Scott Marks noon, Aug. 25
I Fought the Law Pt. 4 – more music related lawsuits, busts & celebs in trouble in San Diego
Lawyers, Songs and Money, Trouble in Paradise, Celeb Busts & Blunders
Lawyers, Songs & Money, Trouble in Paradise
1 – I Fought the Law: Roundup of local music-related lawsuits & legal actions (NEW!)
2 – Rockin’ the Law: Clubs in Court
3 – Rockin’ the Law: Lawyers, Songs & Money
4 – Rockin’ the Law: Pain And Suffering
5 - INsecurity: Local Firms Fight For the Right to Bounce You
6 - Worst In Rock: Celebs In SD Find Trouble In Paradise
7 - La Jolla Drivers Suck
8 - Hard Rock Hotel Haters
9 - Bad Gig Stages
10 - Bad Reviews Of Local Venues
11 - Swing Dancer VS Juno
1 – I FOUGHT THE LAW: Roundup of local music-related lawsuits & legal actions (NEW!)
1-17-08: Local music lover Stacie Somers is so mad about her iPod, she’s suing Apple. Her lawsuit seeks class-action status, contending that Apple monopolizes the music player industry because iPods and the online iTunes music store are not compatible with devices made by other companies. Somers, who says she owns a 30 gigabyte iPod, filed the 24-page suit on December 31.
According to the filing, "Apple has engaged in tying and monopolizing behavior, placing unneeded and unjustifiable technological restrictions on its most popular products in an effort to restrict consumer choice, and to restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets."
Somers is seeking a court order forbidding Apple from continuing its allegedly anticompetitive business practices. She cites consumers’ "lack of options," which violates the Cartwright and Sherman Antitrust Acts. Because of this, she requests “permanent injunction against the reported behavior in addition to damages." The “damage” amount is unspecified.
She also accuses Apple of shipping its products with "crippleware,” which “forces” consumers to purchase all their digital music through iTunes.
According to the complaint, "Apple's crippleware operating system software prevents the iPod Shuffle from playing WMA [Microsoft Windows] files…Apple's iPod is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format."
At 99 cents per song on iTunes, it would cost around $40,000 to fill up a new iPod from Apple’s online store. Somers paid a $350 filing fee to initiate the lawsuit.
According to a recent article posted at ArsTechnica, an estimated 36% of people currently get much of their music from illegal file sharing, which can often be played in any number of devices and formats, as opposed to buying songs on iTunes that only work with Apple-supported devices and software.
Apple spokeswoman Susan Lundgren has declined to comment on pending litigation.
11-22-07: Record labels and music publishers owned by EMI are suing local-based MP3tunes for internet copyright infringement. MP3tunes owner Michael Robertson is also named in the suit, which accuses MP3tunes’ sideload.com of illegally providing free access to thousands of playable songs online.
The lawsuit, filed November 9, alleges that MP3tunes “does not own the music it exploits, nor does MP3tunes have any legal right or authority to use or exploit that music." The complaint also contends that Robertson "ultimately started this [website] as a vehicle to achieve a comparable infringing purpose" as Robertson’s previous endeavor, MP3.com.
That website was sued in 2000 by record labels and music publishers, paying an eventual settlement of over $100 million.<p>Sideload.com was launched in early 2006, offering users access to “29,000 songs from more than 7,000 different artists,” according to its initial press release. "No music is actually stored on Sideload.com...only links to files that are publicly available elsewhere on the net are collected." New links are frequently added, with the site’s current list containing approximately 70,000 songs.
"It's possible some of the tracks may be unauthorized," Robertson told the Reader last year. "But the difference between Sideload and [the original] Napster is that we're simply a search engine; we're no different than Google. You can type that song name into Google or MSN or Yahoo! and chances are you're going to find the same song [link]…all we're doing is providing a nice interface where you can play it, download it, or sideload it into your Music Locker [a pay-feature of MP3tunes]. "
Robertson has also incurred record industry wrath with MP3tunes, by offering downloads free of DRM/Digital Rights Management software, allowing the songs to be played any time, on any player. As a result, many major labels refuse to allow distribution of their music on the website.
10-18-07: Marcel Khalifé - sometimes called "the Dylan of Lebanon" – was supposed to perform at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center last month. However, the concert was cancelled after venue operators decided Khalifé and the presenting organization al-Awda are too controversial. Many of Khalife’s songs are about the Israel-Palestine debate, such as the plight of Palestinian refugees.
The Theater is owned by the Salvation Army, a Christian organization.
Khalifé says the Salvation Army considered letting the concert go on, if an Israeli performer would also appear. “[It] never occurred to us that our show of clean, innocent entertainment, free of ill intentions, would be judged, in absentia, contrary to our intentions,” says Khalifé on his website, “and that Defenders of the Faith, protectors of morality and public decorum, would interpret our work as a violation of Islamic law and public morals…What is being targeted is the culture of liberty itself, that refuses to be acquiescent.”
In a written statement, the Salvation Army said the booking was denied because al-Awda, a pro-Palestinian group, is "divisive and unbalanced,” and they were worried about angering local Jewish organizations. The Birch North Park Theater agreed to host Khalifé’s concert at a later date, reportedly selling out all tickets for the October 14 performance.
Born near Beirut in 1950, Khalifé has aroused the ire of Jews, Muslims, and Christians. His music was denounced by the Bahrain parliament, banned from state-controlled media in Tunisia, and he once stood trial in Lebanon for quoting a passage from the Koran in one of his songs.
10-11-07: “Our last drummer disappeared and was discovered in jail for art theft,” says Tim Malley, guitarist and singer for Tim and the 23s. “After our second practice with him, we couldn’t get a hold of him. It seemed really strange because we thought he liked the music. After a few weeks, we just figured he flaked, and just split without returning our calls.”
The missing drummer finally contacted the band. “Dave said he had to lay low for a little while, but wasn’t too specific. It eventually came out that he was being tried for art theft. He worked at a gallery that sold hand-painted replica artwork. They were the paintings that you see people copying from the museums around the world; Van Gogh, Monet, Munch, the classics. He was stealing them from the back, and then selling them on his own. It turns out art theft is pretty common.”
In 2001 and 2002, a ring of art thieves broke into several California galleries, including a smash-and-grab in San Diego where a $45,000 sculpture was stolen.
In 2004, a religious painting by San Juan Tepemazalco (1728), stolen in Mexico, turned up at the San Diego Museum Of Art, which immediately offered to return the artwork.
Malley says auditions earlier this year indicate a shortage of capable local drummers. “We tried whatever we could, going to bars, recruiting at parties, and placing ads on Craigslist. At one audition, we got a Katrina victim who spent all his FEMA money on a drum set. I felt kind of bad for the guy, because he couldn’t play that well. There were a couple of good players, but they wouldn’t do anything unless we guaranteed them big pay at every gig.”
6-21-07: Ike Turner has filed a $5,000 lawsuit against the LAPD for falsely arresting him last month, due to a 1989 narcotics warrant that later proved invalid. The 75 year-old spent around fifteen hours in jail.
“Ike has gotten a bad rap over the years because of the sensationalism of the movie What's Love Got To Do With It,” blogs local drummer Bill Ray, who has played with Turner since November 2001. “When I encounter people that speak ill of the man without knowing him as a person, I ask one question. ‘What would you do if someone took your darkest moment in life and made a d-mning portrayal of your misdeeds in the form of a movie, and that movie will be played on major network media for all of eternity?’”
“Look at what he did for music. He officially wrote the first rock-n-roll song, Rocket 88, he was there when Elvis was just getting started, [and] he defined a whole style of popular music.”
Ray describes the Turner band’s thrice-weekly rehearsals as “akin to leaving your skin at the door and walking in a seething mass of nerve endings, with Ike sitting in his chair throwing salt at us when we would make a mistake.”
Locals Ryan Montana, Seth Blumberg, Leo Dombecki, and Kevin Cooper, Sr. have also played with Turner. “Sure, he's been no angel at times,” according to Ray, “but deep down, he is the most wonderful person that I've ever met…I like Ike. Very much.”
4-5-07: Famous former neighbor Scott Weiland and his wife Mary will face charges for allegedly wrecking their room while arguing at Burbank’s Graciela Hotel March 24. The couple is alleged to have “ripped alarm clocks and phones from their sockets and threw them, made dents and gauges in the walls…there was even blood found on some of the linens afterward,” according to TMZ.com. “The police were called, and the hotel is pressing charges for the damage caused.”
A few hours after being booted from the hotel, Weiland’s wife was arrested for burning her husband’s clothes in front of their Toluca Lake home. She posted $50,000 bail and was released. Online reactions to the story posts include:
“Don’t they live in L.A.? Why would you be checking into a hotel in [nearby] Burbank unless you were going to do drugs.” SouthernCaGurl4Opri
“I’m getting this vision in my head of Mary getting a phone call, tipping her off to the place she can find her husband.” JaneSays
“Hope they put them both to cleaning toilets for the next six months.” Katie
“She needs some ghetto lessons…put [his clothes] in a big garbage bag and pour a bottle of Chlorox in the bag.” mybestguess
“Since when is it illegal to burn clothes?” Just A Thought
“I was thinking of Scott today. I was wondering why he is alive and Anna Nicole and her son are dead, he’s taken so many more drugs.” Michelle
3-8-07: “I heard the sirens but I had no idea that she’d just been [allegedly] murdered by her son,” says Clay Colgin of Sagebomb and Clownsitterz. His Chula Vista neighbor Diane Carpenter, an assistant principal at Eastlake High, was killed in her home January 12. “The youngest son [allegedly] took a knife to his mom, several times, from what I understand. They happen to be a black family…I used to be the manager of two of her [other] sons in a hip-hop unit I was producing for four and a half years. They were doing quite well but then they were too busy being fancily dressed and playing with the girls.”
Colgin - who in 2005 won Songwriter’s annual Song Of The Year award for Best Electronic Dance Song (”Step Into My World”) – says he’d fallen out of touch with the brothers. “We would often fight because, if I produced something didn’t sound really hardcore black, they would get upset and say ‘We don’t do that, we just do attitude and blackness.’”
Carpenter’s son, 27 year-old Kaijamar “Kai” Dion Carpenter, was arrested for the stabbing death, reportedly telling officers that bleeding cuts on his hands were from a burglary he’d committed earlier in the day. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held on a $1 million bond, with a hearing set for April 11.
His public defender lawyer Kate Coyne informed the court that Carpenter is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who, until recently, was living at San Bernadino’s Patton State Hospital. “I guess he was having trouble dealing with reality,” says Colgin. “Who knows what Kai was into…I think Kai could have tried to be an individual and at some point try to shrug off some of his blackness.”
1-4-07: Frank Palumbo, a music teacher at Helix High School, was arrested December 26 and charged with having sex with a student. “We were alerted about a possible sexual relationship by the father of a seventeen year-old [Helix] senior,” says La Mesa Police Detective Bryan Jacoby.
The twenty seven year-old teacher was arrested at his Boundary Street home and booked on three counts of oral copulation with a minor and three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, with bail set at $130,000.
Investigators say the victim indicated that sexual interaction with Palumbo began December 15, which happened to be the day the teacher officially resigned from Helix to take a job as Head Director at Kempner High School in Sugarland, Texas, where he was moving in January.
