The Hyatt Regency Collapse of 1981 Part Three: The Aftermath
After all the victims had been cleared from the scene and taken to the hospital, after the press and onlookers had all cleared out and after the actual dust had settled and adrenaline had died down, the real investigation started. Yes, the “missing stiffeners” had originally and immediately been identified as the reason for the collapse. But what is that and more importantly, how could something like this have happened? Is there not a system of checks and balances in place to prevent such catastrophes? Well…there is now.
It's hard to determine where to start when explaining what went so cataclysmically wrong in this situation. I suppose the easiest answer would be to first explain the “missing stiffeners” that Gillum first said was the cause of the collapse, because honestly, the language isn’t very clear unless you look around a bit.
You will see from the image that what he is actually referring to are the box beams and the connections they encase. The original design called for one long steel support rod to go from ceiling to the bottom of the second-floor skywalk, running through each walkway and basically having reinforcing bolts to secure the position and weight load at the bottom of the box beam at each intersection of walkway and this rod. This was to be in multiple places along the sides of the skywalk. The idea was to make the skywalks appear to be floating in mid-air and visitors of the hotel would be given a grand visual experience when using these walkways to observe the large lavish lobby below. It was certainly intended to be used for events such as the Tea Dances.
Box beam construction diagrams
However, the finished design was different. In the finished design, the one that collapsed, the floating walkways were suspended and supported by two steel rods, set in multiple places. As shown in the image, they were parallel to each other and offset, and bolted to the box beam. Also, in this design, the top rod that supported the fourth-floor walkway was through only the top of the box beam and bolted on the top of the box beam. The rod that supported the second floor went only through the bottom of the box beam support and was only bolted to the bottom of the support. Again, it is very clear to see in the diagram.
Now, many would think this may not matter. After all, there’s still support rods and bolts and box beams and everything right? Well, this just isn’t the case. The first design had more properly accounted for the full and even distribution of the weight load upon all the rods supporting all of the walkway surfaces. It also had been more eye appealing. The second design merely took into consideration the basic function of these support rods and the easiest way to provide this function and then considered the ease of fabrication.
And that’s where we go next.
When the first design was sent for fabrication, the fabricator told the project people that this design was simply just a very unrealistic idea. Put simply, for the first design to work and the bolts to be threaded on in the proper place was to fabricate the rod completely threaded from end to end. This did not appeal to the fabricator, nor did it appeal to the project engineer or manager, as it would risk damage when the fourth-floor walkway was hoisted up and set at permanent height. Now, one could possibly make the argument that the fabricator was being helpful. One could possibly argue the fabricator was being lazy. One could say that fabricator may not have even had the machine capabilities at the time to produce a threaded rod of more than forty feet. Who knows? Bottom line ended up being that the fabricator said they were not able to get the fabrication done as is and suggestions for revisions to the design were made.
The original design called for six individual rods, three on each side, penetrating through both the second and fourth floor walkway, as the fourth-floor walkway was directly above and parallel to the second. These rods would be attached to the steel beams in the roof, then come through the ceiling and continue through the walkway and through the fourth-floor box beams, then through the second-floor box beams and through the second walkway. This would have completely supported and distributed the seventy-two tons of concrete that comprised these skywalks.
But the change to twelve rods, making each intersection at the skywalk a double rod intersection inside the box beams, was less than stable and sound engineering. This change catastrophically redistributed this massive load of weight to rods that didn’t have the capacity to endure such a test of endurance and strength. The load put on the fourth-floor box beams was actually doubled and when one beam connection failed, they all went bad. With the weight already disproportionally distributed and the added weight of the partygoers, the fourth-floor box beam snapped, weaking the strength of this crucial weight bearing connection. Once the fourth-floor skywalk box beam snapped and the walkway popped free, it dropped several feet. This caused an unmanageable strain on the box beams as now they were not only unable to hold the extra weight, let alone the original weight they had been tasked with. Under this strain the fourth-floor skywalk crashed to the second-floor skywalk which then snapped immediately under the enormous structural burden. Thus, sending the seventy-two tons of concrete and building materials crashing down upon the party below.
Now, that’s what happened as far as the cause of the collapse. But, how could such a mistake have been made?
Here’s where it gets sticky.
The fabricator claimed he got the new design approved by the engineer of record. The engineer of record, at first, claimed to not have approved any such design change. But the fabricator had the engineer’s red stamp on the design showing that he had seen in, looked it over, done any calculations and made any changes that were necessary, stamped it and sent it back for fabrication. And yes, like I said, the design did in fact have the approval stamp on it.
So…who’s to blame?
Well, like most tragedies of such an unintentional nature, the blame kind of goes to a few people. Also, like most tragedies, there is a single party that assumes all the blame. I know, it seems like the two can’t go together but they do.
First, let’s look at the party who actually got legally assigned blame. That would be Jack Gillum and his company, Gillum and Associates, the engineer of record. Fact is, while he had spoken to people about the altered design over the phone, he had not actually seen design schematics in person. He gave the final design approval over the phone having never laid eyes on the actual design itself, doing any recalculations or any manipulations. He took the word of the fabricator who frankly, no disrespect, was not an engineer. In doing that, he approved a design that was destined to fail and wreak havoc.
Gillum was found to be culpable of gross negligence, misconduct and unprofessional conduct in the practice of engineering. However, he was acquitted of all criminal charges filed against him. He and his company did receive sanctions from various organizations. Gillum and Associates lost their license to practice engineering in Missouri, where this happened, in Kansas and in Texas. They were also members of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Their membership was promptly revoked upon the findings of the investigation.
Several departments opened investigations when this happened. The local metropolitan newspaper, The Kansas City Star, hired architectural engineer Wayne G. Lischka to look into the collapse. He looked at everything involved with the entire project from start to finish. Lischka discovered the significant alteration to the original design.
At this same time, Havens Steel Co., the fabricator of the hanger support rods, requested that the box beams be tested at the labs at Lehigh University.
The Missouri Licensing Board along with the Attorney General and other Jackson County officials also opened investigations, which ended up taking years to complete. They, along with the National Bureau of Standards, found that structural overload resulting from design flaws was the cause of failure and that the skywalks “had only minimal capacity to resist their own weight”. Which basically means that they were barely hanging on as they were. You add people to them, plus dancing and music vibrations and you get the fatal overload and collapse.
Now, that’s Gillum’s responsibility. He had the final say on the design. That is true. However, I really do believe that there were others that knew this was a bad idea, thought perhaps this wouldn’t work or just plain didn’t know better.
Take the fabricator at Havens Steel Co. The person who rejected the original design, as far as I know, has never been named publicly. Yet this person made changes to an engineer’s design without permission. To me, it doesn’t matter so much that he had the rubber stamp of approval. He made design changes he should not have made. If anything, he should have just returned the schematics and told the engineer why he couldn’t manufacture the requested piece. He could have then waited for the engineer himself to make changes and resubmit the design for fabrication. Instead, he made a command decision on a matter he had no business making decisions on and then he and Gillum both only verified everything over the phone. There is some of that blame on each of them, in my opinion.
Not to mention that Gillum had to have had people working for him that saw this design. This wasn’t some sort of clandestine project kept hush hush. This was actually a very big deal at the time, this hotel being built. Did nobody question this new design at all? Not one of his colleagues saw this design in all the time this hotel was being planned and built?
I can’t seem to really believe that. And those people know (or knew, depending on how old they were at the time, it’s been forty years this July) who they are and what they did.
Jack Gillum actually owns this disaster all to himself. He takes all responsibility as he was the engineer of record, so the buck stops with him. He has used this very catastrophic oversight as lecture material for engineering conferences as a cautionary tale, and “to help ease his conscience”. (His words, not mine)
So, okay, I talked about all that first to get it clarified and out of the way. Because it’s only right that the victims get the attention they deserve. So now, we are going to turn our focus to them.
KC Star headline, special section in metro newspaper to address the collapse
This instance remains the deadliest unintentional single structural collapse in American history. It claimed the lives of one hundred-fourteen people. It injured one hundred-eighty-eight people. And these weren’t just lives taken or injuries to bodies. This disaster rattled the not only the victims themselves, but also those that were part of the rescue effort, those involved with the planning and construction of the hotel, the entire metro area and all the surrounding smaller cities and towns on the outskirts of the metro. Everyone was shaken when those skywalks collapsed. But none were forever altered the way that the victims were. After this horrific catastrophe over three hundred lives were irrevocably changed. Some families lost a loved family member, some lost more than one in the collapse as many of the attendees were couples and/or families. Many victims were injured, some recovered from the injuries to physical state they were in before the collapse. Others would suffer permanent physical effects from the damage sustained to their bodies. A number of these victims would later go on to deal with massive amounts of post-traumatic stress including such things as nightmares, depression, survivor’s guilt, shock, loss of appetite, mood disorders and so much more. Even many of the rescue workers suffered from PTSD. But the actual victims had to deal with the effects of this tragedy for quite some time, some families are even still dealing with them. After recovering from their injuries, the many victims and families of victims went to work. Over three hundred civil suits were brought to court in the fallout of the Hyatt collapse. A class action lawsuit against Crown Center Corp., a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards (they were the hotel property management group at the time of the collapse, but they were not the owners of the actual property the hotel was built on), seeking compensation for punitive damages won the plaintiffs $10 million, $26.97 million today. This judgement included $6.5 million in donations to charitable and civic causes in an effort to promote healing in the wake of the tragedy. This donation came from Hallmark Cards. All in all, at least $140 million from civil judgements went to victims and their families. This equals approximately $339.9 million in today’s economy. Each of the 1600 guests at the hotel that night were offered one thousand dollars with no strings attached. Out of the 1600 victims, 1300 accepted the money, the rest did not. This was to remain not only the largest non-deliberate structural failure in the country’s history but also the deadliest. The structural collapse of 9/11 was intentional thereby putting it in a different classificational category. Because of this tragedy, there was an updating of the culture and education of the engineering industry. Ethics and emergency management procedures and expectations changed and became stricter, enforcing accountability and responsibility for projects and their finished product. This tragic failure became a valuable teaching tool in order to avoid something like this from happening again. Trade groups issued investigations when necessary, improved the standards by which peer reviews were conducted, sponsored seminars and created new updated trade manuals to improve and increase the professional standard and also the public’s confidence and trust in the engineering profession. The disaster was even cited in 1983 in the argument against President Ronald Reagan’s endeavor to eliminate the National Bureau of Standards. He was not successful at that time.
