Can the Little People (ie, US) Beat Xcel Energy in Boulder? These People Say YES

xcel-energy-sucks

Xcel Energy, the people who started up the Colorado solar-to-home movement only to withdraw from it quicker than John Wayne Bobbitt lost his wang, are back at the douchebaggery again.  This time, a group of very smart and very environmentally conscious people called New Era Colorado is putting the kibosh on their plans for coal-fired world domination.  Check this out:

From the video page:

This is a grassroots David and Goliath campaign to create a landmark model for how communities can take control of their energy future: http://igg.me/at/localpowerYou can support this effort on Indiegogo:http://igg.me/at/localpower

This is pretty great.  These folks are simply trying to stop the mass amounts of money from flowing into the pockets of the “we don’t give a shit” power brokers and back into the hands of the community, and to save the Earth one city at a time.  Can you imagine what would happen if this works?  I for one would love to see solar panels and wind turbines out en masse instead of coal fired plants spewing black death into the atmosphere.  But, that’s just me.  I’m sure the Xcel Energy executives need their Mercedes and homes in the Hamptons, too.  Right?

Check out the Campaign for Local Power’s IndieGogo campaign.  Feeling frisky?  Donate ten bucks, you’ll literally change the world.

From the IndieGogo campaign website:

Back in 2011, our community did something no other community had ever done before: we voted to explore taking control of our power supply for the sole purpose of lowering our impact on the planet. Xcel Energy spent nearly $1 million dollars on that election, but lost–because a committed group of community advocates and a small nonprofit that engages young people in politics won the day. Outspent 10-to-1, the grassroots coalition registered voters, knocked on doors, and made thousands of phone calls.

With voter approval, the city launched an extensive analysis and found that it could get cleaner, cheaper power that was just as reliable all on its own.

But now, Xcel is back, with a misleading initiative they’ve helped place on Boulder’s fall ballot that would stop the city’s formation of a local electric utility dead in its tracks. Their ballot measure is masquerading as a way to reduce government debt, but it’s really just a dirty trick–the measure includes impossible, even illegal, requirements that would stall out the very process voters already approved.

They’re back to undermine our local process, because the city’s findings made it clear that they stand to lose more than the $35 million dollars in profits they make annually from Boulder. They know that Boulder is on the verge of setting a precedent of national significance that would threaten not just Xcel, but the very core of the coal energy’s business model–not to mention that industry’s billions of dollars in profits.

We out-organized them in 2011, and we know we can again in 2013 if we have the resources to achieve the reach we need. Boulder has already voted to move forward–this fight is about keeping the coal industry from holding us back.

Can you help these smart people defeat the coal giant in the region?  Like New Era Colorado on Facebook, I’m sure they’d appreciate it.  Xcel Energy will not.

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

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

Do You Scream at Stagehands? STOP IT!

yelling-myself-out-of-a-job

 

Happy Saturday, Entertainment Industry!

I got a really interesting email last night from a local stagehand at a large concert venue in Colorado that would prefer that the venue and city in which he works be redacted, so I have done that.  But you have GOT to read the email below, it’s absolutely disgusting.  I hope you see it the same as I do.

Jim, hi.  Love the site, we here at [redacted] in Colorado read you a lot.  Next time you’re out this way, let me know so we can get you in here and get some better pics of the venue.  I don’t want to speak for all of the guys here, but I know that we all feel the same about this.  Do me a favor and don’t post my name and don’t post that I work at [redacted].  Thanks.

I have a really important question to ask, maybe you can give us some insight on why most of the crews that come through here feel it’s the right thing to do to scream at us all day.  Most of us here are people who are just as good at the jobs we do as the tours that come through here.  Why do you think they think it’s the right thing to do to yell at us to get us to do what they need done?  I went into the Army back in the 1970s and did two tours in Vietnam.  Every very good lieutenant that I served under was the kind of man that could motivate the men without raising his voice, and every time we had to go out on patrol with a squad leader who was a screamer was more times that not a really scary time because no one wanted to help the screamer.  Don’t the people out there driving the tours understand this logic?  To us, it seems like nobody gives a shit about the crew of the day.  We hump cases, we put trusses together, we take care of what they need because it’s our job.  We’re great at our job.  All we want is that people would treat us like we were humans and not a gaggle of stupid people who need their instructions shouted at us.

I’m just an old hippy who used to love my job but it’s hard to get new people to come to the local after they see how we’re treated.  Nobody wants to work somewhere with shitty tour crew yelling all day long.  Any normal person would be just as bitter if they had to put up with this bullshit all day every day.

