Phish Story: A fight on Shakedown Street left one man in stitches and another fearing for his family
Grab the merchandise, not the person — that's always been the rule. No need for anybody to get hurt. Bootlegging is a civil matter, not a criminal one, and everybody knows the deal: You make it, they may take it. Simple as that.
But the aftermath of an incident that started with a backpack full of bootleg Phish stickers has been far from simple. Before Phish had finished its three-night stand at Dick's Sporting Goods Park earlier this month, a gruesome YouTube video was making the rounds. As two men move into the frame, the one later identified as Augustine Paik is shirtless, barefoot and bleeding profusely, splashed from the crown of his head to his chest with a bright crimson that glistens in the sunlight. He and the other man, Dave Anver, tentatively circle each other. And then, after mumbling something inaudible and gesturing toward the other side of the parking lot, Paik takes a swing at Anver. Striking just a glancing blow, Paik reaches down, grabs his shirt off the ground and runs. Anver gives chase, quickly catching him and putting Paik in a headlock. That's when a few onlookers object — "Hey! Hey, leave him alone, man, hey!" — and step in to pry the two apart. As Paik moves off through the parking lot, security arrives.
Anver points out Paik to the guards, who radio for the police. Soon Paik is lying prone on the pavement with his hands behind his back, while Anver — clad in blue jeans and a green T-shirt emblazoned with a googly-eyed rendition of Felix the Cat, a Phish laminate hanging around his neck — tries to gather himself together, pulling his hair back in a ponytail. He lifts his shirt to show a guard where Paik bit him, just under his right nipple.
View the court documents:
View the injunctions that keep Phish bootleggers at bay.
View the boots:
Bootlegged Phish merchandise presented to courts
The video doesn't show Anver, who holds a third-degree black belt in karate and wound up charged with misdeanor assault, telling Commerce City police officer Chris Dickey that he was simply defending himself from Paik and trying to "do my job." That job, says Anver, is "serving federal injunctions against people for selling counterfeit merchandise," something he's been doing for the past two dozen years, and something he was being paid to do that day by Phish.
Bootlegging is a big business, as will be readily apparent when Furthur, the Grateful Dead offshoot, plays Red Rocks this weekend.
In the two days leading up to this year's Super Bowl in Dallas, $3.6 million in bogus merchandise was confiscated. And that's just one sport, one day. According to a recent Newsweek item, counterfeit NFL merchandise is estimated to cost the United States economy upwards of $250 million annually.
The music industry also pays a hefty toll. While illegal downloading grabs most of the headlines, the sale of unauthorized merchandise is just as big a concern. This persistent problem has vexed the industry for at least three decades, if not longer.
For all its laid-back airs, the Grateful Dead moved early to aggressively fight bootleggers. Even though he was a champion of making and sharing bootleg recordings, Hal Kant, the Dead's late attorney, devoted much of his time to going after people selling unauthorized merchandise, everyone from fans who followed Jerry Garcia and company around the country, selling homemade memorabilia to support their travels, to scofflaws selling phony T-shirts in the parking lots of the band's shows, to the makers of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, who eventually got Kant's blessing for their Cherry Garcia.
Phish, with its penchant for live improvisation and a dedication to never playing the same show twice, has a lot in common with the Dead. It also follows the band's template for dealing with bootleggers — and not the guys lugging around thousands of dollars in recording equipment to shows.
Although a fair amount of this activity occurs online, the bulk of bootlegging takes place in the parking lots of concerts, with opportunistic types ambling about with backpacks full of counterfeit merchandise emblazoned with the band's logo, name, likeness or other trademark-infringing items. While at more mainstream arena shows you can spot these guys a mile away, it's a lot tougher on Shakedown Street — as the makeshift open-air marketplace at Phish concerts has affectionately been dubbed.
The heart of Phish's fan base beats in the parking lot outside of its concerts. While all sorts of illicit activity occurs within Shakedown — at this month's shows in Commerce City, police issued citations for a cornucopia of violations, everything from urinating in public to more than a dozen arrests for unlawful distribution of a controlled substance — it's the bootleggers who are considered the real scourge.
