We started off by investigating the two most prevalent rumors; that Saddam was either cowering in Russia’s Baghdad embassy, or that he was hiding in neighboring Syria. A short call to our sales manager’s wife, who once lived in New York and worked at the Russian Tea Room put to rest the embassy rumor. Meanwhile, a flurry of emails to our receptionist’s second cousin that lives next door to a man whose first wife was from Damascus satisfied our questions about the latter possibility. Where could he be?

We mulled it over, we banged our heads together, and then we banged our heads against the wall. “Of course!” we cried. “The most obvious answer is that the ruthless ruler probably went into hiding in the concert industry!”

We checked out the tour bus currently being used by the Levellers. No Saddam there. Then we went to a Foo Fighters show and carefully scrutinized the ticket-takers and roadies. Nope. No devious dictator in here. Then we interrogated David Lee Roth’s entourage. Almost, but no cigar.

By then rumors began to circulate within the concert world. From Vancouver there were reports that he was spotted running lights for Bruce Springsteen, while others pinpointed the terrible totalitarian tyrant selling T-shirts at a Coldplay show in Madrid. Finally, an inside source said he was seen in New Jersey sitting front row, center for Yanni. But that turned out to be Anna Nicole Smith. Yes, it is hard to believe that someone could make such a mistake. Especially since Saddam’s mustache is much shorter.

So, we moved on down the list and called Lou Reed, The Allman Brothers Band and Steely Dan, and came up empty, for it seemed that nobody in the concert industry had seen hide nor hair of Saddam, thus dispelling all rumors that the malevolent madman of Mesopotamia was hiding within the concert industry. Which, of course, is good news for the men and women who work their tails off bringing fine acts like Beck and Meat Loaf to your town. But on the other hand, not finding Saddam meant that we had to call Secretary Rumsfeld back and tell him that we had failed.

Surprisingly, he was very understanding. “That’s all right,” said the architect of Operation Iraqi Freedom when we told him that we didn’t know where the bombastic butthead of Baghdad was hiding out. “He’s probably hanging with Axl Rose. Nobody knows what happened to him, either.”