- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Geezer tours

“Musicians of every stripe will make a pile of money touring this summer. …

“Graying geezer groups reap the biggest riches, bankrolled by baby boomers who can afford stiff ticket prices. You could see the Who for free at Woodstock in 1969; last year tickets to see the band’s two surviving members creak onstage sold for an average of $77 apiece.

“The loftiest perches on Pollstar magazine’s annual list of highest-grossing acts are held mostly by aging rock stars: Last year, Paul McCartney ($103.3 million), who charged a top ticket price of $250, the Rolling Stones ($87.9 million) and Cher ($73.6 million) topped the charts. McCartney plowed through 90 dates in 14 months, playing two-and-a-half-hour shows for half a million people in Rome, 100,000 in Moscow’s Red Square and 35,000 in the Beatles’ birthplace of Liverpool. …

“While music sales have dropped for three years in a row … to $11.5 billion in 2002, hurt by Napster-style digital piracy and a lackluster flow of hot new acts, the tour business has climbed for four years straight, from $1.3 billion in 1998 to $2.1 billion last year. Thus musicians increasingly rely on road shows for their income.”

Peter Kafka, writing on “The Road to Riches,” in the July 7 issue of Forbes

Soviet slavery

“Ominously, within just three months of the 1917 October Revolution, an exasperated Lenin proposed sentencing ‘the millionaire-saboteurs traveling in first- and second-class train compartments’ to ‘half a year’s forced labor in a mine.’

“In August 1918, following an anti-Bolshevik rebellion in Penza, the great man called for ‘mass terror against the kulaks, priests and White Guards’ (and the ‘unreliable’), specifying that these enemies of Progress were to be ‘locked up in a concentration camp outside town.’ By Christmas 1919, there were 21 such camps; a year later, 107. … Only in February 1992, nearly three months after the rotted hulk of the USSR had slipped into history’s vast deep, did the last camps at Perm belatedly disgorge their inmates. …

“Teams of prisoners could be required to mine 5.5 tons of coal each day — impossible even for the hardiest … among them, who were rewarded with extra rations as they worked themselves to death — or to dig nine cubic yards of mud, or to fell trees without saws.

“Once prisoners became too weak to keep up, they were left to die. Life in the slave-clogged Gulag was all for one and every man for himself. … Utter dehumanization and self-degradation was their lot.”

Alexander Rose, writing on “Mapping the Achipelago,” in the June/July issue of Policy Review

Teens on screen

“It’s been 20 years since the golden age of the teen sex comedy, an era that sprouted in 1981 and withered away sometime around 1986. The genre sprang from the loins of two fathers: 1981’s ‘Porky’s‘ and 1982’s ‘Fast Times [at Ridgemont High].’ These films set the ground rules that all others would follow, chiefly that sex was something to be feared, and that your friends existed only to laugh at you when you were most vulnerable. …

“As with the old Ford Pinto, badness is an inherent part of the teen sex comedy’s charm. Pretty much all of them — excluding ‘Fast Times’ and ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ — are quite terrible. …

“While movies like ‘Porky’s‘ and ‘Spring Break’ may have achieved little artistically, they marked a continental shift in the business of Hollywood. They forced executives to become beholden to the teenage boy, the one moviegoing demographic willing not only to see a movie several times while it was in the multiplex, but to then follow that by both renting the video and watching the wretched thing again when it showed up on Cinemax at 1:30 a.m. on a Friday.”

Oliver Jones, writing on “A brief history of the teen sex comedy,” in the July/August issue of Premiere

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