A Cappella Innovations

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Postby playdeep » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:40 pm

Not to make this thread too much about the Crosbys choices, but I will comment that myself and one other judges outside of the NXIVM group called the hotel ,and independently of one another, confirmed that the damage done to the room was more than wrappers and fast food. The accounts of carbonated drinks sprayed all over, fire extinguishers released and urine and feces being dispersed are not rumors.

Much remains to be seen. The Crosbys did email myself and some others to appologize. This is a step in the right direction so I thank them for this. It was frustrating when I heard of the condition of the rooms after I personally pulled aside two of the Crosbys and asked them to call me if they wanted to vent their concerns and frustrations, I havent received a call to that effect yet either. The two I spoke to did not make it sound like they were concerned enough to trash a room or that their frustrations were worth them trying to talk others into leaving; as I have heard from other groups present. So I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. But the Crosbys dont have precedence on their side, so we will see. I also think that those who did the damage will need to come forward also personally. If the Crosbys in question are not to blame, it is rather hard to understand how people staying in those room(s) could miss people causing much more grotesque damage without their knowledge.

After having spoken to Clare at length and going into the next festival, I believe more strongly that changes will be made that will clear up the concerns and the discomfort people might have felt this past weekend. She was very willing as always to hear me and my concerns and critiques of how we can make this event the best it can be. Till then, we can look for responses on the intent and motivations for Keith and Clare putting on this event in their own words.
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Postby sparkleytone » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:07 pm

playdeep wrote:So I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. But the Crosbys dont have precedence on their side, so we will see. I also think that those who did the damage will need to come forward also personally. If the Crosbys in question are not to blame, it is rather hard to understand how people staying in those room(s) could miss people causing much more grotesque damage without their knowledge.


Exactly. Precedent strongly suggests that the "wasn't us" excuse simply doesn't apply here.

Feces.

FECES.

THEY SHIT IN THE DRAWERS. Who does this? That's just....base.

This action stands completely separate from any controversy regarding whether or not AI is a cult trap, a "shady" event, or other such anonymously stirred controversy. It stands on its own to be judged regardless of whatever justification, ad hominem attack, or strawman argument that could possibly be conjured.

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I have it on good authority that the Crosbys were continually disruptive, rude, and displayed a complete lack of respect to their clinicians, administrative personnel, and guests of the event throughout the weekend. Given this information and the unsavory past of the Crosbys, I am left angry, embarrassed, and ashamed that a group such as this even exists. It reflects poorly upon any and all collegiate a cappella participants and "alumni", regardless of whether or not we have ever had any contact or business with them. Yeah Crosbys, I take your disgusting, vile actions as an affront to me personally and more generally to something I love and believe in.

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A group like the Crosbys and all its members deserve absolutely no place in our community. I urge any and all involved in the betterment of a cappella (AACI, AI, CASA, Bill Hare, Deke Sharon, VocalSource, Liquid 5th, etc etc etc etc) to take this into consideration when presented with any opportunity to deal with the Binghamton Crosbys, regardless of any potential benefit financial or otherwise.

Sincerely,
Brent Stephens
brent at stephenscorp dot com
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Raleigh, NC
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Postby nicki clyne » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:10 pm

I’ve taken the time to read this whole thread because, as a person who supports and is involved with A Cappella Innovations, I wanted to understand the concerns of participants and consider feedback on what can be improved for the future. Simply as a human being, but especially as someone who is a public figure, I take very seriously which organizations I choose to associate with, support and lend my name to – not to mention my time. In fact, instead of writing this, I should be getting ready for a trip to London and Germany, for which I leave in a few hours, where I will get paid to appear, answer questions and, to be perfectly honest, put forth much less effort than I did this past weekend at A Cappella Innovations. I will have bodyguards and liaisons to make sure that I am safe and not bombarded by fans, and I will have a structured time where people will have access to me and ask me questions. I think it’s important to express that I have never in my career experienced the disrespect and lack of mindfulness as I did from participants of this past A Cappella festival. I feel upset and saddened that people whom I believed shared my values of expression, exploration, growth and improving performance, have turned around and instigated a close-minded attack on the organizers and people involved. Not to mention the blanket statements and generalizations made by people on this board who weren’t even there. Suffice to say, I am disheartened by the lack of maturity and critical inquiry into the reality of the situation.

