10 Invaluable Insights From The Relix Live Music Conference

first_imgLoad remaining images On Wednesday, May 10th, Relix Magazine hosted the inaugural edition of the Relix Live Music Conference, a day-long meeting of the best and brightest in the live music industry that is sure to become an annual affair. The event hosted a variety of highly insightful panels and presentations on talent buying, festival planning, activism, technology, publicity, agenting, and artist management, as well as a truly memorable keynote conversation with highly successful promoters and live music tycoons Ron Delsener and Peter Shapiro moderated by longtime Rolling Stone rock and roll writer, critic, and historian David Fricke (you can see a full list of panels and speakers here).While it would be impossible to recount all of the knowledge imparted by (and to) the attending music industry movers and shakers, we’ve boiled down a few of the most meaningful nuggets of wisdom we learned at the Relix Live Music Conference at Brooklyn Bowl:1) Get off your email and pick up the phone.As the experienced speakers on the “Talent Buying: Where It All Begins” panel explained, in today’s world it’s easy to relegate all of your communications to email, where things are neatly documented and responses are direct and curated. But while that may be convenient from an organizational standpoint, ideas flow more freely through conversation than through written correspondence. More often than not, a call with an agent, a band, a venue, etc. yields ideas for future projects, while an email only addresses specific topics. So unshackle yourself from your computer keyboard and pick up the phone. It makes a world of difference.2) Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.As the seasoned artist managers on the afternoon’s “Management: Amplifiers and Emissaries” panel articulated, one of the most important traits you can have on the band/management end of the spectrum is a willingness to bet on yourself and your acts. There’s always uncertainty involved when deciding whether to take a guaranteed fee for a show or opt for a door deal, which nets you a percentage of the ticket sales. Door deals have more upside potential, but they also leave you vulnerable to make less money than expected if the show sells poorly. One of the most important parts of managing an artist is deciding when to take a calculated risk, and when to just take the money and run. At the end of the day, you can’t win ’em all, but you can certainly be a smart and disciplined gambler.3) Don’t be afraid to turn down attractive opportunities in service of the big picture.The flip-side of insight #2: Sometimes, success comes down to betting big on the merits of your work. But that doesn’t mean that you can–or should–bet on every play that comes your way. In both the “Festivals: Weathering The Storm” and “Agenting: Offering Alternative Routes,” a theme that frequently came up was knowing when to pass on an offer if it doesn’t fit into your master plan.For example, chasing every festival lineup is a faulty management strategy. You have to use festival bookings in the right way, at the right times. Radius clauses for many festivals may prohibit you from playing your own hard ticket shows in surrounding markets. A lot of bands make their money in secondary and tertiary markets, building fan bases in smaller cities that are off the beaten path routing-wise. While being on a festival admat may be a good look for an artist, a festival gig equates to one single pay day. If you can play 5 sold-out shows in the surrounding markets, it’s likely that you’ll make more and benefit more in the long term from doing that than you would from playing a big-name festival set. If a festival play closes off opportunities that are more lucrative in terms of the big picture, it’s a deal you should probably pass on–no matter how exciting the prospect may seem.4) Always be thinking about what’s next. Always be planning it way in advance.The speakers on every panel were adamant about the importance of planning and foresight. Many of the most successful bands and venues are booked up several years into the future. That means that you can’t be too grounded in the “now”–you have to be focused on the “next.” Always be thinking about where you want to be in the future, and make plans for that future way in advance. That way, it’s easier to see the big picture with regard to bookings, routing, recording, and releases, and to make your plans accordingly.5) Always be editing. Always be revising. Always be creating. Always be improving your product, whatever that may be.For a band, everything the public sees and hears is part of your product–from your studio recordings, to your live shows, to your appearance and presence both on social media and in the real world. As the “Management” panelists stressed, editing is crucial. There’s no time to rest on your laurels. You should always be consciously and proactively looking to edit, revise, fine-tune, and perfect every facet of your product. You should always be creating, adding to your arsenal. You’re not gonna be lying on your deathbed regretting that you wrote too many songs.6) When planning a festival, 1+1 should always equal 3.A sentiment echoed by all of the panelists on the “Festivals: Weathering The Storm” panel was the importance of complimentary combinations. While there are various different factors that give certain festivals their “hook,” at the end of the day, people come for the