Dedicated to my heart symbol, Gigi Roman.
I love entering and exiting your Colosseum.
Table of contents:
chapter 1: the stampedes
chapter 2: the game
chapter 3: the woman
chapter 4: the position
chapter 5: the art
chapter 6: the music
chapter 7: the poetry
chapter 8: the documentary
chapter 9: the flyers
chapter 10: the questions
At the impressionable age of 11, I figured out that pro wrestling was fake. My family shrugged off this revelation. I tried to explain it to them.
You don't understand. This isn't about me! When people learn the truth, it's going to send shock waves across the entire country. You see... there's a lot of people that still don't know it's fake. When they find out, they're going to be devastated.
I didn't take the matter lightly. I did some investigative research.
I studied the outcomes of the Georgia Championship Wrestling circuit. I monitored match results from various cities during a week long period. Huntington, Charleston, Dayton, Toledo --- all the outcomes were identical. Not only were the same wrestlers winning, but they were all victorious in the exact same fashion (count-out, disqualification, etc.). I wasn't a mathematician but I knew those odds were statistically absurd. There's just no way it would go down like that each and every time.
One day before the matches at the Wheeling Civic Center, I saw Tommy "Wildfire" Rich and "Mad Dog" Buzz Sawyer stumbling down Market Street. They were exiting the local 7/11 carrying a case of beer. But they were laughing! How could this be? These two were supposed to be mortal enemies locked in an epic blood feud. Bounties had been issued. The bull ropes, the brass knuckles, the special guest referees, the lumberjack rules. And now here they were in plain sight of everyone. Hooping it up, no less. As far as I was concerned, this was incontrovertible proof that something was up.
My friend Crybaby and I recorded the matches from Madison Square Garden and the Cap Center on his family's Sony Super Betamax. We analyzed replays of signature moves. How exactly did the Iron Sheik "load" his boot merely by tapping it on the mat? How is it that Chief Jay Strongbow suddenly became immune to pain just because he "went on the warpath?" Why were the midget wrestlers not taken seriously? Why did so many of Andre the Giant's opponents seem overly eager to be sat upon? We looked for missed punches and ill-timed reactions. When it became necessary we even utilized the slow motion button. Frame by frame, slowly but surely, we concocted a mountain of indisputable evidence.
I was convinced. Wrestling fans were being duped. They deserved to know the truth. I needed to get the word out. But the question was how. I decided to go on a propaganda tour. Our neighbors, my teachers, the mailman, the egg lady... but nobody was concerned. No matter how many people I told. No matter how convincing I was. No matter how hard I tried. They all seemed indifferent. They wouldn't listen. They didn't care. I have a vivid recollection of the Long John Silver's manager telling me, "I. Don't. Care."
For the life of me, I could not understand why.
As always, my family had mixed reactions. There was my oldest brother Tie Guy. He told me I was an idiot. My mother suggested I focus my attention elsewhere. Maybe read a book or ride my bike. My father claimed that people just weren't "ready" for the truth. They wouldn't be able to incorporate such knowledge into their everyday lives. What if my discovery metastasized into a national scandal? Having lived through the Iranian hostage crisis as a 9-10 year old, I could see where he was coming from.
But my middle brother Tolkien suggested I write a sternly worded letter to the editor. He assured me that if you have grievances to air, it's a reasonable course of action. And if your concerns are noble and just, people will take note. So that is what I did. I wrote a letter and defiantly dropped it in the mailbox. I slammed the mailbox door and yelled out loud, "FACE!"
I checked the Wheeling Intelligencer every morning, but the letter never appeared. I rationalized that its inflammatory content was simply too huge a bombshell. The editorial board had probably convened and realized that exposing this secret to the general public could unleash a wave of unintended consequences. Hey, pro wrestlers would be financially devastated. After all, that's how they earn a living. The paper people knew it would cause a direct drop-off in attendance at the matches. The tv advertisers would suffer as well. I thought about it some more. I'll bet they even notified the pro wrestling commissioner's office about my letter. They're surely all in cahoots. It was a massive cover-up in 1982. Those cowardly bastards!
The entire matter left me quite frustrated. But in all honesty, what could I do? I was just a little kid with a message. I just wanted people to know the truth --- that it was all a hoax, a sham. It was all just one big lie.
Three decades later, I find myself in a similar predicament. Who would have thought that history would repeat itself?
Once again, it's all about the truth. And once again, nobody wants to listen. The parallels are sinisterly paradoxical. But this time it runs a little deeper. It's about preventing the next 9/11. It's about multiple, simultaneous human stampedes. It's about the dominipede.
So I've continued my recreational research.* I've written a book. I've sent letters and responded to emails. I've dialed numbers and answered phone calls. I've constructed a website and launched AGSAF (Artificially Generated Stampede Awareness Foundation). And now you're reading the prologue to my second book.
Knowledge of the dominipede is a matter of fundamental human rights. The right to be aware. The right to adequately defend oneself. The right to know the truth. Society is playing a dangerous game with outdated emergency evacuation protocol. Eventually we will get burned.
Generally speaking, human beings are an inquisitive bunch. In the aftermath of a preventable tragedy, many people will seek answers. Hopefully, this book will help.
People often ask me why I would go through all the effort to write a lengthy book and freely publish it in the form of a single blog. I chose this method because it was the easiest way to copy, paste and share content. In keeping with that spirit, I'm publishing this book and future material in the Creative Commons. This passion of mine has never been about money.
"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." - Samuel Johnson
For my last book, I got a copyright from the U.S. government. This time I have no interest in obtaining their tacit approval. Why? Because their commitment to inaction demonstrates an obscene lack of moral compass. Unless circumstances change dramatically, I have deemed their authority irrelevant.
This could very well be the most dangerous book ever written. With one exception I suppose --- the holy bible. This book is about comprehending a future moment in time. It's about a word that does not currently exist.
Be forewarned. As you read this book, you'll likely think, "Damn, this guy sure likes to repeat himself." I'm deeply sorry if my writing style impacts the readability. There's only so much I could do about this. If I was to substantively alter or modify the message, it would be irreparably damaged. The message takes precedence over the words. The words come from me but they aren't about me.
Good writers don't say the same stuff over and over again. Yes, I get it. But there are only so many ways to comprehensively warn people about the schematics of a future disaster. It's far less demanding to summarize a tragedy that has already unfolded. It's much easier to write an instruction manual for a product, not an impending theoretical crisis.
Please try to subdue your customary expectations of what constitutes a "book." Dominipede is not an effort to create a staggering number of relentless configurations. It's not about expressing myself with slightly alternative versions and synonymous characterizations. Picture this book as a collection of short stories and essays all focused on the exact same topic. Speculative propaganda requires reiterations and reassertions, replicas and reproductions. Lots of "re's." Hardly reason to rejoice.
Dominipede is my attempt to impact the course of history. It is a prolonged mission statement. A call to action. You could even call it a manifesto (a manifestation of common sense that is). The repetition is an unfortunate by-product, an unavoidable consequence. There are only so many different ways to phrase a civil rights declaration. So I will extend an apology, but the refrains will not cease.
I think we can all agree on one thing. That profusely exhaustive disclaimer spoke for itself.
Chapter 1: the stampedes
We've become an increasingly electronic society. The signals consume us.
Listen to the consecutive beeps of a microwave. Your frozen 99 cent pasta side dish is sufficiently heated. Welcome to flavor country.
The new brand of adolescent cartoons have a synthetic sound. Just ask any parent the best way to calm a toddler. Sit them down in front of that high definition flat screen. Some adults even refer to it as "baby crack."
What happens when a red light turns green and you don't immediately accelerate? Let me give you a hint. The asshole behind you hits their horn and irritatingly prods you forward. Gotta find a way to make up those valuable two seconds.
Have you ever been jolted awake by the vibrations of the mobile device in your pants pocket? Even worse, have you ever noticed it seemingly come alive? I once saw a Motorola, untouched by human hands, idle its way across an entire coffee table.
We react to these sounds, lights and vibrations. They've become part of us. But nothing epitomizes this matter like the prevalence of cell phones. 2014 will be remembered as the year when the number of active mobile phones exceeded the world population --- that's 7.3 billion. Of course, not everyone has a cell phone. Some have 2 or more. They represent an arsenal of communication.
Have you ever attended a basketball game when the final shot glances off the rim? And the crowd goes silent. Or just the opposite. The ball goes swish and the crowd erupts in celebration. Either way, when you hear that final buzzer or horn, you know the game is over (unless the score is tied in which case we're headed to overtime).
Ever been hanging out at a local bar when an Amber Alert was issued? Just take a look around as everyone moves in unison toward their cell phones. They all simultaneously view their little screens and subsequently process the information. Observe the expressions of concern and bewilderment.
The opening bell on Wall Street sends traders into a flurry of activity. Motivated by two emotions: fear and greed. These monetary warriors scurry around the floor holding up shreds of paper, clamoring and beckoning. It's reminiscent of when Pavlov rang his bell to the delight of salivating dogs.
My point is this. Our minds are synaptically wired to artificial sounds. We react accordingly with physical movement and action. Human beings have become electronically motivated creatures.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
It's the ninth commandment. And it's easily the one most universally violated. At some point we all lie, or at the very least, conceal the truth. You see it in all aspects of life, personal and professional. You definitely see it in government and private industry. That could very well be the understatement of the century. American politics is filled with this stuff. Every administration has that signature moment.
Sometimes it's a country: Vietnam, Nicaragua, Iraq.
Sometimes it's a word: Watergate, Whitewater, Bengazi.
Sometimes it's a phrase: Read my lips, no new taxes. I did not have sexual relations with that woman. If you like your plan, you get to keep your plan.
The world of big business has the same jargon. It just goes by different names. Cooking the books, skimming the margins, inflating the numbers. Golden parachutes, downsizing, outsourcing.
The great wide world of sports has the same issues: steroids and human growth hormones, illegal gambling and point shaving, player misconduct resulting in fines and suspensions.
Call it anything you want. Lying, cheating, deception. Let's make it a little more colorful. Intentionally misleading, purposeful ambiguity, perceptions of confusion, perpetuating a hoax.
When you break it all down, it's nothing more than a lie. Lies have become an integral part of our history. I think it's safe to say... they're here to stay.
Lies and communication. What might happen if you combine the two? My ultimate goal with this book is to bridge that gap. I'm going to explore these two concepts and familiarize you with the dominipede --- the worst, asymmetric national security disaster since 9/11. Even superseding our century's day of infamy. I'm going to convince you that the United States of America is currently susceptible to a cascade of human stampedes. A hypothetical event of unheralded scope and magnitude that will reshape humanity at-large.
Everything will change.
Just like snowflakes and Scrabble boards, no two stampedes are alike.
The devastating toll of human stampedes is undeniable. History is littered with a trail of shattered lives, broken limbs and lifeless bodies. Considering the potent randomness and universal impact upon all cultures and countries, I find it peculiar how there's little comprehensive documentation on the internet. Much has been written about the the topic, but not in a cohesive fashion. Although my concerns are centered around the dominipede (a future occurrence of multiple, simultaneous stampedes), it is my sincere hope that this book also provides a reference point for those researching the subject of stampedes.
So how do you get from one stampede to 10 of them? How do you get from one artificially generated stampede to a dominipede? It's a good question.
If you could go back in time and conduct interviews with people that fell victim to a deadly human stampede, I doubt many of them would say, "I thought it was a distinct possibility (the notion of being crush asphyxiated or trampled to death)." Most likely they would respond, "I never saw it coming" or ask "how did I get caught up in it?"
Americans rarely think about stampedes. Nobody heading to a football stadium is warned in advance, "Hey, let's be careful out there (Hill Street Blues). There could be a stampede." However, if you're committing to the Hajj or attending a religious festival in India, such a conversation might be more commonplace. Claiming that you're simply too smart to get stuck in a stampede is not a wise assertion. You cannot skillfully maneuver out of a stampede. You cannot fight your way through a stampede. It's simply a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Stampedes are the ultimate exercise in futility. The argument, I'd "know better" or "steer clear" is a very specious one. A stampede is a phenomenon: nothing more, nothing less. If you wish to avoid an avalanche, don't go skiing. If you wish to avoid a torrential downpour, don't live in a tropical rainforest. If you wish to avoid a stampede, avoid large crowds.
There's a reason we don't aggressively blame people for living in Kansas when their home is destroyed by a tornado. It's the same reason we don't persecute victims of hurricanes. Everyone is aware of the potential for inclement weather. However, we generally don't ridicule those who are victimized by acts of God. Especially when they've just experienced a tragedy. That's the societal norm.
And that's exactly what makes the artificially generated stampede such a pernicious act. Because nobody (aside from myself) is willing to discuss the possibility even though so many people are aware of it. There remains a phony ignorance and intentional complacency.
Even if the initial attempt were to fail, it's REASONABLE to assume that it will be reattempted until it succeeds. Why? Well, the answer is an ugly one. Because it involves killing people. And if there's one field of study where human beings excel, it is the discovery of new and innovative ways to kill each other. Until this changes, there remains a discernible inevitability. It is for this reason we must discuss the undiscussable. We must discuss the dominipede.
There are three reasons why you don't hear much about the stampedes. I call them the 3 D's.
1) Disinterest - They're uncommon in the United States. Our culture generally views stampedes in terms of retail scuffles, pushing and shoving on Black Friday. Occasionally we'll see a rowdy crowd on Bourbon Street or some overzealous fans rush the playing surface. But for the most part, injuries and fatalities are infrequent. The majority of people don't care about things like this until they're personally affected.
2) Discomfort - Other than myself, most people don't enjoy breathing life into conversations about suffocation. Or acknowledging the possibility of young children and elderly people being trampled to death. It just doesn't make for pleasant banter at the petting zoo.
3) Discussability - Many people have a difficult time with the admission of evolutionarily ingrained herding instincts. If you take a biblical approach to the origins of life, animal stampedes are a cold reminder of reality. Human beings don't like being linked to "lesser" mammals. Large segments of the population have difficulty processing these genetic similarities.
Stampedes unfold due to a given set of circumstances a/k/a triggers. And once they commence, they have a momentum all their own. Furthermore, stampedes don't discriminate based on gender, race or social status. The emotion of fear impacts everyone, in all cultures and on all continents.
Ask anyone if they would voluntarily join a human stampede and they'll rebuff the question. That's because the question is inherently ridiculous. Try asking them a different question. Have you ever panicked? If people around you suddenly exhibited unusual physical behavior, screaming or running, would this make you nervous?
This may sound like common sense, but it's a vital point. Everything depends on how you frame the question. Is it possible to make you fear for your life? Well, of course. Would you voluntarily join a stampede? Well, of course not. Nobody's that foolish. My contention... there's an incredibly fine line. Much finer than people are willing to admit. I can assure you of something. Every victim of a stampede had one thing in common --- they were all unwilling participants.
Again, stampedes are an unusual, worldwide phenomenon.
To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever tried to develop a classification system for human stampedes and their triggers. I'll give it a shot. Rather than analyze all of them, I'm going to select a dozen notable ones and point out some of their characteristics.