Still, some items that might look like an infringement — stuff with tour dates or lyrics — are actually permissible. In a 2001 suit Phish filed against Sean Knight (aka Waldo, then of Knighthood Clothing, now of Jamgoods.com), a judge determined that lyrics were not protected and that playing off song titles in parodies, as Waldo did, could be considered fair use.
In the early '90s, Giant Merchandising, the Los Angeles-based company exclusively licensed to produce Phish merchandise, began filing motions for injunctions against bootleggers, following the tactics that other bands had used for over a decade. A few years later, Phish took over the production of its own merchandise — and had its lawyers file those federal injunctions against possible trademark infringement.
Each new injunction is specific to a particular tour and covers a certain time period. Citing the Lanham Act, the attorneys petition for restraint and seizure orders to protect the logos, likeness and images of the band and its individual members. To make their case, they present a list of trademarks the band owns — Phish, Phish Stick, Phish Food, Gamehendge, Coventry, Oysterhead, Vida Blue and Waterwheel — along with proof of ownership. More times than not, the orders are granted.
Amy Skelton worked as Phish's merchandise manager from 1997 to 2004, serving injunctions on behalf of the band and battling bootleggers. And she took her job to heart: She'd been a friend of the musicians before she ever started working with them. Skelton had met drummer Jon Fishman when they were in college, before he and Phish co-founder Trey Anastasio even met. When the band formed in 1983, she was at the first gigs — and won renown as Phish's first fan. Skelton hosted and handled all the logistics for Phish's very first outdoor event, which took place in August 1991 at Larrabee Farm in Maine, where Skelton was working at the time. That benchmark show is now known as "Amy's Farm" in the annals of Phish history.
She was careful to keep an eye on the band's best interests, treating bootleggers gently and fairly. "You can't restrain anyone for copyright infringement," she notes. "If you're doing that, you're breaking the law. It's not a criminal offense. I'm not putting the band at risk for a shirt seizure."
At the beginning of each tour, she would familiarize herself with all of the official merchandise being sold so she knew exactly which items were genuine and which were not. "It's all new stuff," she explains. "So you have to get out there and get to know all of the shirts on the lot. I took my time and inspected them all. And you know, people would think that they'd gotten my blessing. Well, it was just I did my homework. I walked by it all day long, thousands of different items and shirts — lots of stuff — and I didn't touch them. People would say, 'These are fair game, right?' They would actually come to me — fans would come up — and show me their new shirt, hot off the press. 'Hey, Amy, I just want to make sure that these are cool.' I'm like, 'Well, they don't infringe our injunction. That's all I can tell you.'"
The band wanted to be sure its image and brand weren't diluted by inferior goods. "To have some kid print on some cheap white T-shirt with a horrible print job was just bad-quality goods," Skelton says. "Or really cheesy poems or something that's so horrible it's not funny. We definitely don't want it associated with us."
She had very specific rules for how such actions were to be handled, though. Before engaging in any type of search-and-seizure type activity, Skelton made sure those helping her with enforcement knew which merch was permissible and which wasn't. "When they got to the show, they would meet me in the merch room," she remembers. "And I always had a bag of samples. So we'd stand in the merch room with my bag of samples, which I'd throw out on the table, like, 'That is our logo. This is our name. Also, this word Gamehendge is copyrighted. You can take that, too.' We'd go through why all of the other things weren't. So I spent probably fifteen minutes before I sent the guys out there. And then I was on radio the whole time, monitoring them."
The size of Skelton's crew depended on the size of the show, usually ranging from twelve to sixteen guys, many of them off-duty cops. After the initial meeting, she'd hand them radios and then send them out to patrol the parking lots, and as they confiscated what they believed to be counterfeit merchandise, they'd bring it back to Skelton for inspections. Sometimes her enforcers were right on the money, and sometimes they'd inadvertently snag goods that were permissible. In those cases, the stuff would be returned whenever possible. She always watched to make sure no one overstepped their bounds.
One of the people she worked with on Phish's Colorado shows was Dave Anver.