bands. But the majority of the acts on every festival lineup also tour on their own, giving potential festival attendees an out: if they can see their favorite new band headline a theater in their home town for 20 bucks, they may decide it’s not worth it to shell out hundreds for a festival pass. The trick, therefore, is to win people over with the combinations, creating lineups that are greater than the sum of their parts (i.e. you can go see bands X, Y, and Z separately, but seeing them all in the same place makes the festival a uniquely appealing experience). Always strive for “1+1=3.”7) Real estate, merch, bowling, chicken, whatever: Establish ancillary revenue streams so you can keep the music alive.Concert tickets are a fickle product, and performance deals are often booked in a way that gives the band the lion’s share of the earning potential for a given show, leaving very small (and often nonexistent) margins for promoters to profit off the door. That’s why it’s important to establish revenue streams beyond the box office. From selling merchandise, to serving food, to putting a bowling alley in your venue, to buying up the buildings so you can control every aspect of the production, you should always be searching for other ways to earn. Help the bands reap the benefits they deserve without being forced to cut yourself and your financial needs out of the equation.As Brooklyn Bowl owner Pete Shapiro explained during the keynote session with Delsener and Fricke, the first time Galactic played the Williamsburg, Brooklyn room, they pushed for a deal that would give them 100% of the door gross, leaving no margin for the promoter to make any money on ticket sales. People thought this was crazy–where’s the upside in throwing a show you can’t profit off of? But Shapiro chose to look at the situation as “glass half-full” instead of “glass half-empty.” Where other promoters may have seen it as a concert with a no-win deal, Pete saw it as Galactic serving as the house band for the evening at his restaurant/bowling alley–essentially free of charge.8) It’s hard to do it right when your main focus is making money.As Shapiro explained in the keynote discussion, the main reason he was able to successfully take over former NYC live music hotspot Wetlands Preserved as an inexperienced 23-year-old in the mid-1990’s–and the reason he’s been able to continue the unique vibes of the room with Brooklyn Bowl–is that he was never solely focused on the bottom line. He simply loved the scene and wanted to carry the torch. So he kept ticket prices down. He payed bands well. He curated the best possible experiences for both the fans and the artists, even if it meant taking a hit on his end…9) To be successful in this industry, you have to be doing it for love.…And the reason he was able to do that (and continues to do it to this day) is that, at the end of the day, he’s in it for the love of the music. Concert promotion and production can be lucrative in certain cases, but in general it’s a precarious business proposition at best. As Fricke noted during the keynote session, the promoter is at the nexus of the desires of all involved parties–the bands, the venues, the fans. If anything goes wrong, the buck tends to stop with the promoter, and often times, the promoter is the party that assumes both the greatest risk and smallest margins for profit. You have to be in it because you love it.Shapiro illustrated this sentiment with an anecdote about his purchase of the historic Capitol Theatre several years ago which reads like a rock and roll adaptation of”Willy Wonka.” At the time Shapiro purchased the venue, the seller had been using the space for wedding and Bar Mitzvah rentals for years, but his wife was pushing him to sell. He had entertained several offers where the parties would put together a deal, get everything nearly settled, and at the 11th hour he would inform them that the price had gone up by $100,000. Most of the would-be buyers would get angry, storm out, and abandon the deal. But that didn’t bother him: he was waiting for the person who would recognize the upside and the magic of the Cap, and buy it anyway–that was the kind of person he wanted running this famous venue. After pulling the same move on Shapiro on multiple occasions, Pete finally succumbed and agreed to the last-minute price hike. He understood the potential of the room, and now one of the greatest venues in the history of rock and roll is back in business and once again hosting legendary musicians–all because he was driven by his love and vision for the music, rather than the weight of his wallet.10) Don’t be a dick.None of the day’s speakers said these words verbatim, but virtually all of them echoed their sentiments in one way or another. First and foremost, this business comes down to the relationships you make and maintain. Don’t get caught up in your ego, don’t burn your bridges, and make sure you keep up your relationships–you never know who you’ll end up working with or needing help from down the line. Be helpful. Be fair. Be understanding. Be conscientious. Be present. Be kind–and only good things will come from it.We offer our sincere gratitude to all those who participated in the planning and production of the inaugural Relix Live Music Conference. Thank you for an insightful and educational gathering of the minds. We’re already looking forward to next year.[Photos by Marc Millman]Relix Music Conference | May 10, 2017 | Photos by Marc Millmanlast_img read more

