I am still processing the events from last weekend. But while the memory is fresh, I want to type out my experience while working the Astroworld festival in Houston Texas on November 5th, 2021.
I flew into Houston at 7 pm on Thursday Nov, 4. I went straight to the hotel & learned upon checkin that we would need to report to the merchandise tent at 3:00 am to get ready for the opening. Shipments were late, and we still had so much work to do before we could realistically open for the show day. But this wasnât just the case for our department. At 11 am when thousands who breached the gates were already walking around the festival grounds, the audio and light engineers were still running their final checks. Security also was not prepared to handle the early influx at the gates - despite this being the 3rd festival at this exact location, and this same sort of situation occurring every year so far.
I was supposed to be stationed at the âmainâ merch tent on the perimeter of the festival. People go crazy for this merchandise, spending thousands on the limited edition items to resell online. Early in the morning, the satellite merch tent closer the stage inside the festival needed assistance getting their booth ready for the influx of customers - so I ended up moving away from the majorly of the craziness that was experienced for those selling merchandise.
However, my coworkers, my friends, some of the most badass people I know.. had to stand there while thousands of people sprinted over the bike racks and ran towards the merch tent. Later, they watched those same bike racks be removed, and the crowd surfed the bike racks over their heads to create a giant mob while screaming âSELL FASTER!â All this, before noon and at least 8 hours before the worst of the day had even begun.
The situation at our merch tent was much more calm, we did not experience any fighting or violence where I stood. I was running around busy for 21+ hours, I finally left site around 11:00 pm on Nov 5th. After learning about all the specific details of that day, there are several moments that I have run over and over in my head ever since.
Even during the day, I witnessed people wait in line for 6 hours to buy a sweatshirt and a hoodie.. I witnessed a large crowd posted before the sun had even set, waiting for the Travis Scott set to start, with NO MUSIC on that stage for at least 2 hours.
Whenever I work a festival, I find time to go see at least one set. Listen to at least some music. I hadnât found a real moment to step away and it was about 9:00 pm during Travis Scottâs set, and I stepped away & walked thru the crowd that ultimately killed at least 8 people and injured dozens more.
I stood in several different spots of the crowd, to be honest I couldnât find a single place that seemed âfunâ or comfortable to stand. I can get myself to the middle of any crowd, I have moved thru gigantic crowds this size, and larger. But I was always successful until this one. The people in the crowd were in a sort of trance, no one would acknowledge you when you walked by them. No one would move out of your way. I had maybe two positive interactions and even those I keep running over and overâ¦.
I met this one girl who I found hysterically crying, really far in the back of the crowd. In the videos here. She was all alone and upset about her boyfriend, and I did what I would do in any crowd of people I tried my best to calm her down. I hugged her, we danced. I had only a short time to explore, and I still did want to try and get closer so I told her to stay happy and I walked away. I hope that none of her friends were the ones injured.
From there I moved to the right side of the stage, closer to the stage itself, and in front of the sound towers that were bottlenecking the crowd. The crowd was so incredibly tight. I knew I wouldnât make it far, but I tried multiple entries to get in & realized quickly it was not going to be safe for a little person like me all alone. Just trying to walk on the outside, people were rude and unhelpful.
One guy offered for me to get on his shoulders if I wanted. I laughed, cause itâs been like 10 years since I hopped on a strangers shoulders.. But I now have a pit in my stomach mostly because if I did, I may have seen some terrible, terrible things.
While I stood there in that spot, near the audienceâs right, there was a barricade that led towards the artists compound and security headquarters.
I did see a person being carried out, on their friends shoulders. And at the time, I just thought that this person was too intoxicated or over dosing on drugsâ¦ I have seen this many times in a crowd at a music festival. And at the time, I didnât think anything of it. I donât know what the fate of that person was, but after hearing the news - I canât stop thinking that what I saw may have been one of those people from the middle of the crowd who had been carried outside the pit of the crowd.
I followed them out. I helped clear a path, they were close and I saw them running for medical. I donât carry a radio at this show, so I canât do much else.. I didnât process anything else at the time. I was already a little late for my break and I headed back to my merch tent at about 9:45.
When I got there, they had already shut down our lines, I was confused because when I left we had not discussed closing early at all - after more details have emerged, I know now it was because the Houston Police Department had declared a massive causality event at 9:38 pm.
Travis Scott was still playing as we were boxing up the merch, and closing down our tent. I even let some of my staff go back to that stage, and told them HOW TO get CLOSER to that stage like I always would a friend. Music didnât stop until after 10pm. While young people were literally dying in his crowd.
I work at large music events, baseball, sporting events - I am in a large crowd almost every weekend of my life. I have never processed the possibility of something like this. I was so close and could have been facing a different fate, I always think I would have the ability to save myself in that situation. But here. I couldnât have.
Luckily, everyone I know is safe physically but we are all mentally dealing with this tragedy in our own ways. I feel weird in many ways because I did not see the worst of it. I was not experiencing the absolute terror that some faced. But I was so close, there was so many oppurtunities for the opposite to be true.
