A Quick Letter to Robin Williams

Robin-Williams

Robin Williams, I know you’re gone now, but I wanted to tell you something.

Your jokes and movies made me so happy during times in my life where everything was dark.  In many ways you and I are similar; we both make people happy sometimes at the expense of our own happiness.  Hearing that you passed really kicked my butt, man.  I wish that you and I could have become friends so that when you were down I could have given you a hug and said “hey man, come on.  forget this.  let’s go laugh this off and we’ll both feel better.”

There are so many people in this business that are just like you, Robin Williams.  We love to make people happy.  But then at the end of the day, sometimes there’s nothing to make the laughmakers laugh.  It’s a great tragedy of life.  As I get older, there are more of those great tragedies of life that come and go, things that we have to become accustomed to simply due to their permanence and inalterability.  There are so many things in life that we don’t realize are permanent unchangeable facts of life, like depression, like suicide, cancer, anxiety, exhaustion, alcoholism, addiction…  the list goes on and on, especially in our beloved industry.

I’m gonna miss you, man.  I’m so sorry that we didn’t get to be friends.

JimOnLight

___

If you’re a Robin Williams kind of guy or girl and you need a hug, drop me an email, ok?  I can’t take another friend or good person leaving us like this anymore.  There’s also the Suicide Prevention Hotline if you’re feeling like there isn’t another way.  I can assure you that there are myriad other ways.  Please believe me.  There are other ways, and if you need, I will put a panel of huggers together and we will hug this shit out of your mind.  We’ll do it together.

We can do it together.

NSFW – Not Safe for Working #3

Another hilariously dangerous week in the world of Entertainment!  As I get ready to head out to Fort Worth for this year’s USITT 2014 conference, another week of jaw-dropping dangerous situations appears to us all on the Not Safe for Working series on JimOnLight.com, brought to you in part by the Dodgy Technicians Facebook group!

Aaaaaaaaand we start out strong with some crispy 230V.  Nah, nothing wrong here.

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“Hey Mark, how’s the insulation on that lead?”
“Well, it’s disintegrated.”

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This…  this was at ProLight+Sound 2014.  How the — what the — isn’t this supposed to be a professional show?!

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Television seating.

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Cat5e.  Good for network traffic, and now, safety cabling.

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Cable ties.  Apparently also good for load bearing.  WTF!

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More from this year’s ProLight+Sound 2014.  WTF!

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Reach Lars, REACH!  ACHTUNG!

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This.  This is what my nightmares look like:

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See this?  That’s fucking radio antenna truss.  See the ladder?  That’s a ladder.
I have no idea where this is, but these guys are about on the level of the idiots in North Carolina who thought that their work was completely up to snuff.  Another Bobby McLamb and L&N Productions job?  Haaa, who knows.

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Two bends and some tape.  No, no, that’ll hold.

Holy shit.

scary-single-purchase-line

I had to put my tape translation skills to the test on this one.  It says “phoned in.

taping-the-cable

Um, no.  No.  No, no, no, no, no.

tilted-stage-truck

Ladies and gentlemen, a forklift masterpiece!

tipped-over-audio

 

Next week, we’ll see what happens when you use tape to hold up truss!

We Should Be Sick Of This Shit By Now – Thoughts on the Death of Sarah Jones

sarah-jones-service-poster

I have gotten two messages now asking me why I hadn’t commented on the death of Sarah Jones.  Sarah was the camera crewwoman struck by the train outside of Doctortown, Georgia on February 20 during the filming of Midnight Rider, and her death is opening up all kinds of those “oh, well holy shit, there weren’t permits” barrels of monkeys that you would assume would be opened when someone is tragically killed.

survivor-guillard

This is Joyce Gilliard, she was a hairdresser on the film.  She was almost killed in the train bridge, too.  She had her arm snapped in half by the train, and then fell onto some steel cables under the tressel.

Well folks, I have only one real answer to why.  It’s simple.  Researching death and disasters and accidents where people were ripped limb from limb or fell 100 feet onto a concrete floor or had thousands of pounds of rig fall on them from trim height at a fairthis kind of stuff makes me hurt inside.  I needed a break.  It sucks looking up these kinds of facts, learning about so-and-so-who-was-up-and-coming-in-their-field because the next time, it’s going to be another so-and-so-rising-star with a different name that will have an equally gut-wrenching, tear-pulling story.  This shit gets old, let me be the first to tell you.  Researching the disaster at the Indiana State Fair truly made me sob a few times, it’s hard to hear those stories and write those words.

Here is the part where I comment organizations like the Event Safety Alliance for doing what they do, which is trying to stop this nightmarish stuff from happening in the first place.

As a whole, we are an industry that waits until stuff gets really broken before we fix it, and usually the fix comes either after a death, series of deaths, or a majorly serious catastrophe like the Indiana State Fair disaster or the Radiohead stage collapse.  Suck it up, haters, it’s a fact.  Most industries are, ours is no different until we make it so.

