Good evening, folks and fans. I’m back in Poughkeepsie visiting family ’til after Christmas and for those of you who’ve wondered where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to, this e-mail to the sales team at Madison Square Garden that I spent too much time composing should explain a great deal. True to my stoical nature, I am in good spirits despite difficulties arising from my bamboozlement. It is actually nothing I haven’t encountered before in my three years of running Phoenix, but the fact that the developing battle referenced herein is going down between me and a well-known, mammoth sports entity with a billion dollars in assets claiming victimization has me at once seething and chomping at the bit for a David and Goliath showdown I would relish. I am not a litigious person looking to sue anyone. I just rightfully want my money back. All $22,000 of it! And so would you. Let my story serve as a warning to season ticket investors everywhere. Your favorite sports teams are hardly above dishonest and predatory sales tactics. An organization is only as ethically strong as its weakest commissioned sales link:
I spoke with Steve Aveni, the former MSG rep who originally contracted me in April before leaving MSG, and he had interesting information for me pertaining to the present situation. Unlike you and your sales directors, he was also polite enough to return my phone call over an urgent matter jeopardizing my immediate well-being. Indeed, it’s been more than three weeks since my last correspondence with you and your sales manager Jamie Morningstar notwithstanding your corroboration of the precise seats specified on the contract, the ones you yourself expressly assured me was ‘on the corner’ upon assuming duties for Steve after his sudden departure in April and before the availability of seating charts. Furthermore, despite being honest in regard to my status, needs, intent and purpose in agreeing to purchase these seats back in April, as I have been with you in regard to such and to their inappropriateness in light of new facts, I have had the displeasure of being on the receiving end of nothing but legal threats, apparently false promises, and what I perceive to be dishonest intent and a patronizing attitude from your rude sales outfit.
Steve Aveni, who was actually polite enough to respond to me despite no longer being an MSG representative himself, has explained to me the exceptional degree of bureaucracy and red tape you encounter as sales agents, and it is upon his recommendation and for purposes of documentation that I am copying him, Jamie, and Adam with this communication, demonstrating greater patience and understanding with Madison Square Garden than I am presently inclined to display, perhaps naively. Given the catastrophic consequences of such naivete in the course of past business, it seems I never learn. Indeed, I could tell you horror stories about signing five figure checks for appearances on behalf of charity from athletes that never materialized, but what does it really matter here? In this situation, I would simply think MSG would be more proactive in distinguishing itself from every scumbag ‘sports promoter’ by whom I’ve been misled, to wit I am offering The MSG Company, a chance to settle our differences amicably and with minimal legal complexity. You like the word ‘lawyer’ about as much as I like the word ‘legal department’, since legal involvement can hardly be said to be of service in reducing the kind of bureaucratic impediments by which your organization apparently suffers. However, in the interest of self-protection and owing to the sketchiness apparent in both your communication, as well as in the lack of it, and given the developing facts, I have no choice but to pursue legal representation in the heart of Manhattan in expectation of impending litigation, and satisfaction with MSG outside of company sales channels, beginning with your Chief Operating Officer Scott O’Neill. Let us hope it goes no further than that.
If your sales manager’s position on this is that of company loss, then she doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on. This bold-faced lie was obviously told to me without the knowledge that you yourself had advised me these seats were sold out several weeks ago, with the final 32 seats going in the mere two week period prior to our last conversation almost a month ago, even in the midst of an NHL lockout and at which time you were still pursuing a third payment from me in excess of $10,000 due October 1st, hot on the heels of the second payment of same actually made to you a month late at the end of August, and all this for seats directly behind the net I expressly said I did not want, a truth that became apparent to me not because of honesty in sales, but rather to the emergence of aftermarket seating charts. You even told me that the existing owners of these new seats were Fortune 500 companies who planned to use these seats merely as employee perks and that they were not meant for aftermarket sale as I myself had planned, and about which I was honest from the very beginning! In fact, I demonstrated much greater honesty and disclosure than the MSG sales force when I recently advised Russell Baldwin, a fellow small business owner here in the Hudson Valley who was following up on earlier communication from me about potential share partnering, that in addition to the discovery of my specific seats being directly behind the net, your new Madison Club Seats on the whole are inappropriate for the intended use previously alluded to, since what little existing market data available for these new seats have them pegged with an average unsold of $350 a ticket and a sold incidence of only $200 despite costing their corporate owners $425 each, facts that suggest catastrophic financial loss for anyone wishing to purchase them as an ‘investment’ in the traditional sense. Your sales director’s defensive posture of ‘loss’ over the approximate $22,000 of my money you are presently refusing to return, or even negotiate the return of in part or in whole, is patently absurd given the fact of these seats having been sold out several weeks ago, and twice as ridiculous coming from a billion dollar corporate entity. If anything, it is I who has experienced ‘loss’ resulting from MSG sales practices.