Phish heads could be the most devoted fans this side of Insane Clown Posse followers, so attuned to every detail involving their favorite band that when the group started playing an entirely "S"-themed set during the September 2 show, the first in a three-night stand at Dick's, they not only picked up on it, but were debating its significance on Twitter three songs in, and then later on the Phish section of the Phantasy Tour message board.
That's where word of the fight in the parking lot first surfaced — and where a link to the YouTube video "Zombie Apocalypse: Phish Lot Fight!," which had been captured on a cell phone, was eventually posted. That inspired a pair of incensed fans who hadn't seen the actual fight to create a "Stop Dave Anver" Facebook page, with the stated intent of "returning the Colorado live music scene to what it was BEFORE this monster emerged."
When the page's creators went to bed that night, the "Stop Dave Anver" Facebook page had only registered eight "likes." That multiplied by the hour, though, and within a few days, the page had more than a thousand followers who were posting comments ranging from hostile to downright threatening, with some calling for "dosing" Anver with LSD and others posting his personal information, including addresses and phone numbers. They wanted him held accountable for what they'd seen on "Zombie Apocalypse."
"When I saw the video on YouTube, I was physically sick," says Anver. "I mean, it's nothing I want to be involved in. It's nothing I want my name with. It's not what I stand for."
The video shows only part of the story. It's missing the first part of the fight, when a seemingly routine seizure went awry, and the response to the video, which has demonized Anver. "I'm not known as somebody who's afraid of my own shadow," he says. "But when you start getting threatening phone calls at all hours of the day and night, and they're threatening to burn your house down, and they're threatening to kill your pets, and they're threatening to go after your children. And this isn't imaginary stuff you're thinking about — this is going on."
Anver got his start busting bootleggers when he was working for legendary concert promoter Barry Fey nearly 25 years ago. In the intervening years, he's done various jobs, everything from teaching martial arts to delivering newspapers and phone books to working on a dock and owning a gun store. But he's continued to pursue bootleg-abatement gigs, serving federal trademark injunctions and performing countless seizures on behalf of various bands, including Phish and the Grateful Dead, working both on his own and through his company, Anti-Pirate LLC. He's become a regular go-to guy in the industry; in 2010, AEG commissioned him to serve injunctions for that year's edition of the Mile High Music Festival.
But Anver says he's never experienced anything like the blowback from this September's Phish gig.
Disgruntled fans started calling Anver's home, harassing whatever unlucky family members answered the phone. Others issued threats unnerving enough to make Anver put a loaded shotgun by the door — something he says he hasn't done in years. "It's so bad you have to unplug your phone — for a week," he says. "It's so fucking bad that you have to take your Facebook page down at the martial arts school you work at. It's so bad that they call the martial arts school for, like, a week, non-stop. Then they send e-mails, hateful e-mails, to every martial arts school in our federation around the world. It gets better: I teach self-defense for free at battered women's shelters, and, yeah, they contacted all of those."
Anver is not one to shy away from controversy. As the former owner of Dave's Guns, at one point the largest firearms dealer in the state by volume, he was a vocal advocate for firearm retailers — at a time when the Columbine tragedy was still very fresh in people's minds. But for people to pull his family into the fray crosses the line. "If anything happens to me — you can put this in your fucking article — anything happens to me, anything happens to anybody in my family, Mark Zuckerberg is going to fucking pay," he says. "And I'm serious as a heart attack in January."
Red Light Management, which manages Phish, didn't respond to repeated requests for comment. But Anver has correspondence that clearly indicates he was authorized by Phish to boot the bootleggers. "Hey, Dave, here's the injunction for you to look at," writes Phish representative Jimmy Farrell in one e-mail. "I'm also including an info sheet which summarizes everything. It's all basically the same as it's been in the past. Looking forward to seeing you in a couple weeks."
So when Anver showed up at Dick's over Labor Day weekend, he says, he thought this gig would be business as usual. By the time he and his assistant approached a pair of young men who were selling bootleg stickers out of their backpacks, they'd already been making the rounds in the parking lot for a few hours, confiscating other unauthorized merchandise without incident. "We're not getting in fistfights over shirts, man," he explains. "It's a civil deal, okay?"
