That's how much I paid for my ticket to see Bruce Springsteen's (search) "Vote For Change" concert at New Jersey's Continental Airlines Arena last Wednesday.
What was I thinking?
For anybody not aware of the "Vote For Change" movement, rock icon Springsteen headlines a tour that includes his wife, singer Patti Scialfa, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder (search) and aging rockers John Fogerty and Jackson Browne in a concert billed as "a loose coalition of musicians brought together by a single idea — the need to make a change in the direction of our country."
Different shows feature different musicians.
And while Bruce lived up to his billing as "The Boss" — with energetic performances of such songs like "No Retreat, No Surrender" and "Born in the USA" — and Vedder was awesome singing both Bruce and Pearl Jam tunes (although his "Can't Find a Better Man" could be the theme song for the tired, old Democratic Party right about now) — the rest of the cast seemed — dare I say it? — desperate.
I'm not really sure who John Fogerty was "Grrring" about while hopping around stage singing "Fortunate Son." Based on the political bent of the show, I can assume it was meant as a slight to President Bush — however, he could have very easily been talking about Sen. Kerry, aka "Fortunate Husband."
I also found Fogerty's intensity during the song curious. He may not have been born with a "silver spoon in hand," but he's not the same struggling artist today that he was a few decades ago when he fronted the great Creedence Clearwater Revival. Watching him sing "Fortunate Son" like he'd just written it gave me the same sort of ill feeling I get whenever I hear Oprah Winfrey speak in an urban vernacular in order to appeal to a place she may have come from, but many millions later is clearly no longer a part of.
And don't even get me going about Skeletor, uh-hem, I mean Jackson Browne, or Yoko, uhhh — Ms. Scialfa. Let me just say that their performances left me uninspired and wondering what was going on in Game 2 of the ALCS.
All of that being said, I fully expected to be Grrr'd by liberal lectures, but surprisingly there were very few. Springsteen made a few remarks, but even then he came across as a patriot doing what he does best — making music — to emphasize the importance of getting people out to vote in this important election. He barely mentioned anything about party affiliation.
No Grrr! there at all.
Look, everybody who was on that stage last week is a legend in their own right. But it seemed to me like the artists involved are using the election as an excuse for one more concert before going gently into the good night.
What Goes Through the Mind of a Drive-Thru Oblivion
Hmmm, what should I order off the drive-thru menu? Should I get a chicken sandwich or a burger? A salad or the chili? Coke or root beer? Should I super-size it? Oh, this is difficult.
"Ummm, hold on, I'm still looking. OK? OK? Is this thing on?"
Hmmm, where was I? Maybe I should check the wallet to see what kind of cash I have on hand before I decide.
"Hey, stop beeping at me. Jerk."
$12, OK. I guess it'll be a number six. "I'll have a number six ... thanks." I'll pull up to the window, I guess. "Thank you. Can I get some extra ketchup? And napkins." Now I'm going to sit here and check that I got everything ... ooh, darn. "Hey, I said no cheese. There's cheese on this burger." These people who work in the drive-thru are so stupid!
"Don't beep at me. I said no cheese. It's not my fault."
You're an Oblivion If ...
— You drop your cigarette butts anywhere you wish.
— You e-mail Straka complaining about people who complain.
— You wait until the last minute to whip out the checkbook or count your quarters at the checkout line (also see Wal-Martian.)
— You cut people who are waiting in line because your tunnel vision only allows you to see what you need at any particular moment in time.
Look, we're all Oblivions every once in a while. Heck, there are times when I miss the mark in the Grrr! and when I read some of your e-mails, I can see that plain as day. But the difference is, we catch ourselves in Oblivion moments, thereby negating our oblivionism.
Sounds of the Game ... Grrr!
Somebody's got to say it, so it might as well be the Grrr! Guy. What is it with TV sports producers and their obsession with putting a microphone on athletes for the "sounds of the game" or "miked-up" segments? Has any one of these athletes ever uttered anything that at least resembles the English language?
These segments, which usually feature a bunch of grunts or chest-pounding, don't come close to enhancing the viewer's experience.
It might be good if the athlete didn't know that what he was saying would be caught on tape. At least that way we as viewers might get a real "insider's" peek at what goes through the mind of a professional athlete. But noooo ... that's not the case. Instead we are apparently to believe that "blah blah whaa blah blah that's what I'm talking 'bout" is a spontaneous statement and a daily game occurrence. Yeah, right.
Grrr! on these stupid segments which only serve the ego of an already overpaid athlete with an already inflated sense of self. I'd rather hear what the water boy has to say.
Now for Your Grrrs ... Try to Spot the Oblivion Below:
Matt in Dallas: I agree with you on the Howard Stern issue. I am a fan of the Stern show, but I will not pay to get a satellite radio in my car. There are plenty of other radio stations I can listen to in the morning. Granted, they are not as good, but I will deal with it because I don't need an extra expense added to my already large monthly expense list. That, and I only listen to the radio in the morning, so it's not logical to pay money for something that I only listen to 40 minutes a day.
Dan in Cyberspace: I, too, am a Stern fan. I think he is doing rather well in his current format. Do I want to spend the $12.95 per month just so I can hear four-letter and five-letter words and unabridged references to various bodily functions? I don't think so. Stern is going to have to give away some mighty good prizes in order to get his fan base to spend the money for hardware and monthly fee.
Brian L. in San Diego: Straka — I would bet you $1 million that a million people will go over to Sirius radio. If the economy is good, many more will buy the service.
