My Final Nine Months in Oklahoma Starts Today

Happy Monday, everyone! Like a lot of people reading the blog, I’m back at campus today too to begin another year of sharing light with fresh new minds!

This year is a very special year to me, because I’ve decided it’s going to become my last full-time year in Oklahoma. In May of 2012, I’m resigning my position at Oklahoma City University and dedicating my time to our industries on a full time basis.  The Light Associated Media team has some pretty incredible things in store for the world, and I am going to dedicating the rest of my life to the pursuit of perfect light, making larger than life light art the entire world can appreciate, the growth of my design firm, writing JimOnLight.com, and spreading the knowledge of light with the planet. Together I know we can turn this world into the best place for a sentient being to be and create, as of course all sentient beings need to do.  Remember that movie “Short Circuit?”  All THAT sentient being wanted to do was make breakfast.

“For moist crisp potatoes, brown on one side, then turn over.”

I’m planning on putting myself on the market for a band as well, anybody know a band that needs me to drive the spaceship?

One of my goals that is becoming a reality (with much, much, much more development to come) is teaching the world about light, but for FREE. Knowledge is power, and collectively we have a lot of knowledge. This knowledge should be for the entire world to use for the benefit of all mankind. I’m making this happen, if it’s the final thing I do before my last breath. I swear this to the world. I will make this happen. Somehow, some way, this will become a reality. Can you imagine a world where the status quo for knowledge of lighting is so far above the current norm? Our industry would be unstoppable, and I’m not talking any kind of more efficient cable and data, I’m talking real live Sky Hooks here, people!

But seriously, yeah.  I haven’t decided where the new home base will be, my lease is up in May 2012.  I’ve had thoughts about going back to my great friends in Dallas, moving to Las Vegas to be near the awesomesauce that is Nevada, and I’ve thought about West Coasting it (to steal a term) and moving somewhere on the west side of America, a place I’ve only worked and visited.  The mountains are in there too, I really did like Denver.  Got a suggestion?  The world is a monster place.

I have so much cool stuff in store for my kids this year, I am SO EXCITED!  I get to spend this next two semesters having a blast with some people who really love light!  I have an absolutely outstanding group of students for my final year in Oklahoma (one interned with Cirque all summer, another was the Chief Electrician for a Shakespeare summer series, another is a Chief at a theme park for the summer, others did rock all summer, some studied film), and I’m readying them as best I can for the lighting industries as a whole. It is our responsibility to the industry. If you’re out there teaching lighting design, you better be doing it as hard as I am. We owe it to the future.

Changes are good. You know what’s even better? Cake. Oh, I miss cake.  My newer lighter self doesn’t let my inner tank-ass out very often these days.  Every time I go into the closet though, it’s like I’m clothes shopping!

Indiana State Fair Collapse Update – 6th Death Reported

A sixth person has been reported as dying from injuries sustained at the Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair this last week.  From the AP Wire:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Family members say a 22-year-old college student is the sixth person to die from injuries suffered when a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair last weekend.

Along with several people who died immediately, at least four dozen were injured when a strong wind gust toppled the metal scaffolding holding lights and other equipment and sent it plunging into fans awaiting a concert by the country group Sugarland.

The Star Press first reported 22-year-old Jennifer Haskell died Friday morning at a hospital in Indianapolis. Her uncle, Mike Whited, announced her death in a statement later Friday.

Haskell was entering her senior year at Ball State University, where she was studying sports medicine

State Fair spokesman Andy Klotz tells WTHR-TV the fair expresses “its deepest sympathies to her family.”

JimOnLight.com and all of our team wish the family of Jennifer Haskell, Steve Stover (survivor), and Nathan Byrd the best thoughts and prayers, and all people killed and hurt in this nightmare to heal and move on with as little pain as possible.  We know that’s a feeble hope, but we want peace and closure for everyone.