Keep doing what you do, you give us some sane time before and after the yelling.

[redacted]

Wow.

I suppose the first thing I should say is that I’m sorry this is happening.  I have done my share of shows worldwide, and I don’t believe in yelling at the crew.  I believe that the best way to get the crew to do any and everything that you need done is to show up in the morning bright eyed, bushy-tailed, and with donuts and coffee.  It’s true that I get a lot of shit for that (especially the coffee and donuts part) but if I have to work with guys I don’t know and I know a hard day’s coming for the locals that day, it’s part of my job for the success of the show that they believe in the show that they’re assembling.  It’s not a secret that people will work hard for you if you make them feel like human beings.  It amazes me that people decide to take the douchebag route on their local tours.  I know many people who lead crews on tour, and it’s my pleasure to say that a lot of those people are really great guys and ladies who believe the same way I do.

Are you a screamer on tour?

The first thing I want to know is WHAT is it that gives you the right to screw up the attitudes for the shows that come after you?  Who the hell do you think you are that you can treat people this way?  I know that one thing you’re doing is making a reputation for yourself that assures that your career will be short-lived, because team leaders do NOT want to hire someone who creates a work stoppage in the middle of a busy show day.  Touring is hard enough as it is without you making all of the locals hate touring personnel without getting to know us.  I know a good handful of really unbelievably great programmers and LDs who don’t work because of their attitude — one of them is an awesome cook at a restaurant in Dallas, and another is an insurance adjuster in southern Illinois.  Is this the career path you’d rather have?  Something outside of the industry you love?  If you keep yelling, it’s coming.  I’ll definitely help you exit my industry if you feel that you need to screw up the harmonious and often very rewarding work that the rest of us call a career.

To be fair, we’ve all had local crews who haven’t been worth the paper their badges are printed on, and those days do suck.  I’ve had Labor-Ready crews that barely had the skill to not be selling crack out behind the venue, and I’ve had non-Union riggers who dropped cell phones and sets of keys from the grid.  Those are rough days.  But even in those situations, it does you NO JUSTICE to scream at people.  When you’re out on a B or C market tour, you should expect to have these things happen — just recently in February 2013 in Los Angeles, I had a Union stagehand at the Event Live LA show tell me “I’m not pushing those fucking towers, one fell on my buddy and messed up his back for life.”  It was fine with me, all I needed to do was go tell his Freeman foreman that the guy wouldn’t do his job and I got someone else on the crew that would push those towers out to the truck.  I didn’t need to yell.  Sometimes you just get a hand who wants to be a jerk on the jobsite because of whatever reason there is — but just as many times as that’s happened, I’ve been able to smile at somebody who wanted to be a Summer’s Eve in at crew call, tell a few jokes, and get that man or woman to get on board with the work that needed to be done that day.  It’s amazing what can be done when you inject a bit of happiness and compassion into people’s daily existence.  If that doesn’t work, you always have the crew chief to help them get motivated, or to get someone who wants to work on your crew.

All of this is just as applicable to stage hands, too — if every day that you work is another day in hell, maybe you should get yourself into another line of work.  We’ve all got more to do in the short amount of hours in the day without having to put up with your shit attitude.  Seriously.  The large majority of us treat you all with the utmost respect and admiration because you make our days easier.  There’s no reason to act like a jerk when we’re only trying to do OUR jobs, too.

Industry pros, ask yourself:
“Do I think it’s OK to scream at my local crews in order to get the work done?”

If your answer is anything other than NO, maybe you ought to look into working with another industry’s people.  We don’t want you in our business.  You screw it up for every one of us every single time you take your personal problems out on a local stagehand.  I know the service industry is hiring, it might be a good idea to lose your God complex and see how it feels to be in service for a while.  That’s more of a humbling experience than death.

As for the talent?  Well…  as long as they keep paying, karma will sort that out on its own.

listen-to-the-stage-manager

How to Get Anything Through TSA’s Nude Body Scanners?

Oh my.

I’ve been pretty critical of the TSA and the Millimeter Wave technology in the past, but I’m nothing like this guy – this man took it upon himself to prove that Millimeter Wave tech doesn’t work.  Check this out:

This video is here to demonstrate that the TSA’s insistence that the nude body scanner program is effective and necessary is nothing but a fraud, just like their claims that the program is safe (radiation what?) and non-invasive (nude pictures who?). This video is not intended to teach anyone how to commit criminal acts, nor is intended to help “the terrorists” — if I could figure this out, I’m sure they’ve long figured it out, and by exposing it to the public, we now have an opportunity to correct it. The scanners are now effectively worthless, as anyone can beat them with virtually no effort. The TSA has been provided this video in advance of it being made public to give them an opportunity to turn off the scanners and revert to the metal detectors. I personally believe they now have no choice but to turn them off.