After informing the two that the trademark-infringing stickers — which had the Phish logo — were in clear violation of the injunction against bootleg merchandise, Anver says he asked for their IDs. They hesitated, then said they'd left their IDs in their car. As Anver started walking them to their car, one pulled out a cell phone and made a frantic phone call — to Paik, Anver claims. "And he's like, 'This is bullshit. I don't want to get arrested. Look, this is fucked up. You didn't say this was going to happen.' And while the kid is on the phone, that's when Mr. Paik jumped out from between the cars," Anver recalls. "The kids were never a problem. Mr. Paik was the problem. He came up and got wackadoo. Completely wackadoo."
Paik became aggressive and belligerent, Anver says, accosting Anver and his female assistant. After Anver warned Paik to back off or risk being pepper-sprayed, Paik struck the women and then Anver. As Anver began spraying him, Paik pulled the sunglasses from his head and threw them at Anver. At that point, Anver recalls, Paik rushed him and the two exchanged blows.
Anver's assistant, who asked to remain anonymous because of Facebook threats, backs Anver's version. She began radioing for help as soon as the fight broke out, but because she was so frantic and has a thick accent, security personnel on the other end could not understand her initial pleas. Then they went to the wrong parking lot.
Meanwhile, the fight continued to escalate, with Anver spraying police-grade pepper spray on Paik before eventually pinning him to the hood of a white SUV — a scene captured on that YouTube video. Paik was bleeding profusely, and repeatedly spit blood in Anver's face. At one point, he also bit Anver in the chest. Anver says Paik also tried to gouge him in the eye.
Then, finally, security showed up.
Paik, who sustained injuries severe enough to require staples and stitches, declined to be interviewed for this story other than to say of Anver, "We all know he's a bad guy."
When he talked to police on September 2, though, Paik offered a very different version of events than did Anver. He told officer Chris Dickey that he confronted Anver only after watching him "berating a teenage male about selling Phish stickers out of his vehicle." Paik said he stepped in on behalf of the young male, who was "shaking and appeared to be afraid."
Paik told Dickey that he asked Anver to show documentation proving he was authorized to serve the injunctions. According to the police report, Anver became "very angry and belligerent with him at that point, swearing and yelling and threatening him," then spraying him with pepper spray. Paik told police that when he bent down to cover his face, Anver struck him over the head with the canister. In the report, Dickey noted a semi-circular laceration on Paik's forehead that appeared to be consistent with a pepper-spray can.
Anver doesn't deny exchanging blows with Paik, and acknowledges that he was holding the can — but he insists that he was only defending himself after Paik started fighting. Paik was so aggressive, he says, that he kept coming after him even after Anver had sprayed him with about half of the can. In his report, Dickey noted that, indeed, the can "appeared to be about half-empty."
Dickey took Anver into custody. He was charged with misdemeanor assault.
According to the police report, the extent of Paik's injuries and the statements of witnesses indicated that Anver was the predominant aggressor. But Dickey also noted that he was unable to find any witnesses who observed the entire incident — even though Anver's assistant submitted a two-page, handwritten statement to the Commerce City police. While that statement is not attached to the police report, Anver says he'll make sure it's submitted into evidence.
And new details continue to surface, including an eleven-second clip filmed prior to the now-infamous YouTube video that depicts Anver pepper-spraying Paik, who is in a fighting stance.
Matt Cawthon, who's been selling shirts at shows for a half-dozen years, was at Dick's that day; he recognized Anver from previous encounters. He told police that Anver "appeared to be enjoying himself" during the fight and that he told Paik, "I'm going to fuck you up."
Over the years, Cawthon says he's seen countless exchanges between concert reps and people selling unauthorized merchandise that were handled in a fair, professional manner. But his experiences with Anver have been very different. "I have seen Dave Anver around, not only in Colorado; I've seen him in other places, too," Cawthon recounts. "And I have seen his tactics, and I mean, it's horrible. I'm just shocked by it.... I have seen him pull this shit over and over again. He's never shown anybody I have seen a single credential. Never. He acts like some rogue out there stealing merchandise from people. I don't know what he does, who he works for... I've seen him do this, I would say, a dozen times."