Why is it though that people generally wait so long to act on potential items of aggravated disaster?  There are really too many questions that need answered here to be done in a human lifetime – why do companies who were previously denied access to film on a train bridge get caught filming on that bridge, ultimately causing deaths?  Why  Is it the cost of doing things safely?  You have to admit, we persist and thrive in a relatively dangerous environment with myriad variables all having a potential for a seriously negative outcome.  What we do in Entertainment can sometimes be one of the most potentially hazardous environments there is due to the nature of what we do and what we make — doesn’t that alone demand that we follow every procedure, every line item, every method possible, EVERY TIME to save the lives of our people, our brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives who make the stuff the producers and executives make shit tons of money selling?

Here’s what I know in my heart:  this stuff that we do, that we love, that we love to love and hate all at the same time — our work has ZERO worth when it has to be measured in the number of lives it took to make it.  Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to be concerned about your safety in this business.  I hope I’m not breaking the news to you now, but the people at the very top care about the money, not you.  There are more yous to do the job, ask any one of the thousands of unemployed entertainment techs out there.  Please though, remember that all of this is just entertainment, it’s just business.  When you get killed in an accident because you sacrificed yourself for the sake of the art, the people who paid for you to make the art are going to be sad for sure, but are still going to be sad all the way to the bank while they cash the checks you got for them with your life…

…and you won’t see a dime of that money because you’ll be dead.

midnight_rider_train_tracks_above

I’m sorry everybody, but I just don’t wanna write about this one.  This article is the authority on the subject so far that I have seen.

Thinking of You, Shuttle Challenger Crew

Mission patch for the failed mission, STS-61, of shuttle Challenger, on January 28, 1986

Mission patch for the failed mission, STS-61, of shuttle Challenger, on January 28, 1986

It was this day back in 1986 that we said hello and goodbye to the crew of the shuttle Challenger (OV-099) as she blasted off into the atmosphere, only to be felled by a faulty rubber seal that engineers knew would not perform at the temperatures in the morning of that launch day.

Challenger_flight_51-l_crew

Shuttle Challenger crew:

It’s hard to watch the videos of the explosion having watched as a little boy live.  But it’s interesting nonetheless.  I highly recommend watching The Challenger Disaster on Amazon, William Hurt ROCKS that role.  The two videos below are the best news coverage videos of the event that I could find — I hope each of their souls found rest.

Thanks NASA and Wikipedia.

BREAKING NEWS | London’s Apollo Theatre Ceiling Collapses, 30+ Injured

london-apollo-theatre

Unfortunately, the ceiling dome at the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End has collapsed, injuring an estimated 30+ people.  The Apollo was having a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and around 8:15-ish, some crackling noises were heard and the ceiling came down on top of theatregoers.

We hope that everyone is ok, and we’ll report as much as we can find about the incident.  Roxy and I are sending our best positive karma to the Apollo Theatre right now.  There’s some crazy tweets coming out of London:

From The Guardian:

People left the building crying, coughing and helping each other away. Many were trying to make contact with family members as some were still trapped inside the building.

One 29-year-old man, who would only give his name as Ben, said: “It was about halfway through the first half of the show and there was a lot of creaking.

“We thought it was part of the scene, it was a seaside scene, but then there was a lot of crashing noise and part of the roof caved in. There was dust everywhere; everybody’s covered in dust.

“We got out fairly quickly, I think everyone was quite panicked.”

A 38-year-old said: “We were in the stalls. It’s a balcony that’s come off. Some of the structure’s come down.”

Police were on the scene within minutes and began cordoning off the theatre.

London fire brigade confirmed that eight fire engines had been sent to the scene.

Martin Bostock, who was in the audience at the Grade II listed theatre with his family, said he suffered a head injury after he was hit by falling debris.

He told Sky News: “I was in the lower stalls with my family in the early stages of the show. It was just terrifying and awful.

“I think the front part of the balcony fell down. At first we thought it was part of the show. Then I got hit on the head.”

From Reuters:

(Reuters) – Emergency services were called to London’s Apollo Theatre on Thursday after people were injured by falling masonry, police said.

“We are aware of casualties,” a police spokesman said.

A Reuters reporter at the scene said emergency vehicles had blocked off the street where the theater is located.

A witness told Sky Television that part of a balcony in the auditorium appeared to have collapsed.

“I think the front part of the balcony fell down,” Martin Bostock, who was in the audience, told Sky. “It was hard to see anything through the dust.”

The Apollo is currently showing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

(Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Update, 5:01pm EST Thursday, 12/19/2013 — all those trapped under the ceiling in the Apollo have been freed:


Some news footage:

Let’s hope that everyone’s ok, there haven’t been any reports of fatalities.

photo credit

PLOT TWIST in NC Stage Collapse – Promoter Convicted Previously for Extortion and Wire Fraud

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos

I’ve been covering every bit of information I have gotten on the stage collapse that happened – I thank each and every production tech, every audience member, and every industry vet who has weighed in on the accident.  I was lucky enough to have a large pool of on-hand folks to call on to comment on this mess.  Unfortunately, the mainstream media publications don’t have this pool of information, and once again, the major funded publications have printed information that just isn’t accurate.  Print and TV publications like the Charlotte Observer, WCNC Charlotte, WSOC-TV, et al have published comments by the promoter, Bobby McLamb, whose attitude is just short of being criminally negligent when it comes to the safety of the people he’s promoting concerts for — and comments by the production company’s owner, James Little, who made claim in the last article published by the Charlotte Observer, for example, stating that there were 12 towers holding up the roof when it was blown over.

