I always knew there was something I didn't like about the Gibson Company. Maybe it stemmed from the fact that their holier-than-though guitars were always leagues out of my modest, "regular-guy" price range. Or maybe it was just that many of my musical idols growing up preferred to use Fender gear. But no matter how biased, unfounded, or unfairly personal my reason for mistrusting that Mecca of music companies seems to have been, I am proud to be able to report to you today a very sweet retroactive vindication of one of my (many) irrationalities! And boy, oh boy, there's nothing like uttering the sentence "See, I was right all along!" to brighten up another dreary work day.
So, exactly what happed? Well, like all good tales of corporate music's exposed fucked-upedness, this one is just plain FULL of Grade A douche-baggery. Observe:
There's this kind-of douchey music festival with the kind of douchey name of "Lollapalooza" that takes place in the otherwise relatively un-douchey city of Chicago. And every year, they do this incredibly douchey contest called Last Band Standing in which a whole slew of unknown acts (yes, most of which are HORRENDOUSLY douchey) pointlessly internet-battle it out for a horrible slot on the shittiest stage on the crappiest day of the festival. The whole thing is based on fan "votes" and stuff like that, so it's supposed to be all grassroots and "anyone can win, even YOU!" and shit... Sounds douchey, huh?
Yeah, well, it turns out that back in 2006, Lollapalooza and Gibson, the douchey sponsors of this-here contest, got a bit of a curious surprise when the winner turned out to be NOT the douche-tacular Velvet Revolver knock-off that they were imagining, but a fresh, un-douchey hip-hop artist instead! The unfortunate musician's name was Tonedeff.
See, part of the supposed prize package was supposed to be "$10,000 worth of equipment from our friends at Gibson. (yes, believe it!)." Well, poor Tonedeff believed it, but he should have known better than to underestimate the douchey powers-that-be at Gibson and their TOTAL aversion to anything that's not rock ‘n’ roll-related... lest it make a (shudder!) bad ad campaign!
Sadly, Tonedeff has spent the last year-and-a-half trying to get Gibson to make good on their promise, finally going public with his woes on his blog last week in an effort to let the world know "how they tried to weasel their way out of this, and how they tried to play me cause I'm a Hip Hop artist."
According to the persecuted hip-hopper, when he finally reached Gibson (they never called or e-mailed him after he won), Don Pitts, the certainly douchey Entertainment Liaison for Gibson Guitars, told him to go online and pick out what he wanted. Tonedeff promptly picked out a Baldwin piano. Pitts wrote back, "Baldwin is the only division that's not part of the deal..." Bummed out and suspicious though he was, Tonedeff picked out a list of guitars, using Sam Ash and Guitar Center to check prices because Pitt refused to provide a price list. Pitt responded this time with revised prices that were at least 50% higher, reducing Tonedeff's prize list by... that’s right, kids, 50%. After some back and forth on MSRP ("manufacturer’s suggested retail price") versus MAP (the “retail” price that stores like Guitar Center and Sam Ash would actually sell this gear for), Tonedeff gave up and opted instead to pick a single item, the most expensive he could find that came in under $10,000, which turned out to be a Gibson mandolin with an MSRP of $9,999. But alas, the great pundit Pitt just stopped talking to him at that point.
The details and back-and-forth e-mails dutifully posted on the blog weave a truly convoluted and amazingly douchey tale of gross irresponsibility, empty promises, and semantic bullshit that is well worth reading to get all of the excruciating details. As of last week, Tonedeff STILL hasn’t gotten his promised $10,000 from Gibson, MSRP or otherwise, and the douchey folks at Lollapalooza haven’t exactly been much help. But, as Tonedeff muses, maybe he should have seen this veritable genre-hate-crime-action coming when Don Pitts allegedly told him, "I mean, this is kind of weird, because you know, you DON'T play the guitar or drums."
See??? Told you it was douchey.