A congratulatory notice about the new job posted on the Helix Instrumental Music Association website was removed the day after Palumbo’s arrest.
Contacted by phone, Kempner High Principal James May said “This is the first we’ve heard about this situation…[Palumbo] is not yet a member of this faculty.” Palumbo begin teaching music classes at Helix in 2005 and also served as an assistant band director. He previously taught at middle and high schools in Chula Vista.
A Middle School teacher in Ja Lolla is facing child pornography charges. When FBI agents raided the home of 48 year-old Eric Don Standefer, they found him standing naked outside his bedroom, having just smashed his laptop computer to pieces with a hammer.
Standefer said he destroyed the equipment because he feared he was being arrested for illegally downloading music files.
Another computer in the home yielded 3,500 pictures “involving children in sexual situations,” according to statements from the FBI’s Cyber Squad. Standefer – currently free on a $50,000 bail bond - is on extended leave from his teaching post and is attending graphic arts classes.
A judge recently ordered him to wear an electronic monitoring device while awaiting trial and he’s forbidden to use the internet or to frequent places where children gather.
11-16-06: “In the midst of setting up our equipment, Travis [Du Bois, bassist] was being escorted outside by a campus police officer,” says Suffer The Heat singer Brandon Barclay of their Halloween party gig at Mira Costa College’s Student Center.
“Travis had and still has no idea why he was being arrested, so he asked the officer ‘why’ about twenty times and never got a response. A second cop comes in and starts yelling at the crowd gathered around the scene to disperse. They end up telling Travis that they want to check him for weapons…as soon as they cranked his arm up behind his back, he flinched due to discomfort, and was body slammed to the ground and taser-gunned several times. As they held him down, they restricted his arms from any movement and kept tasing him, because he wouldn’t put his arms behind his back.”
Campus officials declined to comment on the incident, but did provide the preliminary police report which states that MCC campus police officer Benny Perez initially approached Du Bois because he “smelled marijuana smoke.” Perez says Du Bois “drew attention to himself” by walking away from the officer. Perez followed him into building, whereupon he “detected alcohol” on the bassist and decided to “conduct a weapon and/or alcohol search.”
Noting the campus’ “standard procedure” is to put handcuffs on suspects during such searches, Perez says Du Bois “refused to cooperate.” When a second officer arrived, Jim Beckman, a struggle began and Beckman “discharged a taser into his [Du Bois’] back.” Du Bois (27) was taken to a police car and charged with public drunkenness, resisting arrest and possessing alcohol on school grounds (“a bottle of Blue Vodka”).
“The bottle was a mini two-ouncer, and it was still sealed,” says Barclay. “It was for after the show. But because he also admitted having two beers before the show, during dinner, off campus, they say he was breaking the law. What about burning nine inches of taser marks onto an innocent guy’s flesh? He didn’t deserve to be punished the way he was.” The MCC campus has a “zero tolerance” alcohol policy.
10-26-06: “We got robbed during the concert of around $2000,” says a local promoter of an early September event held in an increasingly urbanized part of the city. “And if you have in mind a stereotype of the profile of the most likely type of person to do that, you'd be exactly right…someone walked into the venue halfway thru set one, walked up to the ticket table, grabbed the box of money, and raced out and up the alley, jumping in a getaway car waiting for him.”
The promoter – requesting anonymity – says “The concert started with a large group of young people -- looking exactly like the media stereotype of a gang of a certain ethnic persuasion -- drinking heavily right in front of the venue at 4:00 in the afternoon! As I was setting up the equipment inside, at least two of them were puking on the stairs leading to the main entrance and in the street immediately in front of those stairs. The performers were so concerned with this scene when they arrived that they delayed entering for quite awhile, during which time I discovered the mess the ‘gang’ had made and got it cleaned up.”
“To have it then end the way it did, with a [robbery by a] guy from a different ‘ethnic persuasion,’ so to speak, causes an old white guy to again think that stereotypes wouldn't come about if there wasn't a huge body of history that led to those stereotypes.”
8-31-06: Elan, a female Latin performer based in San Diego, has filed an eleven-count lawsuit against Wailers singer Elan Atias, who recently began using just the name Elan for solo recordings. “This is the kind of thing that made my brother and I start our own company,” says the local Elan. “They don’t care about music or who they hurt.”
The lawsuit alleges "craft, yet overt maneuvering" to take over local Elan’s given name (which she trademarked and has always recorded and performed under) by defendants Atias, Interscope Records and public relations firm the Mitch Schneider Organization.
The PR company USED to represent local Elan, and in fact a link on their website that formerly led to local Elan’s site now sends users to Mr. Atias' webpage instead. Interscope Records told the L.A. Times’ Calendar section in 1999 that signing local Elan was their "second highest priority after Enrique Iglesias' new album."
“I am shocked that now, my former PR firm and a label that actually wanted to sign me, would try this,” says local Elan, who has released several records (including one with guest guitarist Slash), appeared on the 2004 MTV Latin America Music Awards and who won a Rolling Stone En Espanol People's Choice Award. “They thought they could just run us over and get away with it and we wouldn’t say anything. They were wrong!”
"If you take a look at the timing, you have to be very disappointed in how these music industry players behaved," said lawyer Matt Rifat of Manning And Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez LLP, who will represent local Elan in San Diego Federal District Court. “The sequence of events is unbelievable. Interscope and the Mitch Schneider Organization deal with Elan one day and the next they are slapping her name onto Atias, who never went by the one name until this year…it is as unseemly as it is illegal."
8-24-06: “They didn’t knock, my girlfriend and I were still in bed when around twenty cops came busting in full-force with guns and a search warrant,” says Thicker Than Thieves singer Jamin Hazelaar of the recent 7:00 A.M. raid on his Alpine home. “I was read my rights in my boxer shorts…it was pretty scary. They took me to the Vista jail and charged me with cultivation, possession and intent to sell. Because they put a bail-hold on me, I ended up spending five days in jail.”
“I had a lot of time to reflect on the things that should never have distracted me from my music,” says the 33-year old. “My parents put up my bail money and got me out. Now, I’m just trying to save my house and my property and my life.” Hazelaar has no prior arrest record. Thicker Than Thieves are finishing a new album “Thru Thick And Thin."
8-17-06: “Chris Austin smashed up our studio and stole our stuff because we fired him,” alleges Willie Psycho of the Drapes in a lawsuit filed against their former soundman and part-time promoter. “He booked a few shows that brought no more that fifteen people, then he kept asking for all this money and we weren’t even making the rent. We paid him what we could, but he felt like he deserved boatloads of money. Which we weren’t making…I told him it wasn’t working out.”
Psycho alleges he saw Austin near the band’s rented Escondido studio and rehearsal space minutes before finding the vandalism and theft. “He drove right by us he was leaving the parking lot. We went inside and the place was completely f-cked up. He dumped piles of trash all over the place, kicked huge holes in the walls and shoved a giant brush in the toilet, blocking up the plumbing. He destroyed a $900 Power amp, took all my Shure mics, mic cords, a box of about a hundred band shirts and hoodies and a backup guitar that I had stored there. He also took a Marshall guitar cab and tagged up a substantial part of the bathroom.”
Psycho is seeking unspecified damages and Austin (former operator of Escondido’s long-closed Library Café) has yet to file a response with the court. At this writing, Austin has not replied to email queries regarding the allegations.
7-27-06: Megadeth’s sole permanent member Dave Mustaine has filed a petition for divorce in San Diego Superior Court, seeking dissolution of his marriage to Pamela Anne Casselberry, whom he wed in April 1991. No word yet on who might end up with the couple’s 1.2 million dollar house atop Rolling Hills Estates in an exclusive section of Fallbrook.
They have a son, Justis David (born 2-11-92), a daughter, Electra Nicole (born 1-28-98) and another son, Victor Gar (born 9-10-02), named after Megadeth mascot Vic Rattlehead and former band drummer Gar Samuelsson, who died in 1998. 14 year-old Justis plays guitar and has appeared in several local theatrical productions, including one where he played Elvis Presley. He has a MySpace page where cites as his heroes “my two parents,” “Jesus Christ” and “anyone out there that is a stud.”
6-22-06: An instructor with Sweetwater High School’s mariachi program was arrested on campus June 6 and charged with 25 counts of having unlawful sex with a 17 year old student. Carlos Ramirez Hernandez, 27, has been an hourly part-time instructor with the school district since 1999 and was also teaching music at Otay Ranch High School in Chula Vista.
“The [alleged] victim came forward recently, and the [alleged] sexual contact happened several times last year,” says police Captain Guy Swanger. “They may have carried on a relationship over two or three months.”
During Hernandez’s arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Rachel Cano said a second alleged victim will be introducing testimony. Hernandez - a graduate of Chula Vista High School who lives with his physician mother - is also charged with supplying alcohol to a minor. He pleaded not guilty June 9 and his bail was set for $100,000. His school assignments have been terminated pending trial results.
32 year old Escondido musician Reginald Clews (formerly of the Hutchins Consort) has pleaded guilty to eighteen counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under 14. Clews admitted that sexual contact occurred between him and the girl, a family friend, in 2000 and 2001, beginning when the girl was 13. Clews was arrested in September 2004 after playing a concert in La Jolla. His $1 million bail has been revoked until sentencing. Judge John Einhorn said in court that Clews will probably receive “no less than six years and no more than fifteen years in prison.”
Danielle Marie Walls (27), a former history teacher at Clairemont High School, was arrested June7 at her home in North Park and faces multiple charges of having sex a 16 year old male student two years ago. In addition, a Chula Vista High School English teacher who was arrested in January will stand trial for child molestation. Diego Davalos, 50, is accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with three minor relatives (none of whom are his students).
6-8-06: In mid-May, Chula Vista police arrested the operator of Chula Vista’s El Jibarito Music Studio, Walter Rivera, charging the 49 year-old with ten counts of lewd acts with a victim under the age of 14. The “inappropriate touching” was alleged to have occurred during a lesson with an 8 year-old student at one of Rivera’s two Music Studios in South Bay.
The alleged victim’s father notified police and the married Rivera was arrested May 18 at one of his studios and held on $500,000 bail. On May 22, however, the District Attorney’s Office said that no charges would be filed “at this time,” and Rivera was released before a scheduled arraignment.
Prosecutor Enrique Camarena says his office plans “further investigation” into the allegations. Chula Vista Police spokesperson Bernard Gonzales says “We feel there is enough evidence to proceed…a second victim, a 14 year old [girl], has come forward. We’re still interviewing potential witnesses, as are detectives from the Family Protection Unit…we will continue to pursue [the case] and we feel [the D.A.’s office] will revise their position and come aboard with this.”
El Jibarito Music Studio charges from $75 to $160 monthly for music lessons; its website touts their “carefully screened instructors (Live Scan at CVPD).”
7-13-06: Music Trader district manager Darren Fionda was arrested May 25 at the chain’s SDSU store, for allegedly selling “pirated music.” In an undercover operation orchestrated by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America) involving seven agents, 195 discs were seized, most of them “mix CDs” featuring handmade compilations of hip-hop tracks.
Fionda was released on bail (provided by Music Trader’s parent company PrePlayed Entertainment) and faces up to a year in jail and a $25,000 fine. In a report issued in May, the RIAA cited San Diego among the top twelve “hot spots for music piracy.” Music Trader has reportedly pulled mix CDs from most of their locales.