Please share this video with your family, friends, and most importantly, elected officials in federal government. Make sure they understand that your vote is contingent on them fixing the abuse that 200,000 passengers face from the TSA on a daily basis.

Crazy.  How do you feel now?

(Also, I wonder how long before I get the dreaded ‘SSSS‘ on my boarding passes…)

Sugarland’s Lawyers Blame the Injured – IN State Fair Collapse

Just like the remainder of this story, this isn’t going to end well.

So, the legal people for the band Sugarland have made some pretty sensational comments regarding claims made by the some of the people injured or killed in the collapse that took place at the Indiana State Fair during the summer of 2011.  I doubt you’ve forgotten any of it, I can’t believe that I’ll ever forget that image of the stage crashing down:

From a post at the MSNBC site:

Fans who were killed and injured when stage rigging and sound equipment collapsed onto them as they awaited a Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair failed to take steps to ensure their own safety and are at least in part to blame for their injuries, the country duo’s attorneys said.

The statement, part of a Feb. 16 response to a civil suit filed by survivors and families of some of those killed, is a clear attempt to cast blame away from the band as investigators continue to search for answers in the collapse that killed seven people and injured 58.

Calling the powerful winds that toppled the stage on Aug. 13 an “act of God,” Sugarland’s attorneys said fair officials and Mid-America Sound Corp. were responsible for the stage setup, and that the fans voluntarily assumed risk by attending the show.

“Some or all of the plaintiffs’ claimed injuries resulted from their own fault,” according to the response. Sugarland attorney James H. Milstone would not elaborate Tuesday on whether that statement included those killed as well as the injured.

I actually found out about this from Erich Friend of Teqniqal Systems in Fort Worth.  Erich is a safety guru and general genius, and my go-to guy for safety.  We were chatting about this at PLASA Focus this week when he told me about the band’s legal response to the disaster.  If you want another mind-blowing bout of complete and utter ridiculousness, read through the comments on the MSNBC Facebook post about the story.  Holy sh*t.

I haven’t seen any retractions, big announcements, or the like about Sugarland firing its legal team, so perhaps they are right in line with these comments.  We’ll see.

SOPA and PIPA, FAH Q from JOL

Today is a pretty interesting day in political history.  Today is the day that Reddit goes black from 8am to 8pm EST to protest the Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act.  This is also the day that a hearing is taking place about these two bills being pushed through Congress – and there are a lot of amazing brains testifying today in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about how these two bills are going to kill the Internet as we know it.

From an article in The Hill, House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa:

“An open Internet is crucial to American job creation, government operations, and the daily routines of Americans from all walks of life,” Issa said. “The public deserves a full discussion about the consequences of changing the way Americans access information and communicate on the Internet today.”

Also, from an article at Ars Technica, Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro:

“The bill attempts a radical restructuring of the laws governing the Internet,” said CEO Gary Shapiro. “It would undo the legal safe harbors that have allowed a world-leading Internet industry to flourish over the last decade. It would expose legitimate American businesses and innovators to broad and open-ended liability. The result will be more lawsuits, decreased venture capital investment, and fewer new jobs. The significant potential harms of this bill are reflected by the extraordinary coalition arrayed against it. Concerns about SOPA have been raised by Tea Partiers, progressives, computer scientists, human rights advocates, venture capitalists, law professors, independent musicians, and many more. Unfortunately, these voices were not heard at today’s hearing.”

One more poignant one, from Representative Zoe Lofgren, regarding the expert opinion letter that she asked Dr. Leonard Napolitano, Internet Security Expert and the Director of the Sandia National Laboratories’ Center for Computer Sciences and Information Technologies to write on the SOPA and PIPA mess:

“This analysis from one of our nation’s top cybersecurity experts is the definitive word that this legislation would undermine Internet security efforts and would harm the Internet. Dr. Napolitano and his team are tasked with securing our cyber infrastructure. Their assessment as experts at our national lab gives us the final answer as to whether these bills would endanger our security. They would.” 