The Hyatt, then and remodeled
On November 12, 2015, twenty-four and half years after the devastating events of the Hyatt Regency collapse of 1981, a memorial dedicated to the victims of the tragedy was unveiled by the Skywalk Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization established for the victims, which Hallmark Cards donated $25.000 to. It is located across the street from the hotel in Hospital Hill Park. In 1983 the hotel was remodeled and reconstructed at the cost of $50 million and the newly upgraded was said to be “possibly the safest in the country”, according to local authorities at the time of reopening on October 2, 1981, just less than three months after the collapse itself. In my humble opinion, and I’m not an engineer, I’ve never studied engineering, I’ve never pretended to be an engineer, BUT I do wonder if it’s really possible to make a building that just had the worst accidental structural failure in history the safest building in the country in a little over two months. Seems like an ambitious idea given the circumstances you are starting with. I may even dare to say it’s almost arrogant to say that the building that just incurred this disaster is now the safest building in the country while people who were there at the time of collapse are still reeling and recovering from the tragic events. That seems rather bold and callous to me.
The newly named Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center
The building was renamed Hyatt Regency Crown Center in 1987 as part of a rebranding plan and again in another rebranding attempt in 2011, making the final name Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center. While they have tried multiple things over the years to mitigate the effects a disaster like this can have on a brand, they will never be able to erase the history. Boldly, in the remodels over the years, the lobby has kept relatively the exact same layout as the original Hyatt lobby struck by the skywalk collapse. All the fixtures and furniture and décor has been updated and there is almost nothing to remind us of those tragically lost in that very lobby. Except for one thing. In the back of the lobby there is a small framed picture of the original lobby on a plaque with a dedication to those affected and lost in the collapse of 1981. Other than that, the hotel has moved on, not only with the times but also in spirit.
Skywalk Memorial Dedication announcement
This year marks the 40-year memorial anniversary of the collapse. In just a few short months the summer will be upon us here in the Midwest again. But, in the wake of the current times and trends, there are no more Tea Dances at the hotel. And while the days of live bands playing old time dancing music and couples bringing their children to such events as a part of quality family time are long gone, the impact of this horrible event has had a permanent and lasting effect on the industry. And while that certainly will never bring loved ones back, replace or repair damaged psyches and bodies, it does provide a modicum of peace knowing that there are now safety measures and procedures, rules and regulations currently in place to prevent this from ever happening again. These people trusted that that building was safe when they walked in to dance and have cocktails that night. They assumed that the building was “up to code” as we now say. They thought it was just going to be an easy-going night. That trust was abused and overlooked by many of those involved in the project. And the cost was non-refundable, irreplaceable and deadly.
I was lucky that my folks didn’t go to the dance that night. I was lucky that Dad was tired and feeling lazy. We all were. I had my Dad for thirty-three more years after that. I had my Mom for thirty-seven more years. And those years cannot be measured in any way, shape or form. My life could have been very different, but I’m thankful that it wasn’t. My heart still goes out to the victims and their families. May they all find peace. Thank you for reading.
The Kansas City Hyatt Regency Collapse of 1981 Part Two: The Collapse
The story of this devastating structural failure has always remained close to my heart. And here’s why.
In 1981 my father was in his fifth year as a patrolman for a neighboring city police department. That day he had just come off a very long eight-hour shift. He must have gotten home around a little after 3pm and the shift started I think at probably 6am. He was exhausted. Mom asked him as soon as he walked in the door if they could go to the Hyatt that night because it was Friday and they were having their weekly Tea Dance. It started at 5pm and went until 8pm. My mother loved to dance and although Dad didn’t care to dance much past a certain age I guess, but I can personally say that Dad was a very good dancer. But he was raised by a man’s man and dancing just didn’t always fit into that personality. Not to mention that his feet and back were both killing him. All he wanted to do was take a hot shower, shave and brush his teeth and relax in front of the TV, probably to watch an episode of M*A*S*H or something (hey great show, don’t knock it, lol). Mom must have hounded him for at least thirty minutes, maybe even longer. Eventually Dad put his foot down and said they weren’t going that night.
Sitting in a huff and feeling disappointed, Mom and Dad watched television that night after dinner and it seemed that it would be a normal night. That was, of course, until a breaking news announcement came on the airwaves reporting that there had been a tragic accident at the Hyatt, that a structural collapse of the fourth and second floor skywalks had collapsed on several of those attending the Tea Dance.
As my parents watched in horror as each network worked tirelessly to cover the horrific tragedy, it hit them both like a brick to the face that they had escaped serious injury if not outright death by staying home that night. Dad, always being the one to try to lighten a serious mood like that, made the joke that his laziness and tiredness saved their lives. At the time, it WAS a joke. But, looking back now as an adult, it occurs to be often that I could have been orphaned at eleven months old. My brother would have been just under four years old at the time. And my godmother , my Mom’s sister, who was supposed to take us in if something had ever happened to both our parents was only nineteen at that time, just two months shy of twenty.
So, for me, this was what I have always considered a close call and fate, the balance of the universe, the cosmos, God, whatever you want to call it, kept my folks from going dancing that night and it probably saved their lives.
On the evening of July 17, 1981 approximately 1600 people gathered at the Hyatt around 5pm for the start of the evening’s festivities. The party was going well and there were no problems…yet.
To make this easy to follow, we are going to start with a basic timeline of what happened that hot evening in July of 1981. Things in this timeline will be elaborated on later in other articles, but for now this gives us the basic play by play.
During the course of this timeline, I will be referencing various people involved by name. I feel it’s not only easier on the flow of the timeline, but I also believe that these should be named, deserve to be named. So many times, with these kinds of catastrophes we can easily feel removed or detached from the tragedy. But all of the people this affected, from the victims to the survivors to the rescue workers to volunteers and yes, even the ones determined to be at fault should all be given the solemn respect we would all want for our loved ones had they been the ones involved.
This being the case, I thought I should tell you who the main people I mention are, that way you won’t be confused as to their role or place in the situation.
Dr. Joe Waeckerle was an Emergency Medicine Specialist, an ER doctor at Baptist Medical Center.
Jack Gillum (Gillum & Associates) was the engineer of record for the hotel.
Michael Mahoney was an on scene new reporter for KMBC Channel 9 News, an ABC affiliate in Kansas City.
Arnet Williams was the KCFD (Kansas City Fire Department) Deputy Chief from 1980 to 1983. He was Deputy Chief of the KCFD at the time of the collapse.
Chuck and Jean (Regina) Hayes, Tom and Jean Weir, Dalton Grant (who was eleven years old at the time) and Connie Grant (Dalton’s mother) were all partygoers attending the Tea Dance that night.
Everybody ready? Here we go: July 17 5pmTea Dance begins.
5:15pABC News shows up to cover the dance, approx. 1000 people in attendance by this time 6:30p. Hotel lobby full of partygoers, party is in full swing, no problems.
6:50p Wall to wall people attending the dance with more still showing up. 7:00p KMBC News reporter takes escalator to 2nd floor restaurant to get wide shot and film his report where there is less noise, during this take the tape and battery run out in the news camera, the technician replaces both in a matter of minutes.
7:05p4th floor skywalk starts to fall from losing its connection. 117ft of concrete and building material crashes smashing directly onto the 2nd floor skywalk directly below. This causes both skywalks to fall completely. 64 tons of steel, concrete and glass plummets onto the people just below the structures in the lobby
7:06p KMBC news team begins filming again. Lobby is complete rubble. The collapse has broken a water main causing the collapsed and demolished lobby to start flooding with water.
7:10pDozens of 911 calls are made to report the collapse. Emergency personnel begin to race to the scene. 7:15pDr. Waeckerle is on his way home when he hears about the collapse on the radio and immediately begins to drive to the scene to aid in rescue efforts after already having worked a 12 hour shift in the ER at his hospital. Mayor Richard Berkley leaves party at his house to rush to scene. Jack Gillum, the architect of record, is informed of the collapse. He immediately charters a plane to the scene Water from the sprinkler system is still pooling on the main floor of the lobby, except now it is a murky red mixture of water, building debris, dust and blood from the victims. Deputy Chief Williams orders water and electricity cut off for safety reasons.
7:25pDr. Waeckerle arrives and sets up triage and instantly begins to take charge of the medical care inside the disaster scene in the lobby.
7:30pKCFD Liaison arrives. Emergency workers are doing their best to save as many as they can under such difficult conditions. 7:45pDozens of people still trapped inside buried under the rubble of the debris of the collapsed structure. Trapped victims that are still alive are starting to doubt their chances of survival.
7:50pMore than 30 confirmed dead, over 100 injured. Firefighters open hotel front doors with heavy machinery, in fact plowing the doors down, to allow flooding water to flow out of the lobby. Construction workers arrive with jack hammers to break up giant slabs of concrete. Fire Department jacks still are unable to move the debris.
8:05pOperation Bulldozer is ordered and arrives but is ineffective. Cranes are ordered to the scene.
9:15pTrapped survivors are still under debris. They have been trapped for a little over two hours at this point.
10:15pRescuers start final sweep for survivors.
10:30pKMBC reporter releases news story on air to public. 10:50pSeveral victims are found still buried under debris.
11:05pVictim Dalton Grant still trapped but finally located. 11:10pSurvivors in Grant’s area count off, at first 11-12 people, the next count was 7. The victims are running out of time. Construction crews order smashing through the four-story wall of glass windows. Rescuers begin to attach cables to the concrete debris for the cranes to lift. 11:15pGillum arrives to survey the damage, immediately points out the missing “stiffeners” as the cause of the collapse.