Snarky Puppy Releases “Embossed”, First In Series Of Bonus Tracks From ‘Immigrance’ Recording Sessions [Listen]

first_imgIn March, three-time Grammy-winning, jazz-funk collective Snarky Puppy released their 12th studio album, Immigrance, via the band’s GroundUP Music label. The follow-up to 2016’s Grammy-winning Culcha Vulcha is highlighted by a distinctly different, dark and heavier tone.On Friday, Snarky Puppy released a new tune, “Embossed”. Written by the band’s own Bill Laurance, “Embossed” is the first in a series of bonus and extended tracks from the Immigrance recording sessions. The remaining five bonus tracks will be released throughout the remainder of 2019.“During the Immigrance sessions, we recorded more songs than we could squeeze onto the album,” says bandleader Michael League. “So, over the course of the year, we’ll be releasing three brand new, full-length compositions by Bill Laurance, Marcelo Woloski, and Bob Reynolds, as well as extended versions of three of the album’s tracks.”Laurance also says of the track, “‘Embossed’ is a reaction to the social, political and environmental anxiety of the times. It’s a musical call to arms, asking the listener to engage both as an individual and as a member of larger movements for change.”Listen to Snarky Puppy’s new track “Embossed” below:Snarky Puppy – “Embossed”[Audio: groundUPmusicNYC]Snarky Puppy recently embarked on a massive world tour in support of their new album, which will run through November. See below for a full list of the band’s upcoming tour dates. For ticketing and more information, head to Snarky Puppy’s website.Snarky Puppy 2019 World Tour Dates:Apr 26 – The Forum – Melbourne, AUSMay 10 – The Strand Ballroom – Providence, RI*May 11 – The Music Hall – Portsmouth, NH*May 12 – House of Blues – Boston, MA*May 14 – Town Ballroom – Buffalo, NY*May 15 – Roxian Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA*May 16 – Masonic Cleveland – Cleveland, OH*May 17 – The Vogue – Indianapolis, [email protected] 18 – The Riviera Theatre – Chicago, [email protected] 19 – Atomic Cowboy Pavillion – St. Louis, [email protected] 23 – Pabst Theater – Milwaukee, [email protected] 24 – Orpheum – Madison, [email protected] 25 – Palace Theatre – St. Paul, [email protected] 28 – The Paramount – Seattle, WA^May 29 – Roseland Ballroom – Portland, OR^May 30 – Paramount Theatre – Oakland, CA^May 31 – Orpheum Theatre – Los Angeles, CA^June 1 – House of Blues – San Diego, CA^June 3 – Brooklyn Bowl – Las Vegas, NV^June 4 – The Commonwealth – Salt Lake City, UT^June 5 – Jackson Hole Center for the Arts – Jackson Hole, WY^June 7 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO#June 8 – Mishawaka Amphitheater – Mishawaka, CO&June 11 – Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts – Kansas City, MO%June 12 – Minglewood Hall – Memphis, TN%June 13 – Pisgah Brewing Company – Black Mountain, NC%June 14 – DC Jazz Festival @ The Anthem – Washington DCJune 15 – Brooklyn Steel – Brooklyn, NY%June 24 – Vienna Jazz Festival – Vienna, ATJune 26 – Leopolis Jazz Fest – Lviv, UAJune 28 – Rock Werchter 2019 – Werchter, BEJuly 4 – Jazz a Vienne Festival – Vienne, FRJuly 6 – Love Supreme Festival – Glynde, UKJuly 11 – Parco delle Rose – Udine, ITJuly 12 – Anfiteatro Romano – Avella, ITJuly 14 – Arena Derthona – Tortona, ITJuly 16 – Parque Marechal Carmona – Cascais, PTJuly 17 – Jazza Juan Festival – Juan-les-Pins, FRJuly 18 – Antiche Terme Romane – Fordongianus, ITJuly 19 – Umbria Jazz / Arena Santa Giuliana – Perugia, ITJuly 20 – Pori Jazz Festival – Pori, FIJuly 23 – Noches del Botánico – Madrid, ESSept 4 -The Fillmore – Philadelphia, PASept 5 – Toad’s Place – New Haven, CTSept 6 – MTELUS – Montreal, QCSept 7 – Phoenix Concert Theatre – Toronto, ONSept 8 – University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MISept 11 – The Madison Theater – Covington, KYSept 13 – The National – Richmond, VASept 14 – NC Museum of Art at Joseph M. Bryan Jr Theater – Raleigh, NCSept 15 – NODA Brewery – Charlotte, NCSept 18 – The Ryman – Nashville, TNSept 20 – Tabernacle – Atlanta, GASept 21 – Avondale Brewery – Birmingham, ALSept 23 – Music Farm – Charleston, SCSept 24 – Florida Theatre – Jacksonville, FLSept 25 – The Plaza Live – Orlando, FLSept 26 – Ruth Eckerd Hall – Clearwater, FLSept 27 – Soul Kitchen – Mobile, ALSept 28 – The Music Box – New Orleans, LASept 29 – Monterey Jazz Festival – Monterey, CAOct 1 – Commodore – Vancouver, BCOct 3 – Warehouse Live – Houston, TXOct 4 – Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, OKOct 5 – Bomb Factory – Dallas, TXOct 24 – Falkoner Theater – Copenhagen, DKOct 25 – Train – Aarhus, DKOct 26 – Grosse Freiheit – Hamburg, DEOct 29 – Columbia Halle – Berlin, DEOct 30 – E-Werk – Cologne, DEOct 31 – Capitol – Hannover, DENov 1 – TivoliVredenburg – Utrecht, NLNov 4 – De Roma – Antwerp, BENov 6 – O2 Academy – Bournemouth, UKNov 7 – Rock City – Nottingham, UKNov 8 – O2 Academy – Bristol, UKNov 9 – O2 Academy – Oxford, UKNov 11 – Ulster Hall – Belfast, IENov 12 – Olympia – Dublin, IENov 14 – Royal Albert Hall – London, UKNov 15 – O2 Apollo – Manchester, UKNov 16 – Barrowlands – Glasgow, UKNov 18 – Zenith Club – Nantes, FRNov 19 – Le Zenith – Toulouse, FRNov 20 – Cenon Le Rocher de Palmer – Bordeaux, FRNov 22 – Salle Pleyel – Paris, FRNov 23 – Théâtre Municipal Raymond Devos – Tourcoing, FRNov 25 – Rockhal – Luxembourg City, LUNov 26 – Batschkapp – Frankfurt, DENov 27 – Muffathalle – Munich, DENov 28 – Volkshaus Zürich – Zurich, CHNov 29 – Im Wizemann – Stuttgart, DENov 30 – Löwensaal – Nuremberg, DE# with Michael Franti & Spearhead and Victoria Canal* with House of [email protected] with Alina Engibaryan^ with Roosevelt Collier% with Breastfist& with DJ Boomtown and Mama MagnoliaView Tour Dateslast_img read more