You know, this affects us all.  If you use the Internet, if you’re reading this message, the SOPA and PIPA affect you.  If you like JimOnLight.com (which, quite frankly low on the totem of importance in this issue), this affects you.  As PIPA is written now, if we were to post even a link to something on the site and someone disagreed with me linking to them or to their content, they could just sue us, and then block the site from the web.  How far are we all gonna let this go, folks?

Watch this:

Then check this out – from AmericanCensorship.org:

Where do YOU stand?  How do you like your internet?

Are you FOR or AGAINST the SOPA and PROTECT IP Act?

  • Against (93%, 14 Votes)
  • For (7%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

Loading ... Loading ...

Here are some additional resources on SOPA and PIPA – get yourself informed.  Ignorance is not an option or an excuse, not anymore.

Thanks to Questionable Topic for the photo!

Baotou Halts Making Rare-Earths to Spike Prices. WTF!

To quote the dance performance students in my 8am Stage Lighting class, this is “jank.”  (I’m pretty sure that means that it’s f%$#ed up.)

Well, that it is.  This whole thing is certainly jank.  The “this” that I’m referring to is the fact that a Chinese government-linked company named Baotou Steel has been halting production of its rare earth elements since October 20 in order to “balance the market and stabilize supply and demand.”  I think that’s Mandarin for drive up the prices of rare earth elements, because Baotou supplies more rare earth elements than any other company in the world.  China as a whole produces 95% of the world’s rare earth element supply, so really other than a price driving measure, this is pointless.

From a Reuters article on the shutdown and the China state reaction, which seems to be actually driving this MCF:

China has resolved to streamline the chaotic rare earth sector by encouraging consolidation and cracking down on illegal private production, cited as the key reason for the decline in prices over the past few months.  It has imposed a national output cap of 93,800 tonnes for 2011, and has vowed to crack down on producers that exceed their quotas.

It launched a four-month inspection campaign at the beginning of August to ensure that production quotas, pollution standards and consolidation targets were being met.

The industry ministry said in a statement posted on its website last Friday that it planned to “strengthen monitoring and inspections” in the coming months, saying that it would pay particular attention to punishing traders and processors that receive illegally-mined rare earth products.

The region of Inner Mongolia in China’s northeast, the source of most of the country’s light rare earths, has forced a number of small firms to merge with Baotou Rare-Earth , and has also been cutting off electricity supplies to private producers to force them to shut down, local media reported.

With incentives high for private producers, China has traditionally struggled to impose its will on the sector. Total output exceeded the production quota by around 40,000 tonnes last year, and traders also resorted to smuggling in order to get round a strict export cap.

What does this mean, really, and why am I reporting on this on JimOnLight.com?  Well, have you ever purchased an MSR arc lamp or bought anything lighting that has neodymium in it?  Philips’ Reveal lamps are made with neodymium inside the envelope, for example, to get that great high color temperature and whiter light.  Also to be fair, there are tons of other manufacturers who make neodymium light bulbs, and they’re great for people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Yeah.  So the prices for those things and thousands of other things both in our industry and outside of it that use rare earth minerals (oxides, typically) are going to go up.  Great.  Fans of rare-earth magnets as well will be well frustrated by this little market making exercise.

I had to know what kind of rare earths this company produces – I found a JPEG list of their product line on their pretty pitifully designed website (they aren’t web developers, obviously, they’re rare earth miners and steel makers), here’s the Rare Earths section:

Yep, Neodymium Oxide is on there, and it’s a primary ingredient in doping glass for lighting.  It’s technically Neodymium (III) Oxide (for all you Chemical Abstract Society readers out there), and it’s used all over the place.  Get ready for the price to go up.  Neodymium is used to make lasers (it’s a pretty great gain medium around the IR wavelengths (1054-1064)), as well as tons of other stuff that’s now going to get more expensive.

That image shows some of the National Ignition Facility laser filters – all doped with Neodymium.  I’m interested but not excited to see what this does to prices across the lighting and photonics industries.

Neodymium is pretty interesting when in glass doping for lamps – from an article at Wikipedia on Neodymium (a cool read, please do):

A neodymium glass light bulb, with the base and inner coating removed, under two different types of light: incandescent on the right, and fluorescent on the left. This demonstrates the difference in color of neodymium glass under different lighting conditions. These two photos were taken with identical white balance and coloration and no post-processing, except for cropping. (ISO, shutter speed and aperture were changed between the shots, but this changes only exposure and has basically no effect on the color of the pictures.) The only difference is the type of illumination: fluorescent or incandescent.

Ah, capitalism.

Thanks to LightNOW (which is an awesome blog, btw), IndustryWeek, Wikipedia, and the NIF

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: