Can’t pay for love

Posted by – April 29, 2010

Leonard Cohen is coming to Helsinki, boy oh boy! More specifically, to a massive sports arena named after its sponsoring beer company. Still, I thought I had a kind of emotional obligation to see the man at least once.

I go to the website they’re selling the tickets from. Good tickets are 90€. I’m incurably cheap, so that kind of shocks me, but it wouldn’t exactly break the bank. Okay, let’s make the plunge. Crappier tickets start from 60€ – but what would be the point if you can’t see the man up close? I vacillate for a while over it (I’m also horribly indecisive) and next thing I know, the best tickets are sold out already. I start to feel bad about the whole thing, forking over too much money to sit in a sports arena, looking at a jumbotron with thousands of others. I suddenly decide not to buy a ticket.

<bitter> So yeah, have a lot of fun, jerks. I’m talking to you, 58-year-old hags who couldn’t even name a Cohen album, let alone remember any words. Make sure to get lots of pictures with those camera phones. </bitter>

I don’t know, the transaction just didn’t feel right in the end. Of course the guy’s right to ask for however much he can get, and obviously there’s enough demand to justify that level of supply discrimination. That’s what money was invented for. But trying to decide to buy the tickets, I just couldn’t feel the joy in going. There are going to be something like 15 000 people at that concert – at those ticket prices, that’s over a million smackers. As whispers of beauty and tenderness flow one way, tens of thousands of hours worth of labour flow the other. It’s not the price that I balked so much as that vision. As the proles jump at the chance to pay for their football gods’ unimaginative excesses, as the religious tithe while the pope creeps around in gold and ermine, so would I be overpaying for a beloved poet, touched only by my money, hundreds of meters away in an arena. Is that as beautiful a moment as the songs are? What kind of love requires me to declare my own relative worthlessness so loudly?

Of course, it’s not love at all, it’s business. But when it comes to Cohen, love is what I want, and that’s what the songs have already given me. So I don’t feel too bad about the concert anymore.

I did get to see Randy Newman the other night. Thankfully that love is shared by few enough people not to trigger my emotional reservations, so I had a great time.

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