The San Diego Record Show will henceforth contain less counterfeits than in past years. “There aren't many bootlegs at the show,“ says organizer Alan Garth, who spent seven years as Tower Records’ vinyl buyer. “All the vendors sign a form every time that clearly states ‘no bootlegs’ and places all the liability on the individual vendor and not the promoter and/or the venue, etc.”
He says this has been his policy since taking over the event several years ago from collecting king “Music Man” Marvin. “Honestly, I wasn't even aware of the arrests at Music Trader.”
2 - ROCKIN’ THE LAW: CLUBS IN COURT
Operating a nightclub or running any event open to the public can keep you tied up in constant civil litigation. This is backed up by local insurance reports and court records. Most filings allege “personal injury,” “negligence” and “battery” --- most suits, tho not all, are settled between plaintiffs and defendants before ever reaching court.
High profile chains like Moose McGillycuddy’s have learned hard lessons about this inevitability. Of their seven locations, “PB actually had most of the problems in the early nineties,” acknowledges their Corporate Counsel David Osborne. The PB club faced over a dozen personal injury or assault suits between 1989 and 1995. “I think these are some of the problems that actually brought some of the major nightclub chains down, these lawsuits. And really associated with them are all the regulatory problems, department of ABC actions, vice complaints.”
One judgment against Moose’s amounted to over $78,000.00, awarded to well-known local radio DJ Michael Halloran.
“He was working at the club as a guest DJ,” says Osborne. “That was a situation where he was alleged to have been assaulted by a patron.” The assailant was supposedly on an “86’d” list which should have caused him to be refused admittance at the door, but he was mistakenly allowed in by bouncers.
Halloran claims the intoxicated patron, a large Samoan named Rodney, “harassed and threatened” him for around a half hour, and then tried to force open the door to the DJ booth.
“Nobody from Moose’s did anything about it,” alleged Halloran. “Bouncers normally present on the dance limbo floor had been sent home earlier.” He says Rodney punched him in the face hard enough to knock him back into the booth, fracturing his nose and injuring his jaw.
“That was one of the main cases that opened up [our] eyes to the problems associated with that part of the business, that risk,” says Osborne. He says the chain then became “very proactive in trying to deal with these types of situations, by offering rigorous training, from management on down, mostly in customer relations. Our lawsuits [dropped to] probably less than ten percent of the lawsuits we had back then.”
Assault by a fellow patron was alleged after a Cardiff Reefers show, in a suit filed against The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. Cody Chytraus, a carpenter and construction worker, told me in a phone interview “I was stabbed in face twice with a beer bottle by somebody else who was there.”
He says the attack was unprovoked and that he was simply talking to a girl when someone shouted “Hey” and then struck him as he turned. “I just thought he’d hit me. I just felt two jabs to the side of the face.” His attacker was convicted and imprisoned, but Chytraus filed a personal injury suit against the club.
Chytraus was unable to pursue the matter, he says due to the expense involved. “I’ve still got permanent scars to my face. I basically just wanted my doctor’s bills taken care of. I still have plastic surgery bills.”
He estimates $35,000.00 in medical expenses, which he paid himself. “They actually ended up getting some pretty high priced attorneys and my attorney wasn’t all that good...I felt real discouraged that there was no way I could really collect or be covered through them [The Belly Up] and it all happened in their establishment.”
Eric Leitstein, longtime operator of ‘Canes in Mission Beach, has also run clubs like Schooners and Moose’s. He told me that lawsuits are inevitable, but that he prefers to fight them rather than settle.
“There was one where we just had to pay a guy thirty grand...Sometimes the companies settle.”
How many times a year was the club facing litigation? “A half dozen. My insurance [was] a little under thirty grand a year and, you know, we get these lawsuits. Is it standard in the business? Yes.”
“I mean, one lawsuit can cost you fifteen, twenty grand. We’re in the middle of one now where a girl’s suing us because she cut her leg on a piece of equipment in the club.”
Multiple defendants are often involved in a single lawsuit, such as when an event patron sues both a host venue and others who they feel are somehow liable for civil damages. Hired security companies are often included among the defendants.
Hans Jensen of the band Collage Menage filed a civil suit for assault against both StaffPro Security and UCSD’s Outdoor Amphitheatre, though the case never went to court and no judgment was ever filed. “I was basically forced to settle,” he told me. “I had one lawyer and they had six on the other side of the table. I couldn’t afford to pursue it any more, I had to take an offer that I felt wasn’t anywhere near what they should have had to pay.”
“I was watching Stone Temple Pilots. It was a general admission show, and I was about fifty yards from the stage when a guy barreled through the audience and insisted that I had a video camera, which I didn’t. He wasn’t wearing anything that said he was a security guard, just a backstage laminate hanging around his neck. He grabbed me and wrestled me around, and I tried to protect myself. He took me out of the audience and never identified himself the whole time, so I didn’t know why he was beating on me.”
Jensen says he was taken to SDSU's backstage, while several friends watched in disbelief. “As soon as I said that I wanted to press charges, he switched it all around and said I attacked him. And the cops told us that they’d have to arrest both of us, it was my word against his, so neither of us pressed any charges. I gave a report, and then I got a lawyer.”
Others on the stage besides performers can get the venue and themselves in civil hot water.
One-time 4th & B owner Bob Speth told me his club was not responsible. “What happened was we informed the promoter and the clothing company not to throw anything off the stage because it creates chaos as they’re trying to get to the item. And they, being youthful type of people, said ‘these guys don’t know what they’re talking about,’ and so they snuck up on-stage and against our wishes and instructions threw it [the snowboard] out anyhow, to be cool, so the guy got hurt...that’s why it’s pushed back to Third Rail because they’re the ones who did it after we instructed them not to.”
A potential plaintiff doesn’t even have to step into a venue to end up involved in litigation.
Gilbert E. Ortega, Jr. alleges he was on the sidewalk in front of Moose McGillycuddy’s in PB, handing out flyers for a benefit event, “Santa’s Funky Toy Drive.” “We were in suits, we weren’t making a nuisance and we were very cordial with people as we always are.”
“The manager came out and said ‘We don’t want you to pass out flyers here.’ I said ‘Well sir, this is for a toy drive, a benefit for children, it’s no conflict with your nightclub.’ It kind of ended there, he said okay.”
“Next thing I know, I’m talking to this woman I kind of know, and my peripheral version caught this man coming at me. It turned out to be one of the bouncers, and he just cold-cocked me. Laid me out. My flyers looked like a bunch of feathers just ruffling up in the air.”
He alleges that a second bouncer joined in. “These guys flat out came at me with everything they had. At one point, they ran my head into a wall! After I was pummeled for a good minute or two, the manager came out and said ‘Are you going to leave now?’ When I realized that he had authorized this, I lost it and I cold-cocked him. Then the bouncers start working me again!”
Ortega summoned police and was told that, since the manager also had blood on him, it was a case of “mutual combatants” and, if either of them wanted to press charges, then both of them would have to be arrested.
Ortega says he settled out of court when the cost of pursuing his lawsuit increased to alarming levels. He claims a third of his settlement went to cover his medical costs, including treatment for an injured jaw and twisted neck and extensive physical therapy, taking place over several months.
As if customers don’t find enough things to litigate with fellow patrons and bouncers, sometimes a bartender is the offending party.
Greg Wellong says he was celebrating his birthday at Buffalo Joe’s and was “severely burned when defendant bartender on his own initiative gratuitously served [151-proof rum] which [the bartender] intentionally set on fire.”
Wellong says he was told by the bartender to drink the beverage while lit, which resulted in facial burns.
Some civil suits originate with venue employees.
Carin Bell bartended at 4th and B for about a year and alleges that she was often threatened and even robbed by patrons. Reached by phone, she told me “We had voiced our opinions several times that the club was not safe, and that we needed more security. This one girl told me she was going to wait outside and kill me. I think that was a comedy night.”
Why did the girl want to kill her? “She didn’t pay me with enough, and I told her she needed more money. Another time some guy, called me a c-m-sucking whore because I cut him off. There was no bouncer that time, and another bartender had to go out there and escort him to the door.”
Bell’s friend Moletta Wick agrees. “I was one of the original bartenders hired on [at 4th & B],” she told me. “We ended up with eight out of twenty something bartenders that actually stayed there.”
Wick says the club had rowdy shows unlike anything she’s ever seen, and her resume includes several biker bars. “I mean, [co-owner] Don Ferguson, in our first week, got a bottle cracked over his head. It knocked him out, and we had to take him to the hospital!”
She says one of her worst nights was when the club booked the Long Beach Dub All Stars (former Sublime members). “I was working by the stage, and they came out of the dressing room and demanded alcohol from me...they told me ‘You’re gonna serve me now, bitch,’ just like freaked out on me. They pushed my bar away from me, it was a portable bar, and one guy pushed me up against the beer cooler and another guy started grabbing my liquor. They were saying ‘If you don’t serve me now, b-tch, I’m gonna have to kick your -ss and we just won’t play this concert and f-ck you’... my husband had to come down from our house to stand by the bar and protect me, because there was no security.”
Wick mentions a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy show where she and Bell became fed up. “We were training a new bartender, and she had gotten verbally assaulted. Then this guy physically tried to grab her and yank her across the bar, and grabbed me because I got in between them. I mean, there was this girl sitting on my bar and taking ecstasy...there were people having sex in the balcony.”
“When the show was over,” Bell says, “we spoke to the manager, and the owner came in and asked what the problem was. We told him that we didn’t have enough security, and that this wasn’t the first time we had brought it up. Apparently he [Speth] took Billy [the manager] upstairs and told him to fire us.”
Bell says she didn’t realize they’d been fired until the manager called her a few days later to leave a message. “When I called the club, he said ‘you haven’t to talked to Moletta? Oh, well, I had to let the two of you go.’ ” She says neither she nor Wick ever received a written warning or suspension and that they were told they’d been fired for insubordination.
Bob Speth, who owned 4th & B at the time, insisted to me that the women quit.
“They were yelling at my manager, calling him obscenities when I walked in the door. I said ‘It’s obvious that everyone’s really upset.’ I just took Billy out of the Vault to diffuse the situation. I never said anything to the girls. Then I told Billy I was going on a vacation, and to take them off the schedule until I come back. Give them a chance to cool off, to think about what they’d just done, and also I had my vacation so I didn’t want to deal with it. I wasn’t going to stay here when I had plane tickets to go to Idaho to go trout fishing.”
So when, according to Speth, did the women quit? “When I got a fax from them about a month after [the incident]. I immediately called them and said ‘what’s the problem?’ And they said ‘Oh we’ll get back with you.’ And they did, two months later, with a lawsuit. To this day, and you can quote this, I don’t understand!”
The jury at the civil trial was asked to considered “wrongful termination,” but the women had originally also filed for sexual harassment.
Speth and the club’s co-owner at the time, Don Ferguson, were singled out in the allegations. Wick says “They one morning made me stand in front of them and turn around so they could inspect my body because I had lost ten pounds and they thought it was remarkable. Like, threatening. I tried to walk away from them a couple of times, and they go ‘Get back down here now.’”
Speth points out that the sexual harassment portion of the suit was dropped, before the case ever went to court.
“The original [statement] was that the air molecules from the fan bounced on the floor, thusly bouncing up her dress and physically attacking her buttocks. That was the original one, and they amended it because everybody was laughing.”