Weather causes game-weekend cancellations

first_imgFootball activities and gameday staff encountered unusual challenges last weekend after “unprecedented” amounts of snow and harsh winds overtook campus, according to Mike Seamon, associate vice president for campus safety. Emmet Farnan | The Observer Irish senior quarterback Everett Golson rushes down the field during Notre Dame’s 43-40 overtime loss to Northwestern on Saturday. Some events before the game were cancelled due to inclement weather.“The snow and the cold played big factors in the weekend’s activities around the game,” Seamon said. “To everyone’s knowledge, we cannot remember a time when we had so much snow leading up to a game.“We’ve certainly experienced snow in and around certain games over the years, including as recently as the BYU game last season, but we’ve never had over 12 inches of snow fall within a 48-hour period leading up to the game.”Seamon said clearing Notre Dame Stadium of excess snow by game time posed the biggest problem for his gameday crew, who for the first time had to look to the Notre Dame community and beyond for assistance“Numerous groups of individuals, including many students from various campus clubs and organizations, helped in removing literally tons of snow from the Stadium on Friday and Saturday,” he said. “… Some of the student groups that helped in the shoveling included ROTC, the Rugby Club and the Boxing Club.“From Thursday evening when the snow finally stopped falling through Saturday morning, we had over 400 people from various student, staff and outside agencies help with the operation. We built and implemented the response as this amount of snow during the season was unprecedented.”Seamon said the harsh weather conditions throughout the days leading up to the game disrupted traditional football weekend activities.“The Friday Tunnel Tour was suspended as we were busy hauling all of the snow out of the Stadium during the afternoon and throughout the entire night,” he said. “We were forced to reduce some parking and limit the courtesy golf cart rides and the student pedal cab service due to the snowy conditions. The Band also had to cancel its traditional Friday step-off and practice due to the inclement weather.”Other football-related events saw a decline in attendance. Seamon said the Friday luncheon had more than 800 guests and 5,000 people attended the pep rally in the Compton Family Ice Arena. For the game against the University of North Carolina, those events drew 1,050 and 8,250 fans, respectively.Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) made six arrests on campus Saturday, including four for “public intoxication or public order-related offenses” and two for shoplifting, according to NDSP Chief Phil Johnson.Johnson said the snowy conditions complicated travel and parking procedures but did not create any serious problems.“The cold weather and snow presented some challenges for fans but the parking lot operations went well and traffic moved along safely,” he said. “I’m thankful for all the staff who braved cold temperatures to welcome and assist guests in the lots and to the area police officers who directed traffic to help fans get to campus and then again on their way following the game.”Tags: gameday, Mike Seamon, NDSP, Northwestern, Notre Dame football, Notre Dame Security Police, Phil Johnson, snowlast_img read more