A push or "surge" stampede is relatively common. Large quantities of people wishing to simultaneously enter an area. It could be shoppers trying to enter a Walmart, concertgoers trying to enter an arena or fans trying to enter a stadium.
The 1980 Who concert stampede at Riverfront Coliseum is a classic example. A large crowd of fans gathered outside the main entrance in hopes of getting close to the stage for the general admission show. The overzealous force could not be contained and 12 concertgoers were killed. A similar event took place in 2006 in Manila, Philippines. 73 people were killed when a large crowd formed outside the PhilSports Stadium for Wowowee (a variety show).
Most soccer fans are familiar with the 1989 Liverpool stampede. During a match in Sheffield, fans heavily outnumbered the allotted number of tickets. Too many people gathered near an entrance. Gates were opened to alleviate the crowd pressure. Although initially blamed on alcohol abuse and hooliganism, years later the truth began to surface. Poor crowd management and negligent security were the primary factors. To this day, the anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" serves as a painful reminder.
Sometimes, the opposite dynamic takes place. Rather than entering, fans wish to aggressively exit. Such a happening took place at a 2003 Great White concert at The Station nightclub in Warwick, Rhode Island. A pyrotechnic explosion went horribly awry and quickly engulfed the stage in flames. Fans desperately moved to the main exit, but there was virtually no time. A pile of 100 charred bodies was later found next to the door. Did these people die from the fire or as a result of the lack of oxygen due to the crush? We'll never know.
On many occasions, it's hard to ascertain where the violence ends and where the stampede begins. During the 2012 stampede at Al-Nasri Stadium in Egypt, much of the violence was attributed to the Egyptian police, stadium security and fan-on-fan vendettas. The fatalities were labeled under the general heading of the Arab Spring and civil unrest. It's important to note that many bodies were discovered near a locked exit. These fans were likely not stabbed or shot. They likely perished as a result of the crush.
The 2012 incident mirrors other "decentralized" stampedes when authorities fired tear gas into large soccer crowds. Soccer stampedes in 1964 Lima, Peru and 2001 Accra, Ghana come to mind. In an attempt to quell the violence, the decision to launch tear gas fomented even greater chaos.
The 1941 Chonquing stampede claimed the lives of roughly 4,000 Chinese. It's regarded as the deadliest stampede in human history. During a Japanese aerial bombardment, a massive crowd took refuge in tunnels and bomb shelters. After the attack subsided, the all-clear siren sounded. People exited but then heard an additional siren blast. The panicked throng rushed back upon itself resulting in tragedy. I would refer to this as a "reversal" stampede. It could also be argued that this stampede was artificially generated.
A conceptually similar stampede occurred during a 1982 soccer match in Moscow. Sensing defeat on a bitterly cold day, many fans began to exit the stadium through the icy concourse. A late goal in injury-time resulted in a roar from the stands. Many tried to scramble back to their seats resulting in a "reverse crush."
A 2013 stampede occurred at a train station in Allahabad, India during a religious festival. The announcement of an imminent departure from an unanticipated platform was made over the public address system. Fearing they would miss their train, pilgrims aggressively moved toward a different location. 36 people were crushed to death. Take note of the trigger.
Another possible dynamic is a sweeping "back and forth" movement. At the 2010 ironically named "Love Parade" in Duisburg, Germany, disregard for properly manned choke point areas led to severe congestion and an eventual human bottleneck. This "swaying stampede" resulted in the suffocation deaths of 21 festival goers.
The Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, has witnessed several horrific stampedes during the past few decades. It's not logistically feasible for everyone to participate in all the rituals. Huge crowds don't cope well with the pretense of exclusivity. Limited access roads and narrow tunnels don't help matters either. Overcrowding and impatience results in catastrophe.
Bridge stampedes present an incredibly dangerous dynamic. Because if you're stuck in the middle, there's obviously no place to go. An over the railing escape almost always results in death. The 2005 Al-Aaimmah Bridge disaster claimed the lives of 953 people. It was sparked by rumors of a suicide bomber. That incident marked the single biggest loss of life during the 2003-2011 invasion and occupation of Iraq. There's a reason you've never of heard it. It coincided with Hurricane Katrina.
Another devastating bridge stampede took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 2010, nearly 400 people lost their lives during the annual Water Festival. Many blamed the police for firing water canons which may have led to accidental electrocutions. Soaring temperatures and the natural sway of the bridge were other likely factors.
Stampedes are treacherous and erratic. As you can see, they're hard to define.
For the purpose of this book, the 1913 Italian Fire Hall disaster in Calumet, Michigan is of tremendous importance. This stampede claimed the lives of 72 individuals, 59 of which were young children. It led to the decision for placing reasonable limits on the right to free speech. In the 1919 Supreme Court case Schenk vs. the United States, justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote that shouting "fire" in a crowded theater constituted reckless speech which could directly lead to bodily injury or death. Therefore, it does not fall under the protections afforded by the First Amendment.
Enter the dominipede. A dominipede is a series of multiple, simultaneous artificially generated stampedes. I consider it to be this century's equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. But on a vastly more sophisticated scale. And with an insidious degree of malicious intent.
From a logistical perspective, the dominipede would resemble a collection of stampedes like no other. I'd define it as a string of "decentralized implosions" with an extreme emphasis on "technologically driven" herding instincts. I could offer a more thorough description, but I'll let the rest of the book speak for itself.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
In the face of a dominipede, I would counter.
All the stadiums are a stage,
And all the fans merely participants;
Exits and entrances are an illusion,
Chapter 2: the game
The federal government likes to share knowledge about important public safety issues. Don't use illegal drugs. Don't drink and drive. Don't start forest fires.
The government also mandates that corporations disclose pertinent information about their products. If you smoke cigarettes, there's a warning about cancer and emphysema. I smoked for almost a decade. Stupid, disgusting habit. If you eat a bowl of Fruit Loops, the label divulges the amount of riboflavin per serving. I'm 43 years old and I have no idea what riboflavin is. If you attend a baseball game, there's a disclaimer for broken bats and foul balls. I have 54 Pittsburgh Pirates ticket stubs on my bedroom wall.
Even though it's a simple public safety issue, the federal government is unwilling to share the following information with its citizenry:
Please be aware... that in the unlikely event of an emergency stadium evacuation, such an order would NEVER originate from your personal cell phone.
I've spoken with Pirates owner Bob Nutting about this matter on several occasions --- the notion of mentioning this little nugget of wisdom to fans and employees at PNC Park. He acknowledged that I have an excellent pitch, but refuses to step up to the plate (forgive the stale pun). Now when he sees me, he actually runs in the other direction. I have that effect on people.
If you attend events in large stadiums, knowledge of that one sentence could save your life. This straightforward message should be looped over the public address systems at all sports and entertainment venues. So why is the United States government, the most powerful entity on the planet, unwilling to share this tiny snippet of common sense, public safety information?
The answer came to me in March of 2011. Literally sprang into my head. I was checking out the Mountaineers football schedule for the upcoming season. The home opener was set. But it was on a Sunday. How peculiar. I'd never been to a college game that fell on a Sunday. Usually that day is earmarked for the lord. Trust me. I know. I live in the buckle of the bible belt.
Our opponent was in-state rival Marshall University, the Thundering Herd. It's known as the "Friends of Coal Bowl." Has a pleasant, eco-warming ring to it I suppose. Perhaps I'll head on down with the usual suspects, do some tailgating and rock it out. Early fall weather. Young college girls will be scantily clad. The energy level will be high.
Now you're probably thinking, why the hell am I reading this guy's recollections about an athletic contest from over three years ago? Did he grill kabobs? Did he streak the field? Was he chosen to sing the national anthem? What makes him so special? And why would he think I give a fuck?
I understand your reservations. Please keep reading.
It was at that precise moment in time when I discovered the power of time. Let me be a little more specific. On that day, I conceived of an asymmetric act of terrorism that would change everything. The simultaneous murder of over 1,000 people scattered across cities on the East coast and into the Midwest. Oh yeah, and one other trivial detail. There would be no weapons. Only words.
Got your attention, didn't I? It's amazing how the shape of letters and the curvature of symbols can evoke emotion. But hey, isn't it really just a bunch of lines on a screen or dots on a page? Or could it be something greater? Literary pointillists, eat your heart out.
This revelation marked a milestone in my life. I don't remember the exact day, but I vividly remember the emotion. And I knew I wasn't going to let it go. I had to do something. So I did. I started writing a book. About 5 months went by. As with any creative project, there were numerous ups and downs, back and forths. But I managed to finish the damn thing and publish it on September 2, 2011. Its content is as obnoxious as it is verifiable.
The book is admittedly unusual... and dangerous. Probably because it contains a rudimentary blueprint outlining the incomprehensible. Truth be told, you'll never find it on a library shelf. The internet is the only entity brave enough to publish this stuff. One day, I suspect those in charge of the world wide web will have second thoughts. At some point, they'll take it down. But until then.
Game day had finally arrived. It nearly coincided with the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. The professor and I ventured to Morgantown. We'd meet up with the banker and the jeweler. Kickoff was set for late afternoon. We cruised into the corner of Grove and Willowdale. Evan's lot is conveniently situated behind the stadium. It has all the ingredients for a good sneak attack and a hasty retreat.
It was a humid scorcher. I drank cheap red wine from a plastic water bottle. The banker consumed expensive imports. The jeweler had some kind of fire and ice concoction. The professor drinks Miller High Life. The scent of blueberry permeated the air. I can't remember what we grilled. Suffice to say, these guys are non-vegan. One has sampled groundhog. I made a cardboard sign requesting a free ticket and would be rewarded accordingly. I often engage in semi-dignified panhandling.
We parked next to a voluptuous black woman and her son. They had come from Maryland. Her younger son, a junior college transfer, played linebacker for the home team. It was their first trip to Appalachian Motown.
I decided to engage her. It was the same recycled question that had been spinning in my head for the past five months. I asked her directly, "What do you think would happen in the stadium if a campus-wide emergency text alert was sent out that read:
The West Virginia University police department has issued an emergency evacuation for Milan Puskar Stadium. Effective immediately. Severe bomb threat level classification.
She stared at with me with this look of utter consternation, beads of sweat dripping off her chin onto her already drenched tank top. She reflectively paused and then blurted, "I never thoughta that. Everybody try to git out!"
I looked her straight in the eye. "That's right. It's called an artificially generated stampede."
She contemplated the matter as I regaled her with horror tales of soccer stadiums and religious pilgrimages gone awry. "Did you know that most stampede victims aren't trampled to death? They suffocate while standing upright from a process called crush asphyxiation. It's the equivalent of drowning in air."
By the way, this is actually how I talk. I'm not kidding. Ask anyone who knows me.
She inquired, "So what happens if there's an evacuation? How they do it?"
I replied, "Well, first and foremost, you use the public address system. It's vital to offer a clear, unified directive. This way, there's no room for misinterpretation or confusion. The absolute worst thing you could do is launch an evacuation by trying to alert everyone on an individual basis through their cell phones. That's because it would be far more likely to spook the crowd and spark a panic."
"As I was saying, the best way is to use the P.A. First, you ask for everyone's attention and cooperation. Then you make a request to clear the field of players and personnel. You repeat that message until the initial phase is complete. Then, after the field is empty, you ask the fans to exit the stadium. You repeat that message until the stadium's empty. It's actually pretty simple and straightforward, but the protocol is incredibly important."
I continued, "Every stadium has an incident commander. They're the ones who ultimately decide if an evacuation is necessary. Most don't even think it's a good idea to offer an explanation as to why the stadium is being evacuated. Because it could conceivably do more harm than good."
I ultimately reassured her, "Don't worry. I doubt there will be a stampede today. Anyone perpetrating such an act would possess an extraordinary degree of malicious intent. They would likely seek to create a cascade of terror, a real-world domino effect enveloping additional NCAA stadiums. That would be their mission."
"Now, today's a Sunday. So we're likely in the clear. But the anniversary of 9/11 is approaching. And this game is nationally televised. I guess what I'm saying is that you never really know."
She remarked, "I gotta admit. I never thought about any of this."
My predictable response. "Oh girlfriend, don't get me started. I could yap about this shit all night long (Lionel Richay Woman)."
"There's a slew of different ways to get fans out of their seats. It doesn't require a bomb threat. You could text fans a message about free hot dogs or complimentary jumbo hot wings with extra ranch dressing. Or maybe an "Eat Shit Pitt" t-shirt giveaway. How about a topless Mary Lou Retton signing autographs? That might do the trick. I mean, who among us would not be smitten by a shirtless Retton? Truth be told, I could think of a zillion messages that would send people running to the concourse."
"Yeah, but how would they get my cell phone number?" she questioned.
"I wouldn't worry so much about them. I'd be more worried about something I call a viral blitzkrieg. It's basically just a massive, widespread hoax. A regional saturation of information purposely attenuated to spiral out of control. If friends or family thought your life was in danger, I'm sure they'd be inclined to give you a ring. Or at the very least, zip you off a quick text."
"This is what really worries me. It wouldn't require any technical expertise. There would be no spoofed messages or concerted hack. Anyone could try it."
I reflected upon the wisdom of my father. "Any idiot could do it. You could do it."
"You're simply just flooding social media and letting everyone else do the dirty work. I'm especially concerned about the gullibility of local news reporters, radio and print media. These individuals are likely not well-versed in emergency evacuation protocol. Breaking news is ripe for exploitation. Their initial rush to tweet could have unforeseen consequences. Their technological action could unknowingly dictate the physical behavior of others."
She gasped, "Holy shit! Sounds like you got the makings of a conspiracy."
I calmly replied, "Yep. Now you get it. Nobody knew what was happening, but everybody was in on it. Now that is a conspiracy and that my friend... is a dominipede. And coincidentally, it's also today's opponent... the thundering herd."
"Why won't those sum bitches tell us?" she caustically murmured.
"Well as far as WVU goes, Bob Roberts, the campus police chief was kind enough to send me a letter back in 2012.
But I don't think he single-handedly managed to solve the problem of artificially generated stampedes. And I don't think he cared for me asking about unresolvable campus security issues. You'd have to ask him. I've received multiple letters from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. He sounded like he wanted to help, but once again, I don't think he fixed the problem either. I do applaud them both for at least trying. So many others I've asked are pompously dismissive or cowardly ambivalent. Granted, it's a tough one."
"But yeah, you just asked the million dollar question. Why won't the United States government or the NFL or the NCAA or Major League Baseball or any other sports organization tell us the truth? After all, it's really not that complex. Just tell people that a stadium evacuation order wouldn't come from your cell phone.
that if you're in a large, confined crowd and receive an emergency evacuation notice and/or panic-inducing information from your cell phone or mobile device...
it's almost certainly a hoax designed to create an artificially generated stampede.
That's the mission statement for the Artificially Generated Stampede Awareness Foundation."
"The sad truth is that this entire mess is just one big catch-22. Because if you acknowledge the problem, you own it. And if it happens, you're totally screwed. Any way you slice it, it's a lose-lose proposition. Well... except the part about hypothetically preventing loss of life. That would be a good thing."
"Do you remember the Bin Laden Determined to Strike in America memo?"
"Bin Laden!" she scoffed. "That dickhead was an asshole!"