“I’m a married guy, and they’re making these accusations, which of course they dropped before the trial ever started...they filed for everything, they said we were the dirtiest people in the world. Then, when we got to court though, then everything changed.”
Wick claims the club’s lawyers intimidated her by threatening to discredit her character.
“They tried to get Don Dokken to say that I had oral sex with him. I don’t know where the h-ll that came from, I was totally insulted when I heard about that. I’ve met Don Dokken, but I’ve never slept with the man.”
Asked about why they dropped the sexual harassment suit, Wick says “My lawyer I guess just didn’t feel like it was, I don’t know. I really don't know. I kind of wonder about that myself.”
Back when Speth was still running 4th & B, he told the Reader “I own the place, one hundred percent of it, and I live in a one bedroom apartment, $650.00 a month rent. Now the people, because of the size of this venue, perceive me as being wealthy...so what happens is, when somebody has a problem, they find an attorney and the attorney says ‘Oh, 4th & B, I went to a concert there, sold out, this guy’s got bucks. Let’s go.’”
3 – ROCKIN’ THE LAW: LAWYERS, SONGS AND MONEY
Lawyers love the music industry. Someone’s always suing someone else and the financial stakes can be substantial. Sometimes musicians sue each other, such as the royalty squabble between Beach Boys Mike Love and Brian Wilson.
Sometimes performers are sued by family – the late James Brown’s two daughters sued him over royalties they said were owed them via an agreement the singer refused to honor after the two women had him committed to a psychiatric hospital to be treated for painkiller addiction.
Sometimes, bands are even sued by fans. Creed singer Scott Stapp was at the center of a class action lawsuit because he was said to have put on a “lousy performance” in December 2002, in Chicago - fans wanted their money back plus two million dollars in damages over getting their hopes up for a great show only to be bitterly disappointed.
Anaya Suarez attended an Ozzy Osbourne concert at the San Diego Sports Arena in October 1995, during the singer’s “Retirement Sucks” tour. Nearly a year later, she went to the county courthouse on West Broadway and filed a personal injury lawsuit against Osbourne, Bill Silva Productions (promoter) and others associated with putting on the show, claiming that her close proximity to the stage resulted in her being seriously hurt.
Suarez’s lawyer contended that “Mr. Osbourne incited the crowd to the point of a near riot, waving his arms and encouraging the audience to ‘get out of your seats and show me what you’ve got.’ In the resultant activity, audience members were standing and jostling each other and pumping their fists in the air violently…Miss Suarez was so roughly accosted by the crowd that her head was struck repeatedly, she fell down, was kicked and received a serious brain injury.”
Her attorneys spent many months and filed over a dozen motions trying to subpoena the U.K. born Osbourne to come to San Diego to testify but, this being years before “The Osbournes” TV series featuring the singer’s residence in Los Angeles, his non-citizen status made this difficult. Suarez provided to the court a newspaper article mentioning that the singer owned a home in L.A. (he also had houses in England and Northern Ireland at the time), but in the end the subpoena could not be served.
Suarez ended up accepting a settlement offer from Osbourne’s attorneys, the terms of which are confidential and sealed by the court, and the entire matter was dismissed including the allegations of negligence against the promoters and security firms named in the original suit.
In one of the responses to the original filing, Osbourne’s legal counsel noted “If performers such as Mr. Osbourne were to be held legally liable every time they entreat audience members to rise from their seats, the concert industry would consist of little more than the occasional performances by John Denver, Kenny G and Yanni.”
Huntington Beach ska band Reel Big Fish performed at Soma in August 1997 and subsequently found themselves, along with Soma Productions, named in a negligence lawsuit filed by the father of sixteen year old Tessandra Reaume. According to a brief filed June 18th 1999, the girl was struck by a crowd surfer, causing her trauma which resulted in her knee buckling, whereupon she fell down and was further injured by the “rowdy crowd.”
Her father Timothy F. Reaume originally asked for a half million dollars in damages, naming Soma in the suit for “failing to prohibit or take any action to discourage crowd surfing.” The lawyer representing Reel Big Fish took exception to their being named in the suit and cited the sixteen year old’s own testimony in an attempt to have the band removed from the list of litigants. “She herself described [the band] as being ‘relatively clean cut, with more subdued music than similar bands.’” The judge agreed to drop Reel Big Fish from the suit and eventually a settlement was reached between Reaume and Soma Productions, the terms of which are confidential.
Poway’s own blink-182 were no strangers to lawsuits. In September 2002, they were the subject of a personal injury case nearly identical to the crowd surfing incident which landed Reel Big Fish in a hot skillet. Alexandra Cassie, a minor residing in northern California, is at this writing pursuing a lawsuit at the behest of her mother Janet Cassie, blaming the band, Clear Channel Entertainment and the Sacramento Valley Amphitheater for injuries sustained during a concert at that venue earlier in the year. The case has yet to be tried but the band has faced potential litigation since the release of their first official album.
Originally called simply “Blink,” the group’s origins date back to fall 1991, when Tom DeLonge met Mark Hoppus (Hoppus’ sister was dating one of DeLonge’s friends at the time). Hooking up with drummer Scott Raynor, they began playing local clubs and in 1994 they released “Buddha” on a small label run by friends in a band called the Vandals. They were signed to a one-album deal for Cargo Records and released “Cheshire Cat” in 1995. That’s when they came to the attention of a techno-industrial band from Dublin Ireland also named Blink.
The Irish Blink are comprised of guitarist/singer Dermot Lambert, bassist Brian McLoughlin, drummer Barry Campell and keyboardist/guitarist Robbie Sexton. They were just preparing to release their first album (which would go on to spawn four top-ten Irish singles) when someone sent them a copy of the Cargo “Cheshire Cat” record. In an interview posted at www.extreme-online.com, Travis Barker, who quit the Aquabats to join San Diego’s Blink after the departure of Scott Raynor, said "Blink was the original name of [our] band. But when we started getting exposure we nearly got sued by an Irish tech band so we added the 182 to keep the name.”
The threat of litigation is denied in a statement posted by the Irish Blink at irishsongwriters.com. “Contrary to anything you might read elsewhere, Blink`s manager simply phoned Cargo Records and asked them to inform the San Diego Blink that a band of that name already existed. We never sued the San Diego Blink and there was no court case. They simply agreed to change their name and an agreement was drawn up to avoid confusion. They became blink-182 and we continued on as Blink. Apparently there was also a Danish band called Blink but they changed their name voluntarily before we even heard of them. They are now called BL!NK.”
As to the “182,” members of the San Diego band have said in interviews that the number was chosen at random and at other times have claimed it represents "the number of times Al Pacino says everybody's favorite f-word in Scarface."
In 1997, blink-182 released "Dude Ranch" on MCA Records, which reached gold status in both the United States and Canada, and in July 1999 “Enema Of The State” sold over 100,000 copies within the first week of being in stores. Meanwhile, Dublin’s Blink released their second album “The End Is High” in the U.S. in March 1998, earning a “Spotlight Album Of The Week” profile in Billboard magazine and a subsequent American tour deal which saw them playing 113 gigs in 32 different states through 1999.
At least three booking agents filed lawsuits against the Irish techno band and their promoters during this tour, claiming they thought they were getting radio favorites blink-182 only to wind up with a numeral-deficient “Blink” and being faced with demands for refunds from angry patrons.
Stone Temple Pilots came together when Scott Weiland met New Jersey-born bass player Robert DeLeo at a 1986 Black Flag concert in Long Beach. The two Point Loma residents found they were dating the same woman but, rather than fight, they decided to form a band and ended up living together in the woman’s San Diego apartment after she moved to Texas. DeLeo’s brother Dean joined on guitar and Eric Kretz (who was born in Santa Cruz – as was Weiland – but was also living in San Diego at the time) became their drummer.
In their San Diego days, from 1987 through 1990 (when they moved to Los Angeles), they called themselves Mighty Joe Young. Bandmembers have claimed the STP motor oil logo inspired them to change their name to Stone Temple Pilots, because they could get STP stickers for free at gas stations and use them as promotional giveaways (rumors that the STP motor company filed a lawsuit over the band’s initials appear to be unfounded). After being signed to Atlantic Records in 1992, their first album “Core” brought fame, fortune and, in the case of drummer Eric Kretz, an acrimonious and expensive divorce.
On August 6th 2001, Kretz’ wife Shari sued the drummer for divorce in Los Angeles Superior Court, demanding $1.6 million dollars, or half his earnings, as well as financial support. She claimed Kretz had demanded she quit her “career in fashion” and that she’d gotten an abortion in 1992 because “Eric promised we could have another child when he was more financially able to do so.” She also claimed to have "discussed and added ideas portrayed through Stone Temple Pilots music, cover art, and video," contributing lyrics to the “Core” album and “providing inspiration for [the song] ‘Trippin’ On A Hole In A Paper Heart’” by "introducing Eric to subjects which expanded his creative abilities."
She also insisted she’d "designed Eric's clothing and his 'rock 'n' roll look'" and had improved his "physical image" because she "recommended that Eric look into surgical liposuction," and "nursed him" after the procedure took place.
The suit aimed to prove that, even though their legal marriage only lasted four years, ending in November 2000, their decade-long relationship had long been “business related’ as well as “quasi-parental,” with her being the parent to her husband’s perpetual rock ‘n’ roll childhood.
Also in her filing was the claim that Kretz had promised her “a large house on a large piece of land” and that he’d give her “lifetime support, and share his earnings” with her, to “provide a lavish lifestyle." Her request for divorce was granted and a confidential financial settlement was reached in early 2002.
Inga Vainshtein says she discovered Jewel Kilcher “playing in a filthy coffeehouse” and began managing the career of the then-homeless performer in 1993, introducing the future superstar to San Diego venue owners and lining up gigs. This continued after the release of Jewel’s “Pieces Of You” album in February 1995, and on through the period when the record suddenly picked up steam and shot up the charts almost a year later. She says she was fired by Jewel in early 1998, when Jewel’s mother Lenedra J. Carroll supplanted her role as the singer’s manager.
Vainshtein filed a lawsuit against Jewel and her mother at Los Angeles Superior Court in December 1998, seeking $10 million dollars for “breach of written contract, breach of covenant of good faith, declaratory relief, accounting” and “interference with contractual relations.” The writ also stated that, while Vainshtein was still supposedly in charge of the deal-making, Jewel’s mom solicited business advice from a psychic name Jackie Snyder, who channeled this wisdom “by communing with some entity referred to as Z.”
One of Vainshtein’s lawyers, Caryn Brottman Sanders, said “It's difficult to manage someone when your business decisions are being made by an ancient spirit. Let's just say that my client believes she has been very wrongly treated. She discovered Jewel when she had nothing. Jewel has risen from obscurity and abject poverty to become one of the most famous and successful recording artists of the decade. Her commercial success is thanks to my client.”
At the time the suit was filed, Jewel and her 48-year-old mother were sharing a 2.5 million dollar mock-Tudor mansion in San Diego. Just weeks later, Jewel's “Spirit” album debuted at #3 on the Billboard album chart, selling 368,000 copies during its opening week of sales.
In January 1999, Jewel filed her own petition in response to the lawsuit, declaring that she and Vainshtein never had a legally binding deal and that the contract with Vainshtein's company Cold War Management should be rendered void because Vainshtein acted as an unlicensed talent agency, in violation of California Labor Code Section 1700.5.
