Born to Scam?

This is a call to arms.

I spent too much of my week trying to get tickets to a Bruce Springsteen appearance at Powell’s to support the release of his autobiography, Born To Run.


Not a performance.

Not a reading.

Not even a signing.

Lol…I should have written, “Not a singing, nor a signing” there.  Oh, well.  Gotta honor the stream of consciousness writing.

Man, that’s a crappy jpeg.

Needless to say, the cover pic is that guy we all wanted to be back in the glory days.

And…still want to be today.

In that appearance vein, the tickets were only $32.50 and included a pre-signed copy of the book, not a significant premium over the $32.50 list price for the book at all for an opportunity to shake hands with The Boss, eh?  Then again, he did get a reported $10 million advance from his publisher for writing his biography.


Sure, I’d like to be able to belt one out like The Boss without having a stroke and making people poke out their ear drums – I doubt he would envy my “talent” – but I sure wouldn’t mind scoring a book deal like that!

Powell’s – and presumably, Mr. Springsteen’s publishing team at Simon & Schuster – set up some good guidelines around the event.  Ticket purchases were limited to a maximum of two per purchaser and stated several times in the event description and during the purchase experience – attempted purchasing experience in my case – that the ticket buyer had to be present to receive that book.

Because that was the draw.

So, tickets were hyped to go on sale on Wednesday of this last week, September 14th.  The site crashed.  No tickets were sold.

Because that should happen in 2016.

Powell’s announced that there was a secondary event site that they were going to use and began a fresh 48 hour hype-a-thon for the new ticket sales date of Friday, September 16th beginning at noon o’clock.

tom-from-myspaceSo there I am on Friday; lathering, rinsing and repeating and hoping that this site works better than the original ticketing website which I guess was run by this guy…

I mean, he’s got some time on his hands these days and – admit it – if you thought about it a bit, you’ve probably been wondering what he’s been up to lately, right?

No?  Just me?  I can actually live with that.

Anyway, here I am at the old laptop – can’t trust an important mission like this to the iPhone.


And this had been a casual, “I’m not the biggest Springsteen fan” type of mission until The Fox decided he wanted to go, so now I’m buying for two instead of just one if I can get it for hapless old Xtopher.  Plus, now he’s gotten a wild hair up his ass about ordering two himself so he can take his ex-wife and twilight years traveling companion (Hi Sallory!) and I’m taking I’m not sure who, but I’m still buying two tickets.

Because:  Springsteen.

Plus, I know a member of the “Biggest Boss fan ever” club who is recently separated and think this opportunity would be a great pick me up.  I say this knowing that I am also not entirely sure that both people in a pair of ticket holders get to meet Mr. Springsteen.  Lifting a down friend’s spirit is worth the $32.50 risk of not personally getting to shake The Boss’ hand.

Ok, so now I knew who I was taking.

It’s 11:45 on the 16th.


I pay a couple of bills using my OnPoint app.



I throw a couple of 30+ point words out into the Words With Friends universe.



Scroll through Instagram.



Ignore incoming phone call, getting distracted is too risky.



Check the BTR Facebook page to ensure I understand the details.



Stare at my laptop screen for a full minute.



Myrtle jumps on my back and scares the hell out of me.



I effortlessly click the buy button, drop down to “2” and hit purchase in a matter of seconds.




I try a second time, just in case.



Reload, goddamnit!

Third attempt, maybe EventBrite isn’t any better at managing this than their first server.



I text The Fox:  we are a no-go for Springsteen.

He declares shenanigans, which seems perfectly legit, and calls Powell’s to register his complaint.  He tells them that if they can’t make these events fair by enforcing the purchase rules, he might as well just give Amazon his business since he wouldn’t have to walk the 4 blocks to Powell’s the buy the book.

The operator at Powell’s said, “Thank you” and ended the call.

And you know what?  I can accept that tickets sell out like crazy for marquee guests.  I appreciate that someone put rules in place to discourage people from gaming the system.

What I can’t appreciate is that the people gamed the fucking system anyway.

Born To Run has officially become Born To Scam.


I get an email from Sallory that is forwarded to me by The Fox with a link to a StubHub offering tickets to meet The Boss at Powell’s.

Any guesses?

If you guessed $474, then you are correct.


1400% mark up.

Screw it, here’s the link.

Later I get a link from him to the Seattle event.  Those idiots are selling their tickets for $1500.  Because:  Seattle.

The old rivalry between PDX and Seattle extends even to scalping tickets.  If they’re gonna be $500 in Portland, then they are required to be three times that in our far superior city to the north.