That comment made me go back and look at the first images of the collapsed stage.  Let’s do it together — and check my math here, but I count FOUR TOWERS holding that stage up, not twelve.  There are TWO towers that appear as if they used to hold up the FOH “truss,” and another TWO towers that appear to have held up the upstage “truss.”  Count with me here — there are not even 12 towers IN these photos.

the L&N Productions stage

I see a total of FOUR towers in this shot.

L&N Productions' "Safe stage"

Let’s play COUNT THE TOWERS HOLDING UP THE ROOF.  I count 4, not 12.  Where oh where did the other 8 go?

This kind of crap just sickens me.  As one of my anonymous sources on the road with one of the bands involved in this near fatal accident said, “you can count on this guy using this truss again and again.”  Sadly, this is probably true.

I did some research into Bobby Mclamb‘s past, and I found some very troubling information.  Mclamb was convicted of extortion and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud in a Federal RICO (that means Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) case back in 2004 that stemmed from good ol’ Bobby exerting his influence over state fair decision making.  Mclamb ran for North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner and lost to a woman named Meg Scott Phipps; once he lost, he joined her campaign as an aide, then all of the f*ckery began.

I wonder why no major news outlet put two and two together on this? 

From the Lexington Dispatch, March 19, 2003, via Google Newspapers:

lexington-dispatch-3-19-2003

Here’s just a little more information on this case — it sort of reads like TiVO programming instructions until you understand that Mclamb served time for influencing entertainment decisions at the state level.  From a 2003 article in the Carolina Journal:

RALEIGH — A federal grand jury has indicted two former aides to Agricultural Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps, a U.S. attorney said at a press conference Tuesday.

The charges against Linda Johnson Saunders, of Louisburg, and Bobby C. McLamb, of Raleigh, include conspiracy, extortion, wire fraud, and mail fraud, said Frank Whitney, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

The charges are related to the 2000 Meg Scott Phipps Campaign for Commissioner of Agriculture. Saunders was treasurer of the campaign. She was appointed special assistant to the commissioner as a paid employee of the Department of Agriculture after Phipps took office. Saunders resigned for health reasons Dec. 1, 2002.

She is charged with five counts of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud in connection with post-election fund-raising to pay off the campaign debt of McLamb, who was Phipps’s Democratic primary opponent.

She is also charged with money laundering and structuring transactions to avoid federal currency reporting requirements including the handling of $26,000 in cash from a Phipps fund-raiser.

One scheme detailed in the indictment included post-election contributions solicited and received by the Phipps campaign that were diverted to pay McLamb’s $75,000 Centura Bank Loan and $25,000 BB&T bank loan. Saunders concealed the diversion of the funds by filing false reports with the state Board of Elections, according to the indictment.

McLamb joined Phipps’s campaign after he lost to her in the primary. Phipps appointed McLamb assistant commissioner of agriculture after she won the general election. Phipps fired McLamb on Jan. 31, 2002.

Phipps and McLamb both had significant input into the operation of the State Fair, according to the indictment. Both are charged with violating the Hobbs Act, a federal statute that prohibits state officials from using their official power to extort money from people who have dealings with the state.

Shortly after Phipps was inaugurated in January 2001 news reports raised questions about her fund-raising. In June 2002 the State Board of Elections held a three-day hearing and fined the Phipps campaign $130,000 for campaign finance violations. Law-enforcement officials then took interest.

If you check out Bobby Mclamb’s website, he is indeed a comedian, and a motivational speaker.  I ran a background check on him, he is indeed the owner of Artists and Attractions, the papers and the TV news has already put that forth:

bobby-c-mclambWhat is scary is that he’s already been convicted of doing shady business deals once in the entertainment industry.  Do you think that perhaps allowing L&N Productions to construct rigs for him for 20 some odd years has put anyone else in danger of collapse or misinstalled equipment?  Mclamb was quoted in the Daily journal:  “…Bobby McLamb says he’s confident that L&N Productions of Hickory did a good job of putting the stage together…  McLamb is with Artists & Attractions of Raleigh and says he had never seen a roof collapse over a stage.  McLamb says he’s used L&N for more than 20 years and will continue to do so.”

Something else that Mclamb said was posted in the Charlotte Observer on August 18:

Some blamed L&N Productions Inc. of Hickory for shoddy construction of the stage. Others accused concert officials of not monitoring weather conditions.

McLamb has heard the rumors, but discounts negative comments from “people who look at online pictures and were not there at the fairgrounds when this happened.”

He stands by L&N, a firm he’s used at shows for more than 20 years and plans to keep using.

“They’re very professional,” McLamb said.