On May 30th 2001, the CA Labor Commission agreed, in a twenty-eight page written decision, stating that Vainshtein violated the California Talent Agencies Act and used “illegal booking tactics” while managing the singer. The ruling went on to declare the original 1994 management contract between Vainshtein and Jewel unlawful and void ab initio, meaning that the former manager had no enforceable rights under the contract. "With this ruling, the lawsuit no longer has any basis and should be dismissed by the court," Jewel’s attorney Larry S. Greenfield said at the time.
One of Vainshtein's attorneys, Dave Koropp, said the Labor Commissioner's decision has "no bearing whatsoever" on the suit and that the California Superior Court will determine whether the management contract was valid. Vainshtein filed an appeal to the Labor Commission decision on June 7th 2001, along with a request that the Commission force Jewel to pay her $1,843,450 in unpaid commissions. The appeal was denied and the California Superior Court has, as of this writing, yet to review Vainshtein’s still-pending original lawsuit.
In June 2003, the newswire service Reuters carried a press release stating that Jewel had signed a new management deal with Irving Azoff, former president of MCA Records and manager of the Eagles and others. Lenendra Caroll “will now oversee Jewel's charity endeavors,” according to the release which also quoted Carroll as saying "I have watched my energy and interest move more in this direction and away from management. With the crisis the industry is in, things have become much more difficult for artists . . . a high level of expertise is needed now."
4 – ROCKIN’ THE LAW: PAIN AND SUFFERING
San Diego’s civil court dockets are filled with lawsuits where “pain and suffering” is alleged by patrons and participants at area music events and nightclubs. Litigants seeking compensatory damage awards achieve varying degrees of success and failure: in general, settlements of course favor the accuser, while actual trials can go either way.
Filipino-American James Maddelana was 23 years old in June 1999 when he says he was assaulted by “three skinheads” at Vans Warped Tour, held that year in Del Mar and featuring Suicidal Tendencies and Eminem. As he explained it to me, “My friends and I were hanging out in the middle section, listening to a whole bunch of bands, and in the middle of it a mosh pit broke out, I think [during] Limp Bizkit or Suicidal Tendencies.”
“All of a sudden, I was jumped by three skinheads. I was in it [the mosh pit] for a couple of seconds, I got hit by one guy on the side and another guy jumped on my back and my knee snapped and collapsed on me and I fell on the floor. I don’t want to say it was a racially motivated attack but all my friends who saw it said it was! Either that or it was just three guys who were really good friends who just didn’t like me for one reason or another.”
“The thing that upset me was that the intensive care unit didn’t do much, they put a band-aid on me, had me sign over waiver that said everything was okay and then let me on my way.” He says he never read the waiver. “It was a little yellow form that they had everyone sign, they said it was mandatory for me to get help there.”
Maddelana says he went to a doctor over the next few days, who confirmed that serious damage had been done. “I tore the muscle that binds the knee together and there was a 3cm piece of bone that cracked, it was a major tear. It took nearly two years, three different surgeries, to get it fixed.” A computer technician at the time of the injury, he claims to have incurred $15,000.00 in medical expenses, which his personal insurance covered.
In February 2000, Maddelana filed a personal injury lawsuit in El Cajon district court, for negligence on the part of Universal Studios Inc., Vans Warped Tour, (security firm) Elite Show Services and promoter Bill Silva Presents. “Everyone kind of passed the buck. Del Mar said it wasn’t their fault, Universal Studios pushed it off to [promoter] Bill Silva Presents, the security people [Elite Show Services] said they weren’t responsible for it, they only work for the event and I was at risk because I was down there anyways watching the concert. At the hearings, they all had lawyers there. You have to take time out of your day and you sit in a room…I was facing five lawyers there, not including my own.”
His lawyer warned him the case wasn’t winnable, and he might even have to pay the opposing lawyers’ fees. “In the end, I ended up settling out of court, for the minimum amount they could give just so I could kind of move on.”
The terms of the settlement are confidential, but he makes it clear that he considers the amount insignificant compared to his pain and suffering. “The injury really stopped my life. I used to love playing basketball, I was really active in sports and I can’t do any of that stuff now. I still like going to concerts, I love music, but some things I won’t be a part of. I’ll make sure I don’t get in the front. Even at the Belly Up Tavern where, you know, you don’t think of a mosh pit, but when one breaks out I kind of scurry over to the side, I’m scared as Hell, you know?”
71 year old Gilbert Miller admits that his pain and suffering stemmed from an April ’99 altercation where he threw the first punch at bartender Stephen King, at downtown’s Hard Rock Café. This didn’t stop Miller from suing the club and their employee for “negligence,” a lawsuit he lost with humiliating finality.
Reached by phone, the native Oklahoman told me, in his laconic southern drawl, “Well, I was in the bar and I had a few drinks. I had some money on the bar, twelve or fourteen dollars, and the bartender just picked it up and put it in his tip jar. I didn’t give it to him, he just grabbed it…he probably thought I was intoxicated, and I probably was.” Miller admits to drinking earlier that day, in the Grant Grill, at downtown’s Star bar and the Corvette Diner in Hillcrest, telling me he was on his first or second single malt scotch at the Hard Rock.
“So I sit there and I thought about it awhile and I said ‘well that’s not right.’ And the [bartender] kept looking at me…he was avoiding me and I thought ‘well, I’m not happy with that, that’s not the way it should be.’ When he came back up on my end [of the bar], he got close to me, I reached over and I punched him in the forehead.”
He says some shoving ensued before he turned to exit the bar. “I didn’t want to get into a knock-down drag-out fight so I started for the door, I said ‘well I’ll just leave.’ And he came across the floor following me and he hit me, in the back, just as I reached the doorway…I ended up laying on the sidewalk, in pain.”
He says police were summoned and the bartender threatened to charge him with assault and disorderly conduct. No arrest was made, however. “They handcuffed me to take me down to detox, and I told them ‘I hurt, my rib’s busted, I know it is, I can’t move my arm,’ but they handcuffed me and put me in the car anyways and took me downtown. I was in pain, they kept me there for four hours and wouldn’t let me see a doctor…the next day, I woke up and I couldn’t breathe.”
67 years old at the time, 178 pounds, he says he went to the emergency room at Mercy hospital. “They did the X-rays and said ‘yeah, you got your ribcage busted, you got four busted ribs and your lung is getting fluid and we’re gonna have to drain it,’ so they run a tube through me and I was in the hospital for three or four days.”
He claims $3,600.00 in medical expenses, mentioning that Medicare and his HMO covered his costs. He found a lawyer willing to help him sue the Hard Rock Café and bartender King, even though the incident had started with Miller punching the bartender in the head, with no warning. I asked how the bar’s negligence had caused his injury.
“I mean, the guy hit me in the back when I went out the doorway.” I mention this wasn’t included in the police report. “Yeah, it didn’t mention anything about there having been a fight, it just said they had found me there on the sidewalk, which they did, and about them taking me to detox. That made it hard to prove my case against the guy. If I could have found a witness, I could have nailed their asses.”
In May 2000, a judge ruled that Miller and Hard Rock attorneys had to meet face to face for administrative mediation, in order to reach a compromise or settlement rather than going to trial. “We asked for $40,000.00 and the arbitrator ruled that we get nothing. I wanted to go to court, I wanted a jury trial, I would have loved to get up in front of the jury, but my lawyer was a lady, Elaine I-can’t-remember-her-last-name, right downtown in the chamber of commerce building, she says ‘I can’t go to trial on this, you’ll have to get you a new lawyer.’”
“The way it ended up going was the Hard Rock’s insurance company lawyers agreed to not charge me with court costs or anything if I agreed not to pursue the case any more, and if I promised not to go near any Hard Rock Cafe, anyplace in the world, for what they had at first written up as within thirty or fifty feet of the place!”
The actual ruling states “Plaintiff Miller hereby agrees to not contact, molest, harass, attack, strike, threaten, batter, telephone, send any messages to, follow, stalk, destroy the personal property, disturb the peace of, keep under surveillance or throw affairs of any and all Hard Rock Café Restaurants in the world. Further, Miller hereby agrees and shall stay at least 5 yards away from any and all Hard Rock Café Restaurants in the world.”
The former rate clerk for a motor freight company (he retired from a local trucking firm in 1991) says he still can’t believe how badly he lost. “I wasn’t happy with it at all. I was very disappointed that the arbitrator didn’t award me at least a nominal $10,000 or $12,000 for pain and suffering.” The issue of whether the bartender actually stole his money never came up in any of the filings or court dates.
Miller says he’s now fully recovered from his injury [“I fast walk, I play golf and I walk up and down fourteen flights of stairs in the building I live in”] and that the Hard Rock incident is the only time he’s ever been in a bar fight. “I never get 86’d.”
Lawsuits alleging pain and suffering don’t always involve physical injury. Sometimes, the pain is to the psyche - with these civil filings, the keywords are usually “emotional trauma” or “distress.” San Diego lawyer Robert Glaser claimed to have suffered “embarrassment and emotional distress” when he discovered women were using the men’s bathroom at a 1995 Elton John-Billy Joel concert, at what was then called Jack Murphy (now Qualcomm) Stadium.
The women had apparently resorted to the (surely less desirable) men’s facilities because of long lines outside women’s restrooms. In March 1995, Glaser filed a $5.4 million lawsuit against the city of San Diego, claiming that, upon discovering that women were using the men’s bathroom, sometimes squatting over the urinal troughs, he was ''angered, upset, embarrassed, distraught and (feeling) violated.’” He said his “civil rights to privacy” were violated by having to urinate ''in front of women in the men's bathroom.''
Glaser said he checked “six or seven” other men’s rooms, finding women present in all of them, and that he “had to hold it in for four hours” because he was unwilling to urinate with women present. He also named the beer vendor in his suit, claiming their irresistible product, prolific presence and superlative salesmanship had contributed to his eventual discomfort.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Glaser’s claim was unreasonable, ordering him to pay $2,000 in fines to the city for filing a frivolous lawsuit. He and his lawyer were also required to pay $2,000 to the concessions company Glaser had blamed for selling him the beer. Glaser took his appeal of this ruling appeal all the way to the California Supreme Court which, in December 1998, denied Glaser's appeal without comment. Glaser did not respond to emailed requests to be interviewed for this piece.
Rancho Bernardo High School band student Trevor LeBlanc presented a much more convincing case for his own “emotional distress.” In his civil lawsuit against the Poway Unified School District and RBHS band director Tom Cole, LeBlanc contended that Cole yelled at him and assaulted him for wearing the wrong color socks at the 2001 Tournament of Roses Parade, reportedly pulling him out of formation and saying "I ought to wring your [expletive] neck" and "I want to bash in your [expletive] face."
Then 16 years old, the student claimed the band director grabbed his throat, shaking him back and forth and pulling his instrument, a baritone horn, out of his hands. After the incident, LeBlanc quit the Rancho Bernardo High School band.
During the civil trial, associate RBHS band director Gary Horimoto testified that he saw Cole shake LeBlanc’s shoulders and pull the boy from the line formation, but he hadn’t seen Cole grab the student’s neck or swear at him. In November 2002, a jury found the youth’s “emotional and physical distress” to be worth $25,000.00 in damages, because Cole was negligent when he grabbed LeBlanc and yelled at him for wearing orange socks.