Ask ’em, they’ll tell you that Seattle is way better than Portland…as they pack their car for their weekend getaway to – oh, Portland.

So, here’s my call to arms:


You built your career on being the working class hero.  The Everyman who made good.

Representing that ethic throughout your history as a singer and a songwriter and an activist.  As a matter of fact, Born to Run was a fantastic album, crossing over from that original working class fan base and solidly installing you into the American pop culture as the icon you are today so it’s a fantastic choice of titles for your autobiography.  While I loved watching you pull an unknown Courtney Cox up onto stage in that music video, what really made you a hero to me was when you wrote and performed Streets of Philadelphia for the movie Philadelphia and became a hero to my subculture in the process.

Oh, and won a totally deserved Oscar, too.

the-boss-works-outThat said, you’re worth an estimated $200 million today but still live like that working class guy.

A buddy of mine begged me to get him a guest pass at my gym when you were in town earlier this year because last time you were in town, well, look what happened over on the left there.

No David Barton Gym or Equinox for you.  You’ve got your $19/month gym membership at 24 Hour Fitness just like me and that seems to be working just fine.

Heck, your webpage is still a dot net.

So, how about your fans that have evolved out of that same working class mentality?  Those willing and able to shell out $500 or $1500 for tickets to an appearance and shake your hand…the folks that earn a modest living off of – oh, let’s say the GDP of some newly created and war torn country.

These are your fans but not your people.

These people are part of the problem in our country’s culture, not a part of the solution…just like those people scalping the tickets in the first place.

These are the people who think that money buys privilege, that rules are for poor people.

Right…back to that call to action.

I digress.


Cancel the event.

If not everywhere, in Portland.

My hometown’s nickname back before the turn of the century was Little Beirut.  We do love a good protest.

Let’s make one.

Let these second generation ticket holders know that there is a pre-signed book for them to pick up at Powell’s and that ticket purchase prices have been refunded to the original buyers.

That oughta light a fuse.

One with a clear message, that rules are for everyone.  That scammers shouldn’t even bother to try and game a system for profit on your watch.  I’ve seen many bands come through Portland in my years here.  Cultural Icons and flashier Pop Icons.  You know the difference between the two?  Pop Icon tickets run up to $600 or higher.  If I recall, neither your last show here nor Fleetwood Mac’s show here last year got anywhere close to maybe half of that ticket price.  Because, sure…there’s a premium for up close seats, but that doesn’t have to get insane.

All in all, that’s not who you are.  You are who you are today because that message behind your image – your values – is that you know where you came from and how you got there.  It certainly wasn’t by being the artist that was created by a wealthy patron of the arts just so that he could become richer.


You’re The Boss.  You represent the blue collar guys.

If those stuffed shirts want to call themselves a fan of yours to make them look grounded, great…but if it were me, I wouldn’t want to shake their hand after pulling a BS stunt like this to get to see me.

biketownAnd if you still want to come to PDX – those darned non-refundable plane tickets and all – well, hell…I’ll take you to my gym or we can go for a ride around town on one of BikeTown’s sweet new rides.

There’s plenty to do in my awesome hometown that doesn’t have to involve rewarding bad behavior.


Your pal,


Born to Scam?

9 thoughts on “Born to Scam?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, it was handled horribly. And another thing that annoys is that I just know a handful of people who scored tickets probably really don’t know all that much about Bruce Springsteen’s music & just want to show the picture off on their social media accounts to get validated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joe Roberts says:

      I’m a huge fan for 41 years. This is #1 on my bucket list; “Meet Bruce”. Thirty shows, never had the chance So, I’m so grateful to have purchased a ticket organically- through the Friday sale, for no markup. Faith was rewarded. So for me, this is an incredibly special day and I know I’m lucky as hell.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am in complete empathy and got f&$@ed by the site! I ended up with a high price ticket and hope I won’t be singing the blues in my beer on the day. Have faith there will be tickets….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom Joad says:

    Well said, I empathize with your feelings towards the scalpers, but don’t blame any hardcore fan from buying them. I happened to be very lucky and got through all the way to the end. I can only explain it as good Bruce karma. At the last minute I became unable to attend a show on The River tour. Rather than scalp the tickets I posted on a message board and found a huge fan to give the tickets to. After about 90 minutes of waiting in line at the Southwest Airlines cargo office to put the tickets on the plane, I felt that I had done what a good Bruce fan should do. Karma? Or maybe I had the ONE lucky moment in my life! Either way I’m excited to cross #1 off my list. I feel the pain of all those who weren’t as lucky.

    Liked by 1 person

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