Chloramine study bill passes Senate, House agreement expected

first_imgYesterday, on a voice vote, the Vermont Senate passed legislation that studies alternatives to chloramine in drinking water. The bill, a revised version of H. 80, outlines an engineering study of disinfection methods that the Champlain Water District (CWD) and other water districts in the state could use instead of processes that rely on chloramine as a secondary disinfectant. House concurrence is expected later this week.  The study would be supported by funding from the EPA, secured through efforts by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.  An EPA contractor would perform the study.The legislation passed after months of work in the State House by People Concerned About Chloramine (PCAC), and Vermonters for a Clean Environment (VCE).  Its passage comes during national Drinking Water Week, and highlights the serious issues facing water systems around the country.PCAC coordinator Ellen Powell expressed both frustration and hope as the legislation moved forward.  This won t end the suffering, but it will hopefully get us more information, she said.  We re counting on the promises we have gotten that the study will be truly independent, and answer our specific questions.  If it does that, then it will be helpful to everyone, she said.The two groups continue to advocate for a multi-year moratorium to allow those suffering to have some relief, and to allow the CWD to work with regulators and community members to find a better way to provide clean, safe water to all their customers. A time out is really the only way we are going to get a solution to this problem, VCE Executive Director Annette Smith said.  If we didn t think it was possible and safe, we wouldn t support it.  This legislation will help us get us more information to assure legislators that a moratorium is both feasible and prudent, she stated.Chloramine has been linked to hundreds of reported cases of skin, breathing, and digestive problems since the CWD began using it in April 2006.  Chloramine use has also been linked to fish kills, infrastructure degradation, and elevated lead levels in some systems around the country. Reports of health impacts have been reported in over a dozen states.  PCAC and VCE are working with activists in New York, Pennsylvania, California, and other states on the issue.The CWD is currently the only system using chloramine in Vermont, though other systems, including Rutland City and Bennington, are reported to be considering its use. Even though the CWD and regulators continue to deny the connection between the tap water and health issues customers are experiencing, legislators are starting to listen to the people.  For that, we are grateful, Smith concluded.(See p. 2484 of May 6 House Calendar for text: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2010/calendar/hc090506.pdf(link is external) )Source: Vermonters for a Clean Environment, Inc.last_img read more

Legacy on Wheels: Richmond Regional Ride Center

first_imgHarrisonburg may currently be the heart of Virginia’s mountain biking scene, and Washington D.C. might have the street cred when it comes to bicycle commuting, but Richmond, Virginia is poised to become Virginia’s hub of all things two-wheeled. The city landed the gig to host the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, which gives the best international professional cyclists the chance to compete for their country in front of 450,000 spectators. While the race is sure to shine a light on Richmond’s already hip bike culture, local cyclists are using the event as a catalyst to improve cycling in the region for generations to come, with a series of “legacy projects” designed to turn Richmond into a world-class cycling destination. First up, turning the River City into the South’s greatest IMBA Ride Center.In July, Governor Bob McDonnell announced the creation of the Richmond Regional Ride Center, a massive project that will improve the 20 miles of existing trail at Pocahontas State Park and create 30 more miles of trail at the park, which is 20 miles from Richmond. Plans are also in the works to improve the already stellar trail system at the James River Park, which sits within the city limits.IMBA recognizes a dozen Ride Centers across the United States as large-scale mountain bike facilities that include a well-rounded suite of trails, from backcountry to family friendly options. Ride Centers also have a tourism infrastructure geared towards cyclists that includes a welcoming mountain bike community, lodging that caters to cyclists, and bars and restaurants where bikers gather.“We look at riding facilities within 30 minutes of a town, and the town itself. How does it all tie together?” says Frank Maguire, IMBA’s regional director for the Mid-Atlantic. “The Ride Center concept is based loosely on what you find in Scotland, where trail systems are built around pubs and hotels.”IMBA rates its Ride Centers with gold, silver, and bronze standards. IMBA gives Harrisonburg a bronze. The town doesn’t have a lot of singletrack within its city limits, but it has excellent backcountry opportunities and an active bike community. Park City, Utah, on the other hand, is the gold standard, largely because of the comprehensive trail system that begins in town and extends into the backcountry.Richmond already has some of the best in-town singletrack in the country with the James River Park system, and IMBA hopes the improvements to Pocahontas State Park, which include flow trails, a skills course and gateway trails, will elevate Richmond into the top tier of Ride Centers. The goal is to have the first 10 miles of new singletrack built at the park by April 2015, before the world shows up for the Championship races in September. And the Ride Center is only one example of how Richmond is re-branding itself as Virginia’s bike town.“We’re hoping that the Championship will be a catalyst for other things,” says Lee Kallman, director of communications for Richmond 2015, the mastermind organization behind the World Championships in Richmond. “The idea is that after the race, other bike programs live on. The Ride Center is the first legacy project, and it has nothing to do with road cycling or racing, which I love. It’s about creating trails that are accessible to everyone. We’re also putting a lot of focus on the town’s bike infrastructure. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen quickly.”While Richmond has an active and hip cycling culture, it doesn’t have a lot of bike lanes or designated paths. Kallman and other local cyclists recently spent a day in Washington D.C., which is renowned for its progressive bike infrastructure that includes miles of car-free trail, bike-friendly rail, and a bike share program.“Talking to the bike organizations and representatives in D.C. was an eye-opening experience,” Kallman says. “We’re hoping the energy of the 2015 Championships will help spur developments similar to what D.C. has in Richmond. Right now, there are plans to build a bike boulevard that connects parts of the city. Hopefully, if that’s successful, it’ll spur more projects in the future.”Kallman would also like to see an annual race that uses the same yet-to-be-announced course as the World Championship Road Race. Landing the World Championships has already prompted other races to consider Richmond. The Collegiate National Championships will be held in the city in 2014.“The World Championships is just the beginning for Richmond,” says Kallman. “It’s about developing bicycling as an economic engine and bringing bikes to the forefront for the city and region.”last_img read more

