The Ticket Master

Breaking Up LiveNation, Alito Flies Again

If you wanted to score concert tickets when I was a kid, you lined up outside your local record store first thing Sunday morning and hoped the teenager working the Bass Ticket terminal was a fast typer. Things seemed more fair back then. Bass stood for Bay Area Seating Service. Ticketing was local. You were competing against other wannabee concert goers. You had to do the actual work to get there first. These days, your concert ticketing adventures pit you against thousands of other people (and a lot more bots) refreshing a website. And increasingly, those tickets are being sold by the same company, one that often promoted the concert, owns the venue, and manages the artist. Is LiveNation too big? The Justice Department thinks so. WaPo (Gift Article): U.S., states sue to ‘break up’ Ticketmaster parent Live Nation. “The landmark case — joined by 30 state and district attorneys general — could dramatically reshape an ecosystem that has long sparked outrage from artists and fans alike, whose frustrations erupted in 2022 when high fees and site outages disrupted early sales for Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour. Live Nation is an entertainment titan: It is a concert promoter, artist manager, venue owner and ticket seller and reseller, constituting a sprawling empire that its executives publicly herald as the ‘largest live entertainment company in the world.’ Last year alone, Live Nation produced more than 50,000 concerts and other musical events, and it sold more than 620 million tickets globally.” Maybe it would be better if we had to line up outside our record store again. But the record store is gone.

+ “It’s no wonder music fans are disheartened and furious. Of course, the fact that the biggest music promoter and ticketing service is one single, giant company that has a lot of control over how tickets are bought and sold definitely doesn’t help matters … But while it’s easy to blame just one party for the chaos and the cost, the reality is that there’s a complicated concoction of reasons why obtaining tickets to a major concert has gotten so dire, and dealing with so much demand isn’t easy, either. Millions of fans want to attend a Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, or Harry Styles concert — and there are only so many shows and seats. Who should get to go?” Vox: The real reason it costs so much to go to a concert.


Fly Your Freak Flag

Last week, we learned that Samuel Alito flew a stop the steal upside-down flag at his home. This week comes news of another flag displayed above his vacation house. “This time, it was the ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag, which, like the inverted U.S. flag, was carried by rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Also known as the Pine Tree flag, it dates back to the Revolutionary War, but largely fell into obscurity until recent years and is now a symbol of support for former President Donald J. Trump, for a religious strand of the ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign and for a push to remake American government in Christian terms.” (There’s a religious war in America, and SCOTUS is ground zero.) NYT (Gift Article): Another Provocative Flag Was Flown at Another Alito Home.

+ What will happen? Nothing. Dahlia Lithwick in Slate (Gift Article): “Rather than hurling ourselves headlong into the ‘Alito Must Recuse’ brick wall of ‘yeah, no,’ we need to dedicate the upcoming election cycle, and the attendant election news cycle, to a discussion of the courts. Not just Alito or Thomas, who happen to go to work every day at the court, and not just Dobbs and gun control, which happen to have come out of the very same court, but the connection between those two tales: what it means to have a Supreme Court that is functionally immune from political pressure, from internal norms of behavior, from judicial ethics and disclosure constraints, and from congressional oversight, and why that is deeply dangerous.” What These Stories About Samuel Alito’s “Provocative” Flags Are Really About.

+ Meanwhile: Supreme Court approves South Carolina congressional map previously found to dilute Black voting power.


A Churn of Events

Why is butter so popular these days? That seems like a question with a very simple answer: Butter is awesome. But when it comes to food, trends (even those related to butter) rarely trend naturally. Grist: Behind the ‘butter board’: How the dairy industry took over your feed.


An Attention Grabbing Stat

“The study’s lead author, Melissa Danielson, a statistician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there are two main reasons for the trend. First, doctors, parents, teachers and kids are becoming more aware of ADHD symptoms, making cases easier to identify. Second, because more treatments are available these days, doctors have more reason to test and diagnose children.” A new study shows that as of 2022, 1 in 9 children had received ADHD diagnoses at some point in their lifetimes.


Extra, Extra

Baltimore Harm Than Good: “Across Baltimore, the death toll has mounted. Fatal drug overdoses have occurred on a third of the city’s blocks. Bodies have been found in motels and vacant houses, at parks and the football stadium, around the corner from City Hall and outside the Health Department. In one grim month alone, 114 people succumbed.” NYT (Gift Article): Almost 6,000 Dead in 6 Years: How Baltimore Became the U.S. Overdose Capital. “The city was once hailed for its response to addiction. But as fentanyl flooded the streets and officials shifted priorities, deaths hit unprecedented heights.” (This is such a massive issue, yet it’s rarely discussed in national politics.) Plus: Baltimore’s unprecedented overdose crisis: 5 takeaways.

+ Hurricane Able: “In the highest hurricane season forecast they have ever released in May, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters said Thursday that the coming months may be exceptionally busy.”

+ The Other War: “In the past seven months, somewhere between half and two-thirds of the country has fallen to the resistance. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, including many children, since the military seized power in a coup in 2021. Some 2.5 million have been displaced, and the military facing an unprecedented challenge to its rule and in an attempt to thwart the growing resistance regularly bombs civilians, schools and churches from its warplanes (the resistance has none).” In Myanmar, armies of young insurgents are changing the course of a forgotten war.

+ Chinese Ire Drill: “The drills come three days after the inauguration of President William Lai, who called on China to stop threatening the island and accept the existence of its democracy.” China holds military drills around Taiwan as ‘strong punishment.’

+ Haley’s Comment: “It’s neither surprising nor disappointing that Haley has aligned herself with Trump after inveighing so fiercely against his utter unfitness for office. His rivals always do.” David Frum in The Atlantic (Gift Article): Nikki Haley Surrendered, but Not Her Voters. It’s definitely no surprise that Haley said she’d vote for Trump. As I recently explained: It’s the Enablers, Stupid.

+ When the Chips Are Up: “Nvidia, the primary avatar of the AI revolution, has solidly ensconced itself not only as one of the most valuable companies in the world but also as one of the most profitable.” Nvidia’s astonishing profitability.

+ First Impression: “My only ask is that EVERYONE open your heart to believing victims the first time.” Cassie Thanks Fans for Support After Release of Diddy Assault Video.

+ River Stance: “It may be hundreds of miles away from any coastline but the Bavarian capital of Munich is home to one of the world’s most iconic — albeit dangerous — waves. The Eisbach wave, which sits on the edge of the Eisbach river, has been attracting wetsuit-wearing surfers since the 1970s.” The world capital of river surfing.


Bottom of the News

“The first $500 is our gift to you. The second $500 is for you to give to somebody else or another organization who could use it more than you.” The graduation speaker at UMass Dartmouth surprised students with envelopes stuffed with hundreds of dollars in cash. (The young people were probably confused by the non-digital money.)

+ Coming soon: The Froot Loops Icee. (This gives me brain-freeze, and I haven’t even taken a sip yet.)

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