30 November 2008

Not Womanized, But Threatened And Assaulted

Not to delve into the excessively superficial and utterly meaningless, but just a quick recap on what can only be described as the most abysmal event I have ever attended.

Last night some fellow LSE-ers and I ventured to a local nightclub called Heaven for "Britney Spears Night." Rumors had been swirling all week that Britney herself would be performing (or at least appearing) live at the venue. Of course, by the time we were in line, they didn't seem like rumors anymore. This "non-appearance" had been reported on SkyTV, MTV and in three of the major daily newspapers here in London. She was going to be there and everyone knew it.

Being Master's students in media and communication, we ran a chi squared test which resulted in a very low P-value, so we did not reject our null hypothesis that there was in fact a correlation between mainstream media coverage and attendance numbers (controlling for the Britney-factor) and arrived a solid hour before the doors even opened.

Chaos was already ensuing and overzealous bouncers were wandering through the lines selecting people they didn't like and telling them to leave for no apparent reason. We somehow made it inside and headed straight for the stage, where Britney was obviously "NOT" going to appear. The music was great, the energy was high and people could feel it - she was in the house. At about 12:30am large, mysterious-looking bouncers (read: Britney's own security detail) started clearing the stage of all riff-raff who had decided to hop up and dance, even though Britney was NOT appearing. As a sidenote, they still had yet to play a Britney song on "Britney Night," a further signal that should would in-fact be showing up.

Because of our early arrival we're right in the front, elbows on the stage. The room begins to fill. And fill. And fill. About 30 minutes pass and tech folks are checking speakers, etc. etc. All things you do when someone is NOT performing. Another 15 go by and the owner of the club appears. People start cheering and chanting "Britney! Britney!" What do you think this schmuck's opening line is to a packed house all expecting to see Spears? "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that Britney Spears will not be performing tonight. The good news is that some of you might get a glimpse of her if you go to the Pop Room next door." The booing begins. This guy wants all 2000 of us to now pour into a neighboring room that is roughly one tenth the size of the room we're in?

This is the part of the evening where everything goes severely downhill incredibly fast. What was once an excited orderly crowd becomes a fainting, frightened angry mob. Medics appear and begin to pull "crushed" people out of the crowd, shuffling them out of the venue. Then the stage clears again and another medic appears with about 20 water bottles, which she promptly begins handing to the people at the front (us included). Great, 20 water bottles for 2000 people. People are fainting and fighting but at the least the front row is hydrated.

There is honestly and truly nowhere for us to go. I'd have been happy to follow the owner's request and move to the Pop Room, but I was absolutely stuck - a four-feet stage to my front and a couple thousand people behind. I had zero options. The owner appears again to reinforce this notion that she is "not showing up," so disband! Now, honestly, do you really expect 2000 people to just up and leave after waiting two hours to NOT see Britney Spears at the venue NOT set up for her to perform on the stage NOT prepped for a live gig surrounded by the mass of media photographers NOT there to snap her picture?

He disappears once more and all of a sudden the bouncers allow a small group of people on stage to dance. Apparently this is supposed to signal that the show is, in fact, not taking place. Still, what exactly are we supposed to do? Naturally, these brilliant security guards had a fabulous idea. They would just forcibly pull another 100 or so people from the crowd up onto the stage. Yes, that will help! Being in the front, the posse I came with and I were all yanked onto stage, which was now covered with people and seriously wobbling. So, what did they do with us next? Force us into an alleyway behind the venue, then threaten to "have us arrested" if we didn't clear out immediately, telling us to "go back to the front entrance and come in again."

Um, what? I didn't ask to be pulled onto stage. I showed up early and followed all the rules, only to end up in an alleyway at 3am, coat held hostage inside at the coat check. So we all plodded around to the front entrance in the cold and rain, only to arrive and be told that we would have to GET IN LINE AND PAY AGAIN to re-enter. Yet again, um, what?!?! I flashed my coat-check stubs as proof of already having entered, only to be told I needed a re-entry stamp. Sorry, they weren't handing those out when we got shoved into a back alley. My bad.

Fortunately, one friend stayed strong and got us in to get our coats. We're now waiting in the packed lobby attempting to scoot through. My friend notices a fresh water bottle on the counter, picks it up, drinks it and puts it back on the counter. "You better throw that in the trash," the security guard says to her. "Sir, there are no trash cans and there is trash everywhere," she retorted. The security guard - a paid employee - then proceeds to pick up the water bottle and throw it at her face. Mystified, she picks it up and throws it back. He then gets on his walkie-talkie, yelping for a female security guard to come and escort her out. I ask the man for his name and he doesn't say a word. I ask again. Nothing. So we've now been lied to, squashed, forced into an alleyway, threatened with arrest and assaulted by a security guard. Wow, what a night.