My Year On The Streets

first_imgThe Hard Truths of HomelessnessI came to Asheville for the mountain biking. I had a communications degree and worked in advertising as a commercial photographer. It paid well, but the work was seasonal and intermittent. So when I was asked by a sales manager to join an aerial photography start-up for high-end clients’ real estate, I jumped at the offer.I sold just about everything I owned to finance the training, equipment, and logistics. I would be staying in the sales manager’s condo beside a beautiful mountain lake outside of Asheville.As I sat in my SUV above the lake, I was in a wonderful mood. My cat and all of my belongings were in the truck with me. A check and a new apartment were waiting for me, and along with the excitement of a new job I liked, I felt extremely lucky.But then my phone rang. “The deal is off,” my sales manager said. He had secretly gone to work for another company. “You need to find something else.”I was out of a job and out of options—and also without a check. I had 38 cents in my pocket and about a quarter tank of gas.I scrambled on the internet and found someone on Craigslist advertising a free couch surf. I drove on fumes to the next town to meet him. He told me to meet at a fast food restaurant near their place in a few hours and he would take me to his place. As I pulled into the parking lot, I ran out of gas and coasted into a parking space. I waited for hours and never heard from him.My year on the streets had begun.I was 61 years old. My parents were both dead, and I had no family or close friends to turn to. I’d always told myself that if I ever ended up in this situation, I’d just kill myself. I even found the box cutter that I kept in the car and considered it. But I had my cat with me, and I loved him more than anything. I needed to make sure that he was okay first. So I put the blade away.The ShelterYou probably won’t be welcomed when you try to get into a shelter. They’re often run by resident homeless volunteers who aren’t usually very friendly. No one hates the homeless like other homeless people. It’s a major reason why the homeless often choose to camp outside or live in their car. I lived in my truck with my cat for a few weeks, but I soon realized that I couldn’t take good care of my cat, so I found a no-kill animal shelter who was willing to take him. It was a hard goodbye. He was all I had left.Once I was in the shelter, I very quickly volunteered to work the front desk. Volunteers were allowed to stay in the shelter during the day, and we had other privileges like eating first before the crowds come. The non-volunteers who stayed at the shelter had to leave right after breakfast and stay out until evening. You have to basically wander the streets all day with all your belongings. I only had to do it for the first couple of weeks before I became a volunteer, and it’s not fun. Everywhere you go, people watch you with wary eyes, expecting you to steal or vandalize something or they assume you’re making a drug deal. There’s usually nowhere to go to the bathroom or sit down. It’s exhausting. You’re not really a person anymore. You’re homeless. People put you safely into a narrative involving faults you must have that they don’t—to protect them from thinking that it could happen to them. Once you are homeless, that’s all that defines you. Your real past is gone, and everyone assumes that you must be a junkie, seriously mentally ill, or a criminal. It follows you for years after. I recommend moving and not telling anyone. Start over.Shelters aren’t much better than the streets. I was sick all of the time, often stuck in a small dirty space with several other sick, coughing residents. Many homeless are virulent anti-vaxxers and refuse the vaccination that would help reduce the infection rate. I didn’t sleep much, either. In a shelter it’s noisy with coughing and snoring and fighting.You aren’t safe, in a shelter or on the street. It can get violent, and you’re absolutely going to be robbed at some point. Most likely more than once.Whenever an attractive woman came through, it was almost always the same story. She would hook up with a homeless man for “protection,” and he would then proceed to beat and rob her. Black eyes, missing front teeth, and casts on arms were the usual look within a short time.I tried to show kindness to the people who came through, but eventually I developed the same compassion fatigue that sets in with everyone. Whether they are homeless because of mental illness, addiction, rejection by their family, or bad luck, they often tend to be assholes in their behavior towards others. It’s a prime reason no one wants them in their homes. Lying, stealing, vandalism and violence are common. I was threatened several times while working the front desk, and I often had to stop violent altercations or otherwise put myself in danger.The HomelessThe reasons people were in the shelter or on the street varied. A large percentage of the population were prisoners recently released from long sentences. They were so damaged and institutionalized that I didn’t have much hope that they would ever do very well. Another group were LGBTQ kids and even some adults who had been thrown out of their homes and had nowhere to go.For middle aged and older men, alcoholism was the main cause. Multiple DUIs and losing their drivers’ licenses generally sent them over the edge financially, and their personal relationships were damaged to the point where they had nowhere to go. Of course, hard drugs had a part to play, but the majority of the heavy druggies stayed on the street in cars or camping out.“You’re not really a person anymore. You’re homeless. It’s all that defines you. Your real past is gone, and everyone assumes that you must be a junkie, seriously mentally ill, or a criminal. It follows you for years after.”It seemed that almost everyone was getting a disability check, but instead of using it for shelter or food, they just spent it all on a big week-long meth party at the beginning of the month as soon as they were paid. Most would split cheap motel rooms for a few days, and the shelters were largely empty for the first week of the month. One of the workers at the nearby hospitality house wrote a poem about the “Five-Day Check Motel” phenomenon. Then, when the check was spent, they would panhandle or fly signs. Food, shelter, and clothing are usually freely available at the shelters, so they spent that money on cigarettes, alcohol, lottery tickets, and drugs. I never saw anyone panhandle or fly a sign that wasn’t going to buy alcohol or drugs with it. I don’t ever give money to panhandlers because of that. I know it’s just going to hurt them. I wasn’t aware of anyone who was trying to get their life back together ever panhandling or flying signs. I suppose it’s possible, but I just never saw it. Don’t give money to panhandlers would be my advice. Donate to shelters or other aid organizations instead.One guy at the shelter—a fellow who had been in prison for 25 