During one particular run-in at Red Rocks, one of Anver's assistants tried to seize Cawthon's T-shirts. Having seen people just hand their stuff over to Anver with no resistance, Cawthon says he decided not to comply, and insisted that none of the shirts he was selling infringed on anybody's trademark. "One of Dave's goons comes up to me," he remembers, "and goes, 'I need all your T-shirts.' And I said, 'Well, I'm sorry. You're not getting them.' He starts rattling off a bunch of...he's being all, you know, he's trying to pressure me, trying to intimidate me. And I looked right at him and said, 'Look, bud, I don't know what your problem is, but you're not taking anything from me.'"
The confrontation eventually moved down to the Trading Post, where Cawthon says he encountered Anver. "He starts getting in my face doing all of his intimidation tactics, like he does with everybody," Cawthon recalls. "And I say to him, 'You don't bother me at all, and you're not taking my shirts.' And he says, 'There's no vending out here, and I make the laws around here, and I'll take whatever I want.' I've got my backpack on, and he rips my backpack away from me.
"I asked him while this was going on, you know, what credentials do you have — you know, who are you?" Cawthon adds. "And he told me, 'That's none of your business. I make the laws around here. That's who I am.' I never saw anything from this guy. Nothing. Or any of his people. And it didn't matter, anyway. If I have a trademark or copyright violation, the person who owns that or represents the person who owns that can take my stuff. A police officer can take my stuff. If a police officer takes my stuff, he's going to write me a receipt for it. The way I look at it, this guy stole property from me that he had no right to."
Lauren Stephens, another local vendor, says she had a more serious run-in with Anver when Phish came to town in 2009. "I was four months pregnant, and I was selling posters at Red Rocks," she remembers. "We had peddlers' permits to be vending within the city limits. And I was selling posters on the stairs, and he came up the stairs with another man and asked me if I was selling the posters. I told him yes, and he ripped the posters out of my hand. I was still holding on to them, and I tried to pull them back and he pushed me down on the ground. And had somebody not caught me, I would have fallen backwards down the stairs. When I yelled at him and was like, 'I'm pregnant,' he gave me the middle finger and said, 'Fuck you!' That's my personal experience."
Once she'd pulled herself together, Stephens says, she sought out a police officer to register an official complaint. "He radioed to Dave," she recalls, "and Dave said that I had attacked him, and that it was strictly self-defense, him throwing me down on the ground, which is not true. And the officer told me if I wanted to file a report, I had to leave in an ambulance and show that I was actually injured. I didn't want to go and leave in an ambulance.
"The police officer told me the ambulance had already left the scene," she continues, "and they would have to turn back around and come get me, and he was just not very nice at all. So I told him, 'I know I'm not injured, but I need this on record that he pushed me down,' like that's not okay. He told me there was nothing he could do because Dave was denying it."
When she later followed up with the officer, he told her to take her complaints to Aramark, the company that handles concessions at Red Rocks. She declined to do so. But when her confiscated posters were later shown to Phish representatives, she says, they acknowledged that the artwork didn't infringe on any established trademarks.
In general, Phish has had good luck getting its injunction requests approved — and serving those injunctions on bootleggers.
But in 2009, attorneys working for Phish made a critical misstep by not filing an injunction request under seal — and the media picked up the story, giving potential defendants ample time to hide or destroy their bootleg merchandise before they were served. The judge granted the restraint order but denied the seizure request on the grounds that the Justice Department hadn't been notified in time.
For whatever reason, the attorneys didn't file the request until February 25, 2009, a little more than a week before the band's trio of reunion shows got under way at Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia. But while their timing might have been off, they paid plenty of attention to the most minute details: the 33-page request, filed in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, included copies of previous orders, samples of items that had been seized in the past, a full rundown of the band's vast commercial accomplishments, and a strongly worded declaration from Phish's in-house counsel, Kevin Shapiro, regarding the effect that bootlegging had had on the act — an assessment that was somewhat ironic, considering that Shapiro also happens to be the band's resident archivist, a bootlegger of another sort.