The actual band colors are blue and white.
INSECURITY: - Local Firms Fight for Rights to Bounce You
Your average concertgoer rarely pays much attention to event security. Most of what they do goes on out of our view, at least if they’re doing their job right. Sure, it’s nice to know they’re around, just in case someone falls down, something blows up or all hell breaks loose. If you ask them nicely, they can even help wrest your seat back from surly trespassers.
However, unless you’re trying to do something you’re not supposed to do, such as take pictures, smoke dope, sneak in, stage dive, expose your naughty bits, or fight with fellow patrons, you’ve not likely worried much about the (usually) big guys (and sometimes gals) standing (or prowling) around (or behind, or overhead, or sometimes beneath the stage risers…) .
Two newer firms, Omni and Elite Show Services, were initially run by former Staffpro employees who chose to go head to head with their previous bosses, vying for their own slices of the San Diego event pie. The competition and rivalry has been, at times, as messy and bruising as any mosh pit encounter, especially between Staffpro and Elite.
“I was locked out of my office. When I showed up for work, I was not allowed into my office by security guards.” Kontopuls would go on to purchase, along with his brother, a small existing security company called Elite. Within a short time, he transformed Elite into Staffpro’s main competitor in the local security game.
I asked Kontopuls what prompted his initial departure/ousting from Staffpro. “I had huge philosophical differences with my partner [Cory Meredith] about how the company should be run, from an operational and ethical standpoint. I also felt that having the majority ownership in Los Angeles wasn’t serving my San Diego clients properly. The San Diego branch was in total disarray.”
At that time, Kontopuls’ office was at the Convention Center. “I was kind of exiled there, put out to pasture for the most part. He [Meredith] just wanted me out of the way, and once they did that, the company started falling apart. The concert, hotel and the entertainment divisions.”
Subsequent to his departure, Kontopuls fired the first legal salvo. “The advice from my attorney was to initiate a lawsuit for breach of my employment contract. I was a stockholder in the company, so there was also a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit. I didn’t have any income, they cut off my paycheck, and I was pretty much left sitting with what I had in my savings account.”
“I filed for unemployment, and Staffpro basically lied to the unemployment people as to what the circumstances were. They said I quit to start my own company, and I said I was locked out. At that point, my future was uncertain because I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Kontopuls’ contribution to Staffpro’s growth and success is a major point in the suit he filed against Staffpro at El Cajon Superior Court. “I acquired 90% of the San Diego business for the company, like the Convention Center and Bill Silva Presents.”
Kontopuls’ relationship with Silva, in fact, predated his employment with Staffpro. “I brought Bill Silva along when I went to work for Cory at Event. I’m the one who negotiated everything, went to all the meetings.”
When asked about that lucrative Silva contract, Staffpro General Manager Hugh Kollar told me “I don’t know if he [Kontopuls] was the guy or if it was Cory Meredith. As I understand it, Cory was the one who started the company, and Gus just happened to be the guy who worked for Cory down there.”
After Kontopuls left Staffpro, Kollar moved from Orange County to San Diego, to bring the branch “solid, stable management.”
Kollar did acknowledge to me that Kontopuls had “a great deal of savvy and knowledge about our operations” and that Staffpro was “concerned with the prospect of him [Kontopuls] using those trade secrets in a rival operation.”
Kontopuls is emphatic in his claim that Staffpro made it impossible for him to get work from other security firms. “I went to talk to a couple of companies about working for them, and they treated me like I was radioactive. Cory was telling people that anybody who hired me was going to get sued, because he pretty much had an exclusive on my life.”
“It’s all in the contacts,” said Kollar at Staffpro, “and when someone has the contacts, they’ve got the inside track on getting the job. If someone else is signing your paycheck while you get those contacts, how fair is it to try and take that business with you when you start up a competing company?”
Kontopuls said that going into business for himself became his only option, and several Staffpro employees came over to his new company along with him, including Director Of Operations Brian Mulder. Many of the guards at Staffpro were initially willing to work for Elite as well, some quitting Staffpro to do so, but Kontopuls said this caused Staffpro to throw another roadblock in his way.
“They did file a lawsuit against me, to try and shut me down but they were unsuccessful,” said Kontopuls. Court papers show that Staffpro attempted to place a temporary emergency injunction against Elite, forbidding them from conducting unfairly competitive business. The injunction was filed just days before the start of the baseball season.
“The judge just looked at them and laughed,” said Kontopuls. “He said their case had no merit, ‘take it to court and fight like adults instead of trying to shut this guy down on the eve of his first big event’.”
“Absolutely. They actually sent supervisors out to the Pacific Beach Block Party, which was one of the first events I did. They had their supervisors tell people ‘If you don’t quit and walk off the post right now, you’re fired from Staffpro.’ Then they’d allow their employees to work for other companies, just not mine. If they called and said they wanted to work for Omni at Street Scene, or something like that, they were allowed to do it, but if they asked to work for Elite, they’d get a no.”
Kollar did indeed back up Kontopuls assertion, but only somewhat. “Sure, Omni and I are friendly competitors. We communicate and we talk, we help each other.”
In fact, Staffpro and Omni were subcontracting work back and forth at the time. When Staffpro manned a local U2 concert, several Omni employees were hired for the evening. Omni put several Staffpro employees on the payroll to help with at least one San Diego Street Scene.
About the exclusivity agreement Staffpro employees were required to sign, Kollar admitted to me “Yes, that did happen. Because of the situation that existed at that time, Staffpro was forced to do that. There was a lot of company information being taken.”
Though Kollar could not be more specific about the information he was referring to (“I don’t think that’s important now”), he did say that he didn’t support the decision.
“The management didn’t feel that it was healthy to let people work for other companies. But, the day I went down there, that changed.”
Kollar said he instituted a policy making it clear that Staffpro employees were welcome to also work for other security companies, if they wish. “In fact, I encourage it. We don’t have a problem. A lot of these guys are part timers trying to make some extra money, and we’re not going to stop them from making ends meet.”
Kontopuls laughed off Kollar’s statement, and said this hasn’t been the case. “Not at all. I’ve never heard of a letter being circulated saying that the policy has been dismissed. I still talk to people who say they’d love to do some work for me, but they know they’ll get fired from Staffpro if they do.”
When asked about his own relationship with Omni, the other Staffpro spin-off, Kontopuls didn’t exactly scramble for superlatives.
“They have their little niche. They do small club shows and they do Street Scene. Omni did refer some work [to us] during the Republican Convention and, I don’t want to get into details but I’ll never conduct business with those guys again. They’re just a competitor, as far as I’m concerned.”
Much of Elite’s eventual ascendance was attributable, said Kontopuls, to the operational differences between his company and Staffpro.
“We really stress the customer service aspect of the industry, and we treat the fans as guests of the event instead of going in there with a Nazi stormtrooper attitude. We’re not attracting your basic, I don’t want to say thug, but you know the kind of guy who can lift a ton but can’t spell it? We only hire about one in eight people who walk in our door.”
He added that Elite employees take a four hour customer service class, several hours of first aid and CPR certification, and particular attention is paid to training in alcohol awareness. “I tried to do this [at Staffpro] but was unsuccessful at it.”
What, in his opinion, most set Elite apart from his main competitor? “I’d say the honesty and integrity of senior management. And the fact that we’re locally owned and operated.”
When I relayed those quotes to Kollar, he wanted it known that Staffpro’s people receive much the same orientation. “They’re trained in techniques of alcohol management. They’re supervised, they know what to look for. One of my competitors once said that if you pay your people peanuts, you get monkeys. I don’t believe that. I believe if you supervise your people, treat them good, they’ll provide a good service for you.”
Kollar confirmed that. “There’s plenty of work in San Diego for everyone,” he said, with a thoroughly convinced (if not entirely convincing) tone of finality. “As long as supervisors are loyal and do what they’re supposed to do, it’s not that big a deal.”
Another competitor entered the local Bouncer Wars in 2000. XL Staffing And Security has around 220 staffers dressed to the nines and working around town at about two dozen venues, including On Broadway (the company’s first client), Aubergine, Stingaree, Ole Madrid, and 94th Aero Squadron.
Last year, XL became involved in a proposed reality TV show about the firm. Footage was shot at Mardi Gras and several clubs downtown from February 19th through the 21st of ’07. XL Staffing And Security owner Joe Mackey told the Reader “[The show will] mostly focus on our staff, and how they command in suits and ties instead of windbreakers and tattoos. As far as patrons go, we’re still working out how the releases [to appear] will go…people being confronted or asked to leave will probably end up in the show, provided they sign the release.”
Mackey says his family-owned company owns a portion of the program, along with MTV/VH1 producer Rob Cohen. “I wanted to make sure I get something close to final say over what airs. I don’t want them to shoot three months’ of tape and then they accidentally catch someone doing some little thing wrong and that’s the whole show.”
Before the reality show deal was signed, Mackey says several other TV programmers expressed interest in working with XL.
“Court TV contacted us about doing a show. ‘Wife Swap’ wanted to have one of our female guards do a show for them…around ten percent of our staff is female. Fremantle Media, who do American Idol, they wanted us to do a show called ‘Bounced,’ where every episode ends with someone getting physically booted from someplace. We told them that’s not what we’re about.”
“I didn’t want to handle a bunch of thugs…our staffers specialize in communication, not intimidation. They go through forty hours of training covering everything from powers to arrest, club drug awareness, verbal Jujitsu, handcuff training, CPR and first aid, and there are monthly classes that are mandatory to attend. We do background checks going back ten years with the Department Of Justice and the FBI and, before they’re hired, we do a psychological profile to ensure they’re not prone to violence.”
XL Staffing and Security reported earning over four million dollars in 2005. More recent figures were, at this writing, unavailable.
6 - WORST IN ROCK: CELEBS IN SD FIND TROUBLE IN PARADISE
STEPHEN STILLS August 14, 1970 In late 1970, ex-Byrd David Crosby, former Hollie Graham Nash and Buffalo Springfield singer Stephen Stills were joined by periodic fourth voice Neil Young, as they prepared to promote and possibly tour behind their live LP “4 Way Street.” Stills eponymous first solo had spawned a hit record “Love The One You’re With” and his second solo disc was slated for the following year. Then Stills was arrested one hot August night at a La Jolla motel, reportedly incoherent and combatative with police. He was charged with “possession of dangerous drugs,” cocaine and barbiturates, and released on $ 2,500 bail.
(Hey Stephen, is that your face melting, or are you just peaking??)
In April 1971, Stills returned to San Diego for his court date. Rolling Stone #83 [5-27-71] said it was “to get his wrist slapped with a $1,000 fine (plus probation) for his not-often-celebrated coke bust.” The charges were reduced to a misdemeanor and band manager Elliot Roberts, in the same issue, refuses to elaborate on just how this major legal coup was pulled off. “It’s over now, so we don’t talk about it.”
Only recently have viewing-copies of Robert Frank’s long-suppressed documentary “C---sucker Blues” surfaced. The movie famously chronicles the Stones’ infamous 1972 tour, timed to promote “Exile On Main Street” [released April 12] and the group’s first time playing North America since the deadly 1969 Altamont concert. In the film, the San Diego International Sports Arena date isn’t so much a scene of decadence as indifference.