"Yes. A religious extremist with a geopolitical agenda. But the memo was problematic because it signified the start of the paper trail. With the stampedes, there are hundreds of thousands of people and literally millions of conversations. But just like 9/11, the government needs the tragedy to happen BEFORE it can take action. Without 9/11, there would be no TSA officials caressing my defenseless groin. No X-ray machine determining my transgendered status or exposing the evil marijuana doobie stuffed deep inside my pristine butthole."
I droned on, "Even though it's just a simple public safety issue, there's actually a slew of reasons the government won't fill you in. It's a generational warfare paradox. Killing people without weapons is a very ugly precedent. But it mostly has to do with ass-covering and plausible deniability. Lest ye forget the potential for litigation."
"Let me tell you about the great state of West Virginia. We lead the country in a wide variety of areas: illiteracy, teen pregnancy, usage of smokeless tobacco or as we like to call it: chaw, snuff or dip. But if you wanna know where we really excel, it's the number of lawyers per capita. Pampalona may have the running of the bulls, but West Virginia has the filing of the lawsuits. Nationwide, our state is known as the litigious hell hole. That's because we sue the living shit out of every living organism. And that's what the stampedes are really about. It's the most important consideration of them all... MONEY."
"Trust me on one thing. There are 7 billion human beings on the entire planet earth. I am not the only one who has ever thought of this stuff. Many people are talking about it, but nobody has the guts to come forth. Well... except me I guess."
She gazed at me in disbelief. "Let me ask you one more question. When do you think it's gonna happen... all dem stampedes?"
"Well, it's hard to say. Seriously, anyone could try and make them happen. Let me ask you a question. Do you like Beyonce?"
"Sure do," she replied.
"Hmmm, if it's an artificially generated stampede, it could happen at a Beyonce concert. It could be the Democratic National Convention. It could be the Indy 500 or the World Cup Final or WrestleMania. It could even take place during a televised taping of the Maury Show in Stamford, Connecticut. Maury Povich is a great man. Did you know he's a Jew, as am I?"
"Our friend Shortsy's a Jew," she quipped.
"Schwartzy?" I glibly inquired.
"Yeah, Shortsy. You talk just like him!"
"Then allow me to continue my Nubian goddess. If it's a dominipede, it could be the opening day for Major League Baseball or maybe a swath of professional basketball games. But my gut instinct tells me that if someone really wanted to do a number on the United States and inflict the greatest amount of pain and suffering, it would have to be the NFL. Specifically the start of the regular season. The 1 o'clock slate of games. Can you imagine all the cell phone video stampede footage from all the different cities? YouTube would uploaded and downloaded into oblivion."
She was exasperated. "So how do we prevent these artificial sweetener stampedes?"
"Artificially generated," I corrected.
"That's a tricky question with an easy answer. Mitigation isn't an option because human stampedes unfold in real-time. The only possible method of prevention is through awareness campaigns, which if you think about it, are inevitable. In the aftermath of such a catastrophe, the government would be compelled to act. My objective is to persuade the government to take the necessary moral action before large numbers of people are needlessly injured and killed. Let's just say it's been an uphill struggle. Compounding the problem, there's no money to be made. That aspect never translates well, especially in the U.S. of A."
"But hey, since the government and the NFL won't step up, it all comes down to people like you and me. We've just got to find someone out there with the courage to speak up. All it could take is just that one celebrity to get the ball rolling. Maybe even Beyonce."
"So ma'am, if I could make one request. Please let your friends know that the next time they're at a major event... if they start getting unusual information from their cell phone... if fans suddenly begin screaming and behaving erratically... if people take off running toward the exits for no apparent reason. Have them know it's all just a hoax. It's all one big lie."
Sensing her utter exhaustion, I playfully smiled and changed the subject. "God-damn it's hot out here. This place is hotter than hillbilly hell." She chuckled and went about her business.
Still, I knew our little chat would be forever etched in her memory.
Before I continue, allow me to share something. I'm an admitted people watcher and observer of human behavior. I embrace the unpredictability and feast off the emotions. I like big crowds and I cannot lie. Sociologists won't deny.
As of this writing, I have ticket stubs from 78 Steelers games
Back at Mountaineer Field, it happened. Late in the 3rd quarter, there was a stadium evacuation. When I heard the repeated announcements over the public address system, I experienced this twitchy trepidation. I'm generally not superstitious but this struck me as an incredibly bizarre coincidence. Of course the evacuation was for inclement weather, not a bomb threat emergency.
It was a torrential downpour. One student darted onto the field and performed water angels on the 50 yard line WV logo. He was quickly apprehended by security. Concessionary trash streamed down the aisles like an Olympic luge of refuse. I watched as fans filtered toward the concourse. Some lagged behind in the stands.
During the evacuation process, a lightning strike touched down in Section 202 sparking rumors of a fatality. Despite the thunder and jagged flashes, there was no demonstrable panic. Play resumed after a 3 hour delay. But early in the 4th quarter, more lightning strikes caused an unprecedented, second evacuation. An additional hour elapsed before officials called the game at 10:48 p.m. and awarded the victory to WVU (34-13). Let's Gooo, Mountaineers! Yeah whatever.
Although the circumstances were highly unusual, there was no mass confusion. Fans were kept well-informed through the public address system and better able to assess the situation. But what if the dynamic had been tangibly different?
It makes you wonder what might happen if neither team wins. No, not a tie. Just a different outcome. A tragedy that changes the way of things.
Three years have passed since all of this happened. And nothing has happened. Well, that's not entirely true. People have talked about the artificially generated stampedes (even though the term does not officially exist). I know this because I have a stack of letters and an inbox of emails. I've been the recipient of countless phone calls. Many were concerned. Others were annoyed. But they all had one thing in common. They wanted to know what I know, what I thought I knew and if there was a solution.
These individuals (mostly NCAA Division I university presidents and chancellors, incident commanders and a miniscule percentage of Congressmen) are just the tip of the iceberg. They were the ones with the inclination and the courage to contact me. But what about the others? I often wonder about those conversations. If only to be a fly on a wall.
Earlier, I told you a story. It's just one of many. Over 60,000 people attended that game. They all have a unique story. Maybe you did mudslides. Maybe you took panoramic cell phone footage. Maybe you hit the bar and hung out with the banker and the jeweler. Or maybe you called it quits and went home, as did the professor and I.
Now let me tell you about the future. But before I do, an open admission. I don't have all the answers. But I do know one thing.
There will come a day when someone executes the technological equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. I don't know the specifics. I don't know the who, what, when, where, how or why. But I do understand the obvious societal progression in play. If you cannot see it, you simply lack the required vision. I may be nearsighted but I am not far sighted.
I don't profess to be an expert on the inner workings of the United States government, but one aspect is abundantly clear. It doesn't ever like to admit that it was wrong. In the event of a dominipede, there would be a lot of high profile resignations. It would expose mesmerizing incompetence and a revolting level of pusillanimous inaction.
I have a strong desire to leave this planet better off than the way I found it. If you believe my concerns have merit or if you find this material to be of interest, please SHARE it. If this material goes viral and enough people read it, we will have succeeded. If you're a teacher, teach people about it. If you're a singer, sing about it. If you're a talker, talk about it. If you're a human being, consider being human. But most important, ask questions and take action.
I implore you to share this information.
"In the days of the Colosseum, the games were held below. I fear the moment in time when the games are held above, when the fans become the players, when the spectators become the combatants." - sonofsaf
Chapter 3: the woman
On a Friday morning in the late spring of 2012, I heard the ring of my doorbell. I curiously looked over at Gigi, "Who the hell would ring the doorbell? Nobody even bothers to knock."
I zipped down the steps and there was a middle-aged woman, probably in her late 40's or early 50's. She was wearing jeans and a ball cap. Cheerful and pleasant. "Good morning. I wanted to introduce myself. I was thinking about buying your neighbor's house."
The hour that followed would change my life. An open admission. I don't record people's conversations. I don't have the transcript verbatim but this is the general vibe.
"Where's your car?" I asked. "Oh my god, don't tell me you walked up that hill? How can you not be totally out of breath?"
"I took a couple breaks," she admitted.
"Come on inside."
The three of us sat in the living room. For some reason I was particularly chatty. I told her about the history of the secluded two houses. The irony of how my neighbor has an incredible layout for entertaining, but the guy's a complete hermit. With the exception of his faithful housekeeper, he's never had a visitor in the past eight years. I joked about the chaos that ensued after an old woman drove a Cadillac into his pool. The pool is perfectly maintained but has never been used, except when he goes on vacation (if you know what I mean). I told her of his eclectically limited taste in music... the 4 cds that played over and over again while he'd lay out in the sun. Sade's Greatest Hits, Bob Marley's Greatest Hits, improvisational jazz and patriotic marching band oldies. Oh, and the gate. The absurdity of that electronic gate used to limit entry and egress. Oh, and the pole. A meaningless wooden pole that triggered a war.
"He doesn't care for me," I explained. "The mere act of my friends encroaching on the sanctity of his property. It's caused much ill-will over the years. If people visit my house, they have to use his driveway. It's the steepest road followed by the steepest driveway in the Northern panhandle of West Virginia."
The conversation turned to family, friends and life in the Ohio Valley. There seemed to be this instantaneous repore. We had developed a bond.
She abruptly confided, "Eric, I'm not going to buy your neighbor's house."
"Why not? Was it something I said?"
"No, it's something you've done."
"Eric, I was sent here by the United States government. I was given the honor of being assigned to your case a few months ago. My objective today was to conduct a field level profile analysis, determine your mental stability and ascertain your intentions."
Gigi and I just sat there... completely frozen.
"Eric, you've identified something we often refer to as a black swan. I know you're familiar with the term. I've seen you use it in your writings. There are certain untouchable national security issues that become the subject of highly discreet analysis. You refer to it as an "artificially generated stampede" or "dominipede." The team I work with has different names for these terms, but they generally mean the same thing.
"Why are you telling me this? Am I under arrest?"
"Look. Personally, I think your concerns are valid. But the hands of the government are tied. You obviously know what's going on here. If and when the shit hits the fan, there's a ton of people who are going to be on the wrong side of history. I'll do my job, but I don't wish to be among them."
"And it's way beyond that. Hardly anybody's willing to touch this one. You've shed some light on a pretty contentious subject. The stuff you're doing has a brutal paper trail and enormous blame game. There's not much upside. You're the one who's holding the federal government hostage. I'm sure you've realized this. I've seen you use the word super-empowerment. You're not the first person to pull off this kind of shit. But in all candor, what you're trying to accomplish... I've never seen anything remotely resembling your approach. And by the way, if your predictions come true, your life is over."
"We got wind of your book a while back. Themes about risk management coupled with words like "mitigation" and "asymmetric" often get our attention. But when you arranged an appointment with that local FBI agent, it raised a red flag. Then, when you began sending out hundreds of letters to the NCAA and the NFL, not to mention the DHS and the FCC, it spiraled into a giant mess. Seriously, even if we wanted to... and we don't... there's just no way to logistically monitor everything. You did more than open up a can of worms. You threw out a helluva lot of chum."
I pensively joked, "You sound a lot like the "X" character from the movie JFK."
"Yeah, that thought crossed my mind. People are suckers for the truth. And the truth is on your side, sonofsaf. I just hope you get a break."
We all nervously laughed.
She confided in us about other potential generic disasters. We delved into the prospect of highly coordinated wildfires designed to exploit the Santa Ana winds. We talked about the growing threat of laser pointers being used to blind passenger plane cockpits. She divulged how just one incident could devastate the country (chemical weapons in the subways, multiple train derailments, manipulation of the stock markets through a catastrophic event, etc.).
She disclosed something that entered my mind a few years ago. Not an attack on the Super Bowl itself, but rather, simultaneous conventional attacks on softer affiliated targets (popularly frequented taverns in both cities of teams represented in the Super Bowl). How if someone had an agenda, they could "break the media" or at the very least, impose their will and hold the country hostage during its biggest televised spectacle.
We touched on the bizarre 2011 oak tree poisoning incident on the campus of Auburn University. Fans would gather and celebrate Tiger victories at Toomer's Corner. So Harvey Updyke Jr., a distraught Alabama fan (and former Texas policeman no less), dumped canisters of Spike 80DF herbicide on the grounds. It stands to reason, that if some obsessed individual was plotting to assassinate trees, than murdering fans wouldn't be too much of a stretch.
She even mentioned an outlandish scenario of shutting down a major city by using dirt --- tractor trailers unloading enormous quantities of dirt in the middle of bridges and tunnels during rush hour.
She made her way back to the artificially generated stampede. "Eric, there's a reason you rarely see the President of the United States in large crowds, particularly stadiums. We think it's a sticking point in an ongoing feud between the Secret Service and the FCC. A stampede is bad enough. But can you imagine if presidential security was forced to open fire on innocent civilians in order to protect the commander-in-chief?"
"They're terrified about how an information saturation might play itself out in real-time. Some of them have even started using your term... viral blitzkrieg. Spoofed messages, bulk texting, deliberate tampering with social media platforms. You know very well these things can be weaponized. It's consensus opinion that a wireless carrier hack or intentional misuse of an alert system are "lights out" scenarios. The problem here is that you're spreading the word. And there's nothing we can do. To be blunt, it's gotten to the point where nobody wants to even keep tabs on you. We're damned if we do and damned if we don't."
"The stuff you're doing is just too big. The terrain is unfamiliar and the stakes are too high. And to top it all off, you're not even technically a whistleblower. You're just a private citizen engaged in speculation. With the DHS, NSA, TSA --- the policy comes from people with political agendas. It's all top-down. They'd never commit to your issue unless there was some perceived benefit. The stampedes are all risk, no reward. There's nothing to gain. The U.S. government would never voluntarily go into the unknown, not knowing. That's just how it is. It's part of the catch-22 you're always harping on."
She encouraged me to keep asking questions and keep up the good fight. She assured me that I wasn't "crazy" and my efforts weren't in vain. In a roundabout way, she implied that we'd likely never see each other again. I don't think she ever even mentioned her name. I gave her a bottle of water with a wedge of lemon. And on that note, we said our goodbyes.
Chapter 4: the position
Ask someone a forbidden question and you'll quickly discover they have the right to remain silent. That's what happens when you try discussing the undiscussable.
How can I be the only one who gets it? Why am I the only person concerned about an artificially generated stampede? Such an event would be an asymmetric national security disaster. However, a dominipede would outweigh the significance and psychological damage resulting from 9/11. That is a bold, accurate statement.
There's a reason why you've never heard of these terms. I created them. In 2012, they became an integral part of the security vocabulary used by incident commanders and select police chiefs. These words are not recognized by the United States government because of the catch-22.
If you acknowledge a problem, you own it... and if it happens, you reap the blame.
This lose-lose proposition is a major component in the equation. Another aspect involves the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians without the use of conventional weaponry. Other reasons for purposely concealing the truth include the voluntary relinquishment of authority and the absence of monetary justification. Private industry faces many of the same obstacles: risk management issues, the potential for litigation and the dilemma of plausible deniability. The catastrophic damage and financial exposure outweigh the moral reasoning to simply warn people...
that in the unlikely event of a stadium emergency evacuation, such an order would NEVER originate from your personal cell phone.
