Friday, February 21, 2003

The news just keeps on coming. Coming on the heels of last weekend's club crush in Chicago, Great White destroyed a club in Rhode Island with an indoor pyrotechnics display. The guitarist is among the missing and presumed dead. Which amuses me. Heh.

10 Dead, 100 Hurt in Huge R.I. Club Fire

By AMY FORLITI, Associated Press Writer

WEST WARWICK, R.I. - A huge fire engulfed a Rhode Island nightclub during a rock concert's pyrotechnics display, causing at least 10 deaths and 100 injuries, authorities said.

AP Photo

AP Photo
Slideshow: Rhode Island Nightclub Fire

Dozens Killed in R.I. Nightclub Fire
Fire Capt. Russell McGillivray said an estimated 10 to 20 people died. He said many of the victims were found in the front door area after they apparently frantically rushed to the exits. More were possibly trapped inside.

The blaze broke out at about 11 p.m. Thursday during a pyrotechnics display during a Great White concert at The Station in West Warwick, about 15 miles southwest of Providence. The club quickly went up in flames and little was left of the one-story building hours later.

"The place went up within a matter of two minutes," witness John Kudryk told the Providence Journal.

At least 100 people were taken to area hospitals including Rhode Island Hospital in Providence and Kent County Memorial Hospital in nearby Warwick, said Town Manager Wolfgang Bauer.

Paul Vanner, the club's sound technician and stage manager, said more than 300 people were at the concert. One person from the band was missing, he said.

Chaos erupted moments after the blaze broke out. Witnesses said dozens of people rushed toward the exit, and those who escaped were later seen staggering into a triage center. Rescuers carried dozens of people on stretchers.

Hundreds of firefighters and police from across the region and dozens of ambulances were on the scene. Rescuers were pulling badly injured victims from the fire as ladder trucks poured water over the flaming skeleton of the building.

"It was calm at first, everyone thought it was part of the act," said John DiMeo, who was sitting at the bar near the front door when the fire started. "It happened so fast."

Jack Russell, the lead singer of Great White, told WJAR-TV he checked with the club's manager before the show and the band's use of pyrotechnics was approved. He said he felt the heat of the flames while on stage.

"This place went up like the Fourth of July," he said.

Town Manager Wolfgang Bauer couldn't speculate on the specific cause, but said a flame from the pyrotechnics display hit styrofoam in the ceiling.

"Everbody knows there were pyrotechnics used in there," he said. "We found people in a corner of the building. So there are dead people in there."

Great White is a 1980s heavy metal band whose hits include "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" and "Rock Me." The concert also featured the Canadian group Fathead.

The fire comes four days after 21 people were killed and more than 50 injured during a stampede in a Chicago nightclub that began when a security guard used pepper spray to break up a fight.
Amusing interview with Joss Whedon. 100 questions. Amusing fact: Wheon is married. I thought he was gay. And no, you PC-types, he refers to the wife as she.

Best exchange:

78. Have you ever broken the law?

Mostly just kidnapping ...
Well, to brighten my day, I bought some art from Molly Kiely:

Good times.

Interesting footnote: inspired by the art purchase, I went to the Fantagraphics Books warehouse to buy some Molly Kiely comics. While there I ran into Ellen Forney, who was also there buying... Molly Kiely comics! Small world.
Quote of the day, from Roger Ebert: I am aware this is the second time in two weeks I have been compelled to quote Lear, but there are times when Eminem simply will not do.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Why would anyone name a club "Pickles"? Let alone a sex club? It's a world gone mad...

Swingers' club patrons sue BSO over raids, arrests in '99


Four years after masked sheriff's deputies exposed Broward County's salacious swinging subculture to a national audience, the men and women in the clubs are suing the raiders of the private clubs.

''They were subject to numerous newspaper articles. They were subject to notoriety that they didn't bring to themselves,'' said Daniel Aaronson, part of a legal team representing two couples arrested in the raids. ``They believe they were wrongly arrested and their lives were put in disarray for no reason.''

Lawyers have filed a total of five lawsuits, on behalf of 10 people, against the Broward Sheriff's Office or individual deputies involved in raiding two swingers' clubs in January and February of 1999. The consenting adults want money for the humiliation they suffered. Three of the suits were filed within the past five weeks and all but one is in federal court.

The men and women are among 55 club patrons and employees arrested on lewdness charges by masked deputies carrying automatic weapons. None was found guilty of a crime and most of those arrested had their cases dropped by prosecutors.

