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Disorderly

Baker Lee • FOH at LargeOctober 2019 • October 14, 2019

Event producers often send me schedules that I have to laugh off as crazy pipe dreams that will never be realized:

Load in and set up: 1:00 p.m. First sound check: 1:30 p.m. Second band check: 2:15 p.m. Third band check: 3:00 p.m. Doors: 3:45 p.m. First band on 4:00 p.m, off at 5:00 p.m. Second band on at 5:05 p.m, off at 6:05 p.m. Last band on at 6:10 p.m, off at 7:10 p.m. Strike and load out 7:15 p.m. Must be completely finished and out of the room by 8:00 p.m.

This schedule doesn’t even account for any of the other vendors such as the lighting, staging or video crews that would need to move faster than the speed of sound just to accomplish this fantastic act of production.

‡‡         Flights of (Production) Fancy

These untenable flights of fancy disguised as “production schedules” are usually put together by inexperienced production coordinators who are unaware of the real time it takes to stage and put on an event or show. These same so-called “production coordinators” argue about the required amount of labor needed to complete their events in a timely fashion. I understand that much of this disconnect from the reality of putting on a show can stem from monetary concerns and what the desired cost should be rather than what it will be, but one can only laugh off the producer’s ineptitude as stemming from inexperience.

If, on the other hand, the producer has years of experience and a proven track record of successful events, then the assumption can be made that they have gone insane by presenting such a crazy schedule. Either that, or that they are a brilliant-but-misunderstood genius who can actually succeed with their impractical timeline. While there is a modicum of truth attached to linking genius to insanity, it would be very difficult to reconcile the two, which is what Kay Redfield Jamison, a clinical psychologist and professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is trying to do.

Ms. Jamison has found in her studies that there’s a significant link between mood disorders and creativity and — according to the World Science Fair — “research shows that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia correlate with high creativity and intelligence.” This connection may explain certain behaviors of artists such as Van Gogh, Robin Williams and Brian Wilson. Of course, they are not alone in their suffering, and people like the brilliant economist John Nash, pin-up girl Bettie Page and musician Joey Ramone have also been diagnosed with personality disorders. While the list goes on to include many more artists, musicians, writers and actors, it also includes prominent people outside the arts — most notably Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill and Abe Lincoln. Even Albert Einstein — who said, “The only difference between genius and insanity is that genius has its limits” — was considered to have a personality disorder.

‡‡         The Dark Side

Of course, the underside to the “insane” genius is the criminally insane person with a personality disorder. David Berkowitz, otherwise known as the “Son of Sam,” Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson come to mind, but one can possibly conclude that any serial criminal would have to be suffering from one personality disorder or another. Apparently, there are ten types of personality disorders: paranoid; schizoid; schizotypal; antisocial; borderline; histrionic; avoidant; dependent and obsessive personality disorder. There are long descriptions of how the symptoms of these disorders are presented and — as each disorder is revealed — it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that any one of us is truly disorder-free. It’s also a wonder that there have been (and are) so many people who, despite suffering from one disorder or another, have achieved a positive greatness, fame and distinction rather than descending into the depths of ignoble criminality.

Why, you might ask do I care about deviant and aberrant behavior and what are my concerns regarding personality disorders? Other than harboring some of my own personality disorders, I have also known, worked with and befriended many disordered people. Some of them passed on, some have been incarcerated and others have gone on to have decent careers, jobs, families and lives. We all share the difficulty of corralling our disorders. Some people are more successful at controlling their disorders than others, and while some disorders are associated with genius and greatness, others are allied with miscreants and killers. In light of yet another spate of recent mass killings in Texas and Ohio, the question remains as to how we can discern whose disorder will turn murderous.

‡‡         Don’t Shoot Me, I’m the Sound Tech

According to an FBI report, which was co-authored by criminal justice professor James Silver of Worcester State University, supervisory special agent Andre Simons and researcher Sarah Craun of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, these horrific mass-shooting incidents have been on the rise since 2004. They also concluded that, on average, each of the active shooters displayed four to five troubling behaviors that were observable to people around them — beginning months or even years before the attack — but as James Silver points out in the report, “it’s important that people understand that active shooters are people in the community. They have jobs. They’re in school. They do talk to people. They come from all walks of life,” and this is exactly what makes profiling these shooters a difficult task. Just because someone is different does not mean they will evolve into a mass murderer rather than the eccentric genius that finds the cure for cancer.

I am not going to let this become a political debate, but I personally have no need to own a gun at this time in my life. Years ago, when I lived in a very rural part of Pennsylvania, I owned a 30-30 rifle as well as a 12-gauge shotgun. I thought I needed them for protection against bears or other wild beasts that might be lurking about. I never cared for hunting, but I blew up quite a few pumpkins. I personally do not see a need for anyone outside of the military to own an assault rifle and, considering the recent carnage wrought by these weapons, I would support full and extended background checks, but I would also support reinstating the ban of assault weapons that expired in 2004. I know that many people object to a ban and insist that “it’s not guns, but people who kill,” but why not give it a trial run and see if there is any change in carnage, considering the difficulty presented in diagnosing everyone’s disorder?

Before getting up in arms (that’s right), be aware that I am not advocating against the Second Amendment. My reason for wanting assault rifles banned is a selfish one, considering that these mass shootings of innocents often happen in public gathering spaces such as theaters, schools, supermarkets, synagogues, churches, hotels, nightclubs and concerts. Because of our livelihood in the audio/production field, my co-workers and I work in many of these places as an everyday occurrence. Our job often requires us to stand on platforms in the middle of large crowds or on a highly visible stage, and while I realize that removing assault rifles form the hands of the general public doesn’t completely eradicate the threat of an attack, I also do not want to give any kind of advantage to some genius gone bad.

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