of spiders, but I am scared of people.

Friday, January 8, 2016

January 8th, 2016

The older I get, the harder it is to keep up with everybody. I have friends in many different places so it's hard to get together in person, and then I have worries about making plans with them. Friendship takes a lot more effort when it's over a long distance and sometimes I don't follow through.

I feel bad about this. I feel bad that my lack of social graces keeps me away from people. I feel bad that I probably leave others feeling like I don't care about them. I care about people. It's just too hard to maintain these gimpy long-distance relationships when there are so many other demands on your time. I wish I could give people a "goodbye" card that would indicate that we could reopen the relationship later, but for now it was on hold.

Once, when I was in high school, I went to band camp in Michigan. For a week I played saxophone in a jazz band and a concert band with a bunch of kids from Grand Rapids. We had a good time. They were all nice. We told jokes. It was cool.

At the end of the week we said our goodbyes. I am never in Grand Rapids, I did not have Facebook, and there was no reason for me to ever contact these kids again. When we left I said "I will never see you again, so goodbye". I didn't feel guilty about saying that at all. It was true. I've never so much as heard a whisper from any of them. There was something nice about having such a clean break.

But I can't always do that. I can't because really fantastic and wonderful people that I have cared about at one point in time or another are spread out all over everywhere and I have time to see them, but not enough time to see all of them. I don't even know how to start scheduling visits. If I made an effort to see all the people I want to, I don't think I'd do anything else on my weekends. So I feel guilty for not seeing them, but I can't truly say goodbye when there's a chance. I wish there was a process for this.