years and was really a nice guy—was waiting on his disability back pay to get a place and a new start in life. We had great hopes for him. But then he just disappeared one Thursday. While I was on duty at the front desk the following week, he called from jail in South Carolina, begging to be allowed back. He had received his check, and then he’d immediately been robbed by his daughter and her friends who had lured him to a crack party in South Carolina. They disappeared with his money, and he was arrested in the aftermath. There were lots of stories like that.Another guy at the shelter had lost his guitar shop business and his home after he was busted for a couple of small pot plants on his back porch and sentenced to 1 1/2 years in jail. But unlike most people at the shelter, he was getting up at 4:30 every morning to ride his bicycle several miles in the dark to get to his new job at Subway. He eventually found a roommate situation with an old friend and was the first to escape back to a semblance of normal life.Problems and SolutionsThe modern homelessness epidemic is caused by lack of adequate mental health care.  It started back in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan closed the mental hospitals to the nonviolent mentally ill and put tens of thousands of at-risk people on the street. They literally put them on a bus, drove them to a big city, and kicked them out on a backstreet to fend for themselves. Basically all the guys from One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest were on the street. The problem has grown substantially since that time to include all sorts of folks who have fallen through the ever-widening cracks in our society.I doubt even a guaranteed income would actually keep everyone off the street since a surprising percentage of the hard core people already receive disability payments but don’t use it for housing or food. Quite a few folks are essentially professional homeless who’ve been on the street for decades and will probably die there. They winter in Florida and come to the mountains for summer. Many get apartments only to get kicked out because they simply can’t live with other people without fighting or robbing their neighbors.The hospitality houses you can visit during the day are a valuable resource. There are counselors to help navigate the various programs for housing or healthcare, and you can often use them as an address for food stamps or job applications and to receive mail. There were also showers and toiletries available, and safe storage bins to store your belongings, which is a huge issue on the street. They have coffee and pastries, and it gives people a place to go after leaving the shelter after breakfast or waking in your car or tent.The most financially advantageous approach to homelessness that communities have tried has been to just give them a home. It’s extremely expensive keeping people on the street. I’ve watched people blow thousands of dollars in ambulance and emergency room fees faking an illness just to get out of an extremely easy three-hour, once-a-week work requirement to stay in the shelter. We also had to make several calls for ambulances to take care of overdoses of so-called synthetic marijuana like Bizarro. They’d smoke the whole package in the bathroom and end up out front clinging to a light pole, screaming that demons were trying to drag them to hell. The demons were actually the EMTs trying to get them to the emergency room.Telling addicts to clean up before they get housing doesn’t really work. It’s incredibly difficult to quit drugs or alcohol while homeless. Also, a good percentage of the homeless population aren’t ever going to be able to hold a job and are just so broken as people that the best thing we can do is just take care of them. Compassion for the unlikable is hard but necessary. It’s easy to feel empathy for a child immigrant separated from their family. It’s a different thing when it’s the scary guy yelling and dancing on the corner.“The ‘code purple’ homeless are the most narcissistic, entitled, and angry people I’ve ever encountered. I don’t think a guaranteed income and free housing for all will help them at all, really. ”In the winter, the shelters would have a system called “code purple” whenever the temperature dropped below freezing. During code purple, everyone was allowed in, giving a place out of the cold to people who couldn’t normally stay for a variety of reasons. They were the felons and the hardcore drinkers and drug users, the folks who couldn’t or wouldn’t stay sober and pass a breathalyzer test. They seemed to move from the street to the jail and back again like a three-month tide. It’s a very different group from the regular residents who were vetted and basically just glad to have a place to stay while trying to get housing or disability or social security going.For the code purple folks, the street is more of a permanent thing. This mixing of a largely criminal element with the general population is a constant source of problems for the shelters. There was constant trouble with them,  and robberies, vandalism, violence, and general mayhem were the norm. They often ripped everything off the walls and tried to destroy anything they could. The shelters where I stayed no longer take part in code purple because of the cost and pointlessness of trying to help them. It’s the most narcissistic, entitled, and angry group I’ve ever encountered. I don’t think a guaranteed income and free housing for all will help this demographic at all, really.I suppose it depends on the individuals involved at the time you’re there, but there was also quite a bit of corruption in the management of shelters, from stealing donations to outright embezzlement of millions of dollars. I think it’s gotten better in the ensuing years. But the director of the last place I stayed was the most fervent Evangelical I knew, constantly and loudly proclaiming his love for Jesus. He disappeared with over $2 million of the shelters funds. It’s my understanding that they still don’t know where he is.However, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of the various area churches’ involvement in taking care of the homeless. I’ve never been a churchgoer, and I sometimes resented being forced to attend church services at shelters, but really it was a small price to pay for their incredible generosity and compassion. Whether working in association with other churches or just running the shelter as a mission to help spread their message, the shelters I dealt with were all operated by religious organizations. Secular charities also contributed a great deal to the homeless.HomeA little less than a year after it began, I was able to get my early social security started and move into an apartment. The shelter where I was staying at the end helped me with housewares, food, and some furniture, as well as covering my deposit on the place. They even helped me move. When you’ve lost everything, kindnesses like that are priceless.last_img read more

