Sunday, May 12, 2013

Live, Film, Recorded,or TV?

There is a guy I know who suddenly has got to satisfy the urge to see Baseball live at the stadium. He recently went to Boston, a more than five hour one way trip from New York City, just so he could say he actually saw a game in person at Fenway Park. The tickets were pricey, as was the beer, hot dogs and peanuts he purchased. The seats were uncomfortable, after all this park was built way back when people were skinnier and I guess less self indulged meaning they didn't spread out as much overflowing in to your space. He watched a game he really didn't have much interest in since his team wasn't playing besides he was seated by the "Pesky Pole" in right field so he was far enough removed from any player except the right fielder.   All in all the excursion cost him around $350 for a day that tired him out because of the round trip of about eleven hours, to see a Ball Game in an antiquated park, in uncomfortable seats, between two teams he really had little interest in just so he could boast he actually saw a Ballgame in Fenway Park. The whole thing had nothing to do with liking the sport but rather the "event" that he thought separated him from many others. He was almost furious when I told him I wasn't impressed because I decided a long time ago the event had nothing to add to my personal stature but the enjoyment of the game did.

Think about it, the $1000 seats at Yankee Stadium behind home plate are grossly overpriced for what they give you. The rest of the areas remove you far enough away from the action so you can barely see the action  The gigantic TV screens at the ballpark are referred to frequently just so you can actually see the action close up. So beyond the ambiance it is far better to view a game on your large 42 inch HDTV where in replays, slo-mo, close-ups, and so on, you get to see everything you need to see to enjoy the game with a detailed explanation of complicated plays or arguments as the occur, without paying $8 for a Beer you can get for far less and if it rains you are dry and comfortable. Heck when the guy comes home from the game after spending $100 for tickets and $50 bucks for food and Beer, you end up explaining what happened in far better detail than he can unless of course he saw the replays on the sporting news. But he can brag "I was there!", like that means something, like that means he is some sort of big shot.

Spike Lee can afford the seats he is in for the Knicks games and he has close-up views of the game,AND some of the players sweat even falls on him, big deal, but he is close-up to the action. The other seats for guys like you and me are very expensive and far enough away to let one consider watching the whole thing on HDTV which of course takes away the boast, "I was There." but costs far less and gives a better view of the game. There are events that I like to go to because by being there you actually experience a different performance than what you might see on HDTV, or by listening to the CDs.

Live concerts for instance are a whole other thing in getting the juices to flow or in understanding the music and it's fans. A little while ago I was at Hall & Oates concert and while we were far away from the performers we heard them, saw the effects and rocked with the crowd. I got up and clapped, howled and really let the crowd and the music take me to places I could never have gone just by listening or seeing them on HDTV. I also enjoyed what was floating in the air which I suspected wasn't Marlboro. The crowd, performers, music was all one as we let ourselves be carried away to heightened senses everything combined brought us to. Sitting up close at an Tony Bennett concert was an experience that couldn't have been gotten anyway but by being there up close. Bennett was less rousing than Hall & Oates but he brought a jazzy, cool romantic experience and we were sitting right up close to the stage in the middle of and aisle with no one in back of us or in front. I heard the chord changes clearly, saw the smiles on the faces of the musicians and never felt more groovy and romantic than when I heard an imperfect voice rather than the perfect singing that a studio produced album brings to us. The imperfections make the live performance so special because that is what brings the real artistic level of the performance to the heights of enjoyment that studio produced versions can never achieve.

What I am saying is don't feel you have to be there at an event just to brag that you were there because that adds nothing to your personal stature. Go to performances, sporting or otherwise, that truly adds to your enjoyment and understanding of the artistic performance unfolding before you. But other events that you truly enjoy may be best enjoyed at a distance, live HDTV, CDs, Film or theatre. Live Theatre of course is an experience that can't be matched when it is done well. However some go only to "Broadway Hits" when the real artistic event is off or off-off Broadway where risks are taken and truly artistic achievements are made.   

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