Pukkelpop Festival Update – Five Dead, 70+ Hurt

This has not been a great week for news folks, I am so sorry.  I would much rather report on things like training baby bunnies how to program a GrandMA2, turning Congressmen and Senators into truck loaders and box pushers, and making a puppy the head of research and development for NASA.  I don’t know about any of that, but something to turn the mood from disaster to something other than disaster.

What has been posted so far on the wire about Pukkelpop is that now there are five people killed, seventy plus injured.  The Pukkelpop Festival has been officially cancelled.  From the Pukkelpop website, translated to English:

The festival site is completely closed. Today , all belongings from the lockers still be picked up at the information booth at the main entrance.From tomorrow we gather all belongings from the lockers and bring it in at the police van Hasselt, where they can be collected. The service lost property during the office hours at 011/26 73 15.  The campground is open until 24:00 on Saturday, August 20 . Tents and camping equipment can be picked up until then.

Just a few bits of information to clarify – people are reporting Pukkelpop as in Brussels – it’s actually in Hasselt, Belgium.

From the article at the Washington Post:

The death toll is up to five after a stage collapsed during a violent storm at Belgium’s Pukkelpop festival. The rest of the festival, which was scheduled to run through Saturday and attract around 60,000 fans to see bands such as Foo Fighters, Eminem, James Blake and more, was canceled after the incident, which also left 75 people injured. This marks the fourth major stage collapse incident of the summer, coming on the heels of last weekend’s tragedy at the Indiana State Fair.

From the AP wire, this time from Billboard:

The death toll rose to five and 75 injuries as a result of a fierce storm that hit the Pukkelpop music festival in Belgium yesterday (Aug. 18), causing three stage tents to collapse.

At 5:00 a.m. this morning, the organizers decided to cancel the rest of the festival out of respect for the victims and those mourning. The public has bee advised to leave the campsites and extra busses and trains are being ordered to evacuate the 40,000 remaining concertgoers.

On Thursday (August 18) at approximately 6:30 p.m., the festival and campground in Kiewit, Belgium, near the town of Hasselt roughly 50 miles east of Brussels, was hit with a massive rain and hailstorm that damaged three stages (The Chateau Tent, Boiler Room and Wablieft Tent) and the festival’s infrastructure as trees fell and debris swirled about.

Ambulances and cranes were called to the scene for help. The injured were brought to the Hasselt hospital, others to the Kiewit Sports complex for treatment. One festivalgoer said the cell phone network was completely jammed adding to the confusion.

The A.P. reported that officials said at a joint press conference on Friday with Hilde Claes, the mayor Hasselt and festival organizer Chokri Mahassin that meteorologists did not predict a storm of that intensity. “I have seen many tropical storms, Mahassine said, “but this was unprecedented.”

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme offered condolences to the families of the victims and said authorities would continue to provide assistance in caring for the injured.

The city of Hasselt has issued an emergency information number 011-32-11-23 97 11.

Photos from the aftermath – I’ve reposted just a few, but please visit the International Business Times website for a humbling set of photos:

More report from the NYT:

“This started out as a huge festival with happy people partying and ended up as our biggest nightmare,” Hilde Claes, the mayor of Hasselt, and the festival organizer, Chokri Mahassine, said in a statement released Friday morning. “We want to emphasize that what happened here was exceptional and unforeseeable.”

The Associated Press reported that at a joint news conference on Friday, the mayor and the organizers of the festival said meteorologists had not predicted such an intense storm. “I have seen many tropical storms,” Mr. Mahassine said, “but this was unprecedented.”

Those who attended on Thursday night said they had never experienced weather so severe.

Christophe Van Impe, a Belgian journalist attending the event, said the storm hit just an hour after he had seen the group Explosions in the Sky perform. “It was like a scene out of the film ‘Twister,’ ” he told a Belgian newspaper, La Capital, in a firsthand account published on that paper’s Web site on Friday. “The audience began to panic, especially when two enormous pylons holding up a giant screen collapsed.”

“All of a sudden, a 15-meter rip appeared in the tent behind the artists, who ran for it. That’s when the structure collapsed onto the audience,” he wrote.

