Americans are still scratching their collective heads over last week's disclosure that the government has operated a shadow concert network since October 2001, causing many in the Bush Administration to rethink concepts of concertland security as well as which West Wing staffers should receive future complimentary tickets for Poison and Dan Fogelberg.
Often referred to as the "undisclosed locations" that Vice President Cheney ducked out to every now and then, it wasn't until a Washington Post reporter noticed that the VP's disappearances always occurred when bands like Phunk Junkeez and The Beta Band were performing in the DC area. That, and the appearance of a CPR unit parked near the stage door entrance clearly suggested that something was up.
But what? Adding fuel to the fire was the vice president's weekend appearance on Meet The Press. It was on this program that the VP, clearly addled from lack of sleep, was still wearing his INXS backstage pass as well as subconsciously rubbing at the stamp on his wrist, a souvenir of a late-night visit to DC's 9:30 Club, the traditional meeting place of Washington's movers and shakers since the "Bob Dylan Goes Electric" crisis of 1965.
White House aides point out that the Vice President has three constitutional duties; succeeding the president, deciding who in the Senate shall receive free tickets for shows such as Trisha Yearwood and Jimmy Buffett, and running the music industry. However, critics point to Virgin Records' $28 million buy-out of Mariah Carey's contract as well as letting Michael Greene speak at last week's Grammy Awards, as signs that "one man can't do it all."
However, insuring that the tour buses roll on time is only one of the heady responsibilities conferred upon the second-of-chief, for the current administration has repeatedly gone on record stating that healthy box-office counts are also necessary for a secure America. That, plus today's revelations in The New York Times that the entire population of an Illinois city is ready at any given moment to travel to show locations for Harlow, Bottle Rockets and Grand Skeem, gives new meaning to the metaphorical show-biz question; "But will it play in Peoria?"
Can one man do it all? Can increased security and the freedom to see 2 Skinnee J's or Richard Elliot coexist in a post 9-11 world? Furthermore, will DNA testing and concert profiling replace line bracelets at ticket on-sales for Paul McCartney or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young? Perhaps Benjamin Franklin said it best when he wrote over 200 hundred years ago; "Those who would give up essential concerts, like The String Cheese Incident or Cracker, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither concerts nor safety. And you can forget about those backstage passes."