Let’s keep it simple, sweet, and brutally blunt. Your commissioned sales manager intends to keep the sale, keep my money, and in fact, do a double-dip on commission for selling the same thing twice. I am back in the Hudson Valley for the next few days visiting family and thought I’d take the time to clarify this confusing situation in text for all parties who might be interested, including Mr. Russell Baldwin, all media entities, and any lawyer closer to the Garden’s doorstep who might represent me, as well as all MSG corporate officers not associated with your ‘sales’ and ‘legal’ departments. It will be posted on my home page blog at smileny.net for ease of distribution in any and all ways I see fit, an effort I will launch all-out if you do not wake up and take me seriously. In light of your lack of manners in refusing to even communicate with me for purposes of amicable settlement sans litigation, I am withdrawing my magnanimous offer of 15% to the Garden for processing costs associated with contract procurement and termination, one that was quite generous under the circumstances. Although I am and have been preparing for official shut down of Phoenix as an incorporated entity owing to three years of large loss trying to do something charitable and fun in the world of business with my passion for sports, true to my nature, I am now diverting that 15% to the Smile Train and I am now offering Madison Square Garden absolutely nothing. I am not even offering MSG a choice in charity of its own, as I had considered. I will not allow Madison Square Garden to come out of this one looking good in any way if I can help it. I will further reiterate my disinterest in your insulting offer of a ‘VIP suite party’ at an implied cost of $22,000. If I do not receive some kind of satisfactory response from you shortly after Christmas, I will cease my many attempts at communication with your double-dipping ‘sales team’ altogether in seeking legal satisfaction and an audience with your CEO of Operations. If the poor little Madison Square Garden Company feels victimized by yours truly, then it can sue me. I am residing in a home share of Egg Harbor Township at a cost of $125 a week and my bills are mounting. I made my last payment of nearly $11,000 to you at the end of August in good faith for a total of approximately $22,000 paid after having been strung along by you and your director in wringing additional payments from me right up to nearly a month ago without any clarification from either of you in regard to no refund despite my expressed expectations of such and your inarguable awareness of my unqualified status and the inappropriateness of the purchase for multiple reasons already detailed, and all while Madison Square Garden was busy selling out of these Madison Club Seats. While $22,000 represents little more than pocket lint for billionaire James Dolan, it is a princely sum to me. I could have not only paid all of my bills for at least 6 months while converting to traditional employment in my field, but I could have purchased a $2000 ticket to the Super Bowl with which I have a well-known obsession, an obsession that remains a priority for me despite my presently meager circumstances, and that obsession is a truth for which I owe no one an explanation. As it stands, this little David now has nothing for Goliath to take and therefore, nothing to lose. All I have is a spirit born for battle that I am compelled to appease and appease it I will, regardless of any humble opinion your sales director might have about the insignificant smallness of my voice.
This communication will be made publicly accessible immediately through posting on my home page at smileny.net and minimally shared at first, with deferential understanding on my part for the red tape at MSG of which Steve Aveni has made me aware. However, widespread publicizing efforts along with legal recourse will follow if I do not get a satisfactory response from someone in a position of power at Madison Square Garden without the word ‘sales’ in his or her title and therefore, a monetary stake in my loss. In addition to the media entities and persons in the Hudson Valley region I have worked with in the past, I will relentlessly tweet everyone from Carmelo Anthony to James Dolan, and every remotely sports-affiliated media entity I can think of from NBC to MTV. So, go ahead. Tell your sales manager to sue me as threatened and make me famous.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it is Christmas Eve. I have already spent too much time on this communication with family waiting for me in the next room. I look forward to hearing from you after the holiday.
I’ve been forgoing the cologne for a while, but I’m today wearing a light, clean, cool, and masculine designer scent I love called Voyage d’Hermes, scooped from Lord ‘n’ Taylor in Boston maybe two years ago. The saleslady told me it means Voyage of a Man. I told her, “That’s all me, baby,” as I reached for my wallet. Even as a ‘cheap-ass Asian’, I’ve never been one for being tight with myself or with others regardless of my circumstances. I drive a Nissan Versa, have always rented, and outside of a lavish indulgence in experiential stuff for a number of reasons philosophical and otherwise that I might get into with you some other time, I’m actually quite economy-minded in nearly every other way. Beyond investing in custom suits for business as recommended by professionals, I shop sales and clearance racks for tasteful picks in clothes and shoes of which I won’t need anything new for a very long time, I use coupons for household supplies and groceries, and when I travel, I take the time to find the deal. And often more time than necessary, I might add. But I do have a weakness for three things when it comes to spending. And no, they’re not women, whiskey and blackjack, although I love whiskey and blackjack. My weaknesses are as follows…a good scent, a nice watch, and the Super Bowl!