Backstage, Mick Jagger can be seen deciding what to wear over his purple jumpsuit – a silver lame’ jacket, black leather coat or raspberry polka dot shirt, his three main sartorial accessories for the tour. He ends up shrugging his shoulders to don a plain denim jacket that looks small even on his thin frame, muttering “I don’t care, it’s only San Diego.” The set was reportedly fair – it’s one of the few occasions they’ve performed “Honky Tonk Woman” live. The real show was happening outside, in the Arena parking lot.
The Bill Graham-produced event had, like the Stones themselves, sold out. Unreserved seating cost $6.50, among the year’s highest ticket prices (even aside from the free parking) in an era when Pink Floyd, Traffic and Chicago tickets cost local patrons $4 - $5. Around three hundred apparently ticketless youths milled around the Arena parking lot as someone, perhaps several someones, worked their way through the crowd, selling dozens of counterfeit tickets for anywhere from $10 to $20 each.
The actual tickets had been imprinted on a beige fiber cardstock with slightly raised ink – the counterfeits were offset printed with thick raised ink, fairly convincing except printed on a yellow-orange cardstock. Had the color been closer to the genuine tickets, most of the counterfeits might have gone unnoticed.
Hapless scam victims were refused admission and soon the crowd of angry, ripped off Stones fans and rowdy ticketless bystanders were moving threateningly en masse for the row of entrances.
Guards (one of whom later characterized the scene as “a riot”) were overwhelmed, dozens of people stormed the gates and ran into the hall and police were helpless do anything other than summon medical aid for a handful of mildly injured gatekeepers.
When it was reported that most rioters appeared underage, a Juvenile Delinquency and Crime Commission was set up to investigate whether local rock concerts in general and Stones concerts in particular should be restricted to only adult patrons (no city measure ever materialized). The scene was eerily repeated in July at a Montreal Stones show, where 3,000 victims of ticket forgers rioted in the streets. At the same concert, one of the band’s equipment trucks was dynamited by French separatists, making the San Diego date seem more rowdy than riotous by comparison.
Surviving counterfeit tickets from the Sports Arena show are highly prized collector’s items, sold and traded with certificates of authenticity signed by purported experts in rock and roll memorabilia. One eBay auction in late 2003 for an untorn San Diego 6-13-72 bootleg ticket, “certified authentic” (an authentic counterfeit?), attracted over 3,800 hits, drawing 65 bids and closing at $251.00, plus $7.50 insured shipping.
BRIAN WILSON June 1978: In late 1976, the mercurial Beach Boy was complaining about round-the-clock “treatment” administered by Beverly Hills shrink Dr. Eugene E. Landy, a controversial mental health guru who, with his staff, essentially dictated and controlled his subject’s every move.
Landy was fired by band management in December 1976 after it was discovered the doctor’s $90 hourly/$10,000 monthly salary had doubled. However, Wilson's new therapist Steve Schwartz was soon killed in a rock-climbing accident and before long the songwriter’s delicate mental and emotional equilibrium was, as Landy might say, “disharmonious.”
Wilson, without telling his wife or fellow bandmembers, inexplicably decided to escape his life entirely and hitchhike to Mexico. He wound up in San Diego a few days later, according to Steven Gaines’ biography “Heroes And Villains,” which describes a mentally fogged pop star millionaire wandering around the city for days, “barefoot and unwashed.”
“He was on a binge," according to Stephen Love, brother of Beach Boy Mike Love and sometime-band manager (he kept getting fired and rehired). Wilson’s wife since 1965, Marilyn Rovell, referred to the incident in later divorce papers as the beginning of their marriage dissolution, saying “He told me he wanted to know what it feels like to be a bum…[he was] playing for drinks in San Diego bars.”
Someone from a local recording studio recognized Wilson and attempted to get him to record a track, apparently unaware that Wilson was at the time basically living under a tree near the entrance of the Laurel Street Bridge in Balboa Park. That’s where he was discovered one afternoon, passed out and nearly comatose. "The cops found him in Balboa Park under a tree with no shoes on, his white pants filthy, obviously a vagrant, with no wallet, no money," according to another Love brother, Stanley. Wilson was taken by ambulance to nearby Alvarado Hospital and a doctor called Mrs. Wilson to inform that her husband was being treated for alcohol poisoning. She had already approved sending a private detective to San Diego to search for her missing husband, after a phone call from someone at the local recording studio who called CBS, the Beach Boys’ one-time label, with news of Wilson’s vagrancy.
Marilyn, with Stephen and Stanley Love, came to San Diego to take Wilson home but decided to leave him at the hospital a few extra days for treatment. Wilson’s mental and physical health was precarious and the Beach Boys were scheduled to begin sessions for a new album in Florida soon. Wilson flew to meet rest of the band straight from treatment, to record the group’s debut for Caribou Records at Florida's Criteria Studios. He was quickly supplanted as producer by Bruce Johnston when it became evident that Wilson was incapable – or unwilling – to do the job
Wilson and his wife filed for legal separation in LA Superior Court July 15.
Alvarado Hospital is also where, in August 1999, Brian’s daughter Carnie Wilson underwent her highly publicized laparoscopic gastric bypass (weight reduction) surgery, performed live on TV and the internet.
FRANK ZAPPA FANS December 13, 1979: Tickets for Zappa’s first eighties appearance in his one-time hometown [April 4, 1980] weren’t even on sale yet when several people were arrested for larceny, drugs, vandalism and indecent behavior. On the night before seats were due be released at 10am, about a hundred people were camped out on the pavement in sprawling lines, all leading to the Sports Arena ticket windows, Zappa fans (and a few scalpers) wholly intent on getting the best seats for this highly anticipated performance.
I was among the throng with apparently little to do besides napping in lawn chairs, playing Zappa bootlegs on car stereos and passing around joints with other likeminded layabouts all night long. Some friends and I talked others into holding our spots in line while we snuck into the nearby Midway Drive-In to see the new Star Trek movie. Returning to the Arena parking lot, we were amazed to see silver beer kegs lined up on each of the ticket window shelves, all tapped and flowing!
Everyone was standing around, filling plastic cups, passing them out – partytime, excellent! More kegs were being wheeled out of the wide-open Sports Arena doors and down the steps on handcarts, while other people were coming out of the building with gigantic bags of pre-cooked popcorn and garbage cans full of other snack bar goodies.
I never was clear on who first used a coathanger to pull the leverage bar inward from the other side of a set of glass Arena doors, opening the place up to be invaded by anyone brave enough to enter (which included most of us – er, them).
This was only the beginning of the bacchanalia. Everyone lined up at the pay phones to call friends and invite them down to what was quickly becoming a drunken overnight orgy and eventually about three hundred people were there – amazingly, no cops showed up. At least not yet.
The ticket clerks who threw open the windows of their booths at 10AM were greeted by the sight of precariously balanced (and completely emptied) beer kegs on the window shelves, a mountain of plastic cups and snack bar trash littering the parking lot and a subdued crowd of hungover young adults barely ambulatory enough to stumble up to the windows and pull out our wallets to mumble “gimme yer best seats.”
Various suspicious types and presumably frequent offenders were pulled from the crowd and questioned but I never heard about anyone being arrested for actually breaking into the Arena. One guy was busted for attempted larceny, for trying to pry open a ticket window gate, and a hippie looking guy who made a chair of one of the empty kegs was cited for possession of stolen property.
Several others were handcuffed and hauled away for being intoxicated or in possession of drugs (one guy had weed out in the open, another was passed out with a cocaine-covered mirror next to him when police approached).
A willowy redheaded girl, still inebriated, got into trouble by refusing to put anything on over her see-through panties and bra and the cops took her away. She’d been very popular all night, performing oral sex on several guys who shared cocaine with her, usually in full view of everyone in line and sometimes earning cheers from nearby voyeurs for her efforts, though she blew a couple of guys under blankets.
WE, of course, cheered her every erotic endeavor, and the morning near-nudity was a welcome respite from all the blue uniforms milling about. I heard the cops tried to charge her with public indecency but most of us found her pretty decent and I can find no account of her actually being charged in any newspapers.
Everyone I know looked for her at the concert itself (we were eventually allowed to buy our tickets) but subsequent sightings of the cokehead-redhead-who-loves-head are unconfirmed and remain the stuff of local urban legend.
GRATEFUL DEAD July 1, 1980: Dead fans, however believable their addled faculties may be, usually cite the band’s 1980 album “Go To Heaven” as the nadir of their recording career, though "Alabama Getaway" and "Don't Ease Me In" became later concert staples. That year’s tour still managed to bring out the tie-dyed and squinty-eyed in big numbers for an appearance at the Sports Arena. Advance press reports made it clear that local police were “on guard” for the expected influx of illicit drugs and illegal activity in the parking lot and audience seats.
Even before the show started, several people were arrested for smoking pot. One bust was witnessed from alongside the stage by Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and band manager Danny Rifkin.
The trio tried to intervene, cajoling onlookers to join them in separating the young potsmoker from police offers trying to effect the arrest. Cops pulled out additional handcuffs and arrested Weir, Hart and Rifkin for “suspicion of inciting a riot.” The three defendants had to return to San Diego several weeks later to face charges.
Their offense was reduced to a low grade misdemeanor, fines were paid and everyone walked out of the courtroom with a grudge against the SDPD that lingers to this day.
“We couldn’t believe what fascists they are down there,” Weir told Golden Scarab, a Dead fanzine, in 1999. “We almost never went further south than Irvine after that. We didn’t wanna set the kids up to be busted by a bunch of gorillas with no education, who hate rock and roll music.”
Based in Riverside, ska band the Skeletones have been around since 1986, earning frequent spins on 91X (who called them "the #1 ska band in California and perhaps the world") and steady gigs at Soma and elsewhere around town. On the occasion they played 4th & B, the band just about blew up the place, and that’s not a euphemism for a strong performance.
“The way 4th & B is, being a licensed establishment,” explains security guard Joel Meriwether, who’d worked at the club since its inception, “you can’t take liquor outside in open containers. So we told them ‘You can’t walk outside with your beer.’ It was one guy [he’s unclear whether a bandmember or roadie] and as they got their van loaded up, as they were leaving, I was at the back door where I usually am. I got called in to break up a fight, and so [co-owner] Bob [Speth]’s wife went to the back door to spot me while I was inside."
"The guy that was being a dick opened up the [van] window and threw what we thought was a cherry bomb at her. It hit the wall and exploded, kaboom, it echoed off the building.”
“Right as he did that, a cop was sitting up the street at 3rd and B and he looks over and sees the flash and everything and stops the van.”
“He’d actually thrown an M80. They called out the bomb squad, roped off the whole parking lot, the customers’ cars; they [the band] couldn’t leave. They had tweezers out there and were picking the stuff up for hours.” Meriwether says he recalls an arrest being made but can offer no further details. “I think he did some time. He was already on probation for some other stunt.”
The opening night of Snoop Dogg’s “Puff, Puff, Pass” tour ended early as the rapper left the Coors Amphitheatre stage after only 45 minutes. When he pulled the plug, Dogg had already been hit in the chest with a thrown red visor and members of his entourage standing onstage were being pelted with bottles and other debris. Someone from the audience tried to climb onstage and alleged gangmembers were pulling speakers from the stage and trashing them.
According to witnesses, it had nothing to do with the music - the people onstage were wearing blue colors. Offending/offended audience members were wearing red.