Another journalist present at the scene, Nicolas Capart, said the sky turned green, then yellow and then black as the storm intensified. “The field we were in was very exposed,” Capart told a live blog hosted by La Libre Belgique, a Belgian newspaper, on Friday. “There was nothing to block the wind. I thought we were in the eye of a cyclone.” Hail the size of table tennis balls fell while trees crashed down on cars, Mr. Capart told the blog by phone from the Pukkelpop event.

Many of those camping out to attend the rock festival were forced to spend the night in the flooded fields and were still struggling on Friday to leave the area, amid huge traffic jams.

Dr. Pascal Vranckx of Jessa Hospital in Hasselt said on Friday that many of those injured had been hit on the head by debris, and that three patients were in critical condition at the hospital, “fighting for their lives.”

“Those seriously injured have wounds caused by different objects which flew through the air, by debris and by trees,” Dr. Vranckx said, according to an article published online Friday by La Libre Belgique. “The people in a critical condition are suffering from head, chest and stomach wounds, which could cause hemorrhages.”

Stay tuned, I’ll keep posting updates as I get them.

PukkelPop Festival Roof Collapse, 3 Dead, 70+ Hurt

FOLKS:  PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATES or CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN THERE, I’M GONNA UPDATE EVERYTHING IN SEQUENCE AS I GET IT.  PLEASE SHARE WITH EVERYONE, WE NEED A WORLDWIDE OUTPOURING FOR THIS. 

Hang on, folks, we’ve got another one.  News is coming in from all over the place about the PukkelPop Festival in Belgium – weather got bad, a roof collapsed, three people killed, and at last check another 70 plus injured.  This is a popular festival, and people are dead because of a truss roof collapse.  I don’t have much information on this (nobody does, only what has been coming in from the web), so I will post what I have and I’ll update when I get it.  The band onstage was the Chicago band The Smith Westerns.  They’re apparently all doing ok.

Videos – there are lots coming in:

So far, it’s looking like another wicked storm hitting a structure, but other than that, news is not quite all filtered out yet. Three more dead as of now.

Images:

Stay tuned.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3

UPDATES

UPDATE THURSDAY 8:24PM CST:
We are seeing news of the aftermath on Belgian TV and from new AP reports. From the latest news at Herald Sun:

UPDATE 10am: AT least three people are dead and dozens have been injured after a violent storm struck an outdoor rock festival in northern Belgium overnight, collapsing two stages and sending shocked fans running for cover.

One of the stages fell on concert-goers at the annual Pukkelpop festival in Hasselt, AFP reported, with the destructive weather uprooting trees and causing a tower with technical equipment to fall onto trucks.

Video footage from the site showed stage equipment dangling precariously and soaked revellers desperately fleeing the area.

One report suggested four people had been killed, while other news agencies put the death toll at three. The number of injured was reported at anywhere between 40 and 70 people.

More than 65,000 fans had reportedly flocked to the site for the popular music festival, where Jared Leto, actor-turned-frontman of 30 Seconds to Mars, was due to headline the program with his band last night, along with the Foo Fighters.

UPDATE THURSDAY 7:17PM CST:
News from Belgium from JimOnLight.com reader Patrick Van Houtte:

Latest official news here in Belgium:
4 dead, 35 severely injured, 100+ injured.
If you can believe it or not; they are planning on continueing with the festival the coming 3 days! The organisation will continue with the festival in a slimmed down version, meaning just 2 or 3 stages will be having artist performing instead of the 8 stages.

UPDATE THURSDAY 7:06PM CST:

UPDATE THURSDAY 6:50PM CST:
Reports of just crazy destruction at the Pukkelpop site, and a lot of confusion.

Also, check out this site about the Pukkelpop Disaster – so many just ridiculous images there. and ALSO again, check out this site for another full-page spread of Pukkelpop 2011 images. Unbelievably destructive.

Belgian network VTM is reporting a fourth person killed in the disaster.