Don H. in Cyberspace: I have been an occasional reader of your article for the past few months. I was just reading the article about Howard Stern, in which you stated that you were a Stern fan. I stopped reading at that point and do not intend to read your work again. I have no interest in knowing what someone who enjoys such perverted trash has to say.
Kenny in South Jersey: I work in the casino industry, and every time you try to exit the elevator, whether it is back of the house or guest elevators, there is a group of "Oblivions" who rush in, preventing you from getting out without a polite excuse-me. I mean, come on people, you see the other people getting off, step aside! Do you really have to stand right in front of the door before it opens to get in, or continuously press the button although it is already lit? Does that make the elevator come any faster? No!
V. Johnson in Cyber-Space: My Grrr! is directed at those celebrities who believe they are above us all simply because they are famous. Actors seem to be the worst. They publicly state their views, then are offended when anyone contradicts them. Dennis Miller put it best: "The same law that gives you the right to say anything you want also gives me the right to ridicule what you say mercilessly." It confounds me that how someone whose job is based on their individual popularity would knowingly alienate half their audience by politicizing themselves to such an extent that even people who believe as they do distance themselves from them. That looks like Oblivion behavior to me.
Ted R. Meets a Wal-Martian: The other day at the grocery store I ran into one of the most unbelievable Oblivions I'd ever seen. I had a full cart and had just gotten to the cashier. Someone got in line right behind me. As I start unloading my stuff, this Oblivion decided he didn't want to wait for me to finish unloading my cart before he started unloading his. You know how these things work. Every time the cashier took one of my items off the belt, the belt would move and this guys stuff would move up, leaving a smaller and smaller space for me to unload into. I suppose I should have said something, but instead I grabbed one of the separator bars, put it down on the belt in front of the Oblivion's stuff and held it still with my left hand while I continued to unload with my right. This guy's stuff piled up against the separator, and he started to give me dirty looks. At this point the cashier noticed what was going on and told the guy to please be patient and wait until I had finished unloading before putting stuff on the belt. He shot me one more dirty look and mumbled something before finally loading his stuff back into his cart.
Greg K. in Dallas: Double Grrr! to the neighbor who mows his lawn without bagging the grass and doesn't clean up after himself. Inevitably it's the day after I've taken the time to clean up the grass from mowing my lawn, and the wind blows his grass in front of my house. Clean up after yourself! Second, to all the talk-show callers who begin their calls by asking the hosts how they're doing after the previous eight callers have all asked the same question. How many times does a guy have to answer the same question?
J.S. Tunner in Cyberspace: I used to hate you, especially when you first came out (it had something to do with the Grrr! thing.) After reading your stuff and realizing you are pretty normal, go on cruises, seem to be objective and have some intelligent things to say, I now read your column for a reason. Thanks for the great reads and know that your journalistic efforts are appreciated. By the way, please do a piece on how liberals think the major networks (including public broadcasting and not including FOX) are mainstream. Give me a break. If you are going to be ignorant, at least be open-minded about other possibilities. I know I try my best!
T.G. in Texas: Trooper Chuck (last column), when I am already going 75 mph, being passed by trucks going 85 and am run up on from behind by an Oblivion like you going 120 mph to make a traffic stop, it makes me wonder what your job is all about. As we say in Texas, "you can beat the ride, but you can't beat the radio." Just call ahead and set a trap, don't endanger law-abiding folks who are not out Sunday driving, but just in the left lane because it affords passing those who are.
Joseph A. in NYC: Big GRRR! to the producers and audio editors of “The Apprentice" for the bad Donald Trump voice-over in the Board Room. When a contestant is being lectured to by Mr. Trump, the last thing I want to hear is an edited voice-over that is probably much different that what was actually said. Now is America to believe that these firings are not “Produced?” Also stop with the False Promos. I waited all week for George to flip-out. They claimed “Don’t mess with George” in the coming attractions. He said two words in the board room that were no more scary than a 12-week-old puppy.
Matt (fwd deployed in the Middle East — Operation Iraqi Freedom): My Grrr! is to Sen. Kerry and John Edwards for referring to the VP's daughter by name and discussing her personal life ... it is not their place. Mrs. Cheney had every right to speak out against the comments. But a bigger Grrr! must go the John Edwards' wife for coming back and insinuating that the Cheneys are ashamed of their daughter. Just simply Oblivious to the fact that they shouldn't be talking about the other's family. This isn't a political comment, it's a moral comment.
— Matt: Thank you for your service, and keep Grrring in Iraq! A big shout out to all of you serving over there. Get home safe.
The Cutting-Room Floor
Check out The Big Smoke piece and the one on FOX and Friends' co-host Brian Kilmeade's book above in the video section. There's also some Grrr! Guy face time on FOX & Friends from this morning of Kilmeade's book launch party last night, which you can also view above.
Next week on FOX Magazine, Sundays 11 p.m. EDT, (search) tune in for my piece on the Broadway musical "Wicked."
Stupid Lit'l Dreamer
This week's SLD mention goes to football player Tiki Barber (search). The man takes the ball into the end zone, drops it and runs to the sideline. No showboating. No dancing. No chest-pounding. His mother must be proud. He's a joy to watch, and a credit to the NFL.
Until Next Week ... Grrr!
Mike Straka is the Director of Operations and Special Projects and columnist for FOXNews.com and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine." He was also in the movie "Analyze This," and has appeared in various commercials, theater and TV roles.