As unpleasant as this may sound, it's just easier to allow for a tragedy and then address the root cause in its aftermath. It's just easier to let people kill themselves.
An artificially generated stampede is a sudden rush of people, likely the result of panic-inducing information delivered through mobile devices. There are numerous ways to communicate: phone calls, emails, text messages, opt-in notification alerts, emergency alerts, etc. It's basically the modern, technological equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. Large crowds have been permanently impacted by the presence of cellular technology. Current emergency evacuation protocol does not take into account this inherently evident, irrevocably altered dynamic.
The likelihood of an intentional mass hoax propelled through social media forums such as facebook and twitter is cause for great concern. The possibility of a viral blitzkrieg (a deliberate information saturation) would require only limited technical skill. The prospect of cyber-terrorism and malicious hacking adds yet another grave variable.
Sensing a discernible inevitability in play, I chose to follow my conscience. In accordance with the Department of Homeland Security's "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign, I made a moral determination to be proactive. In 2011, I wrote a book about the subject. It's freely available on the internet. In 2012, I informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation that I would be initiating an extensive letter writing campaign designed to heighten awareness. Correspondence was targeted to reach NFL ownership, NCAA leadership, venue management and specific U.S. government departments.
In 2013, I founded AGSAF (Artificially Generated Stampede Awareness Foundation). I informed every member of Congress about the unacceptable state of outdated emergency evacuation protocol. Feedback, observations and a series of relevant articles can be found on the AGSAF website.
This predicament extends well beyond football stadiums. It encompasses motor speedways, ballparks, outdoor amphitheaters, arenas, mega-churches, political conventions --- any venue where large crowds gather. However, my primary concern surrounds the overlapping NFL 1 o'clock slate of games. The prospect of a stampede cascade effect is not an acceptable outcome.
Private industry has a moral obligation to provide a safe environment for event attendees. This means informing patrons of reasonably foreseeable, dangerous situations that could arise. By definition, an artificially generated stampede is an event that unfolds in real-time. Therefore, mitigation is not a viable solution. Government awareness campaigns are the only reasonable course of action.
The First Amendment gives us the constitutional right to address this matter. The Second Amendment affords us the constitutional right to adequately defend ourselves. Enhanced situational awareness is the essence of the AGSAF mission statement:
People have a fundamental right to know...
that if they are in a large, confined crowd and receive an evacuation notice and/or panic-inducing information from their cell phone or mobile device...
it's almost certainly a hoax designed to create an artificially generated stampede.
We must send a message to the federal government and elite NFL ownership that their status quo is no longer acceptable. This is far more than a public safety issue. It is a moral one. Please SHARE this material. I beg you. Don't let me be the only one.
Chapter 5: the art
Although I consider myself a visionary, my vision is rather poor. I spent much of my youth squinting and listening. Hence, I've never been a connaisseur of fine art. Abstract pretentiousness just ain't my forte.
I'm not a narcissist. My ego doesn't require stroking. My sensibilities don't need placated. I actually prefer harsh criticism to praise. Provided it's substantive, it's just more interesting.
For me personally, the design of the AGSAF logo was something of incredible significance. I needed it to make sense. In the aftermath of a full-blown dominipede, there would surely be government mandated signage at any venues deemed at-risk. This would encompass more than football stadiums. I could envision signs being displayed across the board (theaters, gymnasiums, even nightclubs and cafeterias). Because of the historical precedent, there would be no going back. The fallout would become permanently scheduled on humanity's itinerary.
I had several conceptual designs for the AGSAF logo but whittled down the number to three. Below was my first major idea. The aggressive movement of individuals resulting in the trampling of another. The cell phone at the top transmitting vibratory signals. The message from those signals actively reverberating in people's heads and minds, resulting in a wave of panic. The yellow cautionary diamond seemed like a reasonable choice. I thought the street sign logo analogy was a winner.
However, there were a few things I didn't like. I thought the walkie-talkie style phone was anachronistic. I preferred a smart phone image which implied additional mediums and modes of communication. I also didn't like the notion of everyone running in the same direction. The element of confusion needed to be more pronounced. It was also brought to my attention that the characters were wearing "headphones." Finally, on an aesthetic level, I didn't care for the wasted space in the lower, middle corner. The logo simply wasn't accurate. It would not suffice.
This led me in a more traditional direction. I studied other popular logos. The more professional ones seemed to have an image, the acronym and a brief explanation. Unfortunately, my mission statement required some degree of explanation. The message was simple but it takes time and effort to explain the underlying rationale.
It led me to the following.
Now I was on the right track. It just required some fine-tuning. First the acronym. As you may have guessed, the inclusion of "SAF" in the logo was not a coincidence or some happy accident. I've devoted three years of my life to this project and I have no intention of running from it. It's not that I'm in too deep. I am submerged. Assuming the unthinkable happens, everything I've ever said or written and all of my prior actions will be picked apart like vultures on a roadkill.
I seriously considered a dot matrix lettering font for the AG AF lettering. As someone who came of age during the evolution of early computer dot matrix-style printers, I thought the old school back and forth movement had a technological relevance. The deliberate movement of the cartridge paralleled the confusion human beings encounter in the face of certain stampedes. How the crowd helplessly swoons back and forth... against its will.
Regrettably, even though the artificial nature of the dot matrix font made sense, it looked distracting and cartoonish, especially when you added the domino "S." It just didn't work. I settled on the Skia font which has a sleek, modern futuristic look.
The domino "S" was key. It's at the center of more than the logo. Regarding the dominipede, it represents a centered, moral position.
"Discussing the Indiscussable" would eventually change to "Discussing the Undiscussable." But I felt the word "stampede" was simply too necessary. One night I had a revelation... "staring down stampedes." I was completely enamored with the mental and physical comparison to "staring down the barrel of a shotgun." Plus, one cannot help but notice the bizarre societal trend that has emerged in the last 15 years. People everywhere, tilting their heads and staring downward in response to the slightest noise or vibration. The social and mental conditioning was spot on. But most important, in the event of an artificially generated stampede, people would have to literally and figuratively "stare down" their fears and inner demons. If they were able to discern fiction from fact, hoax from reality... it would necessitate some degree of cognitive reasoning.
Regarding the symbol, the shape of the diamond caution sign seemed like the best choice. The pinkish, magenta color reflected emergency management and was common to other street warning signs. The yellow background on the smart phone signified caution as well and provided a decent contrast.
Most important was the message displayed on the screen of the phone. Absolute simplicity. The question mark.
As far as the question mark in the form of an exploding bomb, I eventually decided to just use the plain question mark. For two reasons: it was unnecessarily inflammatory and it wasn't entirely the truth. I've outlined many circumstances that could impact widespread sudden movement resulting in fear-driven stampedes other than the most obvious: the conventional bomb threat. The implication that it could only be a bomb was both misleading and erroneous.
The title and cover of my book were very personal decisions. I originally considered "The Super Bowl of Nine Elevens." If that doesn't speak to extravagant hyperbolactivism, I'm not sure what does. I also thought "The Bible of Terror" would be a meaningful eye-grabber, but didn't care for the religious overtones. Along those same lines, I briefly thought about naming it, "The Most Dangerous Book Ever Written," but concluded the title was wholly inaccurate. It paled in comparison to the bible, koran and countless other holy texts. "Do Not Read This Book" had a certain appeal as well. Patterned after Abbie Hoffman's "Steal This Book" from the 1970s, but it was already taken. I finally realized that "Dominipede" was staring me in the face the entire time.
A friend asked me why I didn't want my name on the cover. "Aren't you proud of what you've written?" Well of course I'm proud. I'm also consumed with trepidation. This is a book like no other. Hence, the subtitle "Book of Fear." It's a more subliminal religious angle. One that I'm capable of processing. But as far as gracing the cover with my name, I just didn't see the need. If you can find anyone on the planet earth who wishes to absorb the credit or blame for this book, all I can say is "happy hunting." If history unfolds as I anticipate, the name "Eric Saferstein" won't be requiring excess visibility.
Internet memes, cat videos and soccer balls to the groin. This is the new art. I doubt Picasso and Spielberg would be so welcoming.
Chapter 6: the music
The United States government will never openly declare:
we cannot protect you.
Even in situations when they know it to be the truth. Such a statement would likely be countered with snide accusations. Then what good are you? What are we paying you for? Why do we need you? An admission this blatant requires that something bad happen first. Then, they'll tell you what's going on. The inertia kicks in and things begin to change. That's just how things work. I understand this.
The prime example in my lifetime was 9/11. Some will claim the government had no clue. Others will scream complicity. Conspiracy theories abound. Personally, I think the truth lies in the eye of the beholder. But as far as the artificially generated stampede goes, I can unequivocally make the following claim... THEY KNOW. Why? Because I told all of them. That's why. They just choose not to listen.
So when the stakes rise to the level of a dominipede, I am not afforded the bureaucratic luxury of complacence. My conscience dictates action. Especially as the pace of the game keeps accelerating while the rule book is continually being rewritten. Regrettably, the only authority I possess is a desire to write and a penchant for change.
Like many of us, I have a passion for music. I'll gladly concede that I'm not a musician. I don't play an instrument. I play the radio. As a child, I took piano lessons but never stuck with it. I have a decent sense of pitch, but I've always felt a little embarrassed to sing in public.
As a composer, I lack the creativity and lyrical inventiveness of Weird Al Yankovic. My only dance moves consist of a flailing air guitar. My facial gesticulations resemble a constipated senior citizen at an all-you-can-eat Ponderosa buffet. My delivery is out of sync and discombobulated, like a retarded Juggalo.
As a performer, I lack the pseudo-thuggish disposition of Eminem. Nor have I resided on the streets. Patricia Drive, Village Lane, Alice Avenue, Eagle Avenue, Ridgewood Avenue. Although some could be regarded as low income, I wouldn't classify any of them as "streets." However, I did live on Virginia Street for over a year (1991-92). That definitely qualified as a "mean" street. I also lived out of my car for several weeks during the summer of '92. It was a red Dodge Omni 024 hatchback with a blue door. Around this time I was an occupier of the streets. And technically, a hotel parking garage as well.
Rap music usually lends itself to the basics. Simple beats and simple rhymes. Of course there are exceptions. A major one is N.W.A's "Express Yourself" off the 1988 album "Straight Outta Compton." This song is a lasting tribute to free expression, media censorship and government oppression. Considering the volatile nature of my book, you could see why this song might resonate.
So I took one of rap's best songs and applied my own spin >
Yo, man... There's a lot of people out there worried about the next 9/11. But scared to talk about it.
Saf, you've been doin' all this dope writin' with your books, website and awareness campaigns. Tryin' to get the word out. You ready to tell them about the artificially generated stampede?
I'm expressin' with my full capability
About matters of our national security
Cause some don't agree with how I do this
But fuck that, I don't give a shit (you be pissin')
I'm droppin' knowledge, the topic's kinda scary
But the words I use are very necessary
Blame it on Saffy... Because he says it gets tricky
When you gotta subject that's so delicate
throw it on a website
All the fans and folks
Susceptible to one mass hoax
On the cell phone, it could be a hack (that's wack)
Government and politicians. They don't got your back.
You educated through
L'chaim from a Jew
Or you could have big mess
Even if sampled
You gonna git trampled
I still express, yo, I don't cry wolf or make threats
I don't shout "fire" in a crowded theater.
I keep on usin' all this rhyme and meter
It is our century's equivalent
Don't be so ambivalent
Come on and do it...
During the stampede journey, I've spoken with a variety of individuals. Many of whom were intellectually superior. Many in positions of command. When it came to the denial of stampedes, there was often an underlying inability to discuss risky propositions and unique threatening circumstances especially when the issues centered around current practices and the existing state of emergency evacuation protocol.
There was often a "well this is how it's always been done and everybody does it this way, so logically speaking, this is the best way to do things." Conformity and group think were the norm, not the exception.
These findings mirror the results of a study done by Chris Argyris of Harvard University. He noted a typical sociological pattern. That when people are faced with threatening hypothetical scenarios, they often respond by "easing into the conversation" and "being civilized." There is no comfortable way to have a conversation about human stampedes. You either frankly discuss the circumstances or you "dance around the issue." That's exactly what I discovered. Not only did the matter become undiscussable: it's undiscussability became undiscussable. This theme was highly consistent with the catch-22 presented by the artificially generated stampede.
The obfuscation was particularly evident if you asked the jaw-dropping question, "So what's your game plan if there are stampedes at other in-use NFL stadiums while a game is in progress at your own stadium? Is it reasonable to assume that large numbers of people would immediately find out what's happening and decide to hastily exit? After all, it's doubtful that everyone would maintain complete composure. What's your strategy for handling this?" That one was always a silencer. Because nobody was willing to admit that their stadium was technologically intertwined with other venues. They could be doing everything "by the book." They could be entirely "up to code" and still get sucked in by the momentum.
I broached this aspect because it reminds me of how people handle crisis and cope with tragedy in the religious construct. The same denials have an almost spiritual quality. That with a situation so dire, rather than taking substantive, preventative action, the stakes might be so high as to only rely on a deity or the protection of angels. When people deal with pain and suffering, many seek solace in the unknown, comfort or wisdom through prayer. While I personally don't find this path rewarding, I do acknowledge that it's commonplace. Believers easily outnumber nonbelievers.
In our society, there's such an overwhelming consumption of religion. This reliance on prayer or a "god will see us through" attitude is the norm, not the exception. Naturally, it extends to people in all walks of life, including incident commanders. Even though I deemed it theater of the absurd, I vowed to not be so abjectly dismissive of the "spiritual angle." Hell, maybe there was a loftier way to reach people.
With that in mind, I decided to broaden my audience. I wrote an original Christian contemporary song. The melody is irrelevant since that particular genre relies on message as opposed to orchestration and musicianship. I pitched the song to my favorite born again duo from Eastern Ohio, the Chrisagis Brothers of Rayland.
Their rapscallion nature and judgmental ribbing is infectious. They apply it to their diseased ministry with a "dumb and dumber" approach, much like twin boys with severe Gynecomastia, heaping whipped cream and sprinkles on dueling hot fudge sundaes.
They respectfully declined to record my song. Still, I thought the lyrics had merit.
Don't Cell Your Soul
Think... before you run.
Search in your heart, not on your phone.
Don't sell your soul,
for the sole use of a cell.
Sure enough you tripped and fell
then you find yourself burning in hell
We're from small towns, but have important stuff to say.
Regarding life and the games people play
We had a friend who lived in Wheeling
He was one you'd never see kneeling
He didn't believe in god, it was his only confession
But we gave him a chance and he made an impression
These viral blitzkriegs and artificially generated stampedes.
Not blessings from god, they're man made deeds.
All we ask is that you listen.
To the truth that you've been missin'.
Don't fall for a malicious hoax that leaves you without breath
You could wind up crush asphyxiated or even trampled to death
There's a lesson to be learned in the face of this tragedy.
And it's a teachable moment for all of humanity
Don't place blind faith in those who are supposed to protect you.
The media, the government... look for something new.