Meanwhile, while the main room is full of absolute carnage, this is what's happening in the next room, which just reinforces the absurdity of this evening:

By now we're all fed up. A few others goes in and free all the coats of their shackles while this friend and I proceed outside with the female security guard, who apologizes for her coworker and tells us that she doesn't even know his name. Seriously? What is this place? Furious and exhausted, we start to head home and just as we pass the alleyway where we were first dumped, the Britney entourage of a BMW and three Mercedes vans roll past. A symbolic end to a horrific evening.

Now, in all fairness, they never "officially" said Britney would be there. They did, however, set up a stage, invite tons of press and, at one point, send the owner on stage to tell everyone Britney was in attendance. Regardless of when or how people were told, they were in fact told. And yes, the alternative of going to the "Pop Room" was offered, but to 2000 people who had become one giant mass of humanity. That was not a reasonable option.

Britney aside, the real issue is the terrible event management. Why not limit entry, so as not to create the world's greatest fire hazard? All things considered, it's no wonder Britney's staff and security detail didn't want her to come into the larger room. And how about being forced onto stage then shoved into an alleyway, only to be told we would be "arrested" if we didn't "clear out" and subsequently made to PAY AGAIN to enter a venue we had just been forcibly removed from with no just cause?

So then, what now? Don't buy the new album? That goes without saying. But what to do about the treatment at the club. Who do you call? Who protects citizen's rights in this situation? And all of a sudden you begin to realize that you're teeny tiny in the big wheel of power. A mega celeb shows up at a small venue. She is backed by poor planning and a negligent club owner who puts thousands of people in danger by over-selling an event to make as much money as possible dumps you in an alley and threatens to have you arrested just before you're assaulted by a "security guard." Meanwhile, he is sharing cake with said mega celeb before leaving in a private, chauffeured car. Yeah, that makes sense.


Kyle Taylor

26 November 2008

Moms Are The Best!

In a Pre-Thanksgiving thank you, I wanted to share this fantastic clip sent me to me by my Nana about Moms. They're pretty great. Enjoy!

The Mom Song- LIVE from Northland Video on Vimeo.


Kyle Taylor

17 November 2008

Wait, Where Do I Live?

If I gave you one guess to tell me where this picture was from, I'm guessing you'd say China. The "People's" Post Office and so forth and so on. This notion would most likely elicit images of me fumbling from taxi to bus with passports, "official forms" and the like in hand, doing my best to pick up a box sent far across the Pacific for me to enjoy the goodies inside. Alas, you'd be wrong.

The above image refers to the UK's post office. Not the actual postal service itself (The Royal Mail) but the place you visit to purchase stamps, boxes and so on and so forth only here in the UK, the Post Office sells EVERYTHING. You want car insurance? Done. Homeowner's insurance? DONE. Travel insurance? DONE. Currency Exchange? DONE. Neck pillow? DONE. Birthday Card? DONE. It's like a CVS/Alldays/Target/Dollar Store in one. The one thing not like China: LINES. There are usually 15 to 20 people queuing at any given moment to buy a stamp or perform one of the above tasks, which means no visit lasts for less than 20 minutes. Oh glorious England and their glorious lines!

It's so odd to be in London and yet have constant reminders of China. Maybe it's because I've hit the 6-week mark (the longest I've been in the same place since leaving China) and I'm getting antsy, with nothing but reading and essays in sight. Maybe it's because a hot chocolate costs as much as a fancy dinner our in Shanghai. Or maybe it's just because everywhere is a lot more like everywhere else than I originally thought. In the meantime, I'll just queue up and buy a few stamps.


Kyle Taylor

13 November 2008

I Miss China...

A friend sent these my way and I just had to share the love. Sorry for the lack of person interest stories, but my life is overly routine: Class, Gym or Swim, Eat Something From Mark's and Spencer's, Read, Check Email, Read, Cry About Having No Time To Travel, Read, Shower, Read, Sleep, Repeat. Gotta say though, I'm having a ball. Miss you Zhongguo. Wo ai ni.