Aside from the festival, I personally put in countless hours to throw a party during the weekend to promote good times, thoughtful discussion and hopefully have people come away with new and meaningful friends. We tried to come up with creative ways of challenging social awkwardness, get people dancing, chatting, communicating and having fun. All of this, now for the real challenge, without alcohol! Our goal was, and is, to “bring the humanity back to social networking” and introduce a company whose aims are precisely that – all by increasing the resources available to college students, promoting fun and unique events, and pursuing a mission of critical thought by challenging social norms. While I feel the party was a success – we met some incredible people and I personally learned a lot – I was deeply hurt by the verbal and physical destruction that occurred, as well as the immature and unfounded suspicions of our efforts. I will be the first to admit that I have never started a company before, I have never thrown a party like that before and there are many things to be improved upon and done differently. As I expressed, even to those with questions of a less kind-hearted nature, I am open to objective and constructive feedback, especially if what is perceived does not match my intent. Unfortunately, that has largely not been my experience thus far.

I am left now only to ponder whether it is even worth my time and effort to involve myself in engagements such as this, where people are disrespectful, immature and create and perpetuate absurd accusations instead of critically pursuing the truth. I assure you, I have many other ways I could be spending my time other than promoting and supporting the growth of college a cappella. Having said this, I leave myself optimistically open to those who are genuinely curious about my involvement, our company and my opinions on the matter.

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Postby jthelegend » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:17 pm

playdeep wrote:The accounts of carbonated drinks sprayed all over, fire extinguishers released and urine and feces being dispersed are not rumors.


...and the spot has officially been blown up. too bad the great, always upstanding crosbys have given us their word that they were not the fecal-throwing monkey men at aci. so, my next guess would have to be the umass dynamics, one of whose own members was an organizer of the first (and i would assume this one as well) event. all just a brilliant ploy to play a disgusting prank. well played andrew rozynski, well played indeed sir...
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Postby appbigcountry » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:00 pm

Clare wrote:Nancy Salzman, my sister and I had a personal meeting last month with the Dalai Lama on Keith’s ethics program and children’s school. We will have a second meeting with the Dalai Lama this week.


Speaking of the Dalai Lama, this one time I jumped ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? "Gunga galunga. Gunga, gunga galunga."

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know?" And he says, "Oh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me. Which is nice.
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Postby acageek » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:00 pm

AMalkoff wrote:
acageek wrote:The organizers of the event will need to stand up and say what is what in order to put any of this to bed, but to say anyone is being cryptic or dismissive when they openly admit to having less than all the answers is retarded.


would appreciate not being called "retarded" when my concern here is the for the good of the community. that's uncalled for. but i'll bow out from here on in.


Amy, if offense was taken at the use of that particular word, my apologies. I think everyone's concern here is for the community, so I am with you on that page.

I was simply pointing out that it is a bit unfair to point a finger at people who are simply trying to share their point of view to shed addition light on the situation, so that everyone can actually decide what IS best for the community.

Again, my apologies for the use of the word that proved so offensive to you. I have edited my original post to be more P.C.
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Postby brianhaverkate » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:55 pm

I think a lesson learned for the next conference is: Virtually zero financial commitment on the part of the participating groups = potentially bad things happening.

As (and if) this conference continues to grow and evolve, I'd hope to see a greater geographic and age-level diversity in the groups invited. High school a cappella gets bigger and bigger every year, and the CASA league is already being represented by some great-sounding (ahem, albeit older and maybe more mature) singers.

Many, many people represent our ever-growing community, and while it's a sad state of affairs what potentially can be attributed to the one single group, banning them from future events/award consideration is really short-sighted. We all know how ever-changing membership is in these groups. No mater how much history a particular group name may have for making poor choices, I don't believe the entire group should be punished forever. A year ban? Okay. Longer than that and you're holding an unnecessary grudge against a group of singers who probably don't have any ties to the behavior.

So, where do I sign up for this cult? In all seriousness, until there's more than just an uneasy feeling or fear of getting approached we should probably just open our mouths, eat the a cappella being served up, and say thank-you. When's the last time someone opened up their personal pocketbook to our community? Um...which side of never to you prefer?