Place your trust in god, you'll find a place to belong
Now would you kindly help us, and sing this song (or sing along)
I also have lyrics for a song entitled "Cellfish." It incorporates society's wireless info-obsession with something I refer to as the WWJC (Who Would Jesus Call) mindset. He's callin' on you but you ain't pickin' up. Yer lettin' his message go to voice mail because yer so dang selfish. Ain't nobody got time for that. Even when yer feeshin' out the BWC (Big Wheeling Crick). Castin' dat line, seekin' dat sumpin'. Then, all of a sudden, magically out of nowhere, lo and behold, you land the biggest fish of them all... the Jesus Fish in the form of a crap. Please forgive the intentional typo.
"Cellfish" is a satirical portrayal of spiritual growth in the form of a fisherman's tall tale. But it requires too big a leap of faith. I just cannot share the words. Yes, it's that bad. And as you may have expected, I'm the only one who gets it.
Chapter 7: the poetry
My father introduced me to poetry. I wouldn't call it a love of poetry. It's more like a tempered proclivity. I have admiration for but little interest in the works of Yeats or Dickinson. I have no burning fever in my soul or eternal passion in my heart. As I was saying, it's more of a tepid, metered inclination.
I've always enjoyed wrapping poetry around current events. I try to weave the recitation into a greater historical context. Whether it be a birthday or wedding, Bar Mitzvah or circumcision. The latter of which was spectacularly ill-received following the 2002 beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
There once was a man from Virginia
Who spoke his mind to all of ya
With origins from the West
And literary skill not the best
He'd tell you what the country was in fa.
Artificially Generated Stampede haiku
the viral blitzkrieg ensues
I wish to convey, some critical information
To all the citizens, of this once great nation
The mode of delivery, will be poetry and rhyme
About multiple disasters, occurring in real time
Our First Amendment rights, offer excellent reach
For a writer and activist, with a commitment to preach
The subject is dangerous, but I cannot resist
It's all about a word, that doesn't currently exist
An act of pure evil, an incomprehensible deed
A cascade of terror, I've termed it... dominipede
I certainly have issues, with government accountability
their moral standard, in the face of inevitable discernibility
People have knowledge, they're not willing to relate
Instead of divulging, they'd prefer just to wait
On second thought, this might not really be true
Because at the heart of it all, lies a catch 22
For if you decide, to acknowledge and speak
Your chance for reelection, becomes incredibly weak
So silence becomes, a predictable norm
Rather than confronting, the eventual storm
An untouchable issue, a test for humanity
Designed to play off, our collective insanity
Like a gun without bullets, something completely unique
It's impossible to fathom, the havoc one could reek
The NFL would provide, the best choice for a venue
Calling, hacking, texting... just ingredients on a menu
The obvious choices, the places I fear most
Are in the South, Midwest and throughout the East Coast
The conspicuous cities, the more inviting targets
Are the lesser known teams, in the much smaller markets
The people impacted, random victims of fate
their passion for football, and the 1 o'clock slate
Feel free and add another, to this supplemental attack
Enveloping INDY fans, or even a NASCAR track
Social media, would likely play a role
with twitter and facebook, exacting their toll
Synthetic terror, minds of throngs sharply penetrated
Bodily crushes, that are artificially generated
An evident saturation, of alerts gone viral
Tripping, falling, stomping... as it all starts to spiral
Widespread panic, quickly taking its toll
In multiple locations, there would be no control
Assaults depending heavily, on timing and information
Coupled with herding instincts, and a fear of predation
A reliance on ignorance, and a populace adrift
New tactics in combat, a permanent shift
Now consider the progression, of malicious intent
The stakes are too high, so I will never relent
For everyone has these weapons, we call them cell phones
And they can be just as deadly... as bombs, guns or drones
The questions of who, how, why... when and where
Will become part of the conspiracy, and we're already there
The pieces of the puzzle, I have a hunch how they'll fit
But the most troublesome aspect, is we were all in on it
It's frustrating to know, that as hard as I try
It was simply one big hoax, the ultimate lie
For it could be only one, wishing to settle a score
Who ushered in this new era, of generational war
In poetry, themes of death are prominent. But the poems are usually written in the here and now, often reflecting on the sorrows of the past (war and punishment, famine and disease). Why not write poetry about the deaths of the future? The lives that have not yet been taken. The tragedies that have yet to unfold. It could emerge as a powerful genre.
Chapter 8: the documentary
In 2013, I seriously considered making a documentary and mailing the DVD to every member of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. This way, if history were to unfold as I have envisioned, the Congressional invocation of plausible deniability would become a joke in itself.
I wrapped a basic narrative around an extensive amount of relevant youtube footage and incorporated some images from the internet.
After a couple of months, it became apparent that I lacked the knowledge and technical ability to complete the project. Even with access to sophisticated editing software, I just didn't have the know-how and expertise. I figured that my time was better spent creating the AGSAF website, writing a second book and raising general awareness in hopes that someone with substantially more clout would seize the information and get the ball rolling.
Still, I thought it was imperative to finish the project. I had a vision that needed to be shared. I'd define the end-product as a crude documentary, or as I like to call it, "you-crudumentary." During the process, I often envisioned others sifting through the material (in the aftermath of a dominipede).
Wouldn't it be fascinating if my you-crudumentary concept spearheaded a new movement in the audio-visual communications industry? Anyone with a prognostication regarding a landmark moment in time could form a rough script in conjunction with internet video footage and still photos. This would afford "Nostrodamus director-types" the opportunity to extrapolate from that same futuristic vision. If people were to make credible films about specific, impending catastrophes, it would stand to reason that political leaders would be more likely to learn about these hypothetical disasters. They might be more inclined to proactively address foreseeable issues and possibly find solutions. Societal awareness would be enhanced. Tragedies of immense scope and magnitude potentially averted.
The dominipede you-crudumentary
It is presented in reverse-chronological order.
Chapter 9: the flyers
Is it a "flier" or is it a "flyer?" Ask anyone and they'll likely refer you to a grammarist or a grammaticist. It's a deep, riveting controversy. So I googled the matter. Turns out the words are generally interchangeable. Glad we got that straight.
I purposely chose "flyer" because the ones I've created in the past are repugnantly obnoxious and annoyingly brash, much like the NHL hockey team and residents of the greater Philadelphia area. The flyers below are some of the most controversial sheets of paper ever created. The content is brief but the repercussions are severe. If you're a devout Catholic, they pack a little more punch than the annual fish fry flyer. Say that 10x fast.
Flyers have always been a great marketing tool. They're more than just a summation. Holding an 8.5" by 11" piece of paper in your hand has an ethereal quality. It's tangible evidence of a rallying cry. It echoes a moment in time. You get the who-what-where-when, a picture and possibly a slogan or overriding theme. You get an all-encompassing synopsis. Everything at once.
During my senior year in high school, I was conveniently befriended by some sophomore metalheads. I had a license and access to a vehicle. I also had the latitude to transport them without parental supervision. An hour and a half each way. Back in those days, three hours into the darkness was a credible road trip. We would travel to tiny concert halls on the outskirts of Pittsburgh.
But there was one location that transcended all the others --- the City Limits in Penn Hills. It was basically an abandoned roller skating rink that would feature nationally touring rock bands. Not the cosmetically enhanced, mainstream poser bands. These were the "real" bands. They didn't criss-cross the country in luxurious tour buses. They drove rusty vans and beat-up RV's. Our heroes wore jeans and t-shirts, just like we did. They delved into darker issues. War, pain, hatred, suicide... it was all very uplifting.
For us, the journey to Penn Hills was like a pilgrimage to Mecca. But our gods were different. They were mortally accessible. Factor in the stage diving and crowd surfing, they were physically within our grasp. Death Angel, Slayer, Testament, Overkill, Violence, Metal Church, Nuclear Assault, Forbidden. Drenched in sweat, band members would hang out and casually mingle amongst us. They'd autograph our records and cassettes. They'd drink our beer, smoke our pot and regale us with stories from the road. They'd even piss beside us. The City Limits was our mosque. We were drawn to the enlightenment like mosquitoes.
Near the emergency exit was a table where they sold concert t-shirts. I can assure you of one thing... more critical analysis was performed at this table than any corporate board room in the history of big business. The level of scrutiny defied comprehension. The selection of t-shirt was an irrevocable decision. Our $10 wardrobe choice defined us.
There was a dingy card table next to the merchandise area. And on it laid our Dead Sea Scrolls. Not hallowed parchment. No, not pages from the bible. These were omens, not amens. Small stacks of paper in plain sight. THE FLYERS! It was like unearthing buried treasure.
One flyer had a picture of laser beams shooting from the eyes of a vulture. Another had a gargoyle or robotic demon. Another had a large-breasted woman cracking a whip. We'd analyze the drawings and speculate about the hidden meaning. Each piece of paper had an almost psychotropic effect. It was like a heroin junkie gazing at a chunk of black tar. Like a morbidly obese man sizing up a dinner portion of General Tso's.
This was our apocalypse. The bands were our messiahs. We'd find out who's coming and when. These pieces of paper dictated our future. Because we knew that with each flyer, an adventure loomed. Remember, this was back when the internet didn't exist. Information was at a premium. You couldn't call the venue. Hell... this place didn't even have insurance coverage, let alone a phone number.
As you can see, the flyer as a means of communication, has a special place in my heart. I've resurrected this passion. These flyers are cold, hard propaganda. Both convey the same message. One is designed to provide helpful information. The other is meant to piss people off. I don't think it takes a masters degree in communications to figure out which is which. They will be updated when necessary. Feel free to share this content at-will. Distribute these flyers at any locations where large crowds gather.... not just NFL and NCAA Division I football games.
Chapter 10: the questions
I've come a long way in my understanding of the dominipede since the book I penned in 2011. This may be my gig, but it's humanity's concern. If you've read this far, you're likely wondering, "How the hell can this material be in the public domain? Isn't it illegal to put this information on the internet?" And you wanna know something? I think those are fair questions.
My position is simple. Give it some serious thought and I think you'll agree. There's a discernible inevitability to the artificially generated stampede. This is not terribly complex. It's merely the 21st century technological equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. Eventually something like this is going to be ATTEMPTED. Whether or not it's successful is a different matter entirely. Furthermore, I strongly believe in a "progression of malicious intent" --- the notion that if someone were truly committed to initiating the stampedes, they would seek to inflict maximum damage. Government and private industry will not address the issue or take meaningful action unless they are coerced or until AFTER a calamity. The artificially generated stampede is a serious public safety issue. However, the dominipede is a moral issue. Mitigation strategies are not a viable option. Since the only credible solution comes from acknowledgment and awareness, there exists a moral imperative to be forthcoming. The alternative choice is inaction and cowardly silence. Someone, somewhere needs to divulge all this unpleasantness and force the issue. And that someone is me.
- artificially generated stampede – A sudden rush of people likely the result of panic-inducing information delivered via cell phones or mobile devices
- viral blitzkrieg – A bombardment of information designed to saturate a specific location(s) and exponentially spread panic
- dominipede – Multiple, simultaneous human stampedes likely the result of a viral blitzkrieg
Usually, you offer the definitions at the beginning. But if this book does anything, it defies conformity and existing precedent. The gradual introduction was important. If you wish to get acquainted with this material, some perspective is required. This isn't a newspaper article or a book report. It's a speculative assessment on the direction of mankind with an extremely negative outcome.
Why did I create these terms? Well, for an obvious reason. To define ideas and give substance to that which does not currently exist. Out of necessity, new concepts and words pop up from time to time. Internet, google, tweet, hashtag, Y2K, soccer mom, jazz, hacktivism, etc.
A series of simultaneous human stampedes would require a new frame of reference. Simply assigning it a date (like 9/11) would be insufficient. Hence the word "dominipede." Domino + stampede = dominipede (pronounced duh mihn ih/uh pede). A "viral blitzkrieg" is designed to imply a militaristic strategy, an info-bomb in the form of a contagious, multilayered saturation. The term artificially generated stampede is self-explanatory.
I realize this is sensitive material. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's the next 9/11... only worse. I became convinced of the dominipede back in 2011. And while it still boggles my imagination, I have grown a bit desensitized. That can happen when you replay a cataclysmic event in your head every day, for over 1,000 days. In my mind, the dominipede has already occurred.
If the content of this book has shocked you, prepare to be electrocuted. Since I have a strong hunch on how this all plays out, I'm now going to touch on some of the loose ends. However, I simply cannot sift through every pertinent aspect. This chapter would become a book in itself. The information on the AGSAF website does a reasonably decent job of filling in the cracks.
Precision has always been important to me. Considering the dominipede is going to define my existence, I might as well be true to myself and stay the course. There is no way to eradicate "techno-panic." Unless we revert back to the Stone Age, it will always be with us. And it's likely to grow worse in ways we cannot fathom.
What I'm about to say could evoke skepticism. It might even sound preposterous. But I do not think the dominipede is necessarily a one-shot Orwellian occurrence. Although unlikely, I could envision it happening multiple times in a variety of contexts. As far as I'm concerned it's just further rationale for making this information available.
My concern for a dominipede extends beyond the National Football League. But for the purpose of this chapter, I will focus on the most obvious target --- NFL stadiums. The more you read, the more apparent my reasoning will become.
There's an unusual sound that most football fans never hear. A distinct rumbling din emanating from an open-air stadium. It's only audible from the outside. It's a little like the combination of a 747 swooshing take-off and a churning household blender. You hear it whenever there's an extended play of tremendous consequence: an interception runback for a touchdown, a safety resulting from a quarterback sack or a monster goal line stand on 4th and inches. Anything with a demonstrable impact that changes the course of the game.
I suspect you'd hear that same noise if a stadium was hit with an artificially generated stampede. The reason for that sound would alter the course of history.
Every so often, I'm accused of actually hoping for a dominipede. Since I created the subject matter, that's not an entirely untenable position. One time, a Florida DHS agent phoned me and asked "what my intentions were." On another occasion, two local policeman knocked on my door and were curious as to why I would send "threatening correspondence" to the President of Boston College. When you "discuss the undiscussable," stuff like this becomes the norm, not the exception.
The most frustrating aspect is that people, instead of familiarizing themselves with the body of my work, would make snap judgments regarding my perceived guilt. I've come to grips with the prospect of being lambasted and despised by the human race. What I find irksome is being demonized "for the ratings," absent of informed discussion. If the hatred had merit, I could stomach it. If there was knowledgeable debate, I could handle it. But if a dominipede happened, I suspect that everything would be driven by loudmouth, money hungry sound bytes. There's also the certainty that many would profit at my expense and the collective misery of others. The thought of this sickens me. Oh well. One person can't really change the world... or can they?
Newsflash: I've spent the last three years trying to prevent this tragedy, not cause it. The only way to circumvent a dominipede is to make people aware of its possibility. You don't get a second chance. There is no dress rehearsal. This is not purely supposition. I have evidence to support this claim. Though regrettably, anyone can come along and discredit everything I've tried to accomplish. All it takes is three easy words. "He did it." Or five easy words. "He wanted it to happen." Depending upon the popularity of the person uttering either sentence, plenty of people will convict me in the court of public opinion. There's little I can do to change this. Instead, I'll plod along and act in accordance with my moral instincts. In this case, telling people that stadium emergency evacuation orders do NOT come from personal cell phones. You'd think it would be more controversial than that. But it isn't.
