Already Gone

The Eagles. A long time ago. On The Long Run tour.

Seeing live music used to mean listening to the radio to find out when tickets were going on sale. You could look in the paper, but radio was much faster, since we were always listening to the radio anyway.

This was a cash economy. No teens I knew had access to a credit card (!!). There were no phone order, no secure websites. You had to go and buy the tickets at the arena. For a big show, you had to camp out.

If it was a Dead show, you’d see DeadHeads from hither and yon (mostly New Yon) a few weeks out. Outside of the Dead, though, lines would form a few days, maybe a week before tickets went on sale.

In fairness, there were ticket limits. Each buyer could purchase like twelve or twenty tickets. This created a fairly small aftermarket.

If you didn’t get your tix on the day of sale, you could scour the classified section of the local paper and call The Guy on his landline listed in the ad in the paper that you had to buy from the store. Last option, you could go day of the show and usually get tickets from a scalper. There could be a big or a small markup. There had to be a physical exchange of paper cash for paper tickets. No Venmo. No PDFs.

I got my Eagles tickets using this last method. I was poor and pretty scheduled with school and work, but concert tickets were more like a necessity than an extravagance. I was limited by the money I had in my pocket. Definitely kept me on budget.

Scalpers were easy enough to find within a few blocks of the venue. Nobody would bother you–despite the illegality of the transaction–if you were decently subtle.

We stopped and furtively spoke with a few “vendors.” We found A Guy with tickets in our price range and, surprisingly, in a lower tier. Made the exchange and went into the arena.

Our seats were not obstructed view. Except they were behind the stage. In dozens of shows, I’d never seen seats sold with a view of the asses of the band. The norm was a wall of speakers behind the band and 60 or 80 foot long drapes billowing from the ceiling.

I felt so stupid and so conned. UGH! And bad word. There were no jumbotrons for The Long Run tour. At least the stage was clear, and we could make out the backs of the musicians.

About 2/3rds into the show the band stopped and, jumping in unison, turned around to perform Take It Easy for us. Best. Song. That. Night. After performing two songs for us suckers in the bad seats they turned their backs on us.

That’s rock ‘n’ roll.

Yes, I’m already gone
And I’m feelin’ strong
I will sing this vict’ry song
‘Cause I’m already gone
Yes, I’m already gone
Already gone
All right, nighty-night

Godspeed Glen Frey.


Stars in Reach

Pegasys constellation. In the sky.

My astronomy TA was a really nerdy guy. At least to a few of us political science/history type undergrads taking a summer class to fulfill distribution requirements. One short class looking at the stars, and we had three natural science credits including lab toward that bachelors’ of the arts degree.

I’m sure the TA had one of those classically 60’s name like Steve or Dave or Mike. He would never go by Steven or David or Michael, and certainly not Caleb or Liam.

Steve?Dave?Mike? had oversized heavy aviator glasses that barely held his thick lenses in place and not-on-purpose disheveled hair. The most remarkable thing about him–and remark about this we frequently did–was the embroidery on the back pocket of his jeans.

They were constellations.

We found that amusing in that snarky, look at the nerd way.

We had class in the morning twice each week. Sometimes class would be in the planetarium so we could study the location of the stars in the sky. We learned by looking at the ceiling filled with an image of the sky filled with stars.

Steve?Dave?Mike? would point to different groups of stars and in the dark as we leaned back to look at the “sky” he told us stories. Stories about Pegasus, the great winged horse (see the big box there?), and about Cepheus (that house over there), and his wife Cassiopeia (the “W” on the other side of the sky) trying to protect the maiden, Andromeda (less distinctive, but you can see that line on the horizon).

Sweet Steve?Dave?Mike? was an astrophysicist kindly sharing his love for our universe with us not worthy of what he knew. He’d take us out on the roof at 9:30 pm (the sun sets late during a Michigan June). He’d set up the telescopes so we could see the moons of Jupiter. It was remarkable and humbling.
I fell in love with the sky.

I still look at the stars to pick out the belt of Orion. I squint to see the stars of Draco between the Little Dipper and it’s Big Dipper sibling. I follow the permutations of the moon and text my family when it is especially noteworthy.

I remember the time I first saw the Milky Way on a moonless night far away from the light pollution of the city. And shooting stars. And sometimes when my family is away from me, I’ll look to the sky and take comfort that they can see the same stars.

We found out that his wife held the needle and thread and stitched the stars on his jeans. This was shocking to us twenty-year olds because the only people we knew who were married were our parents. He had a wife, someone who loved him. And we loved him a little bit, too.