Is this the thread that takes over the BOCA thread as LONGEST. THREAD. EVER.???? I think Deke has some ties to this group. If this isn't the best subject-changer ever, I don't know what is!!
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Postby playdeep » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:00 pm

High school groups and groups from all over the East were invited. General public was also invited. Promoting and setting up a schedule for the show earlier on will help in getting more locals in seats whether it be families or music lovers.
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Postby mikey10101 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:22 pm

As a member of the "host" group for A Cappella Innovations, Simply Human, I would like to share my feelings on the festival. I use the term host loosely because I think that such a momentous effort was made by so many other people to make this event what it was.

This weekend was incredible.

What moved me?

1. Clare Bronfman and her team...tireless work put in for months to make this happen. They were absolutely pleasant during the festival even amidst certain scheduling problems here and there. Gracefully handled under pressure.
2. The judges gave wonderfully potent feedback. Their willingness to sit in the theater all day in an effort to better the performances of all the groups was amazing to me. Direct and to the point, as always.
3. In my opinion, all of the college groups were an absolute blast to work and play with, including the Crosby's. They, however, decided to go a different route with how they handled certain questions that they wanted answered. I respect their right to have an opinion about the festival, but I don't respect the method with which they delivered their message. It was destructive, disrespectful, and dehumanizing of everyone involved including Allison and Nicki, the hotel, the festival, and a cappella as a whole. I do hope that it stands as an example of a slightly less elegant way to offer feedback to the organizers. In my experience of Clare, she is wide open to constructive criticism over the phone, email, etc...Maybe The Crosby's didn't know that. Hopefully now we all do.
4. I have never felt more valued as an educator. The rhythm workshops that Charlie Cooley and I taught were so well received by all of the groups. That was my absolute favorite part of the weekend!! Thank you to the groups who participated and thank you so much to Charlie!
5. The talent was incredible! The only reason that I won't name groups is because I can't remember all of the groups off the top of my head due to my friend Fork's beautifully excessive use of subwoofers and their effect on my short term memory. Suffice it to say that every group rocked HARD! Truly inspiring on all levels!!
6. My group, Simply Human, had an incredible transition between our Friday and Sunday night performances. I don't think we have ever performed as well as we did on Sunday and I am so grateful to my group for being with me all weekend. I love you guys. Also, thank you to our newest member Diana Gutierrez for working so hard with us to get ready so quick! Kudos times 5.
7. Dave Baumgartner, Charlie Cooley, Matt from Groove Society, and Blake Lewis. Thanks for letting me, the new guy, get on stage with you guys. To say the least, it was an incredible honor. Thank you, thank you!
8. Brent Stephens for calling me personally and lending some supportive and kind words in the face of adversity. Apparently other people have faced difficulties and/or controversy in putting on major events before us.....who knew?!?!? Lol. Thanks Brent.

In regards to the questions about NXIVM...It is not a cult. To me, it is a phenomenal and dedicated group of teachers and students around the world that are interested in furthering themselves emotionally, physically, and intellectually. This is not a NXIVM sponsored event although Clare and other supporters are members. I am a member and I deeply and truly support the organization. I think Clare did a nice job earlier on of explaining what NXIVM is to her, if anyone would like to read or re-read it. This community has been and will continue to be an important part of my life and my music.

As for Keith Raniere...Keith is one of my closest and most valued friends. I have the privilege of seeing him 5 or 6 times a week between different activities. He comes to our rehearsals. I send him ridiculous chain emails of nerdy math jokes. We play volleyball together. Sometimes he plays extremely well, sometimes he doesn't. The point is, that he is human.

I try to surround myself with people that I love and admire and that are willing to teach and share their experiences with me. Keith is a great example of this in my life and I think this festival did a great job of helping bring together an entire theatre worth of people who I have started developing deep relationships with. I have already received very moving calls, emails, facebook/myspace messages from a number of people that I met this weekend and at the last festival. I will continue to support this festival, and others, whole-heartedly. It will continue to be a challenge, I'm sure. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment or maybe I just love what I do, but I'm all in.

Much love,
Mike Baker
Simply Human
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Postby davebaumgartner » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:23 pm

Hi everyone!

My apologies for not contributing to this post sooner, but I've been playing catch-up since this past weekend in Albany.