July 18 12:02aChuck Hayes, one of the victims is out of surgery. His wife Jane is in critical condition. 12:35aDeath toll has reached over 60 people by this point. Rescuers are currently in contact with 7 people still buried in the rubble and water.
1:30aCranes begin to lift the large sections of skywalk an inch at a time, a long and painful process for everyone involved. 2:05a They uncover Dalton Grant, his mother Connie and a couple by the name of Weirs. All were pulled free of the wreckage. 3:35aRescue has shifted from rescue to recovery. They are now looking for bodies of the dead, believing that no one else has survived. During this effort they find the final survivor Mark Williams. 4:30aJack hammers are used to start to free Mark.
7:45aMark Williams is freed. 30 victims are found dead under the final piece of concrete, bringing the death toll to a total of 111 at the scene. Three more victims passed away at the hospital, making the final death toll 114. 8:05aVictims are recovering in hospitals, including couples like the Weirs and the Hayes couple. 10:00a Chuck Hayes recovering. Jane survived emergency surgery but is still in critical condition at this point. July 19 11:00aInvestigation begins. Box Beam Hanger Rod Connection failure is determined to be the cause of the collapse.
(Aftermath and fallout details to come.) I was less than a year old when this calamity took place. If my parents had gone dancing that night the odds are very high that they both would have been injured in the collapse of the skywalks. And they may or may not have survived. And it is quite possible that I would have never known my parents, which were two of the greatest people I’ve ever known. I am so thankful that Dad was tired and feeling lazy that night. His own patrol partner was called at home and told that he might be needed at the scene and to be on standby. Shortly thereafter, he was phoned and told that the scene had enough police support from the neighboring cities already and that he wasn’t needed to go assist with coordinating traffic and such around the rescue efforts. (Just a little side note: My Dad knew his patrol partner even before he met my mother and Mom and Dad were married 40 years before Dad passed. This man is a part of my family basically. Pretty much like another father figure to me. We are very close and I still keep in contact with him. He was a real-life source for part of the information for this series on the Hyatt Collapse of 1981, allowing me to get an understanding of the overall feelings and impact of the tragedy.) Now, almost forty years later, both of my parents have passed on. The hotel has been rebuilt, refashioned and renamed. There is only a small, tiny photo on the wall in the back of the lobby that commemorates those that were lost to such a horrible tragedy. Though the hotel has been renovated multiple times over the years, the lobby still has the same layout as it did when the collapse happened, an eerie reminder to those in the know that some things cannot be covered up with upgrades , new furniture, new carpet and paint. In my next article, I will detail the cause, the aftermath and the fallout of this infamous and tragic structural failure catastrophe. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, MO was holding its ever popular weekly Tea Dance from 5pm-8pm that Friday the 17th. It would be a day that would be forever cemented in Kansas City and national history as the largest structure failure in the nation until the horrific events of 9/11. This event also served as an eternal reminder to me of how your life can change forever in a matter of seconds.
This collapse killed 114 people and injured 216 other partygoers. These people, their friends and their families will forever be changed by the catastrophic events of that one solitary evening. The partygoers planned for an evening of drinking, dancing and socializing. But what they got was far worse than any of them could have ever imagined.
The Hyatt Regency Hotel first opened July 1, 1980. It was a grand hotel, designed to attract visitors from near and far and create a sense of awe to those who walked through its heavy glass double doors. Set in the booming and high class Crown Center area, this forty story hotel was the creation of dreams and luxury. It included three suspended walkways that each overlooked the hotel lobby, two of which backed up against large glass windows on the west side of the building to allow partygoers to see the lights and wonders of Crown Center lit up at night as well have an elevated view of the party or event happening. The lobby contained a multi-story atrium that was to be the main view from the suspended walkways overhead.
This lobby was designed to be one of the biggest defining features and the central highlight of this grand and extravagant hotel. The lobby was the set for lavish parties, an array of events and of course, the weekly Friday night Tea Dance, playing both the role of hotel lobby and grand ballroom. At the south end of the large room was the live band, playing every toe-tapping tune they knew and working some slow dances in from time to time to appease the romantics in the crowd. To the east of the lobby was the Terrace Restaurant. Directly in the center of this elaborate and opulent chamber was the lounge area, set up for visitors and guests to relax comfortably on beautiful furniture while they sipped at their drink they had gotten from the lobby bar directly west of the lounge. Off behind the bar was the Alcove area where partygoers would stand and people watch and converse amongst themselves as others danced and mingled around the room. This Alcove area was directly under the second and fourth floor suspended walkways while the third floor walkway was offset and more out to the side of the other two, the staggering set up giving great eye appeal for visitors and guests who wanted to see the bigger picture of the event at the time.
Hyatt Regency Walkways prior to collapse
So picture this: It’s Friday night in mid-July in Kansas City, 1981. Temperature is a balmy 85 degrees, having had a slight bit of rain that afternoon had made the air a little heavy and humid. You're off work and ready to start your weekend.
Hotel's Tea Dancing Banner, 1981
You’re going to the weekly Friday night Tea Dance in the city’s newest and grandest hotel. You walk into the hotel through the main entrance on the north side of the building. As soon as you enter you are practically on the dance floor. To the left (East) of the entrance is the lobby area itself. It includes three walk up bars strategically placed for attendee convenience and lounge seating for guests to sit and socialize, remember this is practically in the center of the great room. On the south wall the live band is playing music for the guests to dance to. Above the dance floor is the second floor skywalk and directly above that is the fourth floor skywalk. Remember the third floor skywalk is off to the east slightly so the skywalks are not all stacked on top of each other. Only two and four are situated one directly and completely over the other. The skywalks are all identical in width and length. They were designed to be used as observation towers for the guests, making it an area of social appeal and interest. The west wall is all glass windows to aide in the observation experience. The dance begins at 5pm. You walk into the party and make your way to the bar to order a drink for you and your friends that are with you for the evening . You laugh, dance, socialize, drink and enjoy the fun and fantastic music and the whole ambiance of the environment as you make your way around the different areas of the lobby. You take advantage of the observation skywalks and look out over the party below. You spend the evening taking in and enjoying the atmosphere. The night has been one of laughter, music, fun and friends. All of a sudden you here this unfathomably loud cracking snapping popping type sound. It’s so loud it stops everything. Then, without warning, you are bombarded with a wave of air, enough to tackle you to the floor. The massive force of air is riddled with a mixture of materials. Concrete dust and debris, shards of glass and metal, all flying through the air at amazing, baffling speeds from the pure force behind them. There is a brief moment of complete silence as you try to get your bearings, but that is soon quickly broken by the sound of anguished cries and blood curdling scream. Followed by more heart wrenching desperate demands for help, loved ones, even air. What follows is panic and shock filling the newly damage filled air covered in debris and blood and death. And soon the inevitable realization of your own mortality. Once you get your faculties and senses back, your eyes focused, you realize the lobby now looks as if a bomb had gone off inside it. What was only just minutes before a joyous and festive environment now resembled something of the aftermath in a warzone. You’ve been there just about two hours. And in a matter of minutes you are practically entombed in the rubble of calamity. Concrete is all over you, on top of you, around you. You can hear other people screaming. Screaming for help. Screaming in pain. People who were not standing where you were seem to be calling out to people they know, looking for them among the wreckage. You can’t move. The concrete and steel are mangled around you, over you, on you, prevent you from making any attempt at getting loose on your own. Your head is feeling light and dizzy. You are in so much pain it’s almost as if your body has been overloaded and barely even registers agonizing destruction of your limbs and torso. But little do you know that you will be buried under this rubble and in deadly crisis for well over twelve hours, as the catastrophe has only just begun and the rescue effort hasn’t even started yet. You wonder how long you will make it. You wonder if you’ll make it all. This is the very position hundreds of people are now in, along with you. You are all trapped under the very building you were just dancing and drinking in. Two skywalks along with approximately one hundred-fifty guests are now buried under the rubble of this grand lobby in this luxurious hotel. Time seems to stand still and you are left to wonder, what comes next? And when?
Stay tuned to find out! More articles to come! Thanks for reading!
Images of The Hyatt prior to collapse, 1981 (note: some images may be from during construction)
I got notified of a Trick 'r Treat watch along tonight at 7pm Pacific time, for me here in Central Time that is 9pm.
What you do is you start your copy of Trick 'r Treat right at 7pm Pacific Time. (Google for the time conversion if you need to, I only know mine is 9pm and that California would be the 7pm which means New York and Florida would be 10pm. If that helps anyone.)
So, start your copy at the beginning of the movie at 7pm Pacific. Then follow along on Twitter with @Legendary to get a walk through commentary of the movie from the Director Michael Dougherty himself.
There's more in store afterwards too! Check this out!
TRICK 'R TREAT Director Michael Dougherty to Host Special Watch-along of Legendary’s Iconic Halloween Anthology Film on October 30!
Legendary Entertainment invites fans to a special Halloween watch-along of the beloved horror saga TRICK ‘R TREAT on Friday, October 30. Director Michael Dougherty will guide fans through the twisted, interwoven tales featuring the iconic star Sam, the mischievous spirit of Halloween who enforces the holiday’s ancient traditions, providing special commentary and a rare glimpse behind-the-scenes of the cult classic film.
To participate, fans should hit play at exactly 7pm PT / 10pm ET on Friday, October 30 and follow along as director @mike_dougherty tweets from the @Legendary twitter account.
Fans can choose their preferred way to watch at JustWatch.com and can join the conversation using #LegendaryHalloweenatHome. This is fantastic because you can get right into the mix of the conversation with this creative and talented director as he opens secrets and reveals gems we might have otherwise not have known.
After the film, fans will be treated to a special Instagram Live Q&A featuring Dougherty and Nerdist.