"Phish's concert tours have been plagued by individuals who sell Unauthorized Merchandise near, at and sometimes inside a concert venue," he wrote. "These individuals are commonly referred to as 'Bootleggers,' their activities are known as 'Bootlegging' and their goods are referred to as 'Bootleg Merchandise' or 'Unauthorized Merchandise.'
"Bootleggers are essentially peddlers," Shapiro continued, "who, without permission or authorization, misappropriate the names, likenesses, logos, symbols, artwork and/or trademarks of performing artists and musical groups for use on merchandise to sell to the general public in order to cash in on the musical group's huge commercial value and reputation, all in violation of the rights of the individuals and companies which possess the exclusive right to engage in such commercial activity."
Shapiro's contention was that bootleggers ultimately prey upon fans' inherent desire to express their devotion to their favorite groups, and that their actions undercut the band's profits, which were pretty sizable. A shirt that might otherwise retail for four bucks could be sold for nearly five times that amount with the band's logo or likeness.
"The unchallenged presence of Bootleggers in our marketplace destroys the market and damages Plaintiff's business at every level," he asserted in his declaration. "This business is based on reputation and brand recognition, and Merchandise is one of the most successful avenues for the Artists to benefit from such fame and connect with their fans."
By the time the band hit the road that summer, another injunction request had been filed in New York and granted. Like past orders, this one allowed for seizure of any counterfeit merchandise by federal marshals, members of state or local law enforcement, or agents otherwise working on behalf of the band. And also like those previous injunctions, it left very little room for ambiguity. Any merchandise that infringed on the band's trademarks was subject to being confiscated: peaceably, and always with a paper trail.
Since enforcing these injunctions has the potential to lead to antagonistic situations, the courts lay out very explicit protocol for how the seizures are to be conducted.
After enduring weeks of threats, Anver is more than willing to tell his side of the story about how this seizure was conducted — but only face to face. And even then, when he shows up at the agreed-upon time and place, he suggests a change of venue to a spot down the street, one he's more familiar with. Finally seated in a corner booth in the mostly empty Mexican restaurant, he pulls a thick stack of papers from the top of a box he's brought that contains dozens of confiscated bootleg DVDs. Thumbing through the papers, he offers examples of the scathing e-mails and threats he's received, along with documents that establish his working relationship with Phish, including laminates dating back to the mid-'90s and more recent e-mails, these from the Phish organization, along with a photocopy of the band-issued decal he was wearing that day. And over the course of a two-hour interview, he answers a barrage of questions.
"He's got a calmness about him," says one of Anver's former employees, who also asked not to be named for fear of reprisals from Phish fans. "I know that sounds weird, especially after everything you've seen on Facebook and what people are saying. He'll tell you like it is."
One of the questions involves the only serious mark on his record (aside from assorted traffic violations): Anver was arrested on suspicion of felony assault and menacing and felony attempted second-degree homicide back in 1989. Ultimately, he was convicted of just a misdemeanor disorderly-conduct charge for fighting in public.
"I'm not proud of my past," he allows. "But it's my past. Look, I'm not going to duck, dodge and hide it. It is my past. I'm not proud of it, but it's from a long time ago, man. Back then I was a motorcycle thug, and I was hanging out with some motorcycle thugs here in town. And when you live the life, when you lie down with the dogs, sometimes you're going to wake up with fleas."
That incident involved another parking-lot altercation, this one at the old After the Gold Rush club in Lakewood, which resulted in Anver's going to jail.
"I will never forget that next morning," he remembers. "I came out and the judge who was there — Christopher Munch, I gotta tell you, this guy was no bullshit judge — and he said, 'What the fuck do you think you're doing? You've got a wife, you know? You've got a kid. You've got a life.' He said, 'What the hell is wrong with you? You know, wake up and get your head out of your ass.' And I started thinking about it. I started thinking, you know, the hoosegow is really no place to be. And I said, 'You know, those fancy chrome bracelets...I don't think so.'"