In the interest of full disclosure, my travel expenses for the event were paid for by the organizers. No worries however... I left the bedroom only slightly full of my feces.

I want to address a couple of issues that have been brought up in previous posts.


1) The judging panel

People continue to bring up the "randomness" of the selection of judges at the event, even questioning the reasons for including people like Allison Mack, Nicki Clyne and Michael McMillian, who (to paraphrase) "have no business judging a cappella".

This kind of closed-minded, xenophobic attitude is largely what's responsible for keeping a cappella a small, insular community that will never go "mainstream".

I had the privilege of being on the panel with Michael (for a day) and Allison (for two days). We were also joined by a Maude Baum (choreographer), Elizabeth Philips (opera and a cappella singer), Valerie McCaffrey (a casting agent), Phillip Hamilton (performer), as well as a cappella regulars Joesph Bates and Ben Stevens.

While some of the judges' usefulness is self-evident, I want to talk for a moment about Michael and Allison. They offered incredibly insightful and useful comments and suggestions, focusing less on the sheer musicality of a group, and instead helping the groups to better understand how to sell a performance. They encouraged the singers to think about what the lyrics mean, consider how best to deliver them, think about movement choices. They used their acting experience to help the soloists better express the emotions of the songs they were singing. They also offered a refreshing positive attitude which helped to soften the blows from the blunt criticism that Joseph, Ben and I became so good at giving out.

I'd like to say that I can now consider both Michael and Allison to be friends of mine, and it's upsetting to see Allison directly and Michael indirectly put down for their seeming irrelevance to the a cappella scene. Also a side note, as far as I know, Michael has never taken any of the ESP/NXIVM classes, and didn't even know what it was. Kinda shoots a hole in the theory of ESP filling the judging panel with actual experts, and then random famous "cult members".

I don't care if someone is a long-time a cappella singer, actor, choreographer, or ice cream truck driver. The point of the judging was to get as many perspectives and as much constructive criticism as possible, and the groups should have been honored to be coached by actors with Michael's and Allison's resumes.


2) ESP/NXIVM's involvement with the weekend

I was picked up from the airport by a guy named Charlie. Charlie needed to swing by "the center" (ESP's building) to pick up some drums he'd had shipped there. We showed up, went in, and I met three different people who had nothing to do with the AcI weekend, didn't know who I was, and didn't try to talk to me at all about ESP/NXIVM. If ever I were expecting a sales pitch, it would be when arriving at the office of the organization that people are claiming may be trying to actively recruit new members.

Charlie and I talked a lot. We spent hours and hours together driving to and from events, we both had rooms at the same place (the farm where Claire used to practice jumping), and we jammed a bunch both offstage and on throughout the weekend. How many times did he bring up ESP/NXIVM? Almost none. It was only referenced when he would explain how he knew somebody. He never tried to convince me to take classes or sign up, and only really discussed it when I asked questions.

On Sunday afternoon, I had lunch with Clare, Allison, and Michael Eldredge. All of them have been involved with ESP/NXIVM in some capacity, and yet none of them discussed it at all until I asked what it was all about. When I asked, they simply explained the general idea of the program and what it did for them personally. They didn't pressure me to sign up for classes, say I'd be missing out if I didn't get involved, or try to trick me into sacrificing a goat before I got to the airport.


3) Meeting the scary scary cult leader and his minions

So I met Keith on Sunday night at the after party, and noticed some things.

a) He's really smart.
b) People, specifically those involved in ESP/NXIVM seem to really enjoy spending time with him, talking to him, and hearing what he has to say.
c) Some seem a little obsessed with him.
d) He asks a lot of questions.
e) He seems to genuinely care and be curious about a cappella, wanting to figure out how to make the next AcI more successful, and have people walk away much happier.

a,b,d, and e all seem like no big deal to me. c is a bit off-putting sometimes, but quite frankly, there are lots of people obsessed with other people. I saw a member of the public who was very very interested in the chance to meet one of the celebrities, to the point of having to be asked to leave the event by security. I've seen people in this community freak out over meeting members of Rockapella.

To me, it all seems relative. A person or group of people who are extra-interested in what someone has to say does not, in my mind, automatically equal cult.

As a matter of fact, most of what I saw and heard about does not add up to cult-like behavior.


4) Social Security Numbers, Private Information, and Poop, oh my!