There is still a lot to learn about the situation & this is just my own perspective and memory of the events that occurred.
We have all learned a lot over the last year, but I will be the first to admit that I have so much more to learn.
At the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, a lot of individuals in the United States, and even the world opened their eyes to the underrepresentation of Black people in countless industries, and several different areas of everyday life.
Like many other individuals, I started making a conscious effort to shop at small businesses, and whenever possible to support black owned businesses. I made an effort to listen to the black voices of my peers, and in the media. Ordering a cake? Find a black owned bakery. Looking for jewelry, support black entrepreneurs. Searching for black creators for our news, podcasts, and even the books we read, we made a mindful decision to begin uplifting the voices of black people.
Masses of citizens began to ask questions, and companies from every corner of the sphere, such as Condé Nast & Bon Appetit, Amazon, L’Oréal and even Disney were pressured to start better representing the members of the black community. Calling for a higher percentage of senior executives to be made up of the underrepresented groups, asking for higher and equal pay for black employees, and ensuring that black owned businesses in every sector of the market are being evenly represented.
During these months many people were also faced with quarantine, and the numerous ‘stay at home orders” due to the covid-19 pandemic – and to pass the time a lot of people turned to reading.
In June of 2020, Amistad launched the #BlackoutBestsellersList campaign on social media, encouraging readers all over the globe to “blackout” the Bestsellers list with all black authors in the top ten slots.
“To demonstrate our power and clout in the publishing industry, June 14 – June 20, we encourage you to purchase any two books by Black Writers. Our goal is to Blackout Bestseller lists with Black Voices.”
Several outlets such as Refinery29, Oprah, The Guardian all wrote articles about the movement last year, and in an effort to continue uplifting the voices of black authors. I jumped on this bandwagon instantly, since I love a good reason to buy a bunch of books, and I also had just recently built a bookshelf with my dad that needed filling…
In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to share some awesome reads by black authors that I have completed over the last year. Some thrillers, some tearjerkers, race studies, and even some sci-fi… a little for everyone.
If you haven’t heard of the website Bookshop.org, I wanted to take a quick second to tell you about this awesome website.
Now, on to the recommendations!
New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/06/business/corporate-america-has-failed-black-america.html
Publisher’s Weekly: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/83593-amistad-launches-blackoutbestsellerlist-on-social-media.html
Oprah Mag: https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/books/a32906813/what-is-blackout-bestseller-list/
Bless you, and your so called "Blessing Loom"
Do you have $100 to pay your friend with the PROMISE to make $800 in return? No risk, just reward!!! Sounds pretty fabulous... doesn't it?!
At a time when people are at arguably at their most vulnerable, the latest round of a Ponzi scheme is here to stir up the scene.
(So, I may be a few days late to the game here, since it does seem that the majority of these "loops" have closed and decided to stay quiet... but I still wanted to share my thoughts on this topic.)
Let's review today's current state of events for some context:
It is 2020, we are in the middle of a Global Pandemic. Small business, Music Venues, Entrepreneurs, and Individuals are struggling to make ends meet. Families are having difficulty to pay the bills. Our government has granted citizens a $1,200 stimulus check to help stimulate the broken economy and, to provide relief for individuals due to stay at home orders to slow the spread of Covid-19
This money is intended to re-activate the economy, pay bills that otherwise wouldnât be paid, stay on top of finances & feed your family dinner.
But that would be too simple, wouldn't it?
Now I know I am going to offend some people here. So I am going to try and tread lightly, but I think a really important thing that needs to be asked in this case: "is your gifting circle actually a pyramid scheme" â and I mean seriously ask yourself, donât just dance around it.. "THiS game is a CIRCLE DUH tHiS AiNt nO PyRaMiD."
The purpose of this article is to encourage you to step back from your quick money-making endeavor, and to first understand the definition of a pyramid scheme. Once you understand, it is my belief that you would easily keep your distance from these "blessing looms."
So what is a pyramid scheme? A quick google search will gain you this definition:
Pyramid Scheme: N. a form of investment (illegal in the US and elsewhere) in which each paying participant recruits two further participants, with returns being given to early participants using money contributed by later ones
And a little deeper look on Investor.gov will state:
In the classic "pyramid" scheme, participants attempt to make money solely by recruiting new participants, usually where:
So generally speaking, and to make it as "Pyramid Schemes for Dummies" as I possibly can: your blessing "circle" - despite the fact that it is not *actually* shaped like a pyramid - is still a pyramid scheme.
Every bullet that I mentioned above describes these circles popping up. "Pay $100 and get $800 back FAST! All you have to do is get 8 people below you!" There is no product being sold, a promise for a quick return, and the prime emphasis to succeed is to get other "friends" to join you on your money-making journey.
And lastly, and perhaps most important, at some point it just impossible to sustain. At some point there is inevitably going to be a number of people who cannot successfully the people below them to ensure they earn their promised $800.