Watch Along Instagram Teaser Link Below. CHECK THIS OUT!!!
From the deliciously dark imagination of creator Michael Dougherty (writer and director of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and the holiday horror hit, Krampus), Legendary Entertainment’s Trick ‘r Treat is a creepy, darkly comic celebration of the scariest night of the year. The critically acclaimed fan-favorite movie takes the Creepshow/Tales from the Crypt approach to nefarious new depths with four interwoven tales set on Halloween night: a high school principal (The Good Wife’sDylan Baker) moonlights as a vicious serial killer; the quest of a young virgin (True Blood’s Anna Paquin) for that special someone takes a gruesome turn; a group of teens carry out a cruel prank with disastrous consequences; and a cantankerous old man (Succession’sBrian Cox) battles a mischievous trick-or-treating demon. Trick ‘r Treat, released in 2009, has amassed a ravenous cult following and its iconic star, Sam, the mischievous spirit of Halloween who enforces the holiday’s ancient traditions, has become a perennial Halloween icon inspiring a still growing line of toys, comic books, costumes, holiday décor, and theme park attractions.
And, for fans wanting to delve deeper into the world of Trick ‘r Treat, Legendary Comics’ recently released a special omnibus of the comic book collection featuring the full compendium of twisted Halloween tales, now on sale in stores and online. The celebratory edition unites the past two previously released graphic novels for the first time ever and features a new special introduction from Dougherty. For more information, visit: Legendary.com/Comics/Trick-r-Treat.
You can read my review of this graphic novel HERE.
I hope you will all join us and sit back for an extra in depth and exciting new look into what is already an all time favorite in the horror movie industry. We all love Sam. Let's spend our Friday night with him just before he goes out on the prowl tomorrow night for his big season finale of the year as usual.
When we hear the word “cult” we often think of groups such as The Branch Davidians led by David Koresh or The Peoples Temple with Jim Jones at the helm. Some people would think of the Manson Family and Charles Manson. Others might think of organizations like Scientology or NXIVM, which operate somewhat as self-improvement programs with specific business models for making profit. We also tend to think of cults as a newer, more modern societal problem. In reality, cults have existed for many, many years. They’ve also existed around the world, not just in the United States. The formation of current general recognized religions notwithstanding, cults can be traced back to at least the mid-fourteenth century. One of the earliest documented cults was that of Thuggee. Active for about 400 years, their true impact wasn’t noticed by the masses until somewhere around the late 1700s or early 1800s (eighteenth or nineteenth century). Let’s start with some background because this isn’t the kind of cult that normally comes to mind when we think of such a group. The setting for this cult is in India, the vast subcontinent of Asia. In the mid-eighteenth century, the Mongol Empire (an Islamic dynasty that once ruled almost all of India at its peak) was quickly reaching a steep and slippery decline. Having become increasingly corrupt over its reign, the empire had become widely unpopular with the Hindu population. This caused many revolts and several regions had declared their independence. At the same time, Hindu rulers called the Maratha, who controlled most of central India by this point, began to grow increasingly aggressive and hostile while trying to keep their power. This regional political uprising deeply threatened the extensive profits of the British East India Company. (The British East India Company was formed by the British after taking over a vast amount of land in northern India and along its eastern coast.) In 1757, a combined force of British soldiers and recruited native citizens called sepoys defeated the Nawab of Bengal’s forces, leaving the British to rule the newly conquered territory. After passing the India Act of 1784 the British East India Company was formally transformed into an extension of the British government. This afforded British India more power and more land. Then, in 1803, British India attacked the two remaining prominent Maratha leaders. With the heavy leverage that winning that battle gave them, The British East India Company forced the surviving Maratha into an alliance under their rule. By now, the center territory of India is practically crime ridden and lawless, destroyed and demolished by decades of war. With everything in ruins, many are finding themselves without jobs and means of financial support for their families. In desperation and despair, many turn to robbery as a means of regular income and support in order to provide the mere necessities of life. Unfortunately, even with the vast wealth and land they are now in charge of, the British don’t want to invest the kind of money it would take to improve the local conditions in central India due to the severe increase in criminal activity. The most common kind of thief is called a dacoit. This is a particular kind of robber that targets travelers, the wealthy and occasionally entire villages. They are considered very dangerous and extremely ruthless, willing to kill if need be. However, they did not attack in their own villages and were in fact often revered in a Robin Hood type of sentiment as they would frequently disperse their spoils amongst the people in their village, providing much needed income and relief. However, by the early 1800s, a new variety of robber had surfaced. This new breed of criminals preferred strangulation as their main method of murder and they, without fail, always killed their victims which was unlike the dacoits who didn’t always murder. They more or less murdered as a last resort or a final means to an end. The first to be documented as coming across this brand of robber was British magistrate William Wright in 1807. As a group of men were arrested just by chance, some of the men chose to boast about being part of many killings, ultimately confessing to such crimes. This led Wright to curiosity and he began to build a sort of preliminary profile of the organization and its members. Wright found that this group (or gang), which had small active packs all throughout the territory, had their own slang language and had their own set of gang rituals and customs that they followed. Another surprising fact he learned was the amount of intelligence and forethought behind these types of killings. The murderers would slice their victims’ bodies open across the belly prior to burial. This was to reduce bloating and any amount of attention that may be drawn to the freshly buried corpses. In today’s investigative language, the killers were taking steps to counter forensic science and cover up or destroy evidence. This was both cunning and dangerous. It showed that they were intelligent enough to take countermeasures and that kind of intellect mixed with a criminal and murderous appetite make for an explosive combination, usually resulting in violence. Another tactic of this particular gang which was perhaps the most cunning and most dangerous of all was the behavior that led up to the killings themselves. Their most popular M.O. was to target a particular victim and then gain the victim’s trust. Often times the killers would travel some considerable distance with their intended victim. The way they would do this was extremely calculated. They would work as a team, starting with one posing as a fellow traveler having some sort of trouble. Their target would stop and offer assistance. The robber would then suggest that perhaps they might travel together to ward off marauders. Along the way of their travels they would pick up other gang members disguised as fellow travelers in need of assistance or protection. Once everybody was traveling together, the leader of the group would often use a ruse to get the victim into place, typically using an easily concealable length of cloth knotted at the ends (called a rhumal) to increase grip ability. Having the victim look up guaranteed an exposed neck plus increased the element of surprise. Then, after strangling the victim, they would slice the body, bury it and divide the profits.
Fast forward to 1808, another British magistrate named Thomas Perry arrives in northern India in the town of Etawah. This town turns out to be the flaming epicenter of a sprawling crime wave. Practically once a week, sometimes more, bodies were turning up in the wells that lined the roads leading into town. The bellies of the victims had all been sliced open. Additionally, it was clear that these poor and unfortunate souls were travelers as nobody in town knew them or identified them. With no way to solidify identification of the victims and no witnesses to any part of any crime, Perry could not arrest anyone for the killings.
At this time, the British East India Company was set up and divided into three presidencies. This meant, of course, no one was sharing information with anyone else. In turn, this caused Perry to have no access to Wright’s notes and findings on the Thuggee group, even though it would have been incredibly helpful at the time.
Perry decided to set up a checkpoint on one of the roads where a number of bodies had been discarded. Eighteen months later this led to the arrest of eight men. One man, Gholam Hossyn, gave his occupation as “Thug” upon questioning after capture. He eventually admitted to being part of more than ninety murders in the span of about three years or so. Other men of this group confessed to taking part in killings as well, one even laying claim to having personally strangled some forty-five victims himself.
After learning that hundreds of Thugs in various gangs existed in and around Etawah, Perry set out to change things and his men arrested some 70 gang members. Those captured were sent to Bengal for trial. However, a particular requirement at that time for prosecution of crimes was a formal complaint to be filed by the victim’s family. Since the victims were travelers there were no family members to file such a complaint. Thus, the captured Thugs were acquitted.
Also happening at the same time in 1808 is the arrival of William Sleeman. Sleeman decided to use the anti-Thug campaign as a way to make a strong name for himself and give himself notoriety. He developed a system to interrogate and flush out the remaining active Thugs. This system was so effective, it was soon adopted across India as general practice.
Thugs who gave up information were labeled “approvers”. They were promised their lives would be spared IF they would give specific information as to names, dates, events, locations of bodies, etc.
Now we are to 1812. Perry orders a group of British soldiers and sepoys to go to Sindouse, where intelligence has said is the base of operations for the Thuggee group. Apparently, this is where the Thugs have been able to operate with impunity and under the protection of a wealthy land owner naked Laljee.
After many battles and lives and livelihoods lost, Perry is was able to drive the Thugs out of Etawah.
Simultaneously, the East India Company still does not want to expend the resources for what they deemed a lost cause and a waste of funds and said resources. Worse yet, some British didn’t even believe that the Thugs and the Thuggee cult even existed. Eventually, having finally recognized the threat the Thugs posed to the fortune and power of the Company, they decide to share information and issue formal warnings to their men about the group.
Fast forward again to 1829 and we come to the William Borthwick capture. British Officer William Borthwick convincingly lured seventy Thugs to a village near Indore (central India) and arrested them. Upon being detained, some confessed. Others did not.
All this led to the new Governor-General of India to change policy, effectively allowing officers to pursue Thugs not only in their own territory, but in other native states as well if the need arose.
In 1836, Sleeman is appointed Superintendent for the Suppression of Thuggee. He announced is success of the suppression four years later in 1840.
His capture of Feringeea, one of the most successful Thuggee leaders, procured a wealth of information that led to the arrests of hundreds of Thugs. Various statements made by captured gang members about the depth of their belief, devotion and involvement led Sleeman to be convinced that these particular criminals could never be rehabilitated. Once imprisoned, they were never released. Not even the “approvers” were set free.