At the very beginning of the day's events on Saturday, Keith got up on stage to welcome everybody to AcI, tell them a bit about what was going to be happening, and take a moment to explain an important part of how the day would progress. He informed everyone that they would probably be asked some personal questions, and he understood that could lead to some discomfort. So, he said please feel free to decline to answer any question or provide any information that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable. Likewise, please do not pressure others to give any information that they're uncomfortable sharing, or to pressure anyone into doing anything.

I understand that students are not always willing to stand up for themselves for fear of being ostracized, but if somebody was unhappy, they could have left. Nobody was stopping them, nobody was taunting them, there was nothing holding anyone at the event.

Using personal information and experiences to help groups connect to each other does not, on the surface, seem like a bad thing to me. It's only when the process is painted in a certain light (CULT! CULT! CULT! HOLY FUCK! A CULT!) that people seem to start to get nervous.

5) The food

Day 1:
Breakfast: Muffins, donuts, bagels, coffee. happy.
Lunch: Bean wraps, salad, hummus wraps. meh.
Dinner: Tamales and Mexican rice. less happy.

Day 2:
Breakfast: Muffins, donuts, bagels, coffee. happy.
Lunch: Bean wraps, salad, hummus wraps. meh.
Dinner: Pizza. happy.

The thing to be taken away here, is that the food originally provided was all vegetarian or vegan, and some people didn't like that. So in response to their unhappiness, the organizers brought in a ton of pizza to try to remedy the situation. I would be surprised if the food next time is similar to this most recent event, or if the organizers even provide food at all.

For the record, nobody was forced to eat what was provided. There was plenty of time to go and get other food if people felt so inclined, and there were restaurants within walking distance. I should know, since I had outside food for two different meals. The second time, there was a group of about 15 of us, including random college students, and a couple celebrity judges, so it's not like the food was part of the "cult recruitment".

Don't bitch about free stuff. It's free. Don't like it? Get something else, and let the organizers know in a constructive manner that perhaps a wider selection would be helpful next time. Seems like they got the hint when they provided the pizza...


6) The Saturday Night Party

On Saturday afternoon, Allison Mack got up and told everyone that she and Nicki were going to be throwing a party that night. $10 to get in, unless you're an attendee of AcI, in which case it would be free. People asked a couple questions about how to get there, what was happening, etc, and the organizers even made an effort to set up carpooling so anyone who wanted (there's that free-will thing again!) to go had a way to get there.

Somebody posted earlier that in order to gain entrance to the party, you were required to provide your name and email address, two very sacred pieces of personal information. Yes, there was a table where you could fill out a card with your information. No, it was not required. I actually walked right by it (as did many other people), and eventually came back to fill out my information. By choice.

There were bars nearby the party, so if people didn't like where they were hanging out, there was an alternative across the street from the party. If someone had carpooled, they could simply hang out across the street until their ride was ready, or just get a taxi back to their hotel.


7) Wrap up, and some really cool shit that happened

I understand that people are going to believe what they want, and that a lot of you reading this right now probably think I drank the kool-aid and am just the mindless shell of the spitty jackass you used to know.

Rest assured, I'm not brainwashed. I'm not in a cult. I'm still the same me, but significantly happier after my experiences this weekend, only to become significantly sadder upon reading all of the ridiculousness that's been happening on this thread.

This weekend, I got to meet a bunch of cool people, make a lot of new friends, and even perform a couple times with a variety of drummers. Kudos to Blake (Lewis), Matt (Groove Society), Mike (Simply Human), and Charlie (Manteca) for being an absolute blast to share a stage with.

Special thanks to Clare, Keith, Kurt, and the entire staff involved with putting on AcI. I had an absolute blast, and I can't wait to get involved with the next one!

I think once people in this community stop looking for the "how are we getting fucked?" dramatic side of every new thing in a cappella, we'll be much better as a whole.

Just remember... if you don't know what's up, ask questions. If you don't like the answers, you're free to leave, but please, keep the poop in the toilet.
Last edited by davebaumgartner on Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby liquid5thcarl » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:26 pm

nicki clyne wrote:
I am left now only to ponder whether it is even worth my time and effort to involve myself in engagements such as this, where people are disrespectful, immature and create and perpetuate absurd accusations instead of critically pursuing the truth. I assure you, I have many other ways I could be spending my time other than promoting and supporting the growth of college a cappella. Having said this, I leave myself optimistically open to those who are genuinely curious about my involvement, our company and my opinions on the matter.