From that day, Anver started on a different path. He focused on his family and practicing martial arts, and eventually opened Dave's Guns. At one point, the store was the largest-volume retailer of guns in Colorado. But while it proved to be a highly lucrative endeavor, Anver says he ultimately abandoned the business after a pair of profoundly affecting events.
"One day I had very beautiful young girl come into my store, very young, probably 22, 23." he recalls. "I can still see her now, man. Long, curly dark hair, dark complexion. She looked like she might've been maybe Indian or Pakistani, just beautiful, really gorgeous, exotic-looking girl. She talked to me about guns for a while, and you know, I was getting ready to go to lunch, and she decided that she wanted to buy this used Glock model 22. I said to one of the sales guys, you know, 'Hook her up,' and I left. And she went home, sat in the bath and shot her head off.
"And there was a deal with the church down in Colorado Springs," he continues, telling the story of Matthew Murray. "And there was a kid who bought some guns from some folks, and he went to a retreat that he had been to up in Arvada and killed some folks. And then he went down to Colorado Springs, and there was this lady cop who's no longer a cop, and she had her gun on her. And he came in there with a Springfield XD that I sold him. And he intended — he killed some girls in the parking lot — and he intended to kill a bunch of folks in that church. And everything he bought, he bought legally, okay? But after a while, you start to talk about the things you do at work, and you're not really keen on saying, 'You know, I sold a handgun to a girl that killed herself with it.'
He pauses, takes a breath, wipes his eyes. "A lot of media outlets were looking to me to, you know, talk about pro-gun stuff and a lot of the pro-gun groups were, and after a while, my heart just wasn't in it anymore," he says. "And I just didn't want to do it. And business wasn't good. And I just said, fuck it. And it's not supposed to matter, because you're supposed to be like you're selling chainsaws, you're selling hammers or some shit, so it's not supposed to matter."
Anver insists he always followed the letter of the law when selling guns, just as he always follows the law dealing with bootleggers, using the tactics he first learned while working with Skelton.
He talks about touring the merch room and making sure injunctions are handed out correctly. "It's a federal injunction," he'll tell suspected bootleggers. "It's good for every stop on the tour, before and after, and all the way around the venue. You have no right to sell this stuff. Okay. This is an immediate seizure deal, so you're going to be losing this stuff."
Anver learned more from Skelton than how to spot phoney merchandise and fill out paperwork. He also learned not to take things personally.
"When I worked with Amy, it used to bother me that these cats were so cavalier and would tell her to fuck off and get in her face," Anver admits. "It bothered me. She'd say, 'Just let it go. At the end of the day, there's going to be another show and there's going to be more guys and more stuff.' She said, 'Look, they've been trying to squish it like a cockroach since the '60s. It hasn't gone away, and it's not gonna go away. And you just need to come to terms and come to grips with that. You can't stamp it out. All you can do is what you can do, okay? And at the end of the day, do the best job you can."
"When we worked together, he was good," says Skelton. Ultimately, though, she ended up using off-duty cops at Colorado shows because she felt more comfortable.
"And I'm sure he learned a lot, and I'm sure he has a lot of respect for the system because of the time we spent," she continues. "I'm sure that anybody who worked with me probably thought a little bit more seriously about copyright protection after they worked with me, because I took it pretty seriously. And the band always took it seriously. You know, like, they care about their fans. They care about the perception and how their fans are treated, and they want to be fair. That's really important to them, and it was important to me, because I was a fan. I consider myself one of them as well. So we all took it very seriously."
And Anver will be taking his day in court on October 13 seriously. He's already gone to the Commerce City Police Department, where he attempted to file assault charges against Paik. At the time, Officer Dickey told him that the department wasn't in the practice of filing reciprocal charges, but added that if new evidence or information came to light, the case would be reviewed.
"I will take a polygraph, anytime, anywhere, as will my assistant and everyone on my staff, everything I told you," says Anver. "I encourage the other side to step up and do the same, and let the music do the talking, like the boys in Aerosmith said."
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