UPDATE THURSDAY 6:13PM CST:

I just got word from Joy at the sister festival of PukkelPop – please see below:

“I know something more on the accident: 3 dead, 71 injured, of which 11 are severely injured. People are left in total confusion, they are not clearly briefed with information, official announcements on the accident have not been made after 3 hours. One person was killed with the collapse of a truss, another one was killed on the camping and another person has not been told of. Telephone network is out in the whole area. There’s no place all visitors can go to, they are taken care of by local people that provide shelter, food, drinks, dry clothes and showers. There was bad weather with hail and rain and strong winds that blew two to three tents and PA towers an d other tower structures collapsed. Trees fell down on site. further reports are still to be made. Just terrible what happened.”

I also just got this video in from @TMettes on Twitter of the roof coming down – clear footage, pretty unbelievable, like each one seems to be after the next.

More as and when I get it.

Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse – The Score is Still FIVE DEAD.

Folks, there are two images in all of the last year I will remember.  This one:

and this one:

These two images go above all politics, all speculation about who was wrong, who was right, and who was there or not there.  Mother Nature whipped our collective industry butts on this one, regardless of who was at fault.  I’ve speculated, we’ve all speculated.  Cross bracing, guy wires, ballast tanks, longer than 10 minutes weather warning, all of it has been speculated.  What’s still reality is that we’ve got five people still dead, millions in damages, and some very, very bad situations right now on the ground at the Indiana State Fair.

I really hope that this entire investigation is kept as transparent as air, and I really hope that Governor Daniels stops talking about it, because every time he does, he gaffs something bigger than the last gaff he made.  Let’s remember that the score is still five dead.

 

SIDE NOTE:  I have gotten some information on how to donate to Nate’s family.  Please send donations to:

IATSE LOCAL 30
ATTN:NATHAN BYRD FAMILY (you MUST SPECIFY)
1407 EAST RIVERSIDE DRIVE
INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46202-2037

None of this is going to be pretty.  We’re going to have experts calling other experts nasty names, people telling other people they have no bearing for their arguments, and when all else fails, we’ll hear people calling each other stupid.  The score is still FIVE DEAD.  I’m leaving out the wounded numbers right now because those people will all most likely live to see another show another time, but the only thing that matters is that a concert went horribly awry, five people are now dead because of it, and unfortunately politics has swept in and begun to politicize the horrific tragedy that our industry is dealing with right now.

This whole situation is really wearing on my heart.  I’m no different than anyone else when it comes to having feelings, but my favorite thing on the planet is this industry, and it hurts to watch it take a black eye like this because of negligent decision making.

Let me just post some great articles to read on this mess, there have been a lot of them.  I’ve written three alone.

Start with THIS one first, it says that Governor Mitch Daniels says that the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse was a “learning point.”  

Erich Friend’s List of Articles on the Indiana State Fair Collapse

Governor Daniels Says State Fair Collapse ‘Defied Safety Preparations.”

Meteorologists Say Governor Daniels Calling Weather A Fluke ‘Isn’t Right’

Read this BoingBoing article for the commentary at the bottom

AP article by Tom Coyne about Safety and the Collapse

A story from Accuweather about the collapse and “Gustnadoes”

Inspections are NOT Required for Indiana Outdoor Stages (crazy read, holy crap)

Kirk Garreands’ article at ProLightingSpace – MUST The Show Really Go On?

and here are my three articles, please check out these links and learn more about this horrific incident:

Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse, Five Dead.  Now What?
Sorry, Governor Daniels, We’re in the Business of Keeping Our Fans Safe – The Indianas State Fair Collapse Continues
Indiana Homeland Security Says Outdoor Stages are Not Structures – More on the Indiana Stage Fair Collapse

From the Facebook Group for Nate Byrd – the folks at NRG Staging pay tribute to a fallen brother:

Help A Killed and An Injured Brother in the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse #hoosierstatecollapse PLEASE RT

UPDATE:  I have received information on how to make donations to Nate Byrd’s family.  Send donations to:

IATSE LOCAL 30
ATTN:NATHAN BYRD FAMILY (you MUST SPECIFY)
1407 EAST RIVERSIDE DRIVE
INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46202-2037

Right now we have a task to do for our fallen brother’s family in Indiana, everybody.  Nathan Byrd was up in the truss when it fell to the ground in a storm.  He was working to support his two kids, who are now in need of support because their father died in the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage on Saturday, August 14, 2011.  You’ve read the articles I’ve written about the disaster, and undoubtedly seen the video.

