Monday, June 30, 2014

Top 5 Reasons I Should Interview Billy Joel

I've been watching videos on YouTube of Billy Joel interviews and master classes to prepare myself for his upcoming concert at Wrigley Field... because you can never be too well prepared. (And because if I wasn't watching Billy Joel videos I would have to be doing laundry, washing dishes, or otherwise cleaning house and generally doing stuff I really don't want to do.)

And it occurred to me that I should try to wrangle a personal interview with Billy Joel.

I mean, why not? I'm an up and coming blogger with a readership of literally fives of people (on a good day). I'm working on those numbers and fully expect that any day now I could reach – dare I dream it? – tens of people!

And, I mean, why not? What's the worst that could happen? (Besides being slapped with a restraining order. Really? How much farther away from Long Island could I get than Iowa? In a philosophical sense, anyway.)

Face it, worst-case scenario: the answer is no or I get no reply. Please. I'm a mom. I'm used to people ignoring me. It's like they sing in South Pacific, “If you don't have a dream, how you gonna make a dream come true?” (Or have an reason to reference “Happy Talk”?)

After much thought, here are my Top 5 Reasons Billy Joel Should Agree to an Interview with Me:

1. I'm cute and spunky. Who doesn't like cute and spunky? (Besides Lou Grant from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” And he doesn't count, because he really did like Mary.) Obviously I'm spunky because despite the fact that an unknown blogger has absolutely a snowball's chance in hell of landing an interview with Billy Joel, I'm going after it! And obviously I'm cute, because spunky people are always cute. (And I have great legs. Just sayin'.) And I have a great sense of humor. Obviously.

2. I'm fresh off a 3-day return engagement as (acting)Editor of the West Liberty Index weekly newspaper (circulation: more than my blog), so my interviewing and writing skills have been re-honed to my previous razor-sharp editorial... razor-sharpedness.

3. I am the kindest, gentlest interviewer you will ever encounter. In my brief but fabulous tenure as the Arts and Entertainment Editor of the Iowa City Press-Citizen, all my years at the Index and the West Branch Times --  heck even as a high school teacher, speech coach and speech contest judge – I have never made anyone cry. And a few of them deserved it, believe me.

4. Talk about a softball interview! Who doesn't like to be set up for a guaranteed success every now and then? Not that Billy Joel needs to be set up for success. You don't get much more successful than what, a bazillion sold-out concerts in a row?

But he has, in the past (as I learned from those YouTube videos) had issues with reviewers and critics. With me? No issues. None. Nada. And it's not because I'm on the take (or would be swayed by his presence, talent, or general adorableness). It's because I'm a genuinely nice person (who happens to be a cute, spunky, talented writer with great legs).

5. The timing is perfect! Billy Joel is going to be in Chicago, I'm going to be in Chicago (because Billy Joel is in Chicago). Unless I get lost on the way there, in which case Billy Joel will be in Chicago and I'll be God only knows where swearing, crying and generally making a scene. Vegas odds are not in my favor; but if I do make it, I could be in the chips!

Do I really think I'll get to interview Billy Joel? No. Do I really believe anyone will read my email request? No. But this little exercise broke my writer's block (and provided divine-inspiration for my dual-language summer camp story lead).

And writing this was a hell of a lot more fun than doing the dishes.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Adventures in (Pre-)Midlife Crisis-ing

Billy Joel will be appearing Live! And in Concert! at Chicago's Wrigley Field July 18. This is, like, his only Midwest show this summer, and thus my best chance to see him Live! And in Concert! in all my current Billy Joel obsessed-ness.

Except the concert is sold out.

I haven't whined (out loud) much about this, as I am trying to keep the full extent of my craziness hidden or at least under control. But finally, the total, sucky-universe unfairness of the situation has reached critical mass. I mean, he's gonna be this close! And I'm probably not gonna see him Live! And in Concert! Or, more accurately Live! And Televised on the Big-Ass Screen (because I would be in the nose-bleed seats in the far, forgotten nether regions of Wrigley Field's upper-upper deck).

Technically there are Platinum Seat tickets ($495 or $525 each) still available on the official concert web site. I could swear there used to be even more expensive seats, but they must be sold out now, too (WTH?). I don't blame Billy Joel for those obscene prices because I have a huge crush on him, which grants him – much like my children – complete immunity from any blame. However, I'm thinkin' those platinum seats ought to at least come with a free bucket of popcorn, large soda and a special line-jumper pass for the bathroom. (I thought the $1,500 seats should put you on stage turning pages for Billy.)

Then I realized the official concert ticket website is – of course – also the Chicago Cubs MLB official tickets website, so maybe those platinum tickets get you into the Cubs lineup for a game or two. That would explain a lot.

While I'm crazy about Billy Joel, I'm not quite $495 worth of crazy.


Clearly this situation calls for out-of-the-box thinking.

Out-of-the-box it occurred to me  that when I was in college, I would have just jumped in the car and road-triped it in to Chicago, hoping to buy a ticket from a scalper outside the ball park. (Probably. Maybe. Eh....)

But now the thought of such a spur-of-the moment, unplanned, unprepared, totally wild and crazy whim of an adventure makes me more than a little nauseous. (Definitely not. Never. But....)

Just for the sake of argument, I gave my imagination free reign: What's the worst thing that could happen if I just drove to Chicago, hoping for the best? Apparently my imagination was more influenced by my college-era movie viewing than I realized.

What could happen? I could end up driving around downtown Chicago in the family station wagon, careening from one potentially dangerous yet hilarious misadventure to another (Adventures in Babysiting).

Left to my own devices in downtown Chicago I could very well end up on a parade float singing “Danke Schoen” and being mistaken for Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago (Ferris Bueller's Day Off).

When I mentioned my hair-brained, road trip/scalper scheme to my good friend (and guardian angel) Martha, she suggested I try StubHub first, before driving willy-nilly into the Windy City on a whim.

Hmmm. Scalpers – I mean Re-sellers – online. Who knew?

I can just barely navigate the official ticket websites, let alone a “re-sale” site. And, not that I'm bitter or anything, but StubHub claims to have 4,902 tickets available. Really? You expect me to believe that 4,902 people bought tickets then decided they couldn't go to the concert? Of course, the tickets with a face value of $44.50 (+$5 s/h) now start at $79....

But beggars can't be choosers, can they?

Apparently they can be, because as I roll the cursor around the stadium map I start thinking about upgrading... and pretty soon I can justify buying the $205 ticket because it's on the field and slightly more centered than the $170 ticket – which is not that much more than the face value of $130. Or do those people asking $197/per for the infield club box seats know what they're doing? The box next door is $265/per...

Let's face it. I'm too cheap to spend that kind of money. Although... $170 might be doable. What am I saying?!

Reigning in the crazy for a moment, I think a road trip to Chicago for a day at the art museum would be fun. And I could listen to the Billy Joel Channel on XM radio while I drive (although that's what started this obsession to begin with).

Or I could drown my sorrows at Murphy's Bleachers on North Sheffield St. – which is pretty much behind the stage and across the street, but still closer than some of those upper deck seats.

And then I could stand outside Wrigley and proclaim my devotion by hoisting a boom box over my head and looking all soulful... although I probably wouldn't serenade Billy Joel by playing Peter Gabriel (OK, that's the Seattle-based Say Anything, not the Chicago-based High Fidelity... but close enough).

What else can I say? Just this:

It's 211 miles to Chicago, I've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and I'm wearing sunglasses (Blues Brothers).

I'm on a mission for Bill.