Missing From State Plans to Distribute the Coronavirus Vaccine: Money to Do It

first_imgThe C.D.C. advisory group has also stressed the importance of a campaign to persuade the public to take the vaccine, noting that messages were likely to be more effective if they came from community leaders than from the federal government. North Carolina says its campaign will use “photos, video, and personal testimony of celebrities, leaders of historically marginalized populations, and other trusted messengers receiving vaccine as early adopters.” As soon as the F.D.A. approves a vaccine, the C.D.C.’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet to issue recommendations, already in the works, on how it should be distributed. It will almost certainly say that health care workers should be the group with the highest priority for vaccination, followed by essential service workers, people with high-risk medical conditions and those older than 65.But states will be allowed flexibility within those guidelines; Maryland, for example, plans to include its prison and jail populations in its “Phase 1” priority group. State officials also have to figure out whom to focus on within priority populations if they get less vaccine than they need.During the C.D.C. advisory committee’s meeting last month, some members said they wanted to ensure that information about any safety problems would be made public quickly. The Department of Health and Human Services has said its goal is to start shipping a vaccine within a day of F.D.A. authorization. Until now, the F.D.A. and the C.D.C. have maintained one data system for patients or providers to report bad reactions to vaccines. They plan to supplement that system with a smartphone-based tool that checks in with individuals who have been vaccinated to see whether they have had any health problems.- Advertisement – Record-keeping requirements will also be an overwhelming task, officials said. The C.D.C. wants to track, in real time, the age, sex, race and ethnicity of everyone who is vaccinated — states usually provide such data quarterly, at best — so it can analyze how well the vaccination campaign is going among different demographic groups day by day and make adjustments if certain populations or regions have low vaccination rates. The C.D.C., which holds frequent planning calls with state and local health officials, is also still working on persuading states to hand over the personal data of their citizens. In its data use agreement with the states, the agency has requested each vaccine recipient’s name, date of birth, address, race, ethnicity and certain medical history.“States have never had to report that to the federal government,” said J.T. Lane, the chief population health and innovation officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, adding that his organization was seeking clarity on exactly how the information would be used. In particular, the organization’s members worry that the information could be used by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to track undocumented immigrants.- Advertisement –center_img – Advertisement –last_img read more

Boating Access Site at Indian Lake State Park Closes Due to Dredging

first_imgThe boating access site at Indian Lake State Park in Schoolcraft County will close today through October 10 for a site improvement project, the State of Michigan informs. Improvements include the complete replacement of the 36-foot-wide launch ramp and continued dredging of the channel that began in February 2018.According to an official announcement, the renovation project is funded through the State of Michigan Waterways Improvement Fund, a restricted fund derived from boating registration fees and Michigan marine fuel tax for the construction, operation and maintenance of public recreational boating facilities.Indian Lake State Park is a public recreation area covering 847 acres in Schoolcraft County on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The state park is made up of two units that are three miles apart, one on the south shore of Indian Lake, one on the west shore.last_img read more

Hoax bomb threat causes alarm at ‘Super’

first_imgAfter vendors evacuated, authorities swept the market for several hours but did not find any bomb. Market-in-charge Maria Dolores Trabasas told police she received a text message from the mobile number 09951952194, which supposedly warned of bomb blast that will hit the market. ILOILO City – A bomb threat that came in a text message on Saturday evening rattled Iloilo Terminal Market, popularly known as “Super.”  “Gud eve concerned lang ko dira sa mga tawo nga nagsulod sa super may info ako nabatian nga may bomba kuno nga ginbutang dira sa sulod sang mercado taga bukid knu ang nabutang sang one lang kuno nga hapon la man cguro may madula sa imu kon ipalab ot mu ine nga mensahe sa mga pulis nga naga duty,” the text message read.  center_img IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN They later ruled out the threat to be a hoax./PNlast_img read more