Nathan Byrd’s obituary:

Nathan Lee Byrd
51, of Indianapolis, passed away August 14, 2011. He was born September 24, 1959 to Alvin Lee and Loretta J. (Wilkerson) Byrd.

A lifelong resident of Indianapolis, Nathan was a graduate of Manual High School. He was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #30, where he was instrumental in the erection and lighting of stages for various venues in the Indianapolis area. He was a member of Calvary Tabernacle.  Visitation will be Wednesday, August 17, 2011 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Shirley Brothers Thompson Road Chapel , 3333 E. Thompson Rd., with funeral services Thursday at 1:00 p.m. at Calvary Tabernacle, 902 Fletcher Ave.  Nathan is survived by his parents, Alvin and Loretta Byrd; children, Trevor and Natalie Byrd; siblings, Randy Byrd, Kim Byrd, Marilyn Barfield (Joe), Scott Byrd and Bryan Byrd. http://www.shirleybrothers.com

This is a rough time for the families of all involved.  If you can do anything to help Nathan Byrd’s family, I know that they would be so grateful.  The brothers and sisters of IATSE Local 30 have started a fund for Nathan Byrd’s family at http://www.cicf.org/.  I’m so sorry I don’t have many details on the fund yet, but perhaps CIC will.  Shirley Brothers located above in Nathan’s obit might also know of ways to help the family.  If you have a few bucks, please help them out.  This is, as you can imagine, is not a good time for them.  If you can’t afford to help, then help yourself as we all have to do.  JimOnLight.com is making a donation.  If you have the means to help, skip a month of lattes, that’s what I’m doing to help this family.

Luck shone on Steve Stover, a stagehand from IATSE Local 30 who was also in the truss when it fell, but managed to not be killed in the fall.  From the last I heard about this after checking in on it, Steve is still in ICU in critical condition, is expected to make a recovery, but he’s apparently in for a long-winded recovery.  Lighting Designer Cosmo Wilson is asking that we send Steve a card for when he comes to in the ICU.  I just filled one out, slapped a stamp on it, and it is on its way.  If you wanna send Steve a little note, please do so by sending it to his hospital room:

Indiana University Health
Steve Stover / Room A5216
PO Box 1367
Indianapolis, IN 46206

Thanks for everything you do, everybody.  Help if you can, and send good thoughts if you can’t help out right now.

We need to have industry professionals involved with this investigation.  Somebody like Bill Sapsis, Erich Friend, somebody with the engineering background and the knowledge of our systems.  Perhaps they’re already involved, I personally do not know, but no one is doing or saying anything outwardly to put any comfort into this situation.  Our voice is the loudest when we speak as one people, one industry.  If you feel that you want this investigation made by people who are industrial professionals, please make your voice heard, leave a comment here.

Oklahoma City National Memorial at Night – A Photo Tour

This has to be said – if you want to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the best time to get the best experience is after the Sun sets.

For almost 1.25 years now I have lived directly across the street from the Oklahoma City National Memorial – the site of the Murrah Building bombing by now dead bad guy Timothy McVeigh.  I have watched people go in and out of this site, at all times of day or night (I myself have been there at 3:45am and 1am, as I don’t sleep much), in all kinds of weather.  The memorial is incredible pretty much any time I set my eyes on it.