11 November 2008

Keith Olbermann Is My Hero

Watch this. I couldn't have said it better myself:

Click here if that doesn't show up.

Come on people, get with the program!


Kyle Taylor

05 November 2008

Equality For All? Not Today

This photo shows suporters of "Yes on 8" cheering and whooping upon learning that Proposition 8, a Constitutional Amendment in the state of California to ban equal rights in the form of marriage, was most-likely going to pass. The leader of the campaign was quoted as saying "Tonight, we won!"

November 4th started out as an amazing evening for me. It was 4am in the Student Union at LSE and I was surrounded by thousands of people from every country on earth, most of them hoping Obama would be victorious. All of a sudden CNN's fancy "Breaking News" graphic flashed across the screen and Obama was declared the President-Elect. The room went crazy! Jumping, screaming, crying! I was in shock and disbelief! Never in my adult life had I been a supporter of the President. How did this work? What did we do now that it was time to set the agenda and get the country back on track? What is it like to NOT be cynical? McCain spoke and was gracious. Obama spoke and was hopeful. It was amazing!

At 6am I walked down the Strand through Trafalgar Square absolutely beaming. I wanted to be there in the mix of it! It was time to take back America. This would be a new frontier and I wanted to be right in the middle of it. I got back to my room and went online to check results of other issues that mattered, only to learn that Yes on 8 was winning. A quick phone called to a friend in California was reassuring - "Don't worry yet, LA and San Fran have yet to report in." I went to bed optimistic.

Three hours later I woke up to my worst nightmare - Yes on 8 had won 52% to 48%. I was officially a second-tier citizen no longer afforded equal rights under the law. Depression began to sink in and for the first time in my adult life, I was made to feel genuinely "different" than the majority - less of a person. Here are a few excerpts of what the "Yes on 8" Discriminators had to say:

"Now, if they want to legalize gay marriage, what they should do is bring an initiative themselves and ask the people to approve it. But they don't. They go behind the people's back to the courts and try and force an agenda on the rest of society...And I think we made them realize that there are broader implications to society and particularly the children when you make that fundamental change that's at the core of how society is organized, which is marriage."

And what might that core of marriage be, exactly? That 50% of them end in divorce? And whose backs were we going behind when we used the 200+ year old legal system to preserve equal rights for all citizens? What might these broader implications be on the rest of society, and particularly children? Fewer loving homes to grow up in? A fundamental understanding of tolerance, acceptance and "liberty for all?"

At the core of there argument was this concept of morality, yet the way "Yes on 8" won was by spreading blatant lies. The first was that churches would lose their non-profit status if they refused to marry same-sex couples. The second was that teachers would be "forced" to tell children gay couples were normal. Also not true, but if it was, so what? Exit polling data showed that these were the top two reasons people voted Yes, and both of them were untrue. How dare they ramble on about "morality" and "character."

What's even more disturbing is that in the same election, 62% of Californians voted in favor of legislation that would require farmers to let caged animals run free for a certain amount of time every day (legislation I too supported). Mind you, these are animals that most of these people are going to eat eventually. In that same breath, 54% of them voted to eliminate equal rights for all human beings. That effectively means that people think farm animals that they are going to eat deserve the freedom to run around while their fellow human beings do not deserve equal rights. How, exactly, is that supposed to make gay Californians feel? It's clear where we stand, and it's apparently below prime rib.

I'm 24. I've worked hard my entire life in school, sports and work. I was a finalist for a Rhode's Scholarship and am currently serving as an US Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in the United Kingdom. I've dedicated my working life to helping young people reach their full potential, traveling to 46 US States and 44 countries around the World to spread that message. I've never done drugs and I've never cheated on a partner. I've always strived to be a categorically "good" person.

The gay community as a whole has done all it can to prove itself as well. We represent more economic spending per capita then any other group in the United States, which is crucial to the economic recovery happening right now. We donate to charity in greater numbers. We're just as committed in relationships as everyone else. We give homes to children who need them by adopting from across the US and around the World. We're educated, generous, caring and have backed every major minority group in history in their historic fights for equal rights and yet now we sit here, on the eve of the first African-American being elected President of the United States - seemingly a huge step forward - as the most recent minority population to be subjected to blatant discrimination by a more powerful (and more numerous) majority, not to mention 54% of African-American voters and nearly 60% of Hispanic voters who voted "Yes on 8." What more do we have to do?