Nicki Clyne


I hope that at least some others can see what potential damage has been done to the name of the a cappella community. Cult or no, as a community we have shown a lot of disrespect to people who have shown some desire to help our little known art form succeed. I remain optimistic that changes will be made art future event to make everyone involved feel more comfortable, and that the people who have given their time to put on this festival will continue to do so. If people keep harping on this stupid food issue though, I'm gonna call BS.

appbigcountry wrote:Speaking of the Dalai Lama, this one time I jumped ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? "Gunga galunga. Gunga, gunga galunga."

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know?" And he says, "Oh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me. Which is nice.


Not even gonna touch this one, just thought I'd say WTF was that all about? You know you're my boy Matt.

brianhaverkate wrote:Many, many people represent our ever-growing community, and while it's a sad state of affairs what potentially can be attributed to the one single group, banning them from future events/award consideration is really short-sighted. We all know how ever-changing membership is in these groups. No mater how much history a particular group name may have for making poor choices, I don't believe the entire group should be punished forever. A year ban? Okay. Longer than that and you're holding an unnecessary grudge against a group of singers who probably don't have any ties to the behavior.

So, where do I sign up for this cult? In all seriousness, until there's more than just an uneasy feeling or fear of getting approached we should probably just open our mouths, eat the a cappella being served up, and say thank-you. When's the last time someone opened up their personal pocketbook to our community? Um...which side of never to you prefer?


I have to agree with your assessment here Brian, but what do we know. I am apparently too wise to be influenced by a cult and too old to be targeted by a cult, and therefor my thoughts on the matter are inconsequential. I've also been dismissive and cryptic in my assessment of the event from the perspective of a live sound engineer.

I think that Clare's post has at least brought up some good points for people to discuss. This Ross character certainly seems unsavory, though I am not 100% sure who he even is, so more research to be done there.

I think the big problem here is going to be that people are going to want a clearcut verdict to be declared, and the simple truth is that there is no way for that to happen. It all comes down to which information you chose to believe and what actions you chose to make in regards to your support of and attendance at A Cappella Innovations.

I personally had a good experience. I know others did not. Who is right , who is wrong, who knows... the best anyone can ask of themselves or others is to look at all the information available and make an informed decision.

This thread is on pace to hit the 10,000 views mark in no time, watch out SoJam!

Carl Taylor Producer Transit - 2009 - Present Appalachian State Higher Ground - 1999-2002 carl[at]liquid5th[dot]com http://www.liquid5th.com/

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Postby mwhitehouse » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:49 pm

** Sorry! This should probably be three or four separate threads at this point ... but I'm just powerfully curious about how this "NXIVM is just some unrelated self-help organization" and "Keith Raniere is just some rich musician who like's a cappella" is flying by-and-large under the radar. Seriously, I'm not trying to hit below the belt—and I think this must be relevant to the ACI event, if the members of NXIVM that have posted so far really believe what they're saying!

Thank you, sincerely, member of NXIVM for the responses—but to me, quoting the "don't believe everything you read" proverb seems ironic, to say the least.

For starters, Keith's credentials that Clare listed (most of which are posted also at www.keithraniere.com) just aren't, well, credentials. Most of them can't even hope to be described as "facts"; they fail even the most basic tests of "rational inquiry".

Clare wrote:Here are some facts about Keith Raniere:
This is the preface to Keith Raniere’s book from a prominent academic. Keith’s articles have been featured in each edition of Luis Todd’s journal for the past several years and there was a complete edition devoted to Keith. ...


I just googled "luis todd journal"; nada. I might rationally conclude that Luis Todd is not a prominent academic.

Clare wrote:He is noted as one of the 3 top problem solvers in the world ...


By whom is he so "noted"? What could that possibly mean, to be one of the world's top three problem solvers--what sort of problems, what sort of solutions? If this isn't patently ridiculous to you, after taking classes devoted to "critical thinking" ... I honestly don't know what to say. What sort of "down to earth", supremely "ethical" figure allows this sort of nonsense to be spouted about him by his followers, let alone friends?