During the suppression campaign somewhere around 4500 Thugs were brought to trial. Of this 4500 about 500 were hanged, the remainder sentenced to life in prison, somewhat on display like exotic animals or some kind of attraction. Some who were considered extremely unlucky were branded or tattooed with the word “THUG” and transported in chains and shackles to the worst penal colonies in all of the East Indies.
There is some controversy about whether this group was truly religiously motivated or if they were more crime and greed driven. They used their undying belief in Kali (the Hindu goddess of death and destruction, but also of creation) to justify their behavior and make themselves feel righteous.
The word “thug” comes from the Hindi word “thag” which may quite possibly be derived from the Sanskrit word “sthag” meaning “to conceal”. The earliest reference to Thuggee is in the 14th century. However, most believe that gangs like what Perry encountered were around for about 150-200 years. Some oral traditions, folk tales and legends trace some Thugs back to seven original families from Delhi during the Mongol Empire and the reign of Akbar the Great. Those seven families fell out of favor and good graces of the Emperor. They were cast out and dispersed across the entire subcontinent as punishment.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Hindu God Kali
Generally, the Thugs (even the Muslims among their members) worshipped the Hindu deity Kali. (This is the same group bad guys and the deity they worship in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, ya know, with the glowing sacred stones and the fire pit and all that Kali Ma chanting and ripping out hearts...yeah, that stuff…) The Thuggee group believed their actions were commanded by Kali and that they would not be punished for any of them. Considered to be deeply spiritual and very religious, Thuggees were always on the lookout for signs or omens from their deity Kali. These were usually found in the behavior of animals, like birds and such.
Many of the followers considered their chosen profession a holy and honorable path which was virtually opposite from the dacoits. Although some were born into the life, others would adopt the lifestyle for a year or two in order to make ends meet. Plus, the Thugs had strict rules they were to follow that prohibited them from killing all women and foreigners, members of particular social orders, lepers and people they deemed crippled (presumably out of mercy, at least that’s my guess), goldsmiths, potters, oil venders (probably because they were merchants they needed to do business with), elephant drivers (yes, this is true, likely for the same reason as the merchants) and a plethora of others. (Additionally, in the cases where the followers did kill women, they never disrespected the women before dispatching them.)
The Thugs had definite rituals they would perform before going out on what they deemed as missions. These rituals were usually done in prayer for strength, protection and guidance in the coming journey.
Typically traveling in gangs of ten to forty men for each mission, the followers would sometimes reach numbers up to two hundred in order to complete a mission. At other times, different gangs would band together in order to pursue and achieve a bigger prize. Once the bounty was won, the spoils would be divided evenly amongst the group, which was typically fairly organized with a system and a method for stealing and killing. Their usual pattern would be:
Pick their target
Pose as a merchant or soldier
Hitch a ride with target victim
Gain victim’s trust
Travel with victim (sometimes for several days), generally picking up other members along the way
Invoke ruse to get into position to strangle victim
Murder and divide victim’s money and property
Many times, the gang members would take on new roles or personalities to better fit in with their chosen target or targets, who would more often than not be people who looked like they had something worth taking.
Though there were various methods of murder used throughout the 18th century including hanging and poison, the method of choice became strangulation by the 19th century. As stranglers, they would be known as bhutortes. Assistants to the bhutortes called shumseeas would hold the victim’s limbs during the attack to ensure little struggle.
Finding suppression of the Thugs the perfect reason for trying to settle in India, the British soon used it as the main excuse for what they would deem altruistic means of imposition. Although the Thugs reported never actually attacked the British, they still seemed it necessary to protect themselves from the dangers of the gangs of Thuggee followers and their practices, eventually leading to the dissolution of the Thugs by the late 1830s.
Recently, historians are starting to question just how organized this cult-like group actually was AND exactly how much of a threat they truly were. Just like anything else in history from that long ago, things can get, shall we say…misconstrued, over time. I wonder what the final determination will be.
Thanks for reading!!! More to come!
Alter to worship Kali in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Human sacrifice to honor Kali in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Okay guys, so here’s the real of my situation. I’m under a stay at home order by my local government, in case you haven’t been reading my new blog section, listening to or watching the news or have been living under a rock for the past seven weeks. All non-essential businesses have been ordered to shut down.
This is also happening on both coasts of the country. This means that nothing is shipping out of the country and nothing is coming in…like comic books, graphic novels and such.
My comic book store has been closed and it looks like it will be through the month of April. Now, I have a HUGE stockpile of comics that I can still read and review. But I won’t be able to get anything new until the owners and I figure out some sort of shipping arrangement or something. My standard pick-up order is fairly extensive so shipping would be rather costly unless it was one of those flat rate box deals.
Anyway, I also cannot go to the movie store and buy any new movies to review. Again, I have a fair amount to still get through and review for you, but with no way of knowing how long this way of life will last, I don’t know when I will be able to replenish my resources. Regular shipping on online shopping and eBay has slowed way down already and if that is going to be the only way to get a lot of things for a while, things might get a little bumpy.
But don’t you worry. I want you guys to have something fun to read and do while you are all cooped up as well. The good news is a lot of the movies I have and choose to review are older and can usually be found online somewhere to watch. I will do my best to try to find links or suggestions of where to find the movies if I can so you can watch while you are asked to stay at home as well.
I also will be doing my best to post as often as I can to keep new content coming. Please keep in mind I am the only one doing everything on this website so have a little patience. I just want to publish the best content I can for you, my readers.
Lastly, I am going to take this moment to extend my deepest wishes to all of you, hoping that you stay safe, stay healthy, take care of yourselves and loved ones. Remember that we are all in this together. We all live in this nation. We all share the burden of responsibility to care for each other and we share the burden of responsibility in the failure of that care. Each of us can and should be doing our part, what is being asked of us, the common sense exercises that will save countless lives. Including yours and mine.
I appreciate ALL of you for being loyal fans. I have some ideas for a new section coming up this month for Horror TV. I hope you guys and gals will get a kick out of the new stuff.
So, please know that I fully understand I very well could be starting a war here with this post. I fully admit from the beginning that I don’t know all the story lines from the beginning and I don’t read every Marvel comic book that comes out. I’m not an X-Men fan and I really only like Wolverine. SO, there’s my disclaimer. So, if you are going to get on the comments section and bitch at me or attack me…take all that into consideration FIRST. Okay? Thank you.
Now, the other day I was watching what I believe to be the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. I was all into it at first. I even recognized Stryker from my Punisher comics. I was diggin’ the whole two brothers thing, fighting side by side through all the years, neither can die. Wicked shit, right? Then, in Vietnam, during the war, they formed a special team under the command of Stryker. At first Jimmy and Victor, ummm…that would be Wolverine and his older brother, are totally down to work for the government, because they believe what they are doing is just and is right. But Victor starts to enjoy killing just a little too much for Jimmy’s taste and Stryker sees this, thus starting to use Victor’s bloodlust as a viable weapon. Jimmy vehemently disagrees with THAT kind of work and chooses to walk away and live a regular life…well, regular for a mutant that is hiding amongst us "Normals".
The team that he leaves behind includes Wade Wilson, our friendly neighborhood Deadpool. Keep in mind that the Marvel Universe is supposed to all mesh together in perfect harmony. Back to the movie… Wade Wilson is NOT Deadpool yet. He has NOT gotten El Cancer yet. He doesn’t even know Vanessa exists. Okay? You got that? That’s important shit. Right now, in this movie, he’s just a badass assassin. Alright?
Now, Wolverine is the product of Stryker’s experiment called Weapon X, where they infused his skeleton with Adamantium, making him visually indestructible. That’s Wolverine…Weapon X. It actually means Weapon 10, but since young people these days don’t know what Roman numerals are, it’s just like with iPhone X, they called it iPhone “ex” instead of iPhone “ten”. But that’s him.
Weapon Ten = Weapon X = Wolverine…got it? Later on, in the movie, Stryker says he has taken all of the mutants’ powers and none of their weaknesses and put them all into one weapon…Weapon XI (that’s weapon 11 young peeps)…which happens to be…wait for it…Wade Wilson.
Now, here is where we get to my MAJOR issue in the Marvel Universe. In this Origins film, Wolverine and Victor BOTH have to fight the new mutant Wade Wilson, who interestingly no longer has a mouth (not funny, Wade’s sarcastic jokes and smart mouth are two of his best qualities). So, now, in this origins film, he’s already been mutated, he’s got no mouth AND he dies.
So how in the holy hell does he ever meet Vanessa, get cancer, go to the superhero mutant clinic (wink, wink) and become Deadpool???? How is this even possible??? Does someone want to nicely explain this to me? Am I the ONLY one who has noticed this incredible plot flaw? You superfans have to have either noticed this inconsistency or have the answers to the perplexing plot mistake. I have to say, until this is explained with some real reason to where it makes actual sense, I have lost sooooo much faith and respect in Marvel. Which sucks because I’m not that much of a DC fan. But, completely mutating and killing off a character and then bringing them back for their own series is just insulting to my intelligence. Unless there is a viable explanation as to how Wade survives the nuclear cooling tower collapse, along with all the wounds from Wolverine and Victor, regains his mouth and becomes a non-mutant again… Need to look it up? Go ahead, I’ll wait… … … … … Yeah, I think that’s gonna take a while. You’ll let me know though, won’t you? I thought so. Thank you.
As you all know, a while back I posted an article about how the makers of The Walking Dead had their boxers in a bunch because the guys at The Toking Dead were, and I’m paraphrasing here, going to cause confusion among consumers between the brands AND that the guys at The Toking Dead were, in their minds, making money off of The Walking Dead success and riding their coattails, so to speak.
I have to be honest, ever since I found out about this, it hasn’t left my mind. Now, I don’t usually use my website as a forum to spout my opinions from a soapbox but, I am truly just in shock that this whole thing is even going to trial.
When I posted that first article, I felt compelled to voice my disapproval and frankly, my disgust for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I still believe in free enterprise, which I consider to be one of the vital cores of the foundation of this country. Second, I found the allegations against The Toking Dead were not only petty but, outright ridiculous once I read the complaint myself. Third, I am a HUGE supporter of small business. I like to support the little guy and, in all actuality, I tend to keep my money pretty local, because for the most part, I want my money to go back into my community.