Suddenly it was Dr. Suess with tattoos as starbellied sneeches and barebellied sneeches threatened to go head to head in a violent confrontation. According to the Union-Tribune, a security guard suffered a minor injury after being struck by an unidentified object during the “disturbance” but no arrests were made other than a woman under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
As Dogg left the stage and house lights came up, the sound of microphones being slammed to the ground while still amplified was mistaken by some to be gunshots and a minor panic ensued. Chula Vista Police took the stage in what police Lt. Dan Linney called a “skirmish line,” as a show of force, but audience members quickly regained their calm and left the venue compound peaceably.
After the concert, Snoop’s tour bus was pulled over in Temecula. The police smelled marijuana smoke, searched the bus and found 300 grams of pot. A member of Snoop's entourage claimed possession of the herb, was cited for misdemeanor possession and released.
On October 19, two of the rapper’s tour busses were pulled over again, this time in Cleveland, for speeding, and six more bags of weed weighing 200 grams were found. Snoop and two fellow passengers were arrested for misdemeanor possession, making the “Puff, Puff, Pass” tour one of the most aptly named in recent memory.
ANTHONY KIEDIS June 26, 2001: The 38-year old singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was “rescued” by lifeguards at La Jolla cove, along with the lead actress from “Felicity,” 25-year old Keri Russell. Lt Rick Wurts, spokesman for San Diego County Lifeguard Service, told San Diego AP that lifeguards responded to a call about six people in the water who were “in distress and caught in a rip current” and four of them were “pulled to safety.”
Kiedis denies that he and his companions were in any danger. “Those [lifeguards] down there think they’re rock stars or something. Four or five of us were swimming not too far out [from shore] and this lifeguard comes cruising up on a surfboard and says ‘there’s a riptide, it’s gonna be really hard to swim back in.’ We were in absolutely no danger but he had us grab his board and pulled us in and then the beach was full of these Baywatch wannabees and reporters were calling me and it became a big deal that made all the papers.”
Russell’s publicist told reporters her client and Kiedis were in San Diego “visiting friends.”
In an interview posted at TV Guide online, Russell also accused the lifeguards of overreacting. "There was no drowning. I'm actually a fabulous swimmer…[we all] could have swam back in.” She took the press to task for post-rescue insinuations that she and Kiedis were some kind of item. "He was just a friend of someone who was there," she says. "He's not my friend ... I think he has a girlfriend."
RICKIE LEE JONES, lyrics from “Drunk On The Striped Table”
“I abandon the old way when I first got to San Diego.
I f----ed anybody I wanted to.
I was, however, gang raped by a blues band in an old school bus.
That was pretty horrible. There were only three of them.
I can't remember if I got the third one off me.
I think I did. I was so ashamed.”
7 - LA JOLLA DRIVERS SUCK
“I used to deliver pizza for Round Table,” says Starcrossed singer/guitarist Mark Haemmerle, “and every time I got off freeway 52 and went into downtown La Jolla, there was either an accident or someone who almost caused one.”
Thus was born the band’s popular sing-a-long anthem “All the F---ers in La Jolla Drive Like S--t.” Sample lyric:
“ ‘Cause your car cost more, don’t mean you own the road
Best get off my ass, don’t make me lock ‘n’ load.”
“So I wrote a song about how sh---y people drive in La Jolla. It’s not just people that live there; it seems to be everyone. I think, when you get in that area, it just seems to happen. For a video, I started collecting accident footage from every time I drive down there…I caught some footage of a fire truck and a police car at a two-car accident on the side of the road. I also got footage of the crazy traffic when one of the stop lights went out.”
Starcrossed guitarist Bridgit Bardell died last September from a heroin overdose. Mark Haemmerle formerly played with local goth bands Sleepy Hollow and Winter Winds, and currently runs the audio/video production company Devil Town Studios. He’s hosting an open mic night tonight at the Skybox Bar in Clairemont.
8 - HARD ROCK HOTEL HATERS
I haven’t been to downtown’s new Hard Rock Hotel yet, so I’ve refrained (so far) from mocking it. Tho it’s hard to resist after getting a press release from them announcing “Cindy Crawford Spotted At The Hard Rock San Diego.” THIS is news worthy of a press release?!? She’s dating one of the restaurant owners there, for gawd’s sake – are they that desperate for press, that a visiting girlfriend merits an all-points bulletin to local media????
And bragging about a room designed by the Black Eyes Peas in gonna seem, in two years, akin to bragging about wearing pants designed by MC Hammer.
The Website TripAdvisor.com is THE make-or-break source of hotel customer reviews - a recent gag on the TV show the Office was about how a bad review on TripAdvisor can destroy a hotel. And the Hard Rock SD is getting some bad customer reviews! Here are some excerpts:
1 - The towels were those strange cotton towels that feel nice to the touch, but just seem to move the water around. The bathroom and halls smelled of rotten eggs---seems to be a ventilation problem. One elevator was out of service and there was no lighting in the spa/workout room one morning. Be aware that there is a $15 "activity fee" charged --- not sure what for.
2 - I could not get my iPod to work with the stereo though and did not have the normal jack lead to plug my iPod into the AV system...There is an extra daily fee for "free internet" which is a bit odd and should just be included in the price. I had a meal at their "posh" restaurant "Nobu"one evening and found the food to be expensive and not very good, also the portions were extremely small. The lack of coffee making facilities in the room is very odd and I found myself cursing this whilst waiting for the coffee shop to open at 7:00 a.m. I was not prepared to pay room service for something that should already be in the room.
3 - There is an "IN Charge" on your bill for $15.00. They do not inform you of this until you ask at checkout (if you even do ask). This charge includes all the VOSS water in the room, the copy of Rolling Stone Magazine, some CD I never could find, use of the gym, long distance and local calling, and turndown service at night, which we did ask for, but never got... It would have been nice to know this stuff at check-in, but I guess if they don't tell you, you probably won't use the items, but they can still get their $15 from you.
4 - No coffee making facilities in the room. Strange decision as, presumably lots of people who stay here will be from the East Coast and up early. Certainly the guy I met in the gym at 5:30am felt the same.
9 - BAD GIG STAGES
From “The Seven Stages of the Bad Gig,” as posted online by Whole Hog, who describe themselves as “Satan’s favorite country band.”
Stage 1: the book – “The singer calls every restaurant in town that is, for whatever reason, willing to move a table out of the way to allow bands to play.”
Stage 2: the layout – “The band is mysteriously wondering how the promised Saturday night headlining show at Club Bass Player Is Sure To Get His D--- Sucked has morphed into a set on a Tuesday at Joe's Suds and Pies.”
Stage 3: developing the marketing strategy – “[There are no] promotion activities that do not involve harassing friends, co-workers, causal acquaintances, employees at the mall, and the band's parents.”
Stage 4: the 'sup doode – “This happens by a series of communiqués…At this point, the string of contact has taken place with approximately 158 people. Of the 158, four have committed to being there, and the other two band members’ parents are either playing bridge or will be out of town…”
Stage 5: the prep and primp – “[The] singer has trekked to Marshalls to buy a new gig shirt…[the] guitarist(s) doesn't bother to change the strings on his guitar or clean the electrical connections on his amp, but does go to CVS to buy some new SuperSpike hair gel…The bassist gets home from work, goes to his room, masturbates, and goes to sleep…The drummer can barely function on a normal day, and this one has him especially keyed up and irritated.”
Stage Six: The final countdown and who has a magic marker – “There are four setlists written in smudged and barely legible black grease; all four are different.”
Stage Seven: this is the end, my non-existent friends – “For the privilege of rocking to 12 people for 76 minutes, the band owes the pizza parlor $83.55. The singer pays it on his debit card and the band promises to settle up with him at practice. This will never, ever happen.”
10 - BAD REVIEWS OF LOCAL VENUES
Some local venues have earned bad patron reviews at user-written websites like clubzone.com and bookit.com. Please note these are unsubstantiated claims made by anonymous club patrons, and so should be taken with a grain (or pillar) of salt:
Pacific Beach Bar and Grill: “The place reeked of testosterone. Fights were breaking out everywhere, and my girlfriend got grabbed by the neck and some guy tried to force her to grind him. He got beat up [be]cause of it and we didn’t stick around any longs [sp].” (bookit.com)
“Their music sucks, DJ can’t even mix the music well. Floor near the bar was sticky!” (bookit.com
Typhoon Saloon: “Overflowed toilet, sticky dance floor, weak drinks, ugly dudes, dorky girls.” (clubzone.com)
J Bar, downtown: “I…was viciously assaulted...at the bar. I was accused of fondling some guy’s girl on her left butt cheek. The mix up was cleared up after I took the beating.” (bookit.com)
Stingaree, downtown: “On Saturday January 27, I was beaten up outside the Stingaree nightclub...we used their limo service, ate at their restaurant, and reserved a table at their club. [They] dragged me outside away from the cameras and beat me senseless. They sent me to the hospital with lacerations on my face that were stitched up. They also fractured some bones on my face. I have bumps and bruises all over my face and head.” (bookit.com)
11 - SWING DANCER VS JUNO
This email message was forwarded to me by a member of Swingorama, a local swing dancing club, regarding a series of complaints made to internet service provider Juno.
Dear Juno member, In the reply of the 56 letters you have sent in appliance [sp] with Juno's request for comments on our service, Juno Inc. and Code 42 of the policy contract has determined that your internet service be suspended permanently on any account under the household of [undisclosed La Mesa 91941 residence]. Here at Juno we strive for keeping our customers satisfied, when our efforts are thwarted by unruly customers that resolve to diminish us and make threats such as made in most of the letters sent, our service no longer is a right for the customer to have but a privilege.
Rightly held, that privilege will still give you unlimited e-mail but none of our courteous on-line service anymore as stated above. Statements made such as in Re: 34 - 'Your employees at Juno must be retards who smoke pot for a living' - is in direct disrespect to our staff who strive hard to fulfill all our customers needs daily. For this alone suspension had been considered but decided in Re: 38-56 due to the Code violations about threats to corporate employees, sponsors, office personnel, and all other Juno employees. Some examples:
'My mission in life is now to start a worldwide revolution against Juno by burning down all of its corporate offices and publicly hanging all of its sponsors.'
'Perhaps beating a heavy gong while someone is poking a Juno employee in the eye with a knife will let them know about the mental anguish caused by your foolish service.'
'Since Juno Internet service is the equivalent to a one armed invalid retard pumping a wind mill to start the electricity to activate the 2k modem which acts as a server for your Internet provider, I do wish to personally maim each direct employee and supporter of Juno.'
Perhaps reflecting on the harsh uneducated words spoken here and the suspended internet service can act as a motivation for sending a letter, not of threats but apology, to our staff, employees, and Juno Inc.
Sincerely, Diane Johnston.
More like this:
- Painting Rock Stars, plus Behind the Scenes: Overheard in San Diego & Famous Former Neighbors — May 8, 2008
- Concert Security Wars: Battle of the Bouncers — April 26, 2008
- 25 Local Musicians Reveal “My Favorite Twilight Zone,” plus Local-Produced Zone Comic Books — April 3, 2008
- Secrets of Overheard in San Diego & Famous Former Neighbors, Mojo & Zappa Comix, [Paint]Brushes With Fame — April 2, 2008
- Local Music Lawsuits: Plus Celebs Busted in SDiego, Hard Rock Hotel Haters, & more — March 28, 2008