Waiting in line for tickets was one of the most worthwhile pastimes of my underage drinking years. But great seats (and drunks) weren't the only objective: Camping out overnight was a social event. The culmination of this activity came in 1987, when we joined a couple hundred people outside of a Dayton's outlet one frigid Minnesota night to get World Series tickets. Camp stoves were broken out and Weber grills fired up. We ate Johnsonville brats and downed schnapps and beer. The cops were there only to maintain order, prevent line jumpers and ensure that people who had to pee didn't get hosed out of their spots. We got nosebleed seats but were perfectly content -- at least until football practice the next day, when our coach ran us into the ground because we were foolish enough to brag about having tickets.
Today, of course, you have to go through Ticketbastard, which seems to have deals with local brokers, radio stations, Osama bin Laden and every kid who sits behind a computer and communicates with the world through his keyboard. Camping out won't get you good seats; paying at least double the face price to a broker might. And mysteriously, procrastinating is now sometimes rewarded by the release of better tickets as the show approaches -- or even on the day of the show. To return America to one of the traditions that made it great -- and drunk and cold -- I believe that Internet and phone sales shouldn't be allowed until at least two hours after tickets first go on sale, giving those who've waited in line a shot.
But Congress has yet to pass such a law, and in the meantime, I needed to decide whether I should camp out for Who tickets. Fortunately, traditional American values are important to both the Texan Representative to the Institute of Drinking Studies and the new Scottish Representative, who, without batting an eye, both agreed to join me on this fools' quest. We packed up critical supplies -- including folding chairs and a beautiful bottle of Scotch that the Texan had just received for his birthday -- and my wife carted the three of us to the Pepsi Center, where we established base camp and cracked open the Scotch around midnight.
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A few tips for those who would embark on a similar mission: First, bring something other than liquor, which makes you too mellow and introspective and sends you crashing halfway through your crusade. Beer is much more social, although we do recommend some liquor merely for temperature maintenance. Second, don't make fun of the Texan when he brings a sleeping bag; he won't let you live it down when you sound like Droopy the next week because you have a major cold and broken teeth from violent shivering. Finally, be prepared to move, because the Pepsi Center is apparently run by Islamic extremists or Scientologists who want to destroy America and won't let you camp out. (This is also the reason the Pepsi Center has a ticket lottery before sales start, a discovery that almost led to the strangling of the employee who announced the Who lottery.) After being booted from our spot in front of the building, we ended up drinking/sleeping in the G lot across the street. There the only thing that distinguished us from the local homeless population was the absence of shopping carts; it's no small miracle that we didn't end up in Denver CARES.
At 8 a.m. the next day, another person finally joined us in line. But did we feel that we'd wasted the preceding eight hours? No way. We'd struck a blow for America and apple-pie values. We'd drunk-dialed friends, telling them how weak they were for not joining us. We'd complained. We'd told stories of waiting in other lines and the great shows we'd seen. We'd gotten really hammered. And ultimately, we also got what we came for: good seats. I'm disappointed that the first in line doesn't get front-row seats, but I realize that is part of the world that Ticketbastard has created.
If you managed to get tickets for the Who, the greatest rock-and-roll band ever, join the Institute at Brooklyn's around 5 p.m. on November 14 for a pre-show gathering. We'll be at the bar, waiting in line.