Thursday, December 16, 2010


By Diana L. Chapman
I guess those who support the electronic music festivals must think they’ll change my mind if they douse my blog with nasty comments claiming I’m ignorant and a failure as a journalist.
Actually pleased when some sensible comments in support of raves rolled in,  I included them here. The initial piece must have hit some sore spots as it received 226,000 thousand views on City Watch in 24 hours and generated some angry words – many of them accusing me of bias.
There’s truth to that. I agree and can point out why a column – which allows opinion -- was written rather than a news article. I’m not changing my mind that raves need reining in. I just have to look at Sasha Rodriguez’s photo – the 15-old-girl who died from a drug overdose at the Daisy Electronic Music Festival at the end of June. In my view,  losing the life of any kid is not worth it. That does not mean I will dismiss out of hand those who made good arguments.
But as a mom, and a volunteer who works with scores of youth, the general dangers that exist for teens --who are too immature to attend these events in the  first place -- can be devastating to say the least.
We are short one girl because of what – a drug? Sasha apparently overdosed and died – her rescue partly complicated by the use of ecstasy when she attended the the carnival at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. She was one among 185,000 patrons that attended.
For those of you who might not have read the story posted last week, I wrote a favorable response to Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Pat Gannon’s decision to come down hard on raves while waiting for Los Angeles County to come up with some tougher safety regulations.

He hauled out an additional two hundred officers at the next two raves in November at the Sports Arena. His decision was prompted by Sasha’s death and the Nov. 1 fall of an-18-year-old USC student.  The student, Jackson Roddy, broke nearly every bone  from the waist down after attending a two-day weekend rave, falling from the sixth floor of a dormitory Monday morning.
I supported Gannon’s decision – because public protection is his job and kids are one of his top priorities. Still do.
Of course, many who wrote anonymously claim that Sasha made her own decision. (She apparently took the drug ecstasy – which complicated her shot at her survival, according to news reports ). The angry comments were piping mad and I left them here the way they were written.
“Do your research,” implored one anonymous writer. “Find out what the stupid girl at the EDC died from. She did not overdose. It takes an extremely large amount of ecstasy to actually overdose. A lot more than what is found in one actual dosage…
“Tell the whole story, or don’t tell it at all. Stop picking and choosing what to say, to try to the scare the uninformed into thinking the close minded way you do.”
Another wrote this:
“People give a bad names to raves and its pathetic. Every person, children or not, are entitled to make their own decisions and if they don’t make the right one that’s not everyone else’s fault its theres!! It really is pathetic and everyone needs to look in different directions other then the fact that a 15 yr old girl died which by the way more then likely she made the decision to take!”
Raves are fun. With that I don’t disagree. One of my favorite kids that I work with loves them, and I don’t worry about her going for a second because her drug days are long gone, replaced with meditation, yoga and a horror at young girls wearing next-to-nothing at the festivals.
I also don’t want them  shut down completely, but controlled and regulated.In the meantime, the county Board of Supevisors will be looking at suggestions from a task force that include shutting down the festivals at 2 a.m., only allowing those 18 and older and having those of drinking age wear wrist bands so concession workers know who can legally drink alcohol.
While most of the comments were nasty, many sensible folks – who actually included their names – said they enjoy the concerts and wanted to share their views:
--Shahar Aframian, a 20-year-old who lives in North Carolina and will be returning to Los Angeles shortly wrote: “Where did anyone state that ecstasy usage was part of the package? Yes, you may be correct in the sense that the drug is a strong part of the scene, but no artist, promoter or any record label in this scene embraces it as something acceptable. The use of drugs is present in EVERY music event, regardless of genre.”
--Wrote Joe Martinez, 29, of Hayward: “I have been going to raves for nearly 12 years and to dance, and have a few drinks. I have seen young kids on drugs, it is a travesty! But that is not what most of us are about. If you look harder into our scene, we are not the ones pushing the drugs. We are the ones promoting love and unity through music. In the past few months, my group has had a warm coat or a blanket drive for the homeless…That is who we are. That is what most of us “Ravers” are!”
--Wrote David Taylor, 22, who lives in San Dimas and is a producer for House and Electro House Music, said the additional officers was an attack on civil liberties.
“That doesn’t mean you take away the rights of the American people,” Taylor emailed. “Is smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol bad for you? Yes! There is a direct death toll over a million people a year  in the United States alone. And that doesn’t even include all the murder, crime, drunk driving accidents that are associated with alcohol…Does this mean it’s the Government’s responsibility to protect us? Absolutely not. This is a free country and we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. And I’m not saying that drugs deals aren’t going on. I don’t think it’s a good thing. But it is not the government’s job to just shut down an event that draws 180k people when some of them are doing drugs.”
As always, the pendulum swings from one side to another. Hopefully, with new guidelines, we will land somewhere in the middle – in a much safer place for our youth.

To see additional comments, go to my earlier post about raves.