When I found out that the guys were being sued because of their name The Toking Dead, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How many products do we see day in and day out that have similar names and do similar things or have similar content? It’s called a competitive market.
In my original article I used an analogy to try to get people to stop thinking of this as strictly ZOMBIE related or strictly MARIJUANA related. We are too intelligent of a species to allow ourselves to focus a decision on a LEGAL matter based solely on our personal feelings about the subject at hand. I feel that, in the horror community (and please, correct me if I’m wrong), zombies are a very personal issue to a lot of fans. It’s almost like one of those things where you either love it or you don’t. I feel that although we’ve come a long way in a number of states, the general consensus about marijuana is still a very heated topic for people as well. It seems you have to be on one side of the line or the other, you either fully support or you don’t.
I decided to use soda (pop, to some of you folks) as a general product of replacement to take the personal fire out of the equation. The fact is, common sense doesn’t really exist anymore, so I don’t address common sense as much as I used to. But logic DOES exist, we have proof after proof of logic in math and in science. So, I tried to apply LOGIC to the situation, instead of emotion. And yet, to my amazement, what I considered to be logical in this situation seemed to go unacknowledged by the complainant’s representative in this matter. I’ll get to that in a minute. But it became clear to me that this law suit was not about LOGIC and more about ego and money, if anything.
Shortly after I posted that article the guys at The Toking Dead were very appreciative (and continue to remain so, by the way) and asked if I would be willing to submit a witness statement for their defense in what I consider to be this ridiculous legal battle. I said I would and after reading the plaintiff’s claim (which is public record once it’s filed people), I spent a couple of days working up my statement. I sent it to them and they were once again very grateful, kind and beyond appreciative. My statement basically consisted of my article, altered to be appropriate for a legal document, with some additions about myself, my opinion and I even submitted pictures to refute the plaintiff’s claims. Of course, I had to include my personal contact information as well. This was going to the other side’s attorneys. Well, lo and behold, not but a few days after my name is submitted as one that will be preparing a witness statement, a lawyer from the plaintiff called me directly. He had NOT gotten my statement yet, which WAS on the way to him, yet he still felt the need to call and “touch base” (as if we are on the same side) and see what I was going to be testifying to. I told him pretty much my witness statement word for word, because truth be told, I have a pretty damn good memory, especially when I wrote it myself. Now, this lawyer was nice enough, polite, clearly not trying to intimidate me or anything, just wanting to ask me some questions. I don’t know if he recorded this conversation. Usually the law requires that you inform someone if the conversation will be recorded, but I just assumed he was because lawyers like to record things, especially to go back and make notes. I also don’t know if he was truly just asking me questions or if he was interviewing me now in the hopes that when he got my statement there where be contradictions. Who knows? But I grew up around law enforcement and that included lawyers so, I kind of knew what to expect. But what else can I say except what I put in my statement? Regardless, I felt it odd and premature for him to call me when he hadn’t even read my statement yet. He went on to tell me that the basis of the lawsuit was specifically about the Mark (Trademark) The Toking Dead being too similar to the Mark The Walking Dead and that it will cause confusion. He asked me outright if I thought with the two names being so similar, did I think that it would cause confusion, with it being ‘The’ and then a word with ‘ing’ and then ‘Dead’. I had to almost chuckle as I said, “No, are you confused between Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola?” He repeated his question if I thought it was confusing. Again, I said no and thought to myself, “how many different ways are you going to make me say it, it’s not gonna change the meaning no matter how you try to get me to change the words. I’ll still pick words that mean what I’m wanting to say.” (Insert eyeroll here) Also, when I started talking about the content in the comics, which is specifically stated item by item in the plaintiff’s complaint, he maintained that that was not part of the lawsuit and that wasn’t a concern. Well, if it’s not a concern then why is it mentioned in the complaint? I think if I’m supplying you with a witness statement of my opinion as to the asinine claims of YOUR client, I think I should be allowed to address anything I deem relevant, including what was cited in the complaint against The Toking Dead. I also mentioned that the logos are anything BUT similar. He didn’t think that was important. I basically asked him that if they are worried about confusion, wouldn’t it start at the sight of the logo on a particular product? He quickly moved on.
Now remember, this guy called ME. I didn’t call him. He wanted to talk to me. I didn’t seek him out. He wanted to ask ME questions. I was raised that if you ask a person a question, you let them answer it completely. You don’t know what they are thinking so you don’t know when they are done speaking on the issue. He seemed to think that HE was going to tell ME what was important enough for him to hear. Oh no no no, my friend. Rule #1 of talking to me…don’t ask my opinion if you don’t really want it, because it might not be something you want to hear.
I don’t think this lawyer liked what I had to say. And I think that he started the conversation with a certain air about him because he was talking to what I think he presumed to be just some comic book fan. I don’t think he was prepared for the fact that I had much more knowledge, education and experience than what he thought. There were a few times I seemed to catch him off guard with my responses. After we got off the phone, the subject still seemed to continue to eat at me and eat at me. How is it that after getting approved for the Mark, these Walking Dead guys can come in and say they shouldn’t have it? The Toking Dead guys went through every correct and legal channel I’m aware of in order to get the Mark. Which I have had to experience myself with a personal business in the family. I witnessed the process of getting the Trademark and Copyright to secure your intellectual property. And even then, our images were stolen and published under someone else’s name. But here’s the thing…we didn’t have the money to sue the creeps who were using our actual images. AND THAT is real Trademark and Copyright infringement. It wasn’t like they did something similar. They straight stole the intellectual property and printed it and made money on it. Probably still are to this day. All we could do was send a Cease and Desist letter and hope that they stopped. Because we didn’t have millions to intimidate and drive them away, the thousands it would have cost to go through the legal process when we were just starting out in our business. Eventually, we ended up liquidating the business. The makers of The Walking Dead don’t even have THAT to base their case on. They are complaining about a name, a moniker. Something that is still be all measures, unique to them, just as The Toking Dead is unique to the guys there. And that’s how the government agencies saw it. So, the Mark was granted. Now the makers of The Walking Dead are trying to corner the zombie market in every sense of the phrase. On the flip side, “The Walking Dead” has been a general term to describe zombies since at least 1968. And they think they coined this phrase. To me it’s descriptive…and that’s what I told the lawyer. When I hear The Walking Dead, I think it to be too general of a term referring to zombies as a whole and therefore cannot be argued as their own corner on the zombie market. I mean, let’s look at the dictionary definition of zombie. Zombie: 1 a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, especially in certain African and Caribbean religions.
• (in popular fiction) a person or reanimated corpse [this would mean a corpse brought back to life] that has been turned into a creature capable of movement [capable of walking, reaching, touching, grabbing, etc.] but not of rational thought [braindead], feeds on human flesh = THE WALKING CORPSE THAT IS BRAINDEAD
In other words, a walking dead body…hence, the walking dead. So how can these guys think that just because they called a comic book series and a tv series The Walking Dead that that phrase is somehow so specific to them, their product, their content and their intellectual property, that it lost its GENERAL descriptive purpose, which has existed longer than they have? Now I know this probably doesn’t seem like me and it probably sounds repetitive. But you have to understand. This corporate conglomerate is trying to stifle the free speech and creativity of a smaller company. They are trying to bury these guys under a mountain of paperwork in the form of motions and depositions and statements. They are forcing the guys to use capital defending their already approved Mark instead of allowing them to put those funds into their business. They are using up hours and hours, days and days of time that the guys could be creating, selling, educating, building their own brand. And yet they claim that The Toking Dead is somehow getting rich and fat off of THEIR zombie idea, which is not even really their idea…I mention that in my first article. (I’ll put a link to it down at the bottom.) Just imagine what the soda industry would be like if Coca-Cola had been allowed to continue to drive out any competitor with “cola” in their name. Think about all the cheaper brands that we grew up on that wouldn’t have been there if Coca-Cola had been allowed to corner that market. Coke would be the only cola brand. No Pepsi. No RC (Royal Crown). No Sam’s or Shasta. Just Coke. And they would have been able to charge whatever the market would allow because they would be the only cola product. Imagine that. How much would you pay for a Coke when it was the only cola product on the market??? If that had been allowed, we’d have only one version of everything, one brand, one choice. That’s not capitalism. That’s not free enterprise. And that surely isn’t the American Dream that so many come to this country looking for.
So now go back to zombies. How boring would the horror genre be if we only had The Walking Dead’s interpretation of zombies? Only Bram Stoker’s version of Dracula. Only one version of a werewolf movie. No other slasher films except Halloween. The whole world of the horror genre is built on those who had ideas before the ones now. Those previous creators inspired and motivated others to develop a love for the genre and want to be a part of it. In order to do that, you take things that have ghosts and ghouls, zombies and monsters, vampires and werewolves, the evil and the dark, and you build something with it. You create something that you hope will entertain the masses. Imagine if John Carpenter had come to Wes Craven and said, “Nope, you can’t make a horror movie where the killer wears a mask and uses a knife. I did that. That’s mine. I’m suing you.” The entire horror community would have been appalled and Carpenter would have looked like a petulant child acting like an ass…hmmmmm, remind you of any recent behaviors? But Carpenter realized that it was a general idea and that anyone could use it and build on it and still create something that the community could love. Rest assured that in the horror community there are enough customers for every type of zombie, every type of monster, every kind of demon and psycho, every sort of paranormal activity. There’s plenty of customers to go around. Fact of the matter is, you can’t please everyone with just one product. I’m a perfect example. I never jumped on The Walking Dead bandwagon. Haven’t read a comic or seen one episode of it. But, it’s not hard to figure out the story. Yet, I love the whole idea behind The Toking Dead. I felt it was finally a fresh and new take on zombies, another thing I included in my conversation with Mr. Briefcase. Bottom line is, to be so greedy, so arrogant, so stingy and so narrowminded as to try to crush a fellow member of the very horror society you have made billions off of, just seems so over the top to me. It is more like bullying out the little guys. I can’t abide that. That’s why we have laws against allowing people monopolies in business. We NEED competition in business. As consumers we deserve options, choices. We need competition in life. It’s what pushes us to go farther, be better, try harder, be more creative. It’s such a shame that instead of being happy for the guys at The Toking Dead as fellow horror lovers, these millionaires are pissed that they are even in business. To me it’s like the equivalent to a race being run and although The Walking Dead finished first, they are still sore that they had to work at the win because they weren’t the only ones competing. It’s like they’d be bitter that they had to run the race in the first place, like it should just be known that they are the best and no one should ever come along and try to test that. And that my friends, is just the worst way to be. There’s always someone better than you and there’s always someone worse. And even if you do make it to the best that is only permanent as long as you continue to earn it and work for it. Best is only temporary if you just sit on it and don’t strive to be better. Now that I have gotten everything out of my system, I’m going to end this with a shout out to the guys and their crew at The Toking Dead. I know they have tons of support and I just hope that this whole mess works out for them. I admire their willingness to fight against the big guys and I respect not only that, but I respect what they do and why. MUCH LOVE TO MY FRIENDS AT THE TOKING DEAD!!!!