Clare wrote:Nancy Salzman served in Keith’s stead to head the international conference on bioethics for Mexico. (Remember, Nancy is Allegedly the “cult” head right under Keith.)


Then surely Nancy Salzman has published something substantive on bioethics? Or Mr. Raniere, for that matter--maybe in Luis Todd's journal? (If so, that might be better "link" material on his website than a broken patent application on the prestigious and authoritative "FreshPatents.com"). It must have been some conference--I wonder why an actual bioethicist, or anyone involved with medical research in Mexico, or anyone with an advanced degree in science, or anyone with experience in ethics regulation (etc.) wasn't chosen to serve as chair?

Clare wrote:Some people who have taken Nxivm programs: ...
Do you really think such business people and royalty would be involved if Nxivm was a cult?


Of course! Wealthy eccentric people (especially those born into wealth) are precisely the sort of people most susceptible to and most pursued by cult-leader types—for obvious reasons, right?!

Clare wrote:Do you think Keith needs to recruit college students?


Sure, why not. And you're two arguments are incompatible: you started out by arguing that he is "neither money driven nor power driven" ... but now you're arguing "why would he bother recruiting college students if he has so many rich and powerful clients"? And there are plenty of good reasons for cults to recruit college students:
http://education.guardian.co.uk/student ... 77,00.html

Clare wrote:Nxivm is an ethics and critical thinking education program of international distinction and repute. It is not a “cult” by any definition.


Well, no, it seems to fit a "cult" profile quite handily:

1. It's secret "technology" is exclusive to those who've taken it's Executive Success classes
2. This trademarked "rational inquiry" process represents a set of moral/religious beliefs
3. At the center of those beliefs is the notion that only those in-the-know will be able to bring about the program's eventual goals of world peace and harmony (from it's website: "NXIVM represents the change humanity needs in order to alter the course of history"); thus only by proselytizing new recruits can the organization realize its goals (I don't know exactly how the Dalai Lama fits into this—maybe his Buddhist technology is good enough for him to do his part?)
4. It's adherents place utterly unreasonable (see my points above) stock in their leader, who seems likely to be eccentric to the extreme of having a sort of personality disorder typical of cult leaders; for Christ's sake [sorry], he believes he invented the one and only "psychodynamic" technology that can reverse the "primitive" rise and fall of human civilizations

So at least it resembles a cult with respect to its exclusivity, depth of conviction, proselytizing mission, and devotion to a bizarre Messianic personality.

And hey, I wonder why, if Mr. Raniere isn't interested in money, this "Rational Inquiry" thing is exclusive and trademarked. Doesn't that drastically limit humanity's ability to "rise to its noble possibility" (from the NXIVM website)? How else will we prevent the inevitable cataclysm of our civilization?! That strikes me as absolutely unethical.

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I'm entirely willing to believe that this is all entirely genuine, good, community-building, etc. But I'm absolutely bewildered by the silliness of Keith Raniere's [self-]importance and the understatements being made about NXIVM's mission--at least, what I understand of it from www.nxivm.com .
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Postby borski » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:57 pm

Here's that promised long post. Again, all opinions expressed herein are just that: opinions. Furthermore, they are my opinions. My group doesn't know I'm writing this, nor should it matter, as I am not speaking on behalf of my group.

With that said, we paid for all our own hotel rooms, gas, rental car, etc. Out of pocket. I'm appalled that a group that was paid to come to the festival acted as they did. That's not only disrespectful, it's a direct slap in the face. And it's sad, because these guys are great singers. We workshopped with them over the weekend, and they were down-to-earth, kickass singers who seemed like really cool people. This was true at the first ACI. Really, really sad.