Well, Mr. Mclamb, we are an industry of experts and trailblazers, with chumps who do dangerous work mixed in — you choose to use a contractor who puts your eventgoers’ lives in danger.  Many of us have been doing this long enough to know when we see photos of accidents that better decisions have been made; you don’t have the experience that we do to make those decisions.  You shouldn’t dismiss our intelligence so quickly.  What you do when you pick people like L&N Productions to do the work for you while you stuff more money in your pockets is drive up ticket prices for future events, skyrocket insurance prices for other promoters, and give our industry a really bad name with YOUR sneaky backwards behavior.

Here’s some examples AGAIN of what Bobby Mclamb feels is professional, giving our entire industry a punch right in the throat.  Remember:  Bobby Mclamb thinks this is “very professional.”

It’s come down to this — since no one is going to do anything about this and no one is going to stop L&N Productions and Bobby Mclamb from doing shows that are equally as unsafe as this, below you will find the phone numbers and email addresses of L&N Productions, publicly posted from their website.  Give them a call and drop them an email, tell them to not only get their shit together, but to start acting responsibly in the face of the Entertainment Production industry that we all call our own.  This world is way too small for people like this to give the rest of us a bad name.  The media isn’t going to do anything for us, we must take care of this ourselves.  Tell your fellow production and touring friends to be careful around any gigs associated with L&N Productions.  The photos speak for themselves.

L&N Productions828-328-3235

James Little (Owner): james@landninc.com
John Little: john@landninc.com

Also, since Bobby McLamb, the promoter, has stated in the Charlotte Observer that he “has used L&N Productions for 20 years and will continue to do so,” give him a call and let him know that he should reconsider L&N Productions until they decide to do their work with a little more safety and security.  Here’s his contact information, he’s the president of Artists and Attractions in Lillington, North Carolina:

Artists and Attractions (also answering to this phone number is B+R Management, another Entertainer/Amusement Park management company Mclamb is involved with somehow)
Phone:  919-845-8378
artistsanda@aol.com
http://www.artistsandattractions.com

For more on Bobby Mclamb’s corrupt entertainment industry decision making (from http://www.crime-research.org/news/2003/03/Mess2201.html)

RALEIGH, N.C. – An offer by a winning politician to a vanquished candidate to help repay campaign debts has resulted in federal fraud, extortion, money laundering and conspiracy charges.

Charges against two former aides of Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps were related to fund raising during and after Phipps’ 2000 campaign, a federal prosecutor announced Tuesday.

Former campaign treasurer Linda J. Saunders was charged with 17 counts. Former commissioner candidate and assistant commissioner Bobby McLamb was charged with two counts – extortion by a public official and conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney said.

Phipps was not charged. During a hearing before the state Board of Elections last year, Phipps repeatedly denied knowing about her campaign’s payments toward McLamb’s loans.

But the indictment said Phipps called and wrote to Centura Bank, where McLamb owed $75,000, asking that the loan be extended.

“My husband Robert and I are holding a series of fundraisers now and after the election in November to assist Bobby in retiring this debt and feel we should have no trouble raising the money to satisfy his debt to Centura Bank,” Phipps wrote in an October 2000 letter to the bank.

During the elections board hearing, Phipps said she and her husband talked with McLamb and a campaign contributor about helping McLamb. But she said she never agreed to use her campaign money to pay off McLamb’s debt.

“I would have been terribly upset had I known that,” Phipps said in June. “My husband and I have much more of an amount of campaign debt and it should have gone to us first.”

According to the 42-page indictment, the alleged crimes began after Phipps’ campaign told McLamb the campaign would help repay his debt. McLamb received the assurance May 2, 2000, the night of the primary after McLamb offered to support Phipps in the general election.

The indictment said the Phipps’ campaign diverted at least $86,000 in contributions to repayment of McLamb’s $100,000 debt. McLamb had separate $75,000 and $25,000 bank loans and Phipps called at least one bank asking that the loan be extended while her campaign raised money for it.

An attorney for McLamb said he hadn’t seen the indictment and couldn’t comment on the charges. An attorney for Saunders didn’t return a telephone call and numbers for Saunders in Raleigh and Louisburg weren’t answered.

McLamb’s first court hearing is scheduled for March 24, according to the court clerk’s office. No hearing had been scheduled for Saunders.

Federal prosecutors said McLamb was issued a summons to appear for his hearing, while an arrest warrant was issued for Saunders. The summons gives the defendant a chance to come to court voluntarily, while the warrant tells marshals to detain the defendant.

“I’m not surprised that the indictments came down,” said David Long, McLamb’s attorney. “My client has been interviewed.”

Whitney said the U.S. Justice Department has made official corruption a priority, right behind terrorism and cybercrime, and that the charges weren’t what he normally sees.

“In my 12 years in the Justice Department, I am not aware of any charges like this in North Carolina … two senior state officials indicted for allegations of extortion,” Whitney said.

Saunders, a longtime assistant to Phipps, and McLamb were accused of soliciting money they said would go toward retiring Phipps’ campaign debt. But state campaign finance reports filed by the campaign didn’t disclose the payments to McLamb.