So, it seems the creators of The Walking Dead think they should have some kind of corner on the entire “zombie” market. I have remained in contact with the makers of The Toking Dead ever since I received their first issue, which I thought was fantastic. Yesterday, Jeff Homan, co-creator with Benjamin Bartlett, brought to my attention an article that had posted on digboston.com. You can find the article HERE.
It seems that TWD creators are alleging that because TTD has a zombie theme it is too close to the theme of their content and will basically, create confusion amongst the masses. I have to say this has to be the dumbest thing I think I may have heard all year.
Let’s first address the fact that Homan and Bartlett applied for and received all patent and copyright approvals from the appropriate government agencies BEFORE publishing their comic. Now, if their idea had been considered too close to TWD, they never would have gotten approval for those. Period, the end. But wait, there’s more.
The Walking Dead is centered around zombies coming after humans and attacking them during the very common idea of a zombie apocalypse. It also has the age-old idea of the surviving humans banning together in small tribes with the idea that within each tribe they hold their own set of laws and morals. Now, if you want my HONEST opinion…
TWD people stole the zombie idea from George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and modernized it, then combined it with a modernization of Lord of the Flies. SO NOT ORIGINAL.
Now, as far as I’m aware, this is the first comic book that fuses cannabis and zombies together in this particular fashion. THAT is ORIGINAL. This comic series in NOT just about smoking pot and a bunch of zombies running rampant and biting people. Homan and Bartlett know that one very excellent way to communicate AND educate is through an entertainment medium. They are passionate advocates for the medicinal benefits of cannabis and truly felt that a comic book would be a better medium for informing the masses than some dry old boring textbook of sorts.
But let’s get to THE REAL abhorrent nature of this lawsuit. How about we put it into a formula EVERYONE can understand. Not pot related.
We all know about the huge soda conglomerate, the Coca-Cola Company, introduced in 1886. We also all know they aren’t the only cola product out there, although they WERE the first (unlike The Walking Dead with their zombies). In the 1980s, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola went head to head, spending millions of dollars in advertising campaigns in what were called “The Rock and Roller Cola Wars” to prove who had the best product. At the same time, products like Shasta Cola (1960s), RC Cola (Royal Crown Cola around since 1906), and Sam’s Choice Cola (1990s) were all on the market while Coke and Pepsi continued to battle it out. Yet, I need you to notice one major thing.
THEY ARE ALL COLA DRINKS.
Coca-Cola tried to do the same thing by suing other cola companies claiming that because they used “cola” in the name that it would be too confusing and ruin their sales. Unfortunately, there were a lot of underdogs that lost that ridiculous fight.
But these are new times. I hope that people nowadays are more rational in realizing that this is truly a ridiculous lawsuit, probably aimed at depleting time, money and further resources to push the little guy out of the market.
But here’s the thing. First off, these guys don’t want in TWD’s market. They aren’t in this for the money and if you read the article you will see that they only make $2 on every issue printed. They also go to trade shows and fundraisers, and that is coming out of THEIR pockets, NOT profit, I guarantee you.
Unless you’ve worked in trade show business, you have NO CLUE what it costs just to get a booth at those places, let alone get any kind of advertising in their show brochures, etc. Then, you have to add the cost of travel, inventory, hotel stays, food expenses, paying people who work for you there, their expenses…it just goes on and on. If you want the Union guys to haul pallets in for you, that costs money, a couple thousand dollars actually. If you want carpet in your booth, that costs money, again a couple thousand. If you want the convention to provide a sound system or A/V equipment, put drapes on your booth tables, that costs money, and again, it's thousands. Then, you have to understand that these guys are finding TOP QUALITY artists to work with them on their issues. By the time it’s all over, these guys are probably just barely keeping their heads above water just wanting to get information out in a more appealing way, they’re not making any money off of anyone’s coattails (as TWD is claiming). I’m wondering if these guys are making any money at all. From what I can tell, they are passionate advocates and they love what they do.
Now, if there IS someone that should probably get sued here, maybe it should be TWD people for doing a modern-day rip-off of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Or am I the only one who has put the basic premises of these two stories together like that??? Maybe I’m just the only one not caught up in the hype of the masses. I tend to think that if EVERYONE is on the bandwagon about something (anything), that’s usually my cue to step back and re-evaluate for myself, get my OWN thoughts.
(Side note: Believe it or not the FIRST actual zombie film ever made was in 1932 called White Zombie by Victor Halperin.)
So, I ask you? Should everyone who ever made anything zombie related be sued by Halperin’s heirs because it “might cause confusion”??? Or do you think there might be enough zombie material for everyone. Besides, Homan and Bartlett were at least creative and did something different. How many times do we need a typical zombie apocalypse theme before people get over the hoopla?
I’m a staunch supporter of small business and indie filmmakers and writers. I’m also pro-marijuana. I am also for free enterprise as that is the cornerstone of our economy. We have laws to prevent monopolies to keep big bad Goliath-like money wranglers such as Coca-Cola and TWD from pushing out the Davids of the world like The Toking Dead and RC Cola (which by the way, tasted so close to real Coke you couldn’t tell a difference.)
If TWD gets away with this, even though the guys went through all the proper channels and got approval for everything, they’ll continue to go after ANYONE who has any idea that involves zombies that walk. That is just too broad of a spectrum to sue someone over and much too broad of a market to try to corner. These guys need to get over themselves and realize that they’ve made so much money already and that these Toking Dead guys aren’t going to affect that.
I mean, when did you last hear about Nordstrom’s complaining about Macy’s or Wal-Mart selling clothes too and that it was going to confuse their customers and impact sales??? Nordstrom’s doesn’t give a shit what Macy’s or Wal-Mart does. And vice versa. And do you know why? Because they know those stores aren’t cutting into their sales. Sure, it’s clothes. But it’s a different kind of customer, there’s different brands, etc. Just like this is a zombie comic but a different kind of comic, with different details and quirks.
Look, in the retail market there are all kinds of customers. That means there’s plenty to go around for everyone who wants to put in the work and effort to service THOSE customers. Obviously, The Toking Dead has found a client base that TWD hasn’t tapped and now won’t be able to. Poor babies. But they really should back off and realize that they didn’t create the zombie idea, they don’t own the zombie idea and they can’t corner the zombie idea.
Much love to my awesome friends and crew at The Toking Dead!!!
In 1964 there was a brutal double attack on a young woman named Kitty Genovese that resulted in her death. The attack was not covered in the press for around two weeks and when it finally got some ink, it was grossly misreported. This crime and the behavior of witnesses reported by the newspapers led professionals in the psychology community to conduct a number of experiments to determine what went wrong in the response of bystanders and why people seem to be so reluctant to help in such situations.
Kitty was born Catherine Susan Genovese on July 7, 1935. She was kind of a wild Italian girl at times with a confident attitude and a pleasant disposition. She lived with her parents and then her grandparents all the way up until she got married in 1954 at age 29. But, the marriage was short lived and was annulled towards the end of that same year.
She moved in her own apartment in Brooklyn and worked clerical jobs, which she didn’t like, until the late 1950s when she found a job as a bartender. While working behind the bar, she also made money on the side as a bookie. Unfortunately, she got busted for this in 1961 with her girlfriend, Dee Guarnieri. They each had to pay a $50 fine and Kitty lost her job.
She quickly got another bartending job and soon she was managing the place because apparently, the owner was hardly ever there. This allowed her to work a lot of overtime. She saved as much money as she could and planned to open her own Italian restaurant.
On March 13, 1964 at about 2:30am, Kitty left Ev’s Eleventh Hour Bar where she worked and headed home to her apartment that she shared with her girlfriend at the time, Mary Ann Zielonko, whom she met sometime in 1963. Genovese arrived home at around 3:15am. She parked her car in the apartment complex parking lot which was about 100ft from her apartment building’s front door. She exited her vehicle and began to walk to her building. At this point a man with a knife approached her. When Kitty saw him she started running towards her building and the man gave chase, running after her. He quickly caught up to her. Once he got her, he rapidly overpowered her and thrust his blade into her back twice. Kitty screamed in pain, “Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!”
A number of people heard her cry out but, only a few identified the sound as a cry for help. One of her neighbors, a gentleman by the name of Robert Mozer, even yelled at the attacker trying to scare him off and it worked. Once Mozer hollered, “Let that girl alone!” the attacker ran off leaving Genovese seriously injured and to fend for herself. She made her way toward the back of the building at a snail’s pace. At this point, she is bleeding profusely and quickly losing strength. She is also now in a more secluded area, out of the view of any witnesses.
