Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Come on baby, light my Fyre.

It goes without saying that, if a call to action comes my way from Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, I am generally more than happy to answer the call. But I’m heading to Ireland next week, plus my 50th high school reunion was Saturday, so I thought with, all the last minute stuff I’m doing, it might be wiser (albeit sadder) to take a pass on the Fyre Festival that was scheduled for last weekend o the private Bahamas island of Great Exuma. Or was it Not-So-Great Exuma? When I got the txt from Ja Rule, he wasn’t quite clear on the exact location.

Still, I would have been more than happy to support – and represent my generation at this important luxury music, art, and food festival. After all, I missed the mud at Woodstock, and the murder and mayhem at Altamont. Why would I want to miss out on yet another seminal event? I mean, every mass gathering I’ve ever attended has been political in nature, more or less an obligation, a perhaps exhilarating but decidedly no fun event. Why not go to one just to have fun?

Sure, it was going to be costly. Tickets from $1K – $12K, but there was all that promise…

But what got delivered was a scene that was a far cry from folks Insta-ing the selfies they thought they’d be taking with bikini-clad A-listers like Kendall and Bella. Instead, the event has been variously been described as “Lord of the Flies,” “Survivor,” and “Outbreak.”

“Lord of the Flies?” Well, unlike at Altamont, no one got killed, but let’s hand the ur source for Fyre Festival the conch and see what they have to say for themselves:

[Event partners] Billy McFarland and Ja Rule [thought that]…through their combined passions, they could create a new type of music festival and experience on a remote island.

They simply weren’t ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get. They started by making a website and launching a viral campaign…Suddenly, they found themselves transforming a small island and trying to build a festival. Thousands of people wanted to come. They were excited, but then the roadblocks started popping up.

As amazing as the islands are, the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up. So, we decided to literally attempt to build a city. We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami. We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.

The team was overwhelmed. The airport was jam packed. The buses couldn’t handle the load. And the wind from rough weather took down half of the tents on the morning our guests were scheduled to arrive. This is an unacceptable guest experience and the Fyre team takes full responsibility for the issues that occurred.

That’s what their website says now (along with the info that everyone will get a full refund, plus free admission to next year’s happenin’, which will be held at some lucky beach in the US.) Well, there’s full responsibility and then there’s full responsibility. And here’s what they said on Friday, when things started to fall apart.

“Fyre Festival set out to provide a once ­in­ a­ lifetime musical experience,” the organizers said in a statement. “Due to circumstances out of our control, the physical infrastructure was not in place on time and we are unable to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests.” (A second weekend, planned to start May 5, was also scrapped.) “We are working to place everyone on complimentary charters back to Miami today,” they added. “We ask for everyone’s patience and cooperation during this difficult time, as we work as quickly and safely as we can to remedy this unforeseeable situation.” (Source: NY Times)

Okay, a storm is something that’s outside of their control. But, gee, is a storm in the Bahamas really an “unforeseeable situation.” Maybe Billy, Ja, Bella, and Kendall couldn’t foresee it, but I’ll be that someone who knew something about staging events in the islands might have been helpful here. I’ll give them this. I’ll bet they did “provide a one in a lifetime musical experience.”

As for Ja Rule, he assumed real fake responsibility: “I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT… but I’m taking responsibility.”

Well, yeah, Ja, it sort of kind of is YOUR FAULT in that you and Billy didn’t know what you were doing. Which is okay. You’re young. And we all know that young folks learn by making mistakes. So you learned that you were in over your head, and the festival goers learned that sometimes things aren’t as glorious as they seem when being touted by Bella and Kendall, who are also young and in mistake-making mode. (I will say that I don’t know if the whinging Northeastern student I saw on local news, a young woman who spent $12K for the event, will learn from her mistake. She did not come across as someone who had actually earned that $12K, since most students who are working there way through school don’t typically have $12K on hand. And my understanding – although not my direct experience, given lack of plush parental subsidy  - is that you don’t tend to learn from mistakes that someone else actually paid for.)

Oh, wait. This just in. Ja Rule is actually 41. Is that like the new 21 or something?

Shivi Kumar and her pals paid $3.5K for what was supposed to be “the deluxe ‘lodge’ package…four king size beds and a chic living room lounge.”

Instead Ms. Kumar and her crew were directed to a tent encampment. Some tents had beds, but some were still unfurnished. Directed by a festival employee to “grab a tent,” attendees started running, she said. “People were stealing beds out of other tents, ” she said. “It was just chaos…The tents didn’t have any locks, the beds were damp, the blankets were soaked,” from a storm the night before, she said. At one point in the evening, Ms. Kumar said, staff members dumped a bunch of unopened containers — like “Amazon shipment boxes” — at the site, and instructed concertgoers to rifle through them for anything that was missing from their tents. “It was everything from, like, bongos to floaties to sleeping bags,” she said.

A bongo missing from a tent? I could have lived without a bongo, but they really should have been delivering fully-loaded bongs to help the weary festival goers make it through the night.

On Friday, Ms. Kumar and her friends managed to get a room at a hotel, hitching a ride from a local. Taxis were hard to come by, in part because the festival had promoted itself as a cashless event, asking attendees to upload funds to digital wristbands instead. So people were stranded without money.

Just upload your funds onto digital wristbands? Don’t bring any cash? I’m not a big Tennessee Williams fan, but sometimes you just have to quote one of his characters. (In this case, Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar.)

And do you know what I say? Ha ha! Do you hear me? Ha ha ha!

All I can say is, I dodged, if not a bullet, then a lot of chaos and discomfort by not heading off to the Fyre Festival. Sounds like if Billy McFarland and Ja Rule are running the show, it’s not exactly better in the Bahamas.

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