I just noticed a banner advertisement on the Iranian.com site that advertises a
June 1st fundraising show in my neck of the woods, Washington D.C. I strongly urge all D.C. area fans of the Iranian to attend if possible (or at least buy the tickets if you cannot attend), since besides being a fun event, the main purpose is to raise funds to keep the web-magazine you are reading now up and running.
Someone's paying for those servers, computers, etc., and the least we can do is to collectively buy tickets, and create a sold-out evening. After all, we read what this webzine makes available online, but I'm sure only a small percentage of us are actually paying for what could be considered in American slang a “free lunch”.
Fundraising is necessary, but not always a joy for the fundraiser, so as the Iranian.com has learned, you have to become creative and find interesting ways to secure the necessary income to continue operations. This is not unique to this magazine, or us as a people, it happens all the time when a consumer feels they can get something for nothing.
The other night (this was the fifth or sixth time this had happened) as my wife Moana and I were watching a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television program, she turned to me and said, “Sepehr, we really should become a member, we are enjoying all these great programs and besides the kids watch all the programs too, and I'm feeling guilty that we are not supporting public television!”
I replied with my customary nod of the head and stated, “Yes, we should”, but must admit I still haven't. I don't feel guilty admitting that I like the idea of “something for nothing”, and therefore as much as I can, I try to take advantage of certain deals that as a consumer in the U.S. we are entitled to.
For example, those 0% introductory credit card offers are one of my favorites. You can even get cash advances for up to your credit limit with a 0% rate and if financially savvy, invest it for the duration of the offer, and actually make some money.
Of course, there are downsides to such endeavors, one can become too clever for their own good. For example, there are transaction fees for getting a cash advance, but you need to have a magnifying glass to read it when you first sign up. Also, another fine print warning is that if you don't pay off the balance of these cards after the 6 month introductory period, you will be charged a whopping 20% interest on the balance.
Another scenario of a deal that was too good to be true was when I first came to the States and saw an advertisement for Columbia House Records where you could get 10 record albums (back then there were no CDs) for only 10 cents.
The catch was that after a few weeks, they would send you two albums a month that you had to buy at the regular price of $15 which still seemed to be a good deal, especially that you could cancel after having purchased just two albums. In order to figure out if it was worth it, I added up the 10 albums for 10 cents to the two albums I had to buy for $15 each and realized I was getting 12 albums for the price of $30.10, essentially paying only about $2.50 per album. As I signed up for this great deal I thought to myself, “Who says there is no such thing as a free lunch?”
The only problem was that they kept on sending albums every month and charging me $15 a pop even after I had written them ten letters informing them I wished to cancel, but to no avail. As a new student from Iran, I didn't even know what a “collection agency” was when they called and threatened all kinds of things until I had to pay them for some of the new albums they had sent me but I didn't want. So after being what I thought was so “zerang” (shrewd), I ended up paying a bit more than I would have for each album if I had just bought them retail at a local Tower Records.
On a trip to Hawaii many moons ago, at the hotel we were staying, we were promised a special “Hawaii Five-O” evening with all the stars of the show and a special dinner if we spent just three hours one afternoon to listen about timeshares. We did, with no intent of buying a timeshare, and went through the boring process but got our special tickets. When we went to the show that night we were hoping to see the guy that says “Book'em Dano”.
Unfortunately, the only cast member from the show was a Hawaiian guy named Al Harrington that I guess had starred in one or two episodes and he was the star of this evening's show. I used to watch Hawaii Five-O a lot as a kid in Iran, especially that it was directed by a fellow Iranian Reza Badiyii, and never once did I see Al Harrington.
I went up to him after the show was over and the DJ was playing the famous theme song and I asked him if he could jog my memory as to what role he played. He said he was the third guy jumping over a fence to catch a bad guy in the title visualization (the opening part of the film) and that most of his parts were non-speaking. It wasn't a free lunch, it was however, a free, but terrible dinner.
In a previous article [
What goes around] I had mentioned that our music is being reproduced in Iran without our permission and is being sold without a cent of royalties being paid to Shahin and myself. This same thing happens everyday here in the U.S. and around the world, on sites such as the Napsters of the internet, where people are downloading the intellectual property of artists such as ourselves for free.
This does a disservice to such artists since they rely on royalties for a living. When our first album “One Thousand and One Nights” was released I had an Iranian friend tell me that everyone in his extended family loved our music so much that he had made them all copies, assuming I guess that I would be happy to hear this. I said nothing to him, but thought whether he would have liked it if I went to his gas station and pumped all the gas I wanted for free and invited all my relatives to go there and do the same since they absolutely loved his station's gas?
The only difference being that each sale of our album from a legitimate site such as Tower Records or Amazon.com gets reflected in what is called “Soundscan” and therefore can push the album to the top of the charts. At that time, in 1995 our album had reached No.6 on the Billboard charts ahead of Enya, but below Yanni, and needed that extra push to surpass even Yanni, which would have given us some great press in major recording magazines such as
Billboard and perhaps
Rolling Stone, but when one can get a copy for free, why pay for it?
Getting back to fundraising, I don't agree with everything I read here in the Iranian, and I actually get angry at some things I read, but the operative word is that I DO read it and I DO take advantage of a site that I would surely miss if it was gone. Besides, I have gotten to know many Iranians and non-Iranians from all over the world through the articles and emails available on this site and like the MasterCard advertisement says, “that is priceless!”
The bottom line is that there is NO free lunch, because someone, somewhere, is really paying for it. If we, as beneficiaries don't pay for it voluntarily, the so-called “free” lunch may not be served the next time we want to take a bite. Now go and buy a ticket for the
June 1 show! Call ticketmaster at 202-432-7328. Or if you can't be there,
make a donation.