Moving on, I'd like to extend a formal apology on behalf of at least myself (but I'm sure most people won't mind me generalizing it to the a cappella community at large) for the actions of the Crosbys to Allison, Nicki, Clare, Keith, and anyone else involved. With particular respect to Allison and Nicki, I'm incredibly sorry you felt the way you did and that should not happen. Regardless of whether anyone thinks you're in a cult or shady organization or whatever, respect is always called for. I'm the first to make fun of people and get made fun of for a lot of things, but there's always a line. As a great man once said, "Never forget the basic kindnesses." (Thanks BS, I was looking for a quote and you gave me one, haha) So yeah, please come back and don't let the actions of one group tarnish the good will and good nature of the a cappella community at large. I know you probably didn't need to hear that, what with Kurt and others talking to you already, but we're not all bad. 'Cept me, I'm kind of an ass. :)

Next, NXIVM. Are they a cult? Probably not. But I still have no idea what they do. There were definitely times at which I felt an uneasiness over the weekend. There was a lot of asking for personal information, a ton of videography, talk about another secret company at the party (10C), etc. Granted, 10C is probably just a startup still in stealth mode (I know far too much about startups, having failed at least once), but it doesn't help the secrecy surrounding NXIVM. We'd see a random piece of paper lying around that said "NXIVM Video Log" and all whisper about it. And nobody would mention NXIVM; it was the forbidden phrase, if you will. Because again, when dealing with a "secret cult," you want as little to do with it as you can. On the other hand, there were many things about the weekend that were great. The workshops actually were incredibly helpful to us, we have a much stronger feeling about many of our songs, the percussion workshops were great, the judging was incredibly useful, etc. Judged solely on an a cappella basis, I'd say the event was a success. We also definitely networked with a few other groups we're likely to keep in touch with.

Because I wasn't put off that much, if another event happened, yeah, I'd probably like to go. But the trend is saddening. I still know zero about NXIVM. There isn't much to be found on their website, and the only information I _can_ find is posted by Rick Ross. For the love of G-d, would someone please just freaking tell me what you do? And no, I'm not likely to ever take an intensive from them, ever. I'm pretty happy about my humanity, think I'm a pretty solid person and human being, and really don't need anyone else's help coming into my own. I don't think there's anything more important than happiness and satisfaction with friends, family, and the people you surround yourself with. Except possibly intellectual fulfillment, of which I get plenty.

So what does NXIVM do? Just tell me. Tell me you're not a cult. Tell me what you actually do.

Also, 10C. It sounds really interesting, and the idea for the company sounds like something I've spouted about in the past to friends, but there's no information to be found anywhere about it. This definitely does not help the veil of secrecy that shrouds ACI.

Again, I enjoyed the weekend, had fun, got a lot out of it. But secrecy will only hurt ACI now and in the future. Transparency about motives and such is the only way to get such a tight-knit community as this one to trust you. I had a good experience and would likely go back again, but as the years go on and nobody still has any idea what NXIVM does, that's likely to shift. So just tell us. I'm not calling you out, I'm asking for clarification. I'm asking for transparency. Don't take this offensively, as it's not meant to be offensive. It's just meant to try to get down to the truth of the matter.

So, takeaways:
1) Keith, Clare, etc.: What the hell does NXIVM do? Someone please freaking tell me and everyone else so we can stop making up our own stories.
2) Allison, Nicki: Sorry. We're not all like that. Don't hate us. We like you. Some of us think you're incredibly good actresses and have great motives and are good human beings. And the rest of us think you're really cute. Don't gauge our openness for your involvement on the actions of a few.
3) ACI: Stop shrouding yourself in secrecy. It only hurts your cause. If you're not trying to be secretive, know that you seem like you are to many people. You throw (very) good events that are well-attended and incredibly helpful to the vocal music community. It shouldn't be difficult getting people to trust you and I don't envy the position you're placed in, but here you are. In an age of privacy (granted, I'm a security guy) being encroached on everywhere, be the guiding light or whatever. Also, no more beans. :)
4) RARB: I love you.
5) Me: Do your god damned problem set and quit procrastinating by posting on RARB.

And with that: Borski out!
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Postby borski » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:16 pm

In the time it took me to write that, several other people had posted. With regards to what I want to know about NXIVM, I want something more substantial than "a group of teachers and students." Note that I'm not being a douchebag, but genuinely want to know what it is the company does. What is it's aim? How does it hope to accomplish that? I want specifics, not general blanket statements.

Man, I hate drama.

EDIT:
Also, I'd like to thank DB for his post. I agree with almost all of what he said, and hold very similar feelings. On the other hand, I'm not comfortable knowing only that I wasn't proselytized to by NXIVM this weekend. To be comfortable, I also need to know what the (implicit) parent organization does. Maybe it's just me, but I highly doubt that.
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Postby Chris » Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:40 pm

This thread's better than Idol.
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