The dictionary definition of equality is, the state of being equal,
especially in status, rights, and opportunities.”

Equality is a great utopian ideal that for some reason is
harder to achieve in our society than it should be.

The United States Declaration Of Independence screwed it up
right out of the gate by declaring that all men are created equal.

Just men?

I’m sure the wives of the founding fathers were all reading
rough drafts at home wondering how autocorrect didn’t catch that one.

But back to the point.

How does the theme of equality come into play in the world
of Alice In Chains?

Backstage passes, of course.

A select group of people get to slap a pass on their torso
and walk around all night like they’re better than everyone else, all because a
small, sticky, satin piece of cloth material has three letters on it: VIP.

Everyone that comes to an Alice In Chains show is important
to the band.

You people are the reason they’ve been able to build and
maintain a successful career after all.

But that doesn’t get you a backstage pass.

Knowing a band member, or being related to a band member, or
having some business connection to a band member; these are all things that get
a pass slapped on your chest.

And a pass on your chest means that suddenly not all things
are equal, and you get treated differently than every other pass-free person
out in the crowd.

But here’s the dirty truth of what happens when you get a
backstage pass.

9 times out of 10 it’s good for pretty much nothing.

Access to the backstage area before the show? No.

Access to the actual stage? No.

The ability to walk down to the front if it’s a seated venue
and you’d like to get closer? No.

A VIP pass in Aliceville is good for absolutely nothing
until the show is over.

Even then, all it does is keep you from being swept out of
the venue as security starts pushing patrons towards the exits.

Because in our world, a VIP needs an escort.

In other words, people with passes can’t go anywhere until
someone like me with a laminate comes out to escort them backstage.

Then the reality can get even more dire, as depending on the
size of the venue and accommodations backstage, guests are either escorted to a
hallway or a room, where they’re stuffed like sardines into a can, then left to
wait until one or more of the band members comes in to say a quick hello before
they pile on the bus and split for the next town.

Okay, maybe it’s not as grim as I’m making it sound, but
it’s definitely not the three-ring circus of booze and drugs and debauchery
that a lot of people think it is.

So I guess this write-up is not only about equality, but
perception too.

In a perfect world, everyone would be treated equally, life
would be fair, and you all could get a VIP pass and come backstage.

But life can be unfair and arbitrary, and not all people are treated as equals.

And a trip backstage can sometimes result in 15 minutes
spent waiting in a room with nothing but a case of bottled water and flickering
fluorescent lighting waiting for William to come in and talk about current
events for 5 minutes.

So with the elections coming in just over a month, I
encourage you to vote for candidates who support equality for all people, and I
promise to do my part and push for a system that treats all concert-goers the
same, regardless of ticket price, seat assignment, or possession of a backstage pass.

My name is Baldy, and I approve this message.

Rainier Fog

Available August 24