During the day, the sun plays on the shapes and structures made by the memorial chairs, and the trees take care of giving the entire site a nice textured light to soften the reality of why the site is there.  At night though, the Memorial grounds are transformed; there is no longer a need to see everything.  The soft light and the directional path on which your eye is taken leads to the most pertinent areas of the memorial, from the field of empty chairs at night, each with an illuminated lower section, to the Survivor Tree, where you are given yet another view of the field of chairs.  To me, I feel the most solemn when visiting the memorial at night.  Obviously though, I’m a lighting designer, and I could find the emotion in a stray beam of light that came from some intergalactic star burp.

Just as a quick spatial guide, as you are at the memorial, if you enter and are standing looking with the chairs on the left or right, you are looking down Fifth Street.  FIfth used to run continuously between Classen and I-235, but the Memorial now sits at the spot of the bombing.  The chairs you will see are located where the building used to sit, and the chairs represent people killed in the explosion.  To be quite honest, I don’t know if you’re supposed to go onto the grassy area where the chairs are, but I just had to be close enough to pay my respects to the victims.  I also went at night though, I didn’t want to cause a bother.

Here are the chairs and the grounds from the building directly across the street from where the Murrah Building once stood:

You’ll notice in the image above that there are two arches that stop Fifth Street – one that says 9:01, and the other that says 9:03.  These are the Gates of Time.  At the eastern most side of the Memorial is 9:01 – the minute before the bombing, where life as we knew it was one way.  The bombing occurred at 9:02am, which is represented by the large reflecting pool and I believe the Memorial itself.  9:03, at the western most end of the Memorial, is where we now know life to be – after the bombing, after the death, after the bomber’s death.

Here’s the same view from my apartment, but in the evening:

What a beautiful memorial – you must commend the designers of this memorial, Hans and Torrey Butzer and Sven Berg, for their wonderful use of the night and the light in their design.

Below is a Gallery View of the photos – if you click on any one thumbnail, it will open the series in Gallery format for your enjoyment!  I have given each titles and some descriptions to give you bearing as you navigate through the set.

Thank you so much to the Oklahoma City National Memorial website and Wikipedia.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Indiana Homeland Security Says Outdoor Stages are Not Structures – More on the Indiana State Fair Collapse

In the ongoing and expected to be long-winded and ongoing investigation of the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse, the Indy Star has put out another article.  This one has some interesting information in it about how Indiana Homeland Security feels about temporary outdoor stages.  From the article at the Indy Star:

Under Indiana Administrative Code, a structure — temporary or permanent — has to meet stringent code requirements, such as being able to withstand winds of up to 90 miles per hour. The winds at the fairgrounds blew less fiercely than that Saturday evening, about 60 to 70 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

But the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said temporary outdoor stages are not, strictly speaking, structures.

“You’re talking about scaffolding and equipment,” Erickson said, “not a structure.”

Well, there we have it.  Outdoor stages are just scaffolding and equipment in Indiana, not “structures,” so they don’t get inspected.  Awesome.  You really have to read this article, folks.  Let’s hope Indiana’s Department of Labor and Indiana OSHA don’t take five months to figure out what happened on this one like they did with Declan Sullivan, the University of Notre Dame student killed when the crane he was in to film a football practice tipped over in the wind.

Gah.  Go read the article at the Indy Star on this – what a crazy read to just come across.

Sorry Governor Daniels, We’re In the Business of Keeping Our Fans Safe – Indiana State Fair Collapse Continues

Don’t forget this image, people:

Don’t forget this one, either:

I’m overwhelmed with the awesome response that was given to the article from yesterday about the disaster at the Indiana State Fair at the Sugarland show.  I’ve got my hands in as many places as I can right now to keep on top of this situation, but there are some large mysteries surrounding this misery.

However, have you read the news in the AP wire (thanks Fox) about how now they’re looking at the collapse?  This has become a media salvage operation for Governor Daniels and his crew.  Sorry folks, this really upsets me, especially the language in his statement about the collapse.  From the report at the AP wire:

“Our first job is to get back in the business of living, get back in the business of the state fair and back in the business of caring for each other,” he said.

