Alex Markels Makes Contestants Earn Their Concert Tickets

Boulder journalist Alex Markels (pictured) is a mighty creative fellow, as numerous major news organizations have learned; the credits listed on his extremely impressive résumé include staff work for or contributions to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and National Public Radio's Morning Edition. It's no surprise, then, that when he wound up with a pair of tickets he couldn't use for the July 21 Red Rocks show featuring The Police and Elvis Costello & The Imposters, he came up with an imaginative way to find them a new home. "Rather than try to hawk them on craigslist or scalp them at the show," he wrote in a widely distributed e-mail, "I thought it might be fun to ask why you think I should give YOU the tickets."

Markels' request for "your best SOB story" netted some doozies, with the top three ranked below in what he refers to as "ascending -- and utterly arbitrary -- order."

3. I think you should give me the tickets because you sent out the note on my birthday. Yes, my birthday. And as a freelance shooter who works for rates that haven't risen since the 1980s (while cost of doing business has quintupled), my bank account is reduced to sobbing. So seeing bands that started out about the same time the New York Times last raised its photo assignment rates might just take me back to an era of greater prosperity in my biz.

2. My wife Amanda slept with Sting's yoga instructor (before me, of course), who has since been profiled in Vanity Fair, and met Mr. Sumner and wife Trudie at a private, trance-dance after party in Miami. He was very nice, and Amanda's a "big fan." I was an 80s, New Wave, spiked-hair, Zenyattà Mondatta-lovin' (NOT Synchronicity) Police fan before the Police were cool. Neither of us have seem the trio play live and would babysit your kids for a month for the chance. And Elvis Costello is simply THE MAN. Anyone who has appeared in Talladega Nights, jammed with the Grateful Dead, and been banned from SNL is a hero of mine. Give us the chance to worship!!!

1. I'm not really a slut for free stuff. Really, I'm rather choosy. Well, then again "choosy" may be overstated... I did take a bag of hardly used men's underwear (size 32). Ever try giving away used underwear? They have been really good for wiping up spills in the car. Besides that, reaching down and pulling out a pair of Y-fronts and wiping the windshield has prompted rather uncommon discussions with my fellow passengers. After I target the best price for an item by Internet, the final conquest is always finding that "free shipping." You should see the new mirror in my upstairs bathroom. I couldn't find one I liked in the local stores so I went on the Internet. BINGO! But the shipping was an additional $50. My heart sunk, until the online sales person said that they could ship it to a local LampsPlus for free. FREE! Sinking feeling gone, it was mine. FREE IS GOOD, FREE IS GREAT!!! People don't give me free stuff all the time, but my birthday is next week (July 25th to be exact), which is usually cause enough for friends and family to give me stuff.... FOR FREE!

Of course, Sting believes that if you love someone, you should set them free, not give them stuff for free. Lucky for this last contestant, Markels is more flexible, even if he hasn't slept with a certain yoga instructor. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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