For the first time in history, blatant discrimination has been enshrined in a Constitution - a body that was meant to guarantee basic rights, not strip them away. So then, what, exactly, was the Yes on 8 supporter referring to when he said, "we won?" The right to oppress a minority group? The right to legally discriminate? Please tell me.

So yes, lets celebrate the major step forward that we took as a people on Tuesday night by electing an African-American to our nation's highest office, but remember what Obama said: He can't bring change by himself. It's going to take each and every once of, chugging along little by little, to truly shift the direction of America. All I can hope is that the direction involves equal rights for every American. As he also said, "If there is anyone who still doubts America is a place where all things are possible...tonight is your answer."

Sadly, for me, Tuesday night was the first time in my life that I actually had doubts.


Kyle Taylor

Photo from the LA Times

03 November 2008

Al Franken Is Awesome

So I received this email from Al Franken today. Naturally, there was a photo of a puppy included, so imagine that additional dimension. Isn't this hilarious?

Dear Friend,

Over the past 22 months, I've sent you a lot of emails. And I've tried to encourage you to support our campaign for change with a variety of tactics: kitschy holiday-themed gimmicks, fancy thermometer graphics, and my personal favorite, being pretty shameless about just coming out and asking for your help.


But this is the last fundraising email I'll send you before Election Day. So I'm holding nothing back. That's right, I'm going to use....AN ADORABLE PUPPY!

That's Carl the Victory Pup. And he's asking you to make one last contribution to our campaign for change. Whether it's $100, $50, $25, or whatever you can afford, every last dollar you contribute today goes immediately into the field to help us pull this thing off tomorrow.


Do it for our country. Do it for change.

Do it for Carl.

Thanks for all you've done to build this campaign. Now let's go win it.

Yours truly,


02 November 2008

My Closing Argument

In less than 36 hours it will all be over and we in the United Sates will have a new President. It's no secret that I indeed hope it is Barack Obama. I could go on and on about why he is absolutely the better candidate, but I'm sure you've heard it all before. I could also go on and on about why I am a Democrat - a belief in privacy, freedom of speech, equal rights and social justice all stemming from the core notion that every single child deserves a fair shot at making it in this world. Until that is true then we have to do our best to try and level the playing field. The notion that all people have a fair shot from birth is absolutely false and I challenge anyone to even attempt to prove that theory.

Still at this moment, I'm not going to try and appeal to anyone with that argument. Even if you don't share my worldview, I can almost guarantee that you'll be better off with Obama as President. So, for a few moments, shed your "Republican" hat and think about these facts without considering the person behind them. Just think about you, your family and the world you'd like to hand to your children, grandchildren, etc.

The following assertions are all based on non-partisan third-party organizations (and even some extremely conservative organizations)

If you make less than $200,000 a year your taxes will be LOWER under Obama than under McCain (and even lower than what they are now under George W. Bush).

Even if you currently have employer-supplied health benefits, your health care costs (and prescription drug costs) will go DOWN if Obama is elected. If John McCain is elected, all health care benefits will become taxable income and overall costs will rise by approximately 10%. Independent business owners will be affected the most. Under Obama, health care companies (who are currently the second most profitable industry in America) will be forced to cover every American, even if they have a "pre-existing" condition.

Under Barack Obama, college loan interest rates will be locked at 4.8%. McCain has suggested that interest rates should float freely in the marketplace, which would put them at 6.8% at this moment. How much do you want your kids and grandkids to owe when they graduate?

McCain has suggested offshore drilling as a solution to the energy crisis. Even the McCain campaign acknowledges that this effort will not produce any usably oil until 2016. If the nation invests the same amount of funding in renewable energy (as Obama has proposed) we will be able to produce 500% more energy in the same amount of time. Isn't that real energy independence?

John McCain does not believe in equal rights for all Americans. Separate is not equal. The Constitution states "All Men Are Created Equal." Shouldn't we live up to our values? By voting for John McCain you are effectively supporting discrimination.

Barack Obama wants to restrict access to semi-automatic weapons in cities and suburbs. John McCain does not. How safe would you feel knowing that anyone can go into a store and buy a rifle?

Finally, John McCain wants to invest your Social Security in the stock market. Need I say more?

Given the facts, I don't know how the choice could possibly be difficult. At the end of the day, I urge you to VOTE above all else, even if it isn't for Barack Obama. Just know that in voting for McCain you're voting against your own economic interests, against the foundations of our Constitution and against a better future for your children and grandchildren.

I just wanted you to be aware of that.


Kyle Taylor