Since we’ve already arrived at the blame game part of the disaster with the Governor and the State Fair promoter people, I think we have two fingers that can be pointed.  Sorry, Governor Danielsyou get finger #1.

You know what, I understand that you’re just trying to salvage face at this point.  What you need to understand, sir, is that our industry, the Entertainment Industries as a whole, doesn’t do too well when these kinds of events happen, especially when they could have been avoided.  Nate Byrd’s donation of his life for the sake of a State Fair show is a donation that you should be clamoring to give back with every second of future shows you ever have a hand in producing.  I want you to know that, everyone in the industry wants you to know that, and I hope that you never forget that a show is LESS important than what you observed on Saturday.

Let’s take a look at some chain of command stuff here before we start blaming stagehands and riggers.  I think that is very, very important.  So, the chain of command broke down WAY before the time to blame riggers and stagehands.  Now is there stuff we don’t know?  Sure.  Everything is speculation at this point.  But five people are dead.  It’s time to get some answers now.

  1. Promoters.  It’s your fault for this happening.  Since you didn’t call this show at least on hold when that weather is visible, the blood is on your hands.  What you’re going to find is that there are many people under you who were probably suggesting that the show be held, at least until the weather passed.  Another show was cancelled just a bit away from your site, and those promoters gave their audience at least 30 minutes to get there before any weather reached the site.  Did that not surprise you?
  2. State Safety Officer.  What was it that you were doing that was more important that this?  You can get weather reports and warnings for free via text message if you happen to have an old phone.
  3. Public Safety Officer.  What were you doing when the weather was an hour away?  Your responsibility was public safety.  Five are dead.  I’d say you failed.
  4. Venue Manager.  You should have had your weather reports right up in your face, ready to tell the promoters that you were going to stop the show, and that was that.  Getting the PA down, getting the roof down, and getting the hands off of the deck are all things you should have been reporting to both the promoter(s) and the crew chief to execute.
  5. IATSE Steward onsite.  This one hurts me, but it’s true – what the IA stewards say onsite goes for all IA hands.  People should have been out of that rig when that weather was coming.
Promoters are not Gods, everybody.  They can be told no.  I mean, what’s the worst they’re gonna do, fire you?  My guess is that there are a lot of people who wish they would have gotten fired right now.

For the record, the Entertainment Industries are all about protecting our fans from the art they desire while we execute it like only we know how.  But we’re professionals about it, and we know when you need to pull the PA down, drop the roof and lighting, and just deal with angry fans for the sake of the fans until the storm passes.  Sugarland still would have rocked the heck out of it.

Sorry folks, but there are some issues with this AP article that have to be addressed.  I’m gonna go through these really quickly here, but the world needs to know how pissed our industry is with this mess.

From the AP article:

As the fair reopened Monday, investigators and the families of the dead and injured were still seeking answers to hard questions: Was the structure safe? Why were the thousands of fans not evacuated? Could anything have been done to prevent the tragedy?

State fair officials have not said whether the stage and rigging were inspected prior to Saturday’s show. Fair spokesman Andy Klotz said initially that the state fire marshal’s office was responsible for inspections, but he backtracked Monday, saying he wasn’t sure whose job it is.

A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said neither the fire marshal nor Homeland Security officials conduct inspections. And the city does not have the authority to inspect items on state property.

“We do have our own requirements within the city for temporary structures, and we do have our own permitting requirements,” said Kate Johnson, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement. “But in this situation, we don’t have that authority because it’s state-owned property.”

As they investigate, inspectors for the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be looking at the weather and any potential structural or design flaws in the stage, among other things, experts said.

Another emerging issue is whether fair organizers responded quickly enough to forecasts of an approaching storm, especially since a different concert nearby was canceled because of the weather.

