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Sting's Tyranny

Get your tickets this week for Sting's show at Ravinia this summer?

Good. (Er, just play along with me.)

Now consider this report from the Guardian about an earlier stop on Sting's tour:

"Once again we must ponder the question 'how much money is enough?', inspired by reports that Sting accepted between [$1.5 million and $3 million] to perform for the glory of the brutal despotic regime in Uzbekistan.

"The services of Sting - whose personal fortune is estimated well north of [$230 million] - were engaged by Gulnara Karimova, the daughter and anointed heir of dictator Islam Karimov.

"To explore Islam Karimov's human rights record in full would take too long: suffice to say he is condemned approximately every 10 minutes by organisations from the UN to Amnesty, accused of such delights as boiling his enemies, slaughtering his poverty-stricken people when they protest, and conscripting armies of children for slave labour.

"Oh, and the Aral Sea on which his country sits - once the world's fourth biggest lake - has lost 80% of its volume, partly as a result of Karimov siphoning it off to intensively irrigate his remote desert cotton fields.

"Whether he is a perfect fit for self-styled eco-warrior and humanitarian Sting is a matter for you to decide: what is beyond dispute is that in October, the former Police frontman agreed to travel to Tashkent and effectively headline Gulnara Karimova's alleged arts festival."

Sting goes on to claim that his Uzbek show was sponsored in part by Unicef - which is news to them. It wasn't.

Said Sting in a statement:

"I supported wholeheartedly the cultural boycott of South Africa under the apartheid regime because it was a special case and specifically targeted the younger demographic of the ruling white middle class.

"I am well aware of the Uzbek president's appalling reputation in the field of human rights as well as the environment. I made the decision to play there in spite of that.

"I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular.

"I seriously doubt whether the President of Uzbekistan cares in the slightest whether artists like myself come to play in his country, he is hermetically sealed in his own medieval, tyrannical mindset."

That's probably what Sting was thinking about when captured for posterity here at an Uzbek fashion show with Guinara Karimova.

"[T]his really is transparent bollocks," writes former British ambassador Craig Murray. "He did not take a guitar and jam around the parks of Tashkent. He got paid over a million pounds to play an event specifically designed to glorify a barbarous regime. Is the man completely mad?"

Guinara reportedly paid the one-time Amnesty International torchbearer more than $1 million for his appearance. Hey, she works hard for the money. No word on whether the bills were actually drenched in blood.

Enjoy your picnic!

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Scott Buckner:

Sayeth Sting, the dark lord of tyranny: "I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular."

This so open on so many levels to the reason(s) why a boycott of his appearance at Ravinia on July 17-18 (pointless gestures, art, insular, commerce, blahblahblah) "performing his most celebrated songs featuring the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Steven Mercurio" might do the boy some good.

Hey, how's this for an idea: Sting "performing his most celebrated songs" featuring THE POLICE? Or on the outside, Squeeze? (I'd link to his version of "Tempted," but the money-grubbers don't have it anywhere, not even on the site of last resort, iLike.)

Still, the folks who put together Ravinia's website continue:

Headline: "Donors Receive First Access to STING"

First access for exactly what? Wine and cheese? Casual patter? The name of a legal maid with a green card? A blowjob backstage? Ravinia doesn't say, exactly. But it does say, "We invite you to renew or upgrade your support at the following levels to be assured of Pavilion seating."

But of course:

"Marquee ($1,500 - $2,999): Two tickets
Opus ($3,000 - $5,999): Two separate pairs of tickets
Guarantor ($6,000 - $9,999): Four adjacent tickets
President's Circle, Chairman's Circle and Sponsors ($10,000 and above): please call [phone number mercifully deleted - these fuckers are rich enough] to learn about ticketing opportunities at these levels."

Ten grand at the top, a grand and a half at the bottom end. Recession? Unemployment? What's that? Shhhh - don't let The Eagles hear about this, or else they'll start touring this summer and start charging everyone a flat 15 grand, festival seating.

For the rest of us schlubs, Sting's pavilion seats run $115 for those who want to get close enough to just smell him. For college students who intend on pre-gaming at home and then just taking the Metra so they can just show up drunk and puke on the lawn or in peoples' picnic baskets on the grass, the adventure will set you back $33.



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Posted on February 23, 2010


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