It has been suggested that I form an LLC and attempt to minimize my personal exposure to a dominipede. Let me just say one thing. I cannot fathom a superior act of cowardice. This isn't about money. It's about super-empowerment and the time to come.
I've already made the determination that in the event of a dominipede, I will invoke my 5th Amendment right to remain silent. My requests to government officials have fallen on deaf ears. So why not return the favor? Many will peg me for the antichrist or characterize me as some kind of hillbilly, homegrown Bin Laden. My name could become synonymous with some of the most reviled characters in the history of mankind. Ironic? You could say that. I'm actually a pretty nice guy.
That portion of my life's journey would be better preserved for a future book. The only matter I might be willing to discuss is my next "cause du jour." It's an attempt to irrevocably alter and substantively improve the existing state of our democracy through something I refer to as "negative voting." Hopefully, our country will become acquainted with the concept.
But in the interim, the American public would have to learn an extraordinarily painful lesson... patience.
So exactly who might try to pull off an artificially generated stampede?
Here's the harsh truth. Anyone could TRY it. It could be a bullied teenager with a background in computer hacking. It could be a nefarious prankster who wanted to see if they could evacuate a bunch of stadiums. Perhaps someone with access to an official twitter feed or opt-in notification alert system. Maybe a wireless carrier administrator or someone in charge of a reverse 9-1-1 platform. It could be your neighbor. It could be Anonymous. Although highly doubtful, it could originate from a bizarre accident. The list of means is as endless as the list of actors. The methodology of "how" is better referenced through the AGSAF website. But for now, let's stay focused on the "who."
My chief concern has always been a lone-wolf scenario. One individual initiating an act of generational warfare. If you wish to learn about generational warfare, it will likely require some research. It's always the time, but this isn't the place. I'll try to sum it up.
Humanity will soon encounter a stage of warfare where conventional weapons become unnecessary. Most would construe an artificially generated stampede as an act of terrorism. That's a fair classification. You simply get a perceived enemy to indiscriminately kill itself. The costs are virtually nonexistent. No planes, no ships, no missiles, no bombs. No troops, no extended deployments, no post traumatic stress disorder, no chain of command. In this case, the weapons are timing and fear, proximity and location.
As the largest provider and purveyor, manufacturer and distributor of military hardware, the U.S. is ill-equipped to address the theoretical aspects of killing people without conventional weaponry. It doesn't fit into any of the traditionally established business models of the Defense Department. Hell, it doesn't even fit into the tested expectations of humanity. War has always been untidy. The artificially generated stampede is no exception. It is a black swan. Sorry to repeat myself, but if you're unfamiliar with the term, you'll have to do some research.
Getting back to the lone-wolf proposition. What if it was someone who felt wronged by the U.S. government? Our country currently incarcerates the greatest percentage of its citizens. Many have been unjustly disposed of by the system. A consequence of privatization and draconian mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. Twenty years in federal prison for possession of marijuana seems a tad harsh. Wouldn't that give any stoner ample time to plot their revenge?
How about a Pakistani? In a country of almost 200 million, all of them despise United States drone policy. I wouldn't be too pleased if after having been hit by a trifecta of misfortune (famine, cholera and mass flooding), my entire family was incinerated at a wedding, just because my Uncle Salam had political ties to a CIA-alleged Al Qaeda sympathizer. Is it unreasonable to think that someone might hold a grudge, or dare I say, concoct an innovative way to retaliate? Our country has a long-standing tradition of underestimating our enemies. And an even worse habit of creating new ones.
What if someone felt the need to shift the balance of power and create a new political dynamic? Elections are the big show. Call me naive, but a dominipede would be the defining campaign issue. Incumbent candidates would fare poorly. The minority party would ultimately benefit. Human life has often been historically expendable. It hangs in the balance during the struggle or quest for political power.
Here's the gist of all this. Any individual could try to initiate a dominipede. However, faulting a single person would be an exercise in futility because of the inevitable viral blitzkrieg. Everyone would unknowingly get swept up in the hoax. Their intentions would be irrelevant. The viral blitzkrieg is an entirely decentralized platform. It relies on an uncontrolled, open-sourced means of attack. There are so many offensive scenarios that it becomes silly to provide examples.
In the end, it doesn't really matter how it all began. The entire country, the entire planet would seek to assess blame. And that's when the different narratives would commence. The flexed finger pointing. The empty hurling of accusations. In the days of amplified social media, Americans love to play armchair quarterback. That's a particularly unhealthy recipe, because in the end, everyone is guilty. It would be the ultimate conspiracy. Everyone involuntarily participated. Everybody knew about it because everybody was in on it. Where did it specifically originate? We'll never know for sure. It makes the JFK assassination conspiracy look like a kindergarden bake sale. Weapons of Mass Destruction? Are you fucking kidding me? There were no WMD. Not so with the dominipede. Everyone had a cell phone. Everyone had a weapon. It's just not how we're accustomed to thinking. It's not where societal expectations lie. We're mentally hardwired to think of weapons in terms of guns and bullets, not information and panic.
Faced with the fallout of mankind's greatest conspiracy, how would Americans react? Would they run around waving flags? Would they be whipped into a fury of unity? Would it be reminiscent of the nationalistic pride and patriotism displayed in the weeks following 9/11? Would they actively support the United States government? The same government that played an instrumental role in denying them the knowledge to adequately defend themselves? To support what? To defend whom? To fight back how? These are the questions left in the wake of a true conspiracy.
Let me be very clear. The dominipede itself is not a conspiracy. The dominipede would become a conspiracy. People often have great difficulty distinguishing between the two.
I imagine many people would be supportive of first responders. Emergency medical technicians and physicians would be regarded as heroes. There would be blood drives and relief efforts. That's a no-brainer. But that's where it would end. It would be the quickest period of mourning because everything would immediately descend into an accusatory bloodbath. Politicians jockeying to deflect for having been asleep at the switch. NFL franchise owners seeking to minimize liability. Wireless communication providers, cell phone manufacturers, ticket producers, media representatives, stadium architects, the list never stops. As the truth emerges... that's when things get really ugly. You mean to tell me that everybody was notified and none of them gave a damn? Everybody knew about it and nobody cared?
I have grave reservations about the response from government, particularly Congress. In the dominipede's aftermath, I would expect the House and Senate to offer a one-time blanket exemption of liability. The NFL, the individual teams, the owners --- everyone would get a pass. That same exoneration would be extended to the cell phone manufacturers and the wireless carriers. Any affiliated individual, institution or organization would be absolved. The government would directly settle the injury claims and compensate the families of those who perished. Due to its unique gravity, Congress would chalk up the whole experience as something that "could never have been conceived of or adequately prepared for."
Now why do I think people might have a problem with that statement? Oh, I don't know. How about the fact that I sent a letter outlining the issue of outdated emergency evacuation protocol to all 535 members of Congress at the end of 2013? And a miniscule percentage even had the audacity to do their job and physically reply. Of course, nothing much came of it. The reason why is an ugly reality. People in this country are self-absorbed. The vast majority care little for philosophical quandaries and the plight of humanity. They act in the moment. They rarely plan for the long run. They seek money and power. They bask in the illusion of authority. Any hint of soul is purely ego driven. This really ain't front page news.
You've got to figure that Congress has already bailed out the auto industry and the banks. Why would they hesitate with financially safeguarding the NFL? Once again, Congress would show their true colors and align themselves with the 1% of the 1%, protecting the billionaire owner fat cats from monetary justice and the hint of prosecution. This would not go over well.
I could envision some very high profile resignations. Specifically, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. I also believe the President of the United States would come under intense pressure to resign. There would be nonstop calls for impeachment proceedings. It's a strange twist of fate since Congress would choose to absolve the guilt of everyone else. I imagine some members of Congress would follow their conscience and issue apologies. Some might resign. But for the most part, judgement would have to wait till the next election cycle. Eventually, the "Commander-In-Chief" would have to step down. The President would make the best speech he/she could. Assuming it was Obama, I just don't see how he could maintain any degree of confidence with the American people. After all, we're talking about the darkest, singular incident in the history of our country.
I'd expect the worst possible reaction from government --- an increased military presence in affected areas. Following 9/11 we saw the fighter jets in the sky 24/7. Our civilian leadership might choose that same response. They would have to be seen as "doing something." I'm not sure their reaction would make any practical sense, but a dominipede doesn't exactly make any sense either.
The dominipede would leave Americans engulfed in a helpless state of hollow outrage, empty confusion and utter disbelief. We would be portrayed worldwide as narcissistic imbeciles. We were the brave, mighty Americans who succumbed to invisible fear and nonexistent terror. And that's putting it mildly. Right now, there is so little faith in government. Any smidgen of remaining trust would immediately evaporate. Naturally, I would expect to see a rise in militia enrollment and organizations aligned with anti-technology sentiment.
I'd expect a candlelight vigil ceremony of some sort at EVERY football stadium in the country. There would be remembrances at all football stadiums (universities at the state level and even high schools and middle schools at the local level).
The NFL wouldn't have many good options. I suspect they'd counter with heightened security. When in doubt, add more guards, more video cameras, more barricades. Expanded stadium perimeters, physical barriers and ticket checkpoints would be very likely but accomplish very little.
There would be an enormous conflict for those who wish to mourn the victims in close proximity to the scenes of the crimes. Future games would be protested until the "truth" is revealed. That's when the NFL might use private security firms to keep protestors off "private property." The government might be compelled to call up the National Guard in order to "keep the peace." This is where things could get really turbulent. Keep in mind, it's a lot of different locations with grief-stricken individuals who are seeking answers to questions where satisfactory explanations don't really exist.
A seething flow of acrimony would be lobbed at the NFL. How could they not have seen this coming? Now wait a minute. You mean to tell me they actually knew about it and chose to ignore the warning signs? Instead they focused all their concentration on petty concerns like touchdown celebrations and drug testing? They should have been more aware of obsolete emergency evacuation protocol. It was an obvious public safety issue. Where were all their experts and security consultants? How could an entire organization be affected by this myopic hubris?
NFL games aren't cheap. Most attendees are generally in the upper income stratosphere. The government can run roughshod over the lower class. However, it's more difficult when the wealthier segments of society feel they've been wronged. They have more standing. They'd be unlikely to take their universal medicine lying down.
A significant amount of season ticket holders would pull out. They'd come to the conclusion that NFL games are a superfluous luxury, not deserving of the expense and hassle. And certainly not worthy of risking life and limb. I'd expect league wide attendance figures to fall in the 25% range. Some NFL stadiums would approach the 50% attendance mark. I believe that same attendance spillover would plague other sports venues (MLB, NHL, NBA, MLS, NCAA and auto racing), though not as severe. This drastic, sudden shift in cultural norms (a decreased emphasis on athletics and entertainment) would have a pronounced, devastating toll on the American way of life and how society embraces leisure activities. It could return but that would likely take time. I suspect fans who previously enjoyed attending the games might take on a more subdued, reclusive approach to life. Having experienced the unpredictable horror of a human stampede, many would conclude, "it's just not worth it" or "that ship has sailed." As I've stated, the dominipede is a phenomenon. An epic moment in time. It would resonate well beyond the arena.
I have no background in sports ownership but I do suspect that NFL franchise values would drop significantly. Maybe somewhere in the immediate range of 35%. Other sports franchises, maybe in the 10%-15% range. I base these figures mostly on the precipitous drop in airline company valuations immediately following 9/11. It's difficult to make estimates based on hypotheticals. But it's safe to say, the outlook would be grim.
In the aftermath of the dominipede, I suspect reactions from the general populous would vary tremendously. The idealistic types would call for the cancellation of the remainder of the NFL season. How on earth, can we as a people, continue the season in the face of such senseless violence? To pretend as if nothing happened is unacceptable. What does it say about us? Others would make an appeal to summon the courage and embrace the indomitable human spirit. We must pick up the pieces and move on. No matter how much it pains us.
Eventually, economic interests would win out, as they always do. Things would return to normal, but it would be the "new abnormal."
Would there be significant social upheaval and civil unrest? Looting or riots? I'm not really sure. Perhaps if the U.S. government was not transparent or actively tried to conceal the truth. But then again, the truth will quickly become an illusion. In the face of a dominipede, people will see what they choose to see, hear what they wish to hear, think how they want to think. Remember, the dominipede was all based on a lie. I suspect its aftermath would follow a parallel path. Trust would be an absent commodity.
I'm virtually certain that the skepticism and confusion bred by the dominipede would mirror its trail of insanity. Consider the sheer volume of evidence. The abundance of televised video, security cameras and the proliferation of amateur cell phone footage. It would be inescapable. This is far more than 7-10 stampedes. Think of it in terms of branches on a tree. We're talking about the prospect a hundred smaller, multi-directional stampedes as well. The same sense of absolute chaos embodied by the dominipede would morph into a pervasive, societal incapacitation. This decade (2010-2020) would be termed the Age of Distrust or the Era of Suspicion.
Those were some general predictions. How about some specific ones?
First and foremost, cell phones and similar mobile devices would immediately be classified as "potential" weaponry. It would be impossible to live in a state of denial after a dominipede. If you wanted to own a cell phone, I doubt there would be any age restrictions, background checks or psychological profiling. But since cell phone manufacturers and wireless carriers would seek to shield themselves from future liability, I do believe you'd be required to sign a waiver of some sort, likely similar to a HIPAA document. A stand alone form that read something like this...
"By entering into this contract for cell phone services, or using this or any cell phone, the purchaser acknowledges the risk that mobile, wireless devices can be used to generate dangerous situations, such as mass panics or stampedes. The purchaser knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks, including but not limited to the risk of sustaining serious bodily injury and death, that are in any way connected to such cell phone-related dangerous situations."
Some would call for an outright ban on portable communication devices in large crowds. But I suspect this would be a temporary knee jerk reaction and gain little or no traction. It addresses the symptom, not the cause. However, I do believe there would be newly mandated ticket stub disclaimers, similar to broken bat or foul ball warnings. One that specifically acknowledges assumption of the risk --- that cellular devices can be used to create artificially generated stampedes and the release of liability from any injury or loss of life affiliated with such an occurrence.
One thing you'd see is an "us against them" mentality emerge. On one side, the tech-driven generation who incessantly use their smart phones. The ones more prone to calling, texting, taking pictures, sending videos, surfing the internet. The ones with their faces buried in the tiny screens, constantly absorbed by the technology. The selfie generation is generally selfish, not selfless. Then, there would be the other group who's repulsed by this behavior. It would be challenging to not find fault with these lavish displays of techno-immaturity. Many would stand diametrically opposed toward the cell phone addicts and social media hounds. People would cast a web of blame.
I think another division would emerge along the lines of the "mindless patriot." When the country experiences a tragedy, the first inclination of many is to wave the flag. Since many would find fault with the U.S. government, I'm not sure this would go over too well. If you have serious suspicions about the government and a seemingly unsophisticated person is aggressively waving a miniature red, white and blue flag in your face... I could see how some might take great offense.