I have tried to find a clear example of a person who has recently admitted to being scammed by this "blessing circle" and I have not had much luck. (Which is not surprising that people wouldn't want to reveal themselves in that way.)
But there are countless articles being shared from officials in states all around the Country, California, North Carolina, Texas, Connecticut, Virginia, Utah, Arkansas, all warning citizens to stay away.
And of course, there are even more examples of cases from the past, because remember this isn't new. Here is an article from BBC last month. Here's a report from Vice in September. Here's a Medium post from April 2018, and here's a story from Alabama.com from November 2016 - that were all highlighted in this Complex article.
So I think I have hammered my point enough. I just hope that you can think twice before asking your friends or family to pay into something that inevitably will cause a percentage of people to not succeed.
Disguising these *circles* as a *blessing* or promising a community to people who are most likely in a time of need.. just seems shady to me. And while you may have been able to succeed - and even the majority of people around you may succeed - you are doing so at the cost of other individuals losing their money, aka NOT SUCCEEDING.
Want to know a *cRaZy* idea? Maybe instead of spending you $100 on a pyramid scheme, you could use your money to support a small business, an entrepreneur, an athlete, a student, an artist, or a musician. Get takeout at a local restaurant, purchase music from a local band, help fund a Student's move to college...
Go to this page I have made to see a whole list I created of things you could support during this Covid-19 mess that don't include giving money to a Ponzi scheme. â
"Media" during a Pandemic, is it all Bad?
Everyone has heard it lately: The Media is blowing this out proportion.
And sure, there is a lot of articles out there right now that don’t paint anything even remotely similar to a “happy” view of society. But here’s something that maybe people haven’t considered: It’s not up to the media to make the news seem desirable.
Journalists and Reporters report just that, the news. Their job is to discuss what is happening, and NEWS FLASH (no pun intended) the Coronavirus Pandemic is what is happening right now.
It’s not up to the media to make the news seem desirable
I have stayed quiet online for most of the Political, historical, and controversial moments in the past. However, during the past few weeks of isolation I have - like many other people who are stuck inside their homes - grown increasingly frustrated with the comments and misinformation that people have been spreading online.
Maybe it’s the ex-journalist in me. But I thought the least I could do is try to spread some light and information about some of the bits of news floating around. And let’s be honest, cure some of my own sanity.
If you don’t know me, I have spent the last 6 years or so working in the “mEdiA” you know, the dreaded cause of all our problems today. In my little time during & post college I have worked in Radio & Television, Live Sports, Television Award shows, Music Festivals, Business Conventions, Theatre & Dance Performance Arts, and probably more I am forgetting. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in Media Studies from San Diego State University in 2015. Sure, I am no expert, but I guess I can say at the very least I can speak from experience.
I have been doing my very best to stay on top of the news & information that is being spread during this Pandemic. It’s hard when the majority of people are staying at home, staring at their Facebook screens to differentiate what is “right” and what is “wrong.” And that’s not what this article is about.
I think it’s rather convenient that everyone can point fingers at the “Media” for saying that we are spreading fear, misinformation, or the works. However, what I think most people ignore is the fact that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even text messaging is a form of media. Here is a definition from Dicitonary.com:
Dictionary.com: Media: a plural of medium. (usually used with a plural verb) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, that reach or influence people widely.
Without diving into a full-on Media & Communication lesson, and to put it as simply as possible: we are ALL the media. Our social interactions, commentary, and public opinions all contribute to the media landscape & the conversation. Sure, CNN, CBS & Fox News have more followers, but that doesn’t mean more influence. When Scotty from your senior class posts on his Timeline daily about how this virus is a “hoax,” he is very likely to gain a community of like-minded individuals who also feel the same way, and may also continue to share similar opinions & information online or to their circle of peers. Similarly, when Sally from your Freshmen year Biology class is constantly pushing a fundraiser to support Families of Health Care officials & to provide Masks for frontline workers, you are much more likely to see a group of people rallying around her to help the cause.
By posting these Articles, opinions, or ideas that Scotty & Sally feel are 100% fact & truth, they are doing the same thing that we are criticizing the “Media” for doing. Dispersing information, whether factual or not. This is where most people, if you aren’t in agreeance with the speaker start saying THE MEDIA IS “bLoWiNg tHiS oUt oF pRopORtIoN.”
But what is everyone supposed to do? Say nothing? Have no opinions? That’s not what I am saying. I just wish that more people could take accountability for their actions and realize that their commentary is making a difference whether it may be small or not. That perhaps a few more layers of reading & understanding could potentially inform your opinions & also strengthen your arguments. Just like a well written article with several references, your opinions should attempt to be well rounded.
Another main reason I wanted to discuss this, is to try and shed light on the good ways that the Media - and yes that includes our interactions on Social Media - are helping us during this time of Self Isolating,
I have included some “feel good” articles & social Media Posts that may brighten your day during your Social Distancing this week.
Stay tuned for more like this... Comment below if you have more good news to share!
Thank you for Reading..
This is a space for me to share my thoughts, experiences, and more. I hope you enjoy!