Still, the arrests helped Jay Leno add a few jokes to his opening monologue. They gave 48 Hours viewers a scintillating reminder of the go-go 1970s, Broward County-style. And they created a stir in South Florida workplaces, forcing some people to leave jobs, accept transfers or avert stares.

Among the plaintiffs: Tonya Whyte, who claims she was put on administrative leave from her teaching job and that the state tried to decertify her. The plaintiffs also include Raymond Lynette Hall, both in law enforcement at the time of the arrests.

Teams of sheriffs deputies raided two clubs four years ago -- Trapeze II in Fort Lauderdale and Athena's Forum in Pompano Beach -- using undercover officers who wore towels and watched men and women take their clothes off and perform sexual acts.

Four of the 10 people suing admit they had sexual contact in the clubs.

Their lawsuits claim deputies made false arrests, because a judge ruled that someone other than a police officer has to be offended by allegedly lewd behavior to make it a crime. One couple, Lloyd and Alyse List, claim their rights were violated when deputies searched their personal belongings, including a locker assigned to Lloyd List.

Sheriff Ken Jenne's public information office was closed Monday and there was no comment from BSO about the lawsuits. After the raids, in a July 2000 interview, he said they were ordered by a subordinate without his knowledge.

The sheriff's office had conducted a similar raid in 1997, arresting 17 people at a club called Pickles. Two patrons sued the sheriff's office and settled for $5,000 and $6,000.

The 1999 raids became a cause celebre for the swinger culture, with a report in Playboy magazine and chatter on the Internet. Trapeze owner Alan Mostow's story was featured in a Hustler magazine story titled ``Revenge of the Florida Swingers.''

Beverly Pohl and Bruce Rogow, representing Jenne and the deputies, say the current batch of claims do not amount to false arrests. The deputies who made the arrests had probable cause to believe the men and women were breaking the law, Pohl said.

Although some of the plaintiffs denied sexual activity, officers consistently and explicitly described sexual activity in every case, she said. And even if they weren't engaging in sex, being in a lewd club is enough probable cause for an arrest, Rogow said.

Pohl and Rogow make an especially ironic defense team for the sheriff.

In the early 1990s, they sparred with former Broward County Sheriff Nick Navarro over the rap act 2 Live Crew, whose performances and records were labeled obscene by the former sheriff. Rogow sided with the rap group back then.

Pohl said this case is different: ``We made an assessment and felt that the sheriff has the better legal argument.''

Thursday, February 06, 2003

I've been sort of incommunicado the last few weeks. Busy at work, busy writing. I'm in charge of the Artist Trust Benefit Auction and Brunch, coming up this Sunday. If you're in Seattle this weekend, stop by! But there's a lot of stress doing it. Also preparing an application to curate a group show at Bumbershoot, Seattle's art festival. More on that if my application is accepted.

Anyway, I've been experimenting with drugs for my bipolar disorder. I go from depression, to anxiety, although on good days, the mania manifests as euphoria, which is a pleasant change of pace. My new medication, Effexor, initially made me feel better, but I was still having a little anxiety and depression. So they doubled my dose, which had interesting results. Pyschosis. I had no idea how crazy I could be, until a few weeks ago. Fits of rage, paranoia, I even found myself stalking some guy in a supermarket. In fairness, he dissed me. We were in line at checkout, he was three people behind me, I was next in line. A check stand opened, and the cashier invited the next in our line. Me. But this bastard rushed over, and so I had to wait. About a half hour later I realized I had followed him to another store, planning god knows what. Bad ju-ju. So, my doctor cut the dose a little, which brought back the symptoms it was supposed to treat, while continuing the psychosis.