The indictment also said after Phipps was elected in 2000, Saunders told fair midway companies they would have to contribute to help Phipps repay debts to be considered for a contract for the 2002 fair. Phipps replaced the longtime provider of midway shows with a new company.

Saunders, 43, also was accused of accepting two cashier’s checks totaling $14,500 from unidentified donors who wanted to influence the awarding of the midway contact for the North Carolina State Fair, according to the charges. McLamb, 42, also received a $20,000 check from someone seeking a vendor contract at the fair, the indictment said.

The indictment said Saunders funneled $22,000 in cash “through a complicated structure of financial transactions” to avoid a bank currency transaction report.

McLamb had received a $75,000 loan from Amusements of America, the New Jersey-based midway operator that won the midway contract for the 2002 North Carolina State Fair, the indictment said. One of the bank loans was to repay that loan, which was funneled through the owner of a private county fair. The repayments were sent back through the same route, the indictment said.

Whitney said the indictments resulted from a nine-month investigation by state and federal law enforcement. Whitney also said the investigation is continuing and declined to say if more people would be charged.

The counts against Saunders carry a maximum prison sentence of 175 years and fines totaling $5 million. McLamb faces maximum penalties of 25 years in prison and fines of $500,000. Whitney said neither defendant, if convicted, would get the maximum sentence.

It wasn’t the first investigation of Phipps’ campaign. Last year, the state Board of Elections fined her campaign $130,000. The board said the campaign had taken $84,202 in cash from donors it could not identify and more than $14,000 in illegal corporate contributions.

Phipps, 47, is the daughter of former Gov. Bob Scott and granddaughter of Kerr Scott, who served as governor and U.S. senator. She declined to comment on the indictments, citing the ongoing investigation, but said “I have faith in our system of justice ….”

Also, here’s the original indictment, in PDF:
http://www.masstort.org/Downloads/StratesLawsuit.pdf

More:
http://www.carolinajournal.com/articles/display_story.html?id=413

From the State Attorney’s Office:
http://www.justice.gov/usao/nce/press/2004/2004-Mar-03.html

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nce/press/2004/2004-Oct-19.html

And a little bit more on Phipps, who started all of this mess in the first place – Star News, October 23, 2003:

star-news-10-23-2003

UNPRECEDENTED IDIOCY – Shelby Stage Collapse Organizer Says ‘Safety Protocol Was Followed’

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos

This article shot me out of bed like a cannon.  Bobby McLamb, the promoter for this potential death machine, says that the rig that tumbled last weekend in Shelby, North Carolina followed safety protocols, and that L&N Productions out of Hickory used all “industry standard” practices.  The mainstream publications need to get ahold of me or another expert in the industry to put an end to this crap.  They are printing garbage that makes the promoter and L&N Productions look like they did no wrong!!!

Get a load of this, from the Charlotte Observer:

The event in Shelby was part of the American Legion World Series concert series and featured three Christian rock bands, including the headliner, the top-selling national group MercyMe.

Eddie Holbrook, co-chair of the local American Legion World Series executive committee and a Cleveland County commissioner, said L&N Productions had worked last year’s Montgomery Gentry concert at the American Legion World series.

“They’ve been very satisfactory,” he said. “We’ve had no problem.”

Holbrook said performers and stage managers expressed no reservations about the stage.

Also, he said the weather had been a concern. Holbrook said officials had been tracking storms on weather radar.

A line of storms in the area of Greenville, S.C., appeared to be edging north of Shelby, he said.

When a severe weather alert for Cleveland County flashed on the radar, Holbrook said, “we immediately started getting people off stage.” The surrounding area with electrical equipment was also evacuated, he said.

The National Weather service had no reports of damaging wind gusts – 50 mph or stronger – in Cleveland County on Aug 10. But an automated weather station on the north side of Shelby measured a wind gust of about 35 mph between 3 and 4 p.m.

At the fairground, which is on the east side of Shelby, a “quick burst of vicious wind” got under the stage roof and “disassembled it,” Holbrook said.

Law enforcement and emergency personnel were already at the fairground. But thankfully, nobody got hurt, Holbrook said.

Looking back, “I don’t know of anything we would have done differently,” he said.

MUST this be posted again?!  Here’s one of the first pages of the Genie tower safety manual:

genie-tower-wind-safetyMore from the article at the Charlotte Observer — apparently L&N’s rig adheres to building codes, according to James Little of L&N Productions:

James Little, owner and president of L&N Productions, Inc., said the company has been in business more than 25 years, carries liability insurance and has done events all over the U.S. Local code officials aren’t required to inspect temporary stages, Little said, but some, like Hickory, do inspect the structures.

Wherever L&N sets up a stage “we adhere to building codes,” Little said. “Ultimately, people can be hurt, and you have to be cautious in what you do.”

In Shelby, Little said the fire marshal inspected the stage, which met industry standards and had been assembled by L&N employees and 30 members of the Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department.

The stage’s roof was held up by 12 18-foot-tall Genie Super Towers, not four as stated by some on the Internet, Little said. The towers were secured by straps tied to 4-foot metal stakes driven into the ground.

Wind bent the stakes, but didn’t pull them out of the ground, and all the straps held, he said.

According to Little, the roof shifted 10 feet and lodged against a lighting pole, about 5 feet above the stage. No musical instruments or electrical equipment were damaged, and 10 light bulbs out of 108 were broken, Little said. Although he doesn’t have a total damage estimate, he said six of the towers, valued at $3,000 each, are out of commission.

A spokesperson for the Genie lift company said the super towers aren’t designed to support structures like roofs.

But Little said what was used at the fairground wasn’t a load-bearing roof, but a stage cover, and that the towers weren’t supporting the entire rig. He said the Genies supported canvas and lights individually and that the practice was common in the industry.

WHY does the media keep posting this shit without getting ahold of one of us experts in the media?!

THIS is what happens when your rig is NOT UP TO INDUSTRY STANDARD SAFETY PRACTICES, LET ALONE EVEN FOLLOWING THE MANUAL ON THE GEAR YOU USE!  These photos are from L&N’s OWN WEBSITE!  Did the media not even do their research?!

GAH!  This is infuriating!  PLEASE, mainstream media, YOU ARE NOT EXPERTS LIKE WE ARE!  Start asking around!

Last Week Recap – Roxy and I Escape Death, Shelby Stage Collapse, and Shoddy Rigging

Oh, friends and neighbors, it’s been a crazy last week here on JimOnLight!

Just to catch you up:  I started a new job last week, Laura and Roxy and I have settled into our new apartment, and we’re 15 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean.  That alone is going to provide us some serious peace and tranquility, at least until Hurricane Season!  Hopefully the Hurricane Center will add my suggestions to the naming conventions list…  Hurricane Ru Paul should be making his or her way up the coast any day now!

Let’s recap on last week’s posts – we found out that L&N Productions in North Carolina had some photo evidence on their website of their crappy rigging that nearly took out some of the performers from the band The Afters, followed by some unbelievable images of the stage collapse L&N was involved in…  the promoter called it “weather related,” but as John Huntington from the awesome blog Control Geek noted, that’s a bunch of BS.  And, AND, this weekend I missed my death by about 15 seconds, as a couple of thugs who stole a car wiped out on our street (which is a 25 mph zone) going about 70.  Check them all out below!

Last week’s top posts:

ANOTHER STRUCTURE FALLS:  Roof Made from Construction Genie Towers Falls in North Carolina

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos

 

MORE Contradiction in the Shelby, North Carolina Stage Collapse:  Weather, Equipment, NEGLIGENCE

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos

And, from the weekend:

If Roxy Had Pooped 15 Seconds Later, We’d Both Be Dead Now

Crashed Mustang

Crashed Mustang

Stay tuned, as always — we’re going to have a lot more great stuff this week on JimOnLight!  Thanks for reading!

MORE CONTRADICTION in the Shelby Stage Collapse – Weather, Equipment, NEGLIGENCE

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos

I had to start an entirely new post for this information…  this all needs to be shared.  The original post is here, please share with your friends, family, and industry contacts.  Make SURE that you never go near a stage constructed like the ones you’ll see below, because your life depends on it.  Do the math here, folks — thousands of pounds of quickly moving metal and plastics versus your skin, bones, blood, and tissues.  Which do you think is going to win?  Your God will not protect you from faulty rigging, equipment installation, and malfeasant negligence.

Let’s take a look at some info from the contractor’s website, L&N Productions.  The proof of negligence is right there on the website, just thumb through the photos.  James and John Little, along with production manager Mark Doran, showcase several images on their website of past gigs they’ve done — and this interesting little blurb on their website homepage:

“L & N Productions has operated in it’s current form since 1992 and is fully covered by General Liability & Workman’s Compensation.  Our professional and personable staff prides itself in providing high quality sound and lighting, helping to make your event a success. We specialize in festival style events, focusing on smooth transactions and attention to detail. We keep your artists satisfied and your event on schedule. We are there for you!”

Do you think that they’d still be covered under General Liability and Workman’s Comp if the people who administer those coverages knew they were using equipment in this fashion, AGAINST the manufacturer’s recommendations?  Very fortunately for L&N Productions, they haven’t had a collapse in the past.  Take a look through these images, tell me what YOU think.

Yes, that roof is being held up with spansets, and the yellow strap looks suspiciously like truck ratchet strap.  Are those towers just sitting in the grass with NOTHING under the WHEELS?!  YES, yes they are.

from-L-N-Productions-website-10

More Genie tower roofing OUTSIDE, with yellow truck strap guy wires.

from-L-N-Productions-website-9

Another shot of the OUTDOOR Genie tower rig.  YOU ARE NOT TO USE GENIE TOWERS OUTDOORS!
Can they NOT read the safety guide?!

from-L-N-Productions-website-8

 Please note the spansets holding up the sail – or roof, depending on your level of expertise.
WHERE ARE THE OUTRIGGERS???

from-L-N-Productions-website-7

This one scares the shit out of me — triangle truss “propping up” the tarp roof, not at all secured to anything (take a look for yourself), with yellow truck strap guying, complete with the standard indoor Genie towers used outside.from-L-N-Productions-website-5

