Culled from the SM forum for general perusal:
dj brewer wrote:
If you ask me, it's one thing to be political, but it's another to be void of standard. Hopefully we can work out some of these issues, if for any reason to protect the creative integrity of our members, no matter what their political agenda.
I already said I agreed with Dj's sentiments, but this statement really strikes pretty close to the heart of the matter for me.
I'll be honest with all of you: I've been struggling with this issue personally. No doubt, if I were still posting to the general poetry_slam listserve I'd have done some melty bit about it. I had to sit down and ask myself, "Did I or the EC or PSI do something wrong here? Did we not live up to some standard or platform on behalf of the people we have to answer to?" I know we all have opinions and thoughts on the matter, but I'm an elected representative of our organization, so I'm taking this kind of personal. I needed to know if I dropped the ball here. So I've been thinking about this since someone turned on the fan.
So many facets interlock here within our community and organization all of the time, and not easily, so discussing any one of them without looking at the ramifications on the other pieces is ultimately counter-productive. I hate being counter-productive, and the only way we can ensure that this discussion will remain as productive as possible - or close to it, since I agree with Bob's allusion: can't please everybody, ever - is to get some of the facts straight. This isn't happening on the general listserve, so feel free to add these to that Kool-Aid pitcher if you wish (for what it's worth, which I'm sure isn't much at this point, but what else is new):
- Again: PSI brokered the American Spirit deal (not the "RJ Reynolds" deal). We got $5000 and were able to impose some fairly stern standards on their presence and where and what they could do.
- Numerous committees have been set-up to address this issue. I haven't seen one scrap of standardization in the years I've been involved, and for Brett Axel to suggest that he should have heard back from PSI on how to proceed is ridiculous. We WANTED standards or COMPANIES or ANYTHING to inform us on how they felt we should proceed as an organization. When you get a committee around here, YOU'RE expected to do the work, not have us do the work and hand it to you for good marks on our report card. He - and anyone else who cared about the issue enough to sign up for the numerous committees - should have DONE something or asked us what they should be doing, since we also allowed them a lot of latitude to define the issue as well as inform us on how to move forward on it.
So this issue could have been addressed WELL before St. Louis cut some deal with some radio stations by the very people who have been the biggest proponents for such organizational standards. PERIOD.
- NPS works like this:
St. Louis - any host city, actually - is in a partnership on running NPS. We handle some stuff and need to find the resources to realize those things, and the host city handles some stuff and needs to find some resources to realize the things on their end. The only thing that dictates to a host city what they should and should not do is the contract we have them sign with PSI. After they sign that, any grey areas are ripe for the picking.
Now, I know how that sounds. It sounds like I'm saying, "we should have a 90 page contract to ensure that this type of thing doesn't happen." This is NOT what I am saying. (The contract we have is confusing enough, believe me) What I AM saying is that we need to run potential host cities through the communal ringer BEFORE they get these bids. Too many people are content to sit back, not speak-up in all the right places, not get involved until July and then want to rail against the wind of the NPS that's coming whether they like it or not.
Anyone who knows me in EC/SM capacity will tell you: I'm not St. Louis's biggest fan, and it didn't exactly help matters when I saw Daniel post the CC partnership on the SM forum last month (if you're an SM and you're just know finding this out, where you been?). I've mostly resigned myself to making it through this year and getting on to some hosts I know, trust, believe will do a good job, and that can answer a fucking email. I shouldn't have just said that right there, but it's important, and for this reason:
You all cannot believe that PSI or the EC or that everyone involved in organizing this thing thinks and feels and works the same way. We don't, but we WORK. Sometimes we get what we want and sometimes we don't. This is something that actually wasn't within our realm of control. But the question isn't why did we let this happen
, but should we be imposing this a standard on what resources a host city can accumulate?
or do we do what we've always done and trust/hope that we're not handing NPS to a crew of hustlers? Ask Solis; I'm already trying to plan the 24-hour mic for Albuquerque.
A host city has a lot to hold up on their end, and it costs lost of money (tens of thousands). The only SMs I think that could bankroll the average NPS budget without outside sponsorships of this magnitude are Marc Smith and Alexander Proctor, if his hotel bills are any indication. :wink:
We don't traditionally worry about these sponsorships because
a) we almost never have any
b) it's the host city's deal
c) there is nothing in place to suggest we should control this aspect of what they do
d) there is nothing in place to suggest we can control this aspect of what they do.
St. Louis had, as near as we could tell, NOTHING in the way of notable advertising going on. This scared the SHIT out of the EC.
They also had nothing visibly in the way of outreach toward the significant number of black poets/audiences/venues/mics in their city. This pissed us off.
The deal they brokered covered these two bases about as good as they were going to get covered (just in case you didn't get in all of this that "urban" means "black folks"), and you can't just say, "Well, they didn't need to go through CC to do that; they should have printed fliers or something" because when you got to STL and there wasn't any audience or there weren't any black folks to judge/applaud/undertsand your really cool black poem, you'd be mad pissed, not to mention that if they wanted the same deal out of any of the other urban stations, there wouldn't be any other ones to choose from as I understand it.
Again, I'm not excusing the CC option (I am livid at CC right now), but I am piecing the puzzle of NPS together within the context of the picture on the box, not finding two pieces that lock and stepping away from the table like I'm done. Where's the outcry against the poets who use a 3 second appearance on evil-funded/parented 60 Minutes
on their reusmes? Any of these cats ride on the SlamAmerica bus? How many mics turned away from port the evil under-written bus of corporate doom? Where do we draw these magic lines? Where your politics say we do?
So here's a question from a good friend of mine backchannel that could use a front channel answer, if any of you happen to have one:
"Shall we say contractually that every host must conduct the best media campaign they can and simultaneously say you may ONLY use NPR and other liberal media?"
- I've learned that the one thing we could use a lot more of in our community is self-accountability: when you say you're going to do something, do it. If you know you aren't going to do something or probably can't do it well or commit time to it, don't act like it. And if you didn't do something, own up to it.
I'm still digging into this to see if we need to fix something we did because I don't want to believe that we'd take money from just anybody (let alone pay it). At the same time, there are either rules or there aren't. There either be standards or there don't. Either people are investigating these issues on our behalf before one month prior to NPS or they ain't. Posting about it isn't going to get it done, I'm sorry. It's not like we don't want the standards if that's what the majority of the body wants; in the end, we have to do what the most votes says. But someone's going to have to step up to the plate (again, but with a bat this time) and give us something to work with.
- I - a non-drinking, non-smoking, anti-censorship type of cat - have chuckled more than once listening to a bunch of smokers and drinkers tell me about how evil the companies they buy their shit from is and how we should censor these companies based on the opinions of 7 people without any guidelines. Defended your honor? How?
- PSI is a community that has long been trying to turn itself into an organization, not vice-versa. Nobody knew what the heck they were doing in 1996, and we've been mostly paving the road as we push the car along it. Sometimes we build a nice stretch of quater-mile downhill road and sometimes we do about 3 feet in front of us uphill. It's about the worst way you can build an organization in such a state of constant growth, flux and influence, but we work out a new kink about every 2-3 months; we fix something that we needed from the very beginning that we won't have to go back and fix again. We got a lot of eyes on us, but not enough as we build this thing. Everybody wants to be an editor, but not the cat with the pen and paper.
So did the EC do anything wrong? No. Based on what (I mean, aside from your or my personal politics and the grist in our poems)?
Did PSI do anything wrong?
I don't know; did you?