When and where
I have grave concerns regarding the potential for an artificially generated stampede at the 2016 Democratic or Republican National Convention. These events are held every four years. The DNC is of greater concern because they tend to draw larger crowds. Football stadiums have been utilized in the past, including but not limited to, the 2008 coronation of Barack Obama at Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado. I can assure you that virtually everyone at the 2016 conventions will have a cell phone on their person. The number of mobile devices will easily exceed the number of attendees.
I also worry about the professional sports leagues (the NBA, NHL, MLS and MLB). But assuming a progression of malicious intent, they're just not what keeps me awake at night. The NCAA Division I football schedule raises deep concern. Quantity of venues in the East into the Midwest is inescapable and highly problematic. Especially since the major programs usually feature back to back afternoon home games to start the season. If history is any indication, these games are usually played against inferior opponents. It's a blatant attempt to bolster their early win-loss record, increase viewership and make them more bowl viable. The decision to do this is ultimately fueled by profit. And it also leaves them more exposed to a dominipede. Could college football be a target? Well of course it could. But would it be? I just don't see it. Every core instinct, every fiber of my being points me in the direction of the NFL.
No sport in the United States has the reach and magnitude, the grandeur if you will, of the National Football League. Although the league has suffered a recent attendance downturn, it still packs a wallop of interest. Based on lackluster attendance levels, I'm not terribly concerned with the preseason. However, there are 5 specific weeks in the regular season that raise a red flag (weeks 1, 3, 4, 10 and 15). My concern is always focused on the 1 p.m. Eastern time zone slate of games.
Week 1 - September 7, 2014 (Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Miami, New York Jets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Houston). 10 simultaneous games.
The regular season opening day offers some of the highest attendance figures. At 0-0, every team is in contention. Excellent early September tailgating weather and a general air of excitement surround the start of the season. Assuming evil intentions are in play, the kick-off weekend would be ideal as it would cast an insidious shadow over the entire regular season.
Week 3 - September 21, 2014 (Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, New England, New Orleans, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Jacksonville). 10 simultaneous games.
Once again, 10 games is a sizable number of overlapping contests. There's also a NASCAR race scheduled for 2 p.m. at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH. I often worry about other outside events being thrown into the mix.
Week 4 - September 28, 2014 (Chicago, Indianapolis, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Houston).
Only six 1 p.m. games, but there is a seventh overlapping game being held in a 100,000+ seat venue in London, England. Miami faces off against Oakland at Wembley Stadium. Commissioner Roger Goodell's imperialistic attempts to expand the NFL brand overseas could have severe ramifications. An individual seeking retribution for American and British involvement in the Iraq War (2003-2013) could invoke the dominipede as a retaliatory act of terrorism.
If things take a turn for the worse in the U.S., I'd be willing to bet the reach of the dominipede would extend across the ocean. All stadiums are technologically codependent. It might be a different continent, but timing outweighs location. Also, a NASCAR race is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware.
Week 10 - November 9, 2014 (Buffalo, Detroit, New Orleans, New York Jets, Tampa Bay, Baltimore).
Same scenario. Only six games scheduled for 1 p.m. but there is another overlapping game at Wembley Stadium (Dallas vs. Jacksonville). A NASCAR race is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Avondale, Arizona at Phoenix international Raceway.
Week 15 - December 14, 2014 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New England, New York Giants, Carolina, Baltimore). 10 simultaneous games.
Week 17 - December 28, 2014. The final week of the regular season has the largest scheduled number of 1 p.m. games (13). However, some of those games will be moved to a later start, likely due to playoff implications and the NFL's desire for higher ratings.
Again, if you subscribe to the theory of malicious intent, the NFL would be the proverbial jackpot. I'd be particularly cognizant of the smaller cities with stadiums in the downtown area. Ample cell coverage and less wireless congestion, especially with most of the customary workforce not in play.
Smaller markets are cause for heightened concern. Local news affiliates (ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX) are more accessible to the general public and easier to manipulate. It's doubtful their employees would have a working knowledge of the ins and outs of emergency evacuation protocol. Plus, the name recognition of local reporters carries an implicit level of trust. Recent trends show that reporters are encouraged to embrace real-time social media outlets such as facebook, instagram and twitter. If they were inundated with hoax information and instinctively divulged emergency evacuation content via social media, particularly anything related to a bomb threat, word would spread exponentially.
These same considerations apply to local business owners, regional celebrities, prominent attorneys, emergency responders, city officials, etc. Professionalism and financial success often rely on the ability to quickly furnish information. In a world of increasing smart phone dependence, we are conditioned to respond rapidly, sometimes without weighing or realizing the potential consequences. Unintentionally "spooking" a large crowd might not be as difficult as you think. Be aware of the emotional urgency coming from both sides. One side motivated by chaotic hatred, the other out of love and concern.
Another important consideration is "line of sight" theory as it relates to a stampede. By nature of their construction, NFL stadiums offer a compacted zone of anywhere from 60,000 - 90,000. Fans have an exceptionally strong sense of their visual periphery throughout the stadium. They could witness a sudden, amalgamation of events. If random individuals swiftly or aggressively moved toward the concourses, it would be cause for alarm. Groups of people quickly rushing or parents "snatching up" their kids would also create concern. But I'm mostly referring to multiple people falling or tripping. Unless you have zero empathy, witnessing someone trip and fall face-first down a flight of steep concrete steps causes immediate uneasiness. Seeing such an event transpire two or more times in a matter of seconds would likely result in extreme anxiety. Granted, that's entirely my opinion. But I think it is a reasonable assertion.
Spacious concourses and widened rotunda are not an effective strategy for combating an artificially generated stampede. You do not seek to minimize potential damage. You address the cause, not the symptom. Mitigation is not part of the solution.
With NFL stadiums, there is a strong emphasis on securing the entrances. Metal detecting wands, 12" x 6" x 12" clear plastic bags and physical pat downs are now employed. As fans enter the screening area, take note of how they raise their arms. One hand is invariably grasping a cell phone. It's peculiar how a weapon could be overtly visible yet remain completely undetected. Again and again and again.
Stadium security actively monitors fans as they exit the premises. They're usually looking for unfinished alcoholic beverages. Other than that, little concern extends to the exiting process. Newer stadiums are designed for optimal safety. But no stadium anywhere on the planet is prepared for the dynamic of an unexpected, mass exodus. If everyone desperately wants out of a stadium, the problem cannot be solved.
You might ask the following question. Why shouldn't we be informed about other potentially life-threatening scenarios? For example, couldn't someone conceivably parachute into a stadium while simultaneously throwing hand grenades into the stands? Why has nobody warned us about that? What about somebody jumping out of a van and open firing on people in the parking lot? How about the release of chemical weapons? Don't we have a right to know about those things as well?
It's difficult to explain why the artificially generated stampede rises to a different status. There's simply a "generic unfamiliarity" with the concept. It's one of those "I never thought of that" scenarios.
People are familiar with the notion of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, but not the premise of texting "bomb" in a crowded stadium. However, it's so much more than that. We naturally assume that any threat would come in the form of a cryptic, spontaneous text message. But when unusual things happen, people still make phone calls. And social media adds a relatively new, untested dimension. How could this not exacerbate the situation? People know that wielding a gun can result in panic. But wielding a cell phone? Compounded by a hoax? Society hasn't crossed that threshold... yet. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't prepare for the eventuality.
My original comprehension of the artificially generated stampede was quite limited. In 2011, I thought of it solely in terms of the induction of panic via text messaging, hacking and the sabotage or misuse of opt-in notification systems. At the time, I had little understanding of the more dangerous aspects --- the notion of a viral hoax, intentional manipulation of social media, blanket saturations of emergency evacuation orders, and most important, direct phone calls. One thing gradually became apparent. The most effective means of spreading a hoax would be to let others do the "dirty work." People are far more inclined to follow the advice of loved ones and trusted confidants. Most people still have trouble grasping this concept. They only see the artificially generated stampede through the prism of a "seemingly random" text message that "mysteriously" appears on their cell phone screen. I've often heard the question, "How would they get my number?" This is a perilously naive perspective. They've already got your number.
I morally struggled with this particular section. But I truly believe people have a right to obtain information in a way that's consistent with the 2nd Amendment. The ability to defend oneself is paramount. It includes the knowledge to make informed decisions, especially when the government and the NFL refuse to be transparent. One of these days, something bad will happen. Recognizing this does not require a doctoral degree in cellular clairvoyance.
If someone had accurately predicted the hijacking of passenger planes and the specific targeting of the World Trade Center Towers, people would have found this information to be quite relevant. Enhanced situational awareness of asymmetric national security considerations may have precluded some people from working on the higher floors of the World Trade Centers.
I had a fascinating discussion with a collegiate incident commander. He claimed that people wishing to prematurely exit his stadium wasn't even a possibility. I probed him with a variety of scenarios, but he was adamant. "You don't understand how much our fans identify with our team." After another round of questioning, he begrudgingly conceded that some fair weather fans might leave early if the team was getting blown out and the weather was miserable. Still, he added further justification, "You don't understand. They pay good money for those tickets. Some travel long distances to get here. Why would they wanna leave?"
"But I'm talking about an actual stampede. What about panic and herding instincts?" I asked.
He retorted, "Almost all are fans are college grads. They just aren't that stupid to fall for a hoax."
I was incredulous. "So that's your final position? Even if people thought their lives were in imminent danger, their devotion to the team would overrule basic survival instincts?"
He succinctly replied, "Yep. That's how much they love our team."
"But what if someone tried to foment a stampede?"
He iron-fistedly snapped back, "Well that person would be goin' to jail!"
Of course, this guy was more numbskull than man. Kind of scary, if you think about him overseeing the safety of 50,000+ individuals. I will admit. He may have just wanted to end the conversation. And there are others who would generally agree with him. They wouldn't push that same line of reasoning. But they could never fathom ANY circumstance that would compel large groups of people to aggressively charge toward the exits. Why? Well the reason is actually somewhat compelling. Precedent. Because it has never happened before. At least not like this.
From a security perspective, if the most significant dangers you've faced during your tenure are drinking and drug use, breaking up fights and ejecting an occasionally belligerent fan, it would come as little surprise that a human stampede is not on your radar. Compounding the problem, deadly stampedes are vastly less common in the United States.
It takes time to explain a hypothetical. Trying to get people to think outside the box is exceedingly challenging. Some might mistake my concern and label me a troublemaker or instigator. After all, why is this person calling me in the first place? Perhaps he's trying to gain some kind of leverage at my expense? And guess what? In a way, I am.
I've noticed something else in my conversations with incident commanders and police chiefs. Many seem leery that they're being recorded or worried that anything they say might come back to haunt them. Conversations involving bomb threats arouse vastly more suspicion than talk about the weather. I honestly believe this problem would have a better chance of being solved if it weren't for the bloodthirsty, gotcha media. As a society, we lie in wait, hoping to capitalize on the slightest misstep. Benefiting from the transgressions of others has become commonplace. It's a dangerous game and it continues to grow worse. Incident commanders are tasked with the safety of tens of thousands. How can they function effectively if they're preoccupied with suspicion and paranoia? I'm curious about this guy's thoughts on evacuation protocol. I'd like to hear what he has to say, but it's probably not worth the risk. He might be out to get me.
My personal discussions with incident commanders and stadium security have led me to believe that there are no real-time protections afforded by the FCC or federal government. And even if there was some kind of "magical, wireless shield" (there isn't), those in command have been purposely left out of the loop. Does this sound like a wise course of action?
Now here's something truly unnerving. Many of these individuals have never been briefed on the concept of a hoax evacuation order or the viral blitzkrieg. They've never been told that someone could try to stage an evacuation without their knowledge or consent. They're under the impression they still have maximum authority and control. Despite the rapid acceleration of technology, they seem content with employing routine practices and applying obsolete industry standards. Apparently, the fact that everyone has a personal communications device is of little or no consequence. Even after a thorough explanation, their persistent dismissal of how cellular technology has permanently impacted the crowd control dynamic isn't scary, it's downright terrifying.
Most in command of stadium security tend to be older men. They're often unaware of the impact of social media and less inclined to embrace forums like twitter and facebook. They're less acclimated to the pace of wireless technology and saturation of the information age. They fail to comprehend the "level playing field" in the stands. They only recognize it on the field. All this general unfamiliarity has real-world consequences.
In nearly all of my discussions, there was rarely an admission of "stadium interconnectivity." Incident commanders showed little or no concern for what might transpire at other in-use stadiums. This always worried me. Because I knew in my heart that if one or two stadiums go, the rest will fall. It's an all or nothing proposition.
So what would be the fallout from a dominipede hitting 10 NFL stadiums? A political science professor once suggested I try to develop some kind of predictive model based on past stadium stampedes --- an attempt to furnish an accurate estimate of the death and injury tally. However, the dominipede does not consist of conventional stampedes, but rather, a near simultaneous implosion. It's a series of multiple, decentralized stampedes. When I make the claim that everyone would suddenly want out of the stadium... that might not be totally accurate. Some could be reluctant to join the herd. It's impossible to predict.
During any NFL game, you'll see multiple on-field security agents. All of them remain standing on the sidelines with their backs to the field. Their attention is permanently focused on the crowd. Their main purpose is to prevent and deter fans from running onto the field. However, in the event of a significant disruption in the stands, stadiums have a "coded signal" or public address statement that actually orders security to "stand down." This allows patrons access to the playing surface in the event of a worst case scenario. It's an arrangement mired in secretively nuanced conflict. Have any of these security agents been briefed on the possibility of an artificially generated stampede? Let me give you a four letter response. Uh, no.
NFL stadiums are noted for their luxury. Plenty of free standing condiment stations, picnic tables and promotional areas. The club levels often have pool tables. All these amenities would quickly be transformed into human obstacles, likely increasing the injury tally. In hindsight, it could be a case of "you get what you pay for."
I often find mitigation factors seeping into my own mind. But NFL fans are different. The crowd is wealthier and more sophisticated. They're wiser and less susceptible to the hoax concept. The stadiums are different too. The concourses and the spiral rotunda are sufficiently wide. I keep having to remind myself that it's a stampede. Fans desperately wish to move to a different location. Instead of staying put, they want out. Leave the venue at any cost. It becomes concrete existentialism. They exit in the here and now. Nothing more, nothing less.
Here's my best hunch. Roughly 100-150 fatalities per stadium. Most resulting from severe concussions and trampling. People being physically ejected over concourse walls is a distinct possibility. Death by asphyxiation could vary greatly, depending on whether or not security manages to open gates in a timely fashion. A metal locking latch the size of a small tire could play a key role. Usually the number of injuries is a factor of 10. A reasonable figure would be in the 1,000 - 1,500 range per stadium. I use the word "reasonable" because the number of claims would immeasurably exceed the number of people injured. Anyone with a valid ticket would seek some form of compensation. Even if they couldn't prove a physical injury, you would surely hear the cries of mental distress and the psychological damage from having witnessed the carnage.