Literally psychotic. So that was me. I was tapering off the Effexor. Apparently, the side effects of discontinuing Effexor are just like the side effects of taking it. In addition to the symptoms of depression and anxiety I was trying to treat, I was experience paranioa, nightmares, fits of rage, etc. And we have that auction coming up. This is not the week for me to fold. So I called my doctor, who is now on vacation. I had to negotiate with this nurse acting as the middle-man between me and some shrink. First, they say there's nothing that can be done. I am to deal with it. Then it was suggested that in order to prevent things from getting worse, I should keep taking the Effexor at my prescribed rate. I responded, well, I didn't consider it an acceptable approach to maintaining my current level of psychosis was a good solution, i.e. staying on a drug that was making me psychotic was a bad idea, even if going off it made it worse. So they said I should immediately stop taking it, and start taking my new meds. But what about this week? I asked. I cannot fold this week, I said. Can't I get happy pills to get me though the week? No, sez the medical establishment. There is no such thing; there are no happy pills. Really? respond I. What the fuck is Ativan? Librium? I'm losing my fucking mind here. It is then explained to me that the doctors don't consider those a good solution, becuase they're short-term, symptom-responsive medication, and highly addictive. I say to the nurse, okay, a couple things, and I'm sorry for raising my voice, and I'm trying not to yell. First, I don't give a goddman what the doctor's preference is, I give a shit about myself here, and I'm willing to risk a few short-term solutions to get me through the week. Second, talk to me about addiction when I'm coming for, i don't know, my SECOND prescription for this shit, not my first. Third, it is idiotic to tell me that keeping me is a psychotic state for the next seven to ten days is preferable in any way to prescribing some sort of immediate tranquilizer for the duration of the episode. That is just so gay. I get put on hold. The nurse returns from hold. Okay, two weeks worth of Clonezapam, whatever that is. They aren't get-you-high tranks, more make you feel normal. Which is fine by me.
Oh, fuck it. Here's a review of Minority Report. Or some thoughts, at least.

My mother purchased the dvd when I was back east for vacation. She actually got the full-screen edition, which answered the eternal question of who actually would buy one of those things. Anyway...

Luckily, it was a hit so my Philip K. Dick-inspired screenplay, Divine Invasions will make me rich, but I'm not sure it's worth seeing, otherwise. On its own terms as a summer thriller, the movie was fine, I guess, but as a Dick adaption, it was wanting. Spoilers follow, read if you dare.

It really isn't a Dickean nightmare if the system can be dishonestly manipulated by others against you. It's a Dickean nightmare if the system or reality itself is flawed, or if it turns against you or fucks up as a result of working properly.

The only flaws in pre-crime in the movie were as a result of user manipulation. If the minority reports were incorporated from the beginning, then it seemed like two dozen out of a couple hundred potential murderers would have been let off with a warning.

I was bothered by the lack of insight the psychics displayed. Could they distinguish between degrees of murder? When Tom Cruise shot the man, it was ultimately a suicide on the part of the victim, and I would think the pre-cogs would be able to identify the motives and reality behind the events, rather than projecting a purely visual display of the crime scene. If someone is going to stage a suicide to look like murder, and the psychics can't tell the difference, what good are they? In six years, you'd think it would have happened before. For a system dependent on psychic phenomena, it was used remarkably bluntly.

It seems like the filmmakers didn't think through the situation down to the details. How are actualy murders investigated or prosecuted, if at all? There certainly couldn't have been much of investigation into the other death pinned on him, otherwise detectives would have established that Cruise could not have committed the second murder he was blamed for, because he had a strong alibi, and his gun was in someone else's posession. Maybe it's my fault for thinking about it too much, but a movie needs to earn its suspension of disbelief, and MINORITY REPORT didn't.

I thought the rocket packs were a nice touch, actually; they seemed really crappy, in a Phil Dick kind of way. I like how the technology in Dick's stories seems to be carboard and scotch tape. In the story "Minority Report," the pre-crimes were reported as names on punch cards; the lack of nuance in the reporting is part of what propelled the plot.
My friend Erin Norlin has her website up and ready. She's really good. An excellent artist. Check it out! Look around, and you may find a hint of my Bumbershoot show...

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Woke up this morning with light in my eyes
and then realized it was still dark outside
It was a light comin´down from the sky
I don´t know who or why

Must be those strangers that come every night
Whose saucers shaped light put people up tight
Leave blue green footprints that glow in the dark
I hope they get home all right

Hey Mr.Spaceman, won´t you please take me along
I won´t do anything wrong
Hey Mr.Spaceman, won´t you please take me along
for a ride

Woke up this mornin´, I was feeling quite weird
Had flies in my beer, my tooth paste was smeared
I opened my window, they´d written my name
said: "So long, we´ll see you again".

Hey Mr.Spaceman, won´t you please take me along
I won´t do anything wrong
Hey Mr.Spaceman, won´t you please take me along
for a ride

Hey Mr.Spaceman, won´t you please take me along
I won´t do anything wrong
Hey Mr.Spaceman, won´t you please take me along
for a ride

Copyright @ 1966 Tickson Music
The Byrds "Fifth Dimension" LP Columbia Records 1966