I remember the names of neither shooter nor victims. And all I really feel is empathy with the pain of loss for those still living. But I would never delude myself into thinking that empathy means I can imagine their unique pain. Even as one who has suffered loss himself. I can even dig up some level of empathy for the shooter. I don’t know if that makes me a monster or a bleeding heart. I could be both. I only know that whatever empathy I feel is nowhere near enough for me to participate much in the spectacle. It was what it was. Emily Dickinson says Death is kind. I imagine she meant for the deceased. Were I among the living involved? I would simply like to be left alone to grieve in purity. For all is vanity.
Alright, folks, time for another Smile Train Dinner and Yankees Field MVP Giveaway at Catalano’s! This time, we’re sending a couple of you to the Bronx for Saturday’s 1pm game vs. the Cincinnati Reds! You should all know the drill by now. The $25-per-person fixed-price menu that we’ve changed up to keep it interesting for you this week includes such mouth-watering fare as Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, Steak alla Cacciatore, and Lobster Sachettini. Every diner gets a raffle ticket today upon check-in for live drawings at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30pm with the last drawing for a pair of Yankees Field MVP club tickets with total face value of $520! Other prizes include a $25 Catalano’s certificate and a Yankees superfan two-pack featuring the 2012 Yankees Yearbook and an official Yankees Media Guide, with every known fact and figure surrounding the legendary Bombers, including the name of every 1500-or-so player to ever take the field in pinstripes be it for one game or one thousand! You ever wonder how all those sportscasters know all that they know? Yankees Media Guide, folks. And now, you can know it all, too! DJ Chuck Sadler will be on hand tonight to spin some familiar smooth sounds and easy listening for you tonight at Catalano’s in lieu of live music.
These VIP giveaways from Phoenix are all as brainless as ‘no-brainer’ gets, noble people. That’s the beauty of them! Anyone who attends any of my charity events anywhere is already a winner in my book. But if you go home tonight empty-handed with nothing more than a belly full of warm, home made pasta and Billy Joel ringing in your ears, just think of all the smiles you helped me bring to impoverished kids of the world who will never see a Yankees game in any seat. And don’t worry if you don’t win, because just as it was last week, every diner win or lose will be entered into a secondary drawing in August for two Coaches Club tickets to see the Jets-Giants pre-season match-up with a total face value of $1400!
As for our winners from April 30th, Terri Zeno and Maureen Hennet each won a $25 certificate from Catalano’s, my mom Kim Ko won the $25 Mahoney’s gift card, and Catalano’s waitress Jillian Guerra was the ecstatic winner of those Field MVP seats, which she gave to her mom for Mother’s Day. God bless you, Jillian! Jillian was working that evening, but bought into the raffle when she noticed how ridiculously good the odds were of winning. And people think there’s no hope for our youth. I know it was a Monday, folks, but judging from the 13 diners in attendance on April 30th, I’m more inclined to think there’s no hope for you. $25 per person, 13 diners, 4 prizes, charity, home made pasta, live entertainment, and prizes you can’t afford. Can you handle the math or are you all preparing for a career in politics!?
I’d normally take the time here to address the sports news of the hour, but do any of you really want me celebrating with the Rangers prematurely while they still have work to do? Or listen to me recount my trip to Miami and American Airlines Arena in lamenting an embarrassing playoff loss for our beloved Knicks? Of course not! I’d rather reserve my sports commentary until it’s all over, when baseball’s summer season is in full swing and we can all turn our collective attention towards the mighty New York Yankees in their quest for a 28th World Championship!
Until then, catch me at Catalano’s and get lucky, superfans!
Let me tell you a little more about Smile Train.
Smile Train is a national non-profit that provides free cleft surgery for underprivileged children. Established in 2000, it now operates in over 80 countries around the world. For as little as $250 and in as little time as 45 minutes, the life of a severely disadvantaged child you will never meet can be irrevocably altered for the better. None of these children you are helping will ever get to see a Jets or a Yankees game in any seat. Even with your help, few if any of them will ever know what an iPod or a PlayStation is if they live to see the age of 50. Just ponder that for one moment. No matter how bad we think we have it at times, there’s always someone out there worse off.
And your generosity will not go unnoticed. If there’s a great record-keeper in the sky somewhere, then your gift is not something that can ever be taken away from you. It will never collect dust or expire. It cannot be stolen, repossessed, or otherwise desecrated. For whatever it’s worth, it will stand as an item on the asset side of your life’s balance sheet for all time. $5 is what we’re asking, the price of a Big Mac and a large fry. How long will those last you?
For each $5 donated, you will get one free entry into a live random drawing to be conducted at the Poughkeepsie Galleria on Sunday, March 11th, at the conclusion of a day-long Smile Train fundraiser, a fun-filled day of live entertainment featuring singer Marlyse. Details and developments available right here on this web site.
Another win-win proposition from Phoenix, folks. Kindly accept. And please don’t forget to smile.