I already know why someone would try to execute a dominipede. It's a virtually free way to kill innocent civilians. So why would anybody want to do that? I'll keep this explanation as simple as possible. If you don't think people aspire to kill one another, you probably need a refresher course in the history of our planet. Or maybe just watch the evening news. Furthermore, out of the current population of 7.3 billion, I am not the only person who has thought of this stuff. Surprisingly, I might be the only person to write about it, but I'm not the only person to think about it. If you disagree with these statements, I'm aghast. Not because you're oblivious. I'm aghast because you're reading my book.
The underlying "why question" is where it gets interesting. Why won't anyone tell people that evacuation orders are not issued through cell phones? First of all, it's the truth. That's not open for debate. The real basis for this question lies in the catch-22.
If you acknowledge a problem, you own it.
Simple enough. I wrote a book about this matter in 2011. In 2012, I took my concerns to the FBI. I sent letters to NCAA Division I presidents and chancellors, NFL presidents and government representatives. I contacted incident commanders, police chiefs, venue management and countless others. Anyone I thought might be willing to take a stand. I created a website and started a foundation. I've written 50+ articles in an attempt to solve this paradox. And now I've written my second book.
The prospect of a dominipede makes this the moral dilemma of our generation. I can only say this so many times. I won't relent. I realize the message grows stale. There's only one thing I can say. It's not about you or me. It's about humanity. It never had to be like this. People didn't have to die.
Think about the government's forest fire awareness campaigns, or more recently termed, wildfire campaigns. Only you can prevent wildfires. The analogy is spot-on. Just replace the word "stampede" with the word "wildfire."
What if they think you did it?
start a wildfire?
What if they think you wanted it to happen?
What if you trigger the event you are trying to prevent?
and someone starts a wildfire?
What if you put an idea in someone's head?
and that person starts a wildfire?
What if you're wrong?
and there's never another wildfire?
I'm often asked these questions. As you can see, it's a very circular argument. But the solution is always the same. Acknowledgment and awareness. That's the only way to prevent a wildfire. You don't try to mitigate the problem. You don't install millions of outdoor sprinkler systems. It's the same with stampedes. You don't make everyone wear an inflatable life vest.
Fire and fear have a lot in common. They're both 4 letter words that quickly spread. If you wish to prevent that spread... you talk about it. You educate the public and engage in discussion. You explain the nature of the problem. With the stampedes, it's really pretty simple. You can focus all your energy on assessing blame OR you can try to solve the paradox. I prefer the latter.
Of course it's ugly. Of course it's sensitive. Of course it's dangerous.
The most complex questions invariably yield the easiest answers. And that's exactly why you must tell the people. The bigger the problem, the smaller the answer.
During the stampede journey, I've witnessed a lot of alternative narratives unfold. The NFL is a rough and tumble sport. Lots of tackling, trash talking and big hits. But my experience with the NFL has been the exact opposite. Think of a football as "the stampede conversation." They don't wish to tackle the issue and they don't want to talk about it. Why? Because it's too big.
The government likes to exercise control. They like to tell you what to do. Where to go. How to behave. I must be the exception to the rule. You see... the government wants nothing to do with me. That probably means something.
Politicians tend to fare better when they have an established narrative. If you pose a question, it's good to know the answer ahead of time. Skilled politicians are usually good speakers. They rehearse and engage in debate prep. They learn the issues. Some weigh the pros and cons. Others memorize, pivot and deflect. They anticipate and deliver. But they all have one thing in common. They already know the questions. And they already know the answers. But when they don't know either, things quickly take a turn for the worse. The bumbling. The stuttering. The confusion. Appearing a fool is every politician's worst nightmare.
So here's what I am asking of you the reader. Let's start giving the government some nightmares. It's easy.
Just ask your political representatives, "Should people know that legitimate venue emergency evacuation orders do NOT come from cell phones?"
There's only one correct answer. Yes.
Then follow it up with, "So why won't anyone tell people this?"
There are several answers. Plausible deniability is one. Potential litigation is another. The nature of big government precludes it from voluntarily relinquishing ANY authority whatsoever, even if it's for the greater good. And don't dismiss the generational warfare argument either. This may sound atypical, but killing people without conventional weaponry is a big deal.
Let's start shaking things up in the private sector as well.
Here's a question you can ask any industry professional. "I'm sure you have a plan in place for how to deal with a single bomb threat. What if you're not on the receiving end of the threat? What's your plan for a hundred bomb threats? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million?" ...crickets... No such plans exist.
Do I want an informed discussion about all of this? Of course. Am I ever going to get it? Nope. Well actually, that's not entirely true. A complete discussion will come... after a lot of innocent people die.
I'd strongly recommend full disclosure, but in the meantime, here's what I'd be willing to settle for. Just tell fans the bare, minimum truth. You can stick it in a program, put it on a ticket stub or loop it through the public address:
"Mobile devices are capable of receiving and transmitting false information."
"Please be aware... that in the unlikely event of an emergency evacuation, such an order would never originate from your personal cell phone."
The NFL should adhere to the Nike advertising slogan they've embraced over the years. The truth's eventually going to be revealed, so why not just put it out there? It's not as difficult as you'd think. Doing what is morally right sells itself.
JUST DO IT
I must be an oddity. I'm not seeking money. I'm not a vegan, but considering the steaks, a little appreciation would be nice. Perhaps someday a filet. In any case, a burden of this magnitude should not befall any one individual. It would be a breath of fresh air if someone with considerable resources entered the fray. Still, I know what I've signed on for.
The existence of the internet really opened up this whole stampede thing. Nobody knows for sure exactly who knows what, how much they know and what actions are currently under consideration. It has provided me with an unusually powerful platform to air my unique grievances. Since I'm not driven by money, no amount of compensation will alter my demands. My principles outweigh the cash.
Is there anything I would have done differently? Perhaps call more people. But it gets frustrating when people aren't willing to listen to what you have to say. Even more troublesome, when they agree with your assessments but are unwilling to take specific action because its detrimental to their self-interests. Their behavior (action and inaction) comes with unfathomable cost.
I've always figured that my best course of action is to stay the course. Keep methodically grinding away and eventually someone "important" would take notice and embrace the cause. That's why I framed the issue in terms of an "awareness foundation." All it takes is one forward thinker with a conscience.
Most people are familiar with Bob Barker, the former game show host of The Price is Right. He would close every episode with a reminder. "Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered." This had absolutely nothing to do with the game show. It was a moral request based on personal principles and grounded in common sense. That phrase is now etched in the minds of millions.
Anyone has a First Amendment right to follow in the footsteps of Bob Barker. You need not be a Hollywood icon to convey an important message. You could be a dextrous athlete, influential musician, skilled barber, popular bartender. If the words you speak are true and helpful, they will be deemed to have merit. "This is (insert your name here) reminding you that legitimate venue evacuation orders don't come from cell phones."
Regarding the dominipede, I have virtually no faith in the United States government. They cannot shut me up. I'll never remain silent or remove my writings. Even for a millions bucks. Actually, that's not true. I'd probably take the money and still spill my guts. There is no bargaining chip. They ultimately lose. Everyone loses. Freedom of speech is a dangerous weapon. It's basically my way or the highway. The AC/DCelicious highway to hell.
Faced with accusations, blame, incarceration, financial devastation or even the death penalty... I'd do everything all over again without hesitation. This concert started a few years ago. But it never ends. I've placed myself permanently on the stage. And at some point, the curtain call will come.
There's a lot of beauty on this planet, but there's a lot that's revolting. I chalk it all up to balance. The bombs and bullets, the execution chambers, the drug overdoses and tsunamis, the genocides and the torture and the cruelty. It will all come and go. But the dominipede is different. It's the ultimate act of impetuous senselessness. The pivotal moment in time when humanity's technological craving backfired. When we drowned in our unquenchable electronic thirst. When man became machine.
I've often wondered about my legacy. I've come to grips with the notion that in the aftermath of the dominipede, many people will blame me. It's an inescapable hazard of the workplace. After all, my name's all over this shit. I'm face down in the unflushable toilet of waste management. I'm completely vulnerable in the intangible realm of risk assessment. So that's my current location. There is no safe haven. I've exposed myself like a roll of film hurdling into the sunlight. And I do know one thing. The United States government will require a scapegoat. The only protection I have is my speech or the right to remain silent. If anything, the catch-22 remains consistent.
So what's my legacy? Is there an upside to the dominipede, the most bizarre mishap in the history of mankind? Oddly enough, there is. It's the conversations and the questions. It's the conjecture and judgment. It's the ethical and philosophical debate. It's the classroom discussions. It's the back and forth at the dinner table. It's the chitchat at the water cooler. It's the gossip at the beauty salon. It's the screaming and crying. It's the joking and laughter. It's the speculation and disbelief. It's the explanation to a child, the dialogue with an adult. It's the heart-to-heart.
The greatest act of philanthropy is the simple asking of a question. Especially one of extreme moral consequence that has yet to be scrutinized by humanity, sifted through by society. It will always supersede money. Why is that? Because money gets spent. It's fleeting. But a powerful question will eternally linger. It never goes away.
Why didn't we prevent the dominipede?
That will be my legacy. And it's one I can be proud of.
On May 8, 2014, the Houston Texans made the first pick in the NFL draft. They selected University of South Carolina defensive end Jadevon Clowney. Anyone with an active interest knew this information in real-time. It was big news. Now consider the impact of human stampedes. How long do you think it would take for word to spread?
Here's the broader question. What's the end game to all this technological duplicity? The incessant stories of hacking and computer viruses, misrepresentations and lies. Will it only result in shame and embarrassment, fiscal damage and financial ruin? Is that where everything conveniently stops? Or will there be that defining moment when things go to far? When innocent people die.
If the United States government is playing some twisted game of cat and mouse with its telecommunications infrastructure, I believe they are engaging in what could possibly constitute the most criminally negligent act in the history of civilization. The theory of "if strange things start to happen, we'll step in and shut it all down" is essentially grounded in mitigation.
If relying on mitigation, any strategy to combat stampedes would involve an extensive OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop. The loop would require time. With regard to human stampedes, the necessary amount of time would not exist. You do not mitigate an artificially generated stampede. You prevent it. You do not mitigate the dominipede. You prevent it.
Everything I've done (the books, the website, the articles, the letters, the phone calls) has one unifying purpose --- to just convince someone to start telling people the truth. Venue emergency evacuation orders do NOT come from cell phones. Pretty straightforward, isn't it?
I will soon be doubling down in my efforts to enhance awareness. At this point, it's more like quadrupling or quintupling down. In June 2014, I will attempt to speak with every incident commander in the NCAA and the NFL. My primary focus will not be the stampedes. My objective will be simple. I will be encouraging them to relay some form of the following information to their stadium attendees. The knowledge conveyed in either of these messages would be acceptable.
- Legitimate stadium evacuation orders do NOT come from cell phones. (preferred statement)
- Legitimate stadium evacuation orders are delivered over the public address system. The Jumbotron can be also be used to relay important information.
Any such information would include a definitive admission of exactly how an official evacuation order is or isn't delivered. Certain incident commanders are in a dangerous state of denial. They're aware of the protocol discrepancy, but refuse to openly address the matter. Even worse, many have never been briefed on the possibility of a stadium evacuation being undertaken without their knowledge or consent. They simply don't know. Whatever the case, the status quo is unacceptable.
I will post my findings accordingly on the AGSAF website.
* since the last book
Jay-Z, Kanye West, 11-27-11, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Van Halen, 3-30-12, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Queensryche, 3-31-12, Wheeling Island Casino, Wheeling, WV
Marilyn Manson, 5-5-12, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Primus, Gogol Bordello, 5-22-12, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Phish, 6-23-12, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Roger Waters, 7-3-12, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Alice Cooper, 7-15-12, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
My Morning Jacket, 8-12-12, LC Pavilion, Columbus, OH
My Morning Jacket, 8-21-12, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Kiss, Motley Crue, 9-2-12, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Daryl Hall & John Oates, 9-5-12, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Elton John, 9-18-12, Wesbanco Arena, Wheeling, WV
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, 10-9-12, Peterson Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA
The Who, 10-11-12, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, 10-19-12, Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Cary, NC
Bruce Springsteen (acoustic), 10-27-12, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, Pittsburgh, PA
Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band, 10-27-12, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Dark Star Orchestra, 2-12-13, Carnegie Music Hall, Pittsburgh, PA
Eric Clapton, 4-6-13, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Steel Panther, 4-25-13, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Fleetwood Mac, 4-26-13, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Soundgarden, 5-12-13, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
The Black Keys, 5-30-13, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Dave Matthews Band, 5-31-13, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, 6-20-13, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, 6-23-13, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
The Flaming Lips, 7-16-13, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Heart, 7-21-13, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
The Black Crowes, 8-7-13, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Cheap Trick, 8-21-13, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Queens of the Stone Age, 9-14-13, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Pearl Jam, 10-11-13, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Willie Nelson, 10-16-13, Capitol Theatre, Wheeling, WV
Slayer, 11-20-13, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Billy Joel, 2-21-14, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
The Doobie Brothers, 3-26-14, Wesbanco Arena, Wheeling, WV
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, 4-22-14, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Alabama Shakes, 5-8-14, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Bill Maher, 4-14-12, Byham Theater, Pittsburgh, PA
Oddball Comedy Festival, 8-30-13, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Pittsburgh Steelers vs.
Cincinnati Bengals, 12-4-11
St. Louis Rams, 12-24-11
Indianapolis Colts, 8-19-12
Carolina Panthers, 8-30-12
New York Jets, 9-16-12
Washington Redskins, 10-28-12
Kansas City Chiefs, 11-12-12
Baltimore Ravens, 11-18-12
San Diego Chargers, 12-9-12
Cincinnati Bengals, 12-23-12
New York Giants, 8-10-13
Tennessee Titans, 9-8-13
Baltimore Ravens, 10-20-13
Buffalo Bills, 11-10-13
Miami Dolphins, 12-8-13
Cincinnati Bengals, 12-15-13
Cleveland Browns, 12-29-13
Pittsburgh Pirates vs.
Cincinnati Reds, 5-6-12, PNC Park
Arizona Diamondbacks, 8-9-12, PNC Park
Detroit Tigers, 5-30-13, PNC Park
Chicago Cubs, 5-21-13, PNC Park
Cincinnati Reds, 9-20-13, PNC Park
Arizona Diamondbacks, 8-18-13, PNC Park
St. Louis Cardinals, 8-13-13, PNC Park
Toronto Blue Jays, 5-2-14, PNC Park
West Virginia Mountaineers vs.
Texas Christian University, 11-3-12, Mountaineer Field
Maryland, 9-22-12, Mountaineer Field
Kansas, 12-1-12, Mountaineer Field
William & Mary, 8-31-13, Mountaineer Field
Pittsburgh Panthers vs.
New Mexico 9-14-13, Heinz Field
Notre Dame 10-9-13, Heinz Field
Miami, 11-29-13, Heinz Field
NCAA Division I Basketball
West Virginia University vs. Gonzaga, 3-15-12, Consol Energy Center
Ohio State University vs. Loyola, 3-15-12, Consol Energy Center
Pittsburgh Penguins vs.
Chicago Blackhawks, 3-30-14, Consol Energy Center
Ottawa Senators, 4-13-14, Consol Energy Center