Knicks owner and dedicated crooner James Dolan seemingly has an allergy toward playing his music in front of anyone who might be inclined to bring actual attention to it. Over the past month, at least three paying customers have been booted from three separate venues during Dolan’s shows. Two of those times, the ejections occurred before he had even taken the stage with the sweet sounds of his monotone blues, courtesy of JD & The Straight Shot.
Last Friday, Bloomberg reporter Polly Mosendz published a piece about how Dolan kicked her out of the Paramount on Long Island on July 12. Mosendz ran into the Knicks boss at the bar before his set, and as she was working on a piece about him for Bloomberg, she identified herself as a reporter and attempted to interview him. It did not go well:
He was not happy that a reporter had come to see his show. He said he hadn’t authorized an interview and that I wasn’t allowed to be there—despite this being a public show in a public venue—and repeatedly insisted that his music was not about him and therefore should not be mentioned in the article (an article about a CEO whose company happens to run one of the world’s most significant music venues). At one point, he flipped my notebook closed. Finally he stormed off and summoned security guards to make me leave.
Mosendz said security asked her to leave in exchange for a refund of her ticket price; she refused and left the premises. The Knicks PR department responded to an inquiry about what happened with a resoundingly Knicksian comment:
A spokesperson for the company asked that the following statement be included in the story, in its entirety: “The reporter was there to write a story about the Knicks. The Knicks were not playing that evening.”
Dolan hasn’t just requested that reporters leave him alone; he also wants to shut out anyone who might try to make him look like a fool. (Not that he needs any help.)
Last Friday, Deadspin received an email from an anonymous tipster who said they wanted to sell us a video of an incident at a San Francisco show earlier this month. The tipster said a woman was ejected for shouting “Sell the Knicks!” at Dolan during the band’s set. Dolan’s rep Leslie Sloane confirmed that had happened.
“When someone is yelling from the audience, no matter who it is, in a small venue where you can hear it ... she was ejected,” Sloane said.
Deadspin heard from a different source that Dolan had canceled a show in Philadelphia over possible reporter attendance. Charlotte Wilder of Sports Illustrated mentioned something similar about a nixed show in Boston earlier this month. Sloane denied that those were the reasons.
“Don’t flatter—it had nothing to do with reporters attending,” she said. “It had to do with Jim’s schedule, and those [shows] will hopefully be rescheduled when he has a chance.”
(Emails and calls to the venues—the Underground Arts in Philadelphia and City Winery Boston—went unanswered.)
Separately, a tipster emailed Deadspin last week and said he was ejected from Dolan’s Los Angeles show last Thursday. Nathan Faustyn, a 35-year-old film professional from Los Angeles, showed up to the Troubadour venue in a homemade t-shirt that read “Los Angeles Clippers Antifa Division” on the front and “Steve Ballmer’s Paid Protesters” on the back. Faustyn said he wore the shirt because of the two NBA owners’ legal battle over the Clippers’ desire to move to a new arena in Inglewood:
The shirts were originally made for the Lakers protest a couple months ago. We opted to re-purpose them because of the legal troubles over the Inglewood Clippers facility and our general interest in making billionaires and CEO rockers uncomfortable. We toyed around with Free Charles Oakley or Free the Post signs, but thought we would run afoul of security. So, we opted for the tasteful shirts and what would have been boisterous cheering in the hopes of JD straight shooting his eyeline to us.
According to Faustyn, the crowd at the venue was sparse: about 15 people, sectioned off in a balcony section for “high rollers.” Prior to arriving at the Troubadour, Faustyn said he received a text from his friend, who was already inside. Julian Shine warned him that the security detail, which he believed to be Dolan’s private protection, was looking to single out any potential troublemakers.
Faustyn’s shirt was a red flag, because he said as soon as he entered the venue, a guard came up to the bar to raise the issue with him:
The second I got in there, I was approached at the bar by one man who asked me if I was there to cause trouble. I told him no, promised not to be disruptive, and told him my shirt was just meant as a goof.
Faustyn was allowed to stay in the venue, but security moved to eject him after they saw him taking photos while the Straight Shot was tuning up. (Dolan was still backstage, as a roadie tuned his instruments.) Faustyn made it clear that he walked into the venue wearing the t-shirt, and that no one raised a fuss until he was inside, when the security guard came over to ask him if he was going to make any trouble.
Sloane contradicted this version of events, after speaking with the Troubadour:
This is what the venue told us, because I called them: A gentleman was on line, and got into the venue. He was sold a ticket. He took off his t-shirt, or his jacket, in the bathroom. His t-shirt read “Ballmer Paid Protector” and “Dolan Sucks.” They ejected him for that. They said that if he would have had that t-shirt on line, they would not have sold him a ticket.
Faustyn sent photos taken on July 31—as evidenced by the Democratic debate on his television screen—of the t-shirt he was wearing as he walked into the venue. Nowhere on the shirt does it say “Dolan Sucks.” (It also says “Paid Protestor,” not “Paid Protector,” which Sloane corrected later in the conversation.)
What neither party disagrees on is that Faustyn was ejected from the venue. (Reached by phone, the Troubadour declined to comment on the situation. An inquiry sent through the venue’s website contact form went unanswered.) The guards offered Faustyn a full cash refund for this ticket in exchange for deleting the photos he took, and he obliged. He said that he talked with one of the guards outside the venue, and received an unsurprisingly vague rebuttal:
When I pressed him on the fact that a billionaire can’t play to a crowd of 15 people when one is wearing a shirt that he doesn’t like, the security guard told me them’s the breaks.
Faustyn said he wasn’t surprised that he was kicked out for his “goofy ironic prank,” but he was shocked that his removal came before Dolan ever took the stage.
The shows seem to have gone off without a hitch after the supposed rabble-rousers were escorted out, although it’s tough to confirm given the lack of video footage or reviews from the audience. Whoever remained earned the privilege of watching JD & The Straight Shot crank out some adult contemporary to an unintentionally intimate crowd. If you’ve been booted from James Dolan’s concert, or somehow didn’t know who he was when you attended one of his shows, drop a line.
Disclosure: Dolan once willingly lent his musical talents to the Deadspin Awards, and we willingly accepted them.