This shot should stop them from ever doing shows again — strap as guying on the front corners of the roof structure, cantilevered on four indoor Genie towers OUTSIDE, putting every person on that stage at risk.from-L-N-Productions-website-4

An indoor arena rig — straps on the PA.
WHERE ARE THE OUTRIGGERS???from-L-N-Productions-website-3

More outdoor usage of INDOOR GENIE TOWERS.  AND, just sitting in the grass on the field, nothing under the wheels, AGAIN.
WHERE ARE THE OUTRIGGERS???from-L-N-Productions-website-2

INDOOR Genie towers OUTSIDE again, and another INDOOR Genie tower holding up the OUTDOOR PA.from-L-N-productions-website-1

Something that is troubling the daylights out of me is the Genie towers used in these photos — they are not the SuperTower family of INDOOR Genie lifts, they are CONTRACTOR GENIE LIFTS with a working load limit of 650 pounds.  Check out the images below of CONTRACTOR TOWERS, and compare them with the crank towers you see in the photos above:

contractor-genie-2

contractor-genie

These images below here are Genie’s SuperTower (ST) brand of towers, which are the approved INDOOR TOWERS for entertainment:

Genie-Super-Tower

Genie-SuperTower

Notice anything different?  SuperTowers have heavier telescoping tracks, more sturdy outriggers, and ARE FOR ENTERTAINMENT.  The ones used by L&N Productions are CONTRACTOR TOWERS.

Here’s another thing that needs to be put out there… the promoter’s claim that the weather caused the accident are FALSE.  That means they are NOT TRUE.  Here’s why – fellow blogger, lighting expert, and storm chaser John Huntington posted an AWESOME contradiction to the claims that weather had anything to do with this collapse.  My guess is that the promoter and the production company are covering each other’s collective asses.  From John Huntington’s excellent blog Control Geek:

Annotated-mercyme-weather

According to Wikipedia, EHO is the Shelby-Cleveland County Regional Airport, and the Cleveland county fairgrounds are a couple miles away to the north east, about the position of my crude red arrow.   The light blue, bowing north-south line to the left of the purple arrow is a gust front or outflow boundary, generally caused by cool air descending from the storm and indicated on radar by reflections from bugs and dirt in front of the storm.  Crucially, this gust front arrives with high wind gusts before the rain arrives (this is exactly the same situation found at the Indiana State Fair tragedy; you can see my radar loop here).  So if you just watch the radar on a crude phone app and don’t know what to look for, you might miss this critical feature.  But it’s an indication of high winds in front of the storm (as a chaser I’m often surfing this area trying to get a photo, since sometimes an amazing looking shelf cloud forms is in that area, see here for photos from a similar event from earlier this summer).  Here’s the whole loop of the radar, and it’s pretty obvious that something’s coming for quite a long time.  The yellow arrow is the approximate location of the show site; with my mouse, I point out the gust front:

ClevelandCounty2013 from John Huntington on Vimeo.

While another part of the same storm system was under a severe thunderstorm warning (60 MPH+ wind) at the time of the collapse, the show site area apparently was not. Patrick Moore, of the National Weather Service saidthat winds at the site gusted to about 35-40MPH (well below the severe threshold), which should not cause any quality stage roof to collapse.  But, as I noted in the previous entry, it appears that the stage roof was supported with Genie-style towers.  Those are chronically mis-used pieces of gear, and one of the common failings in amateur outdoor usage of these lifts is not accommodating for the intensity of lateral loads caused by the winds, nor the vertical lift possibilities.  Joel Bench, MercyMe’s stage manager, reported “The wind just picked up, the roof lifted a little bit, Then it started tilting and just kind of eased down.”

Thank you for this insight, John.  Folks, make sure to check out John Huntington’s blog, he is a very intelligent dude.  Also, check out Erich Friend’s post on the accident for some excellent insight and video content — Erich runs the Theatre Safety Blog, which is an excellent source for all things event safety.

Please share this with your people.  Stay safe out there, everybody.  I think the Event Safety Alliance needs to be all over this guy’s company.

Another Structure Falls – Stage Roof Made from Genie Towers Collapses in North Carolina

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos (click for larger view)

UPDATE, Tuesday, August 13, 2013:
I have received some information that directly contradicts what the promoters of the American Legion event have publicly stated, which was covered in the news yesterday.  What I think sucks is that no outlets of mainstream identity will pick up the other side of this story, which is that professionals in the field who have years of experience and training have contradictory information that negates their weather claims.  Here’s what the promoters have stated – from an article at the Charlotte Observer, posted Sunday, August 11, 2013 – bolding is mine for informational emphasis:

The weather, not faulty construction, caused a stage to collapse at the Cleveland County fairgrounds on Saturday, an official with the American Legion, which was sponsoring the event, said Sunday.

MercyMe, a popular Christian band, was expected to perform in front of more than 10,000 fans Saturday night as part of American Legion’s World Series concerts, which lead up to the tournament that runs Aug. 16-20 in Shelby.