This is when witnesses say they saw the perpetrator enter his vehicle and leave the scene only to return 10 minutes later. This time he was wearing a hat with a wide brim. This allowed him to obscure his face from any onlookers. He began to carefully and systematically search the area for Kitty. Eventually, he found her. She was lying nearly unconscious in a back hallway at the rear of her apartment building. To her heartbreak and dismay, once she had reached the building, a locked door had forbidden her from entering to safety.
Now out of earshot and eyesight of any and all would-be onlookers good samaritans, the attacker proceeded to stab Kitty Genovese several more times. Then, in a very cold and brutal act of savagery, he raped her as she lay there bleeding to death and crying. Once he was finished defiling this terrified young woman, he added insult to injury by taking $49 from her wallet and then bolted off like a coward.
The vicious attacks on Ms. Genovese spanned the period of about a half an hour, during which time defensive wounds suggest that Kitty put up a hell of a struggle as she fought the assailant for her life. In the end, one of Kitty’s neighbors, a Ms. Sophia Farrar, found her a brief time after the second attack and held Genovese in her arms until emergency services arrived.
Kitty Genovese was put in an ambulance at 4:15am. She died on the way to the hospital.
Almost a week later, on March 19, a guy by the name of Winston Moseley was picked up for being suspected for robbery when the cops found a TV set in the trunk of his white Chevrolet Corvair. At the time, a detective remembered that a white car had been reported as being seen leaving the scene of the Genovese murder just a week before.
Once the interrogation started, Moseley admitted not only to killing Kitty Genovese but, also to killing two other women, Annie Mae Johnson, who he had shot and burned to her death in her apartment a few weeks prior and Barbara Kralik, who was murdered in her parents’ home in July the previous year.
Moseley had been sitting in his car when he spotted Genovese driving home. He had seen her as she was stopped at a stoplight. He began to follow her home and when she arrived and parked her car, he parked his car a little ways away, armed himself with his hunting knife and began to pursue her on foot.
Two weeks after the Genovese murder happened, it FINALLY made headlines. If it hadn’t been for the NYPD Commissioner making a comment about the murder to an editor of the NY Times, this story might not have made the papers hardly at all.
However, when the papers did get around to reporting the horrifying tragedy, they got it all kinds of screwed up. Whether it was for the purpose of selling papers or whether they were just that bad at getting the facts straight, both are something that I can make a case for either way.
The papers stated that thirty-seven people stood by and watched this sadistic attack go down and nobody did anything to help. Once word of THAT got around people were even MORE horrified with what had happened. It’s bad enough that a young lady would lose her life in such a callus and heinous way but, for all those people to just stand by and watch, to look out their windows and stare and do nothing. To open their doors and see a woman in such desperate need of help and turn around, close the door and go back to what they were doing before they heard the blood curdling screams.
Another thing in the news report that people seemed to really focus on was a quote of a witness that stated “I didn’t want to get involved.” Many saw this as a clear representation of the decaying sense of care from one common human to another and the lack of empathy throughout large cities across the country, specifically New York.
In reality, there were at least two phone calls to the police, a man that yelled at the assailant and a woman that held the victim until help arrived. At the time this incident happened there was no established centralized emergency services number, so 911 didn’t exist. What people did was dial ‘0’ for the Operator and ask for the Police, hoping they weren’t too busy to transfer you in your time of need. Hardly an efficient way to render aid to someone who is having a heart attack or being stabbed several times and raped in the back of an apartment building.
In 1968, 911 officially became the national emergency services number for the United States. And it would not have happened had it not been for the Kitty Genovese murder case.
Research on the behavior of the witnesses was also a result of this case. It came to be known as “the bystander effect”. The most basic definition of this social psychological phenomenon is the more people that are around when an emergency situation presents itself, the less likely those people are to render aid themselves or make effort to seek aid for the person in need. Amazingly, there is a lot more psychologically to it than just how many people are around. Research found that a number of factors go into the decision making process of whether or not to become someone’s hero in their time of despair. Some of the elements that influence the decision are things you would naturally think of, others not so much. For instance, not only does the number of people around the bystander affect whether or not they will help (or even consider the event an emergency, we tend to base OUR reactions off of the reactions of others when we are in groups so, if everyone in the group doesn’t acknowledge an emergency, chances are we won’t either or will take longer to step up and do so) but, whether or not we have things in common with the person in need can play a part in it as well. Say you are at a pro football game. The majority of the crowd is in the home team’s jerseys, t-shirts and game gear. The fans that support the visiting team are proudly sporting their jerseys and such as well. You have a great time and your home team wins. You’re feeling happy and lighthearted as you walk to the parking lot to leave. As you exit the stadium, you see a man and a woman. They are down on the ground. There is some stumbling, some struggling to get up, a few unintelligible words and arms flailing. You see spilled beer and empty cups. And you see the opposing team’s jerseys. As you as you walk by, what do you do???
If you are like the majority of the human race, you would most likely look with curiosity, perhaps strain to hear or even take your phone out to video the incident and continue walking. Many would assume that this was likely two drunk fans that after watching their team lose for over three hours, probably knocked a few too many back and now these chuckleheads can’t stand up on their own. It might never even occur to you that this could be a domestic dispute or an intoxicated woman in trouble trying to flee or even a man being attacked by a sloshed date that he wishes he had cancelled.
However, had they been wearing the home team’s jerseys we would have been much more likely to at least stop and watch to see the event unfold, to see if there was an emergency, to see if help was needed. We would have seen that jersey as a symbol of a teammate, a comrade, a friend. The opposing jersey would have psychologically represented an enemy. After all, we did just watch over three hours of a total sanctioned war being played out on a field in the model of a true just society. (Look, football is the model for true justice if you think about it. I mean in theory, people. There’s a specific set of rules and everyone knows them. There’s people there to monitor that the rules are followed. And the moment someone breaks the rules, a swift and just punishment is handed out and it’s the same for that infraction pretty much every time. JUSTICE.) Likewise, we are more apt to help people we feel have similar likes, lifestyles, opinions, etc. Especially psychologically as we seem to always have this “us vs. them” mentality when it comes to difference of opinion.
Next, people are always afraid to “get involved”. It can be for a number of reasons. At the time of the crime people are often scared of being hurt themselves or that their aid will hinder rather than help. (We rarely think that we are qualified to help in an emergency.) In women’s defense classes they sometimes teach to yell, “Fire!” instead of, “Rape!” because people are so much more likely to come to look at the horrors of a blazing person or building and so much less likely to intervene on a violent sexual assault. (That’s messed up, seriously. That’s just plain horrible and disgusting, thinking that carnage garners more curiosity than cries for help garner aid. Humans can be so heartlessly morbid sometimes.)
People are often afraid of the police and don’t want to talk to them. We often get nervous around police or maybe look at them a little sideways, perhaps. They also don’t want to have the police coming back to their home over and over to ask questions, thinking it looks bad to neighbors. They don’t want the publicity of their names in the papers or their faces on the news and these days, everything is online first. They are reluctant to be part of a trial. That’s a big one. Everyone knows that when you become a witness for a trial, your opposing side is going to try their hardest to discredit you and rip you to shreds. It takes a lot to sit in that witness chair and go through the criminal event, what you know and then for THEM to go through what they now know about you. And as a witness, yeah your side can object but, two things you gotta know. One, the jury still hears it and remembers it, even when they are told to forget it and two, there are no WITNESS shield laws (like the rape shield laws that protect rape victims) that protect you from being exposed, exploited, hounded, followed, vilified, embarrassed, whatever they want to do to make you look like a bad witness.
Now, I don’t want you to take this as set in stone. As with pretty much all research, for every study showing one conclusion, you can find one showing the opposite. Such is true for this topic as well. There are studies in later years that have concluded that the number of people around when an emergency occurs does NOT affect whether or not someone will help. I would like to point out though, that these studies were done after the year 2000 and all research concluding the former was done prior to pretty much 1990.
In addition to all of that, despite the facts being proven to be different than that of the story in the papers, that exaggerated tale is STILL the account that is used in psychology textbooks everywhere to this day. It is used more as a parable now rather than represented as fact but, that is RARELY noted in the texts and students are led to believe the fictitious account is the truth.
We live in a different time now. In the 60s, nobody was opposed to minding their own business and even the President was given latitude with his personal indiscretions not being printed in the daily paper or read on the morning news like they are now. In fact, White House aides used to call reporters and tell them things like you’re gonna find out that the President was out at a certain hotel this evening with a certain young lady. He’d really appreciate it if you didn’t print that tomorrow and for your discretion he’ll give you exclusive access to BLANK, or whatever the appropriate offer of thanks would be. Nowadays, there is no reasonable expectancy of right to privacy with all the technology we have. Privacy is a reasonable right that has been turned into a variable myth. As such, our behavior out in the open changes as well as behind closed doors.
In the wake of so many mass shootings and the rise of outward violence hitting our streets once again, we tend to be somewhat desensitized to horrors that confront us every day. In fact, I just found out today that a man who murdered one of my close friends and my friend’s girlfriend in high school, and was acquitted, was just found guilty of five robbery/homicides in my city that he committed almost five years ago. I had been following the case rather closely hoping he wouldn’t escape justice this time. And yet, the news was presented the same way the rest of the news is presented, with the same emotional void or fake emotion, the same lack of realization that there are real people behind these headlines, real victims.
We all want to think that we know what we would do or how we would react in certain high risk/high stress situations. And while we HAVE grown in some ways as a society, we still lack the general cohesiveness that pushes us to look out for a fellow stranger in addition to our family, friends and loved ones. As these mass shootings and other horrific events continue to take place we see that there ARE people that are willing to help people they don’t know, willing to put themselves in harm’s way to render aid in times of need and emergency. And we see that even within an average, everyday person can emerge the greatest of heroes. People who don’t care what is viewed as right or wrong, what is being filmed or not, and what credit they would get or what fame would be given. They help because they are there, they can and someone needs it. And when it comes down to it, isn’t that really what it should be about?