People, Mother Nature is gonna trash anything when hurricane strength winds blow through somewhere, but what the media needs to understand is that the reason this happened is a combination of things that we will probably soon discover in the follow-up.  Biggest issue right now?  WHY WAS THE RIG STILL IN THE AIR WHEN THAT STORM WAS COMING?!  Did you see that big blue tarp in the video flap around in the wind like a sail?  My professional guess would be that it was among the reasons for the sideways fall of that structure, the sail catching wind and pulling the rig out of balance.  But let me just say this out loud again so that all government agencies and OSHA and all of the people who will still be blaming our industry for this mess for a long time coming:  WHY WAS THE RIG STILL IN THE AIR WHEN THAT STORM WAS COMING?!

Here’s finger #2 – at the promoters for this event.

I am making a public call to the media and to the world – WHY DO WE NOT HAVE AN ANSWER FROM A PROMOTER ABOUT THESE THREE QUESTIONS?

WHY was the RIG STILL IN THE AIR when the storm was coming?
WHERE were the safety organizations’ representatives when this weather was coming through?
WHY was the RIG STILL IN THE AIR when the storm was coming? 

Was it worth the deaths?  Was it worth the mess?  Here’s the REAL kicker for your sleepy time – you DO REALIZE that Sugarland would have still played a great show if you would have taken the time to lower the PA, drop the roof, just for the time the storm was coming, and then rocked the crap out of your fairgoers’ faces.  Nate Byrd would also be running spots still, too.

We need to be concerned about a few things here:

  • Does it concern anyone else that the very same people who keep saying “oh hey, I don’t know WHO’S job roof safety is” are the very same people who are going to be investigating the disaster?  What I’m gonna be looking for is for OSHA and the Indiana people involved with this to be reaching out to parties in the Entertainment Industry to help them with the engineering and consulting.
  • We need to be concerned that there is already backtracking in public statements.  This is going to get worse.  Governor Daniels’ constant “let’s be moving on and healing from this tragedy” makes me even more suspect.  Sorry Gov’nah, this is more than just votes and political popularity.  Our industry is on the carpet for the lack of due diligence that the fair promoters exhibited in NOT GETTING THAT ROOF IN when the storm was coming.  We will NOT let you hang us out to dry on this one, especially when you chose to exhibit such negligence in this situation.
  • Kate Johnson’s statement:
    “We do have our own requirements within the city for temporary structures, and we do have our own permitting requirements,” said Kate Johnson, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement. “But in this situation, we don’t have that authority because it’s state-owned property.”  Um, no.  More pass-off.  We can expect a lot more of this kind of garbage, I’m afraid.
  • Was the structure safe?  We’ll find out the answer to that soon, to be sure.  What is obviously a big issue is WHY THE RIG WAS A FULL HEIGHT IN THE ONCOMING STORM.  It’s Indiana, people, not Denver, where the mountains can hide rain.

I’m so disgusted with the just monster fountain of crap that’s engrossing this horrific incident.  It’s up to US to make sure we can filter the BS.  Anything and everything we can do is what is prescribed now.  If we leave this in the hands of the people who are obviously doing such a great job of managing the fair now, I fear it’s only going to be a matter of time before I’m writing about the next bunch of music lovers who were killed in a roof collapse.

Governor Daniels, this was not a freak accident.  This was negligence.  Promoters, I’m gonna be waiting for your answer.  We all are.

A Study of Body and Light, Part Two

Part Two of my series with choreographer/production manager Kathryn A. Dicken is ready for the web!  If you’ve not seen Part One of A Study of Body and Light, Part One , check it out, too!

What we’re trying to do to get the school year started is to get students’ minds bending around things like quantum physics, anatomy and physiology, kinesthetics, physics and math in general, but by using the body as the starting point for everything.  I have no interest in putting my own thoughts into your head, but when I was editing this one, I was imagining an algorithm being offset in a lighting console, and all of the parameters that I could adapt and adjust.

Enjoy Part Two of A Study of Body and Light!

A Study of Body and Light, Part Two from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

Choreography and Performance:
Kathryn A. Dicken

Lighting and Videography:
Jim Hutchison (USA829)

Composition, Editing and Recording:
Jim Hutchison 

Piano Performance:
Kody Brown