But the temporary stage collapsed about 4 p.m. during the band’s sound check. The audience had not begun to arrive, and no one was injured, said Eddie Holbrook, co-chair of the local American Legion World Series committee.

“We knew we were going to get what looked like scattered showers and nothing real bad,” Holbrook said. “Then all of a sudden, within a five-minute span, the winds shifted and immediately there was a severe weather storm alert.”

He added that the company that built the stage, L&N Productions, is “extremely reputable” and has worked on concerts for national artists across the Southeast.

“We didn’t have any concern whether these people had taken any shortcuts,” he said. “We’re attributing it all to the weather.”

Fans were not inside the fairgrounds at the time of the collapse because the gate and ticket sales office weren’t scheduled to open for another 30 minutes.

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos (click for larger view)

It should be painfully obvious in looking at those photos that weather was a minor (if not a negligable factor) in that stage coming down.

From an official who spoke with JimOnLight.com and was not authorized to speak publicly on the collapse, a touring professional involved with production and NOT associated with L&N Productions:

“The stage was down well before those alleged ’70 mph winds’ hit.  It didn’t take much to knock that thing over.  The roof was picked with spansets…not properly.  The up and down stage double hung was with what looked like truck straps.  The genies didn’t have outriggers – but just the stabilizers.  And the straps they had ‘holding it down’ didn’t make sense.  And, for the record, the seats they had set up were for about 2000-2500 tops. Not the 10,000 the news was reporting.”

The news will never tell you that the stage should never have been built outside with Genie towers.  The news will also never tell you that L&N Productions IS STILL DOING SHOWS, and has another one “just down the road from Shelby.”  Somehow I hope the entire production world learns to stay away from this company’s shows.  They have proven they have no respect for the safety of the crews, musical acts, and audience members.

Please, share the heck out of this, it’s important to get this contradicting information out there to counter the information being put out there.  The promoter may believe that L&N is “reputable,” but they are simply lucky that this hasn’t happened before if this is the rig they are using outside for events.  Genie towers should never be used like this.

I took some screenshots from the video posted from the local NBC affiliate, WCNC — watch the video, then look through the screenshots gallery below it.  Notice the spansets holding the roof structure onto the Genie towers, then ask yourself — WHERE are the outriggers on those towers?  Then maybe ask yourself — WHERE ARE THE OUTRIGGERS ON THOSE GENIE TOWERS?!!  Are those SPANSETS holding the roof to the towers?!  Are those ratchet straps holding the roof down?  If you’re inquisitive like me, ask yourself one more question — were those ratchet straps holding those audio cabinets down on top of the scaffolding?


UPDATE, Monday, August 12, 2013:
The production company who believed this rig was safe was L&N Productions out of Hickory, NC – their website, http://www.landninc.com/, does not work.  Here’s their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/landninc


theafters-stage-collapse

That’s right, sports fans, there’s news of another structure collapse in the JimOnLight headlines this morning. No one was hurt at this religious concert festival at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in North Carolina, but this just goes to show you that not even God can help your production company when you use genie towers and ratchet straps outside to support the rig. If anyone knows who the production company was for this event, please let us know so that I can make sure that people know of their work.

From an article at WSOCTV:

CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. —

A stage collapsed at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds on Saturday night.

No one was hurt in the collapse at the fairgrounds, but the accident is forcing organizers to make some big changes.

Just hours before a concert was set to start at the Cleveland County Fairground, a gust of wind ripped through, toppling a stage.

An organizer said it happened when the stands were still empty, and no one was hurt.

More than 10,000 people were expected to show up for the American Legion World Series concerts. Saturday’s lineup featured Christian artists, Mercy Me, Aaron Shust and the Afters. The show was cancelled Saturday.

Organizers said they did not want to take any chances with safety.

The wind ripped down part of the stage that held the overhead lighting and there was too much damage to fix before showtime.

The Afters tweeted a picture of the stage saying, “Scary moment today. The stage collapsed as we were sound checking. Thankful to God that we are all ok.”

Holy moly. From WISTV, a video of the newscast:

wistv.com – Columbia, South Carolina |

Looks like it’s painfully obvious that the production company (still unknown at this point) didn’t read the first frigging page of the Genie Tower Safety Manual, I underlined the key components for you:

Do not operate the machine in strong or gusty winds. Increasing the load surface area will decrease machine stability in windy conditions. Do not leave a load raised when windy conditions may occur unless the machine(s) are properly guy-wired.

genie-tower-wind-safety

WHY OH WHY do people not understand BASIC PHYSICS?! When you add A SAIL to an already not strong structure, said structure IS COMING DOWN. More reason why we need to strengthen the rules in this industry — if for no other reason than to STOP the shitty companies from doing things that make us all look bad. This looks bad.

stage-collapse-after

More on this if and when it develops. No one was hurt, THIS time. The event was the American Legion World Series, featuring a bunch of Christian acts. So much for that. I guess not even God can keep up improperly installed equipment.

cleveland-co-christian-concert-collapse

stage-collapse-north-carolina