PROMOTER SAYS CITY’S DEMANDS WEAKENED ZOMBIE WALK, LEFT HIM 40K IN DEBTBy Dave Wielenga
Zombie Walk creator and promoter Logan Crow says that nine months of dealing with the ever-changing demands, ever-multiplying permits and ever-increasing fees and costs imposed by the City of Long Beach’s Bureau of Special Events ultimately produced a dissatisfying event that fell short aesthetically, was often confusing, excluded north Pine Avenue businesses and left him $40,000 in debt.
“Oh, and I just got a bill from the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA)—I’m being charged for cleanup,” Crow added, referring to the venerable association of downtown businesses, which is funded by mandatory dues included in the cost of their business licenses and a subsidy from the City of Long Beach.
A few minutes later, after charging that the DLBA didn’t support the Zombie Walk—[update 11/04/11 @ 3:43 p.m.: Crow contacted GreaterLongBeach.com today to amend that charge, noting that DLBA gave the Zombie Walk $5,000 toward City costs]—-Crow posed some questions: “Why isn’t that organization, whose responsibility is supposed to be the well-being of businesses on Pine Ave.—why didn’t they step up earlier? And when they did step up, why didn’t they step up higher? And why did they send me a bill three days after the event to clean up, after all their businesses are reporting incredible numbers from that night?”
Crow made his comments Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 2) at his office on north Pine Ave. during an interview with GreaterLongBeach.com that was presented in its entirety Thursday night on Greater Long Beach Radio with Dave Wielenga. The the hour-long program goes live at 7 p.m. on KBEACH.org, the online radio station at Cal State Long Beach, and will be available 24 hours a day or by podcast beginning Friday. Recordings of all Greater Long Beach Radio shows is available here.
Reaction has been generally positive to the Zombie Walk’s debut downtown, where the event was moved when it outgrew its birthplace on 4th Street’s Retro Row after just three years. Saturday’s crowds were huge—estimates have ranged as high as 10,000—and despite grotesque costumes, very well behaved. Restaurants and bars along the southern blocks of Pine Ave. reported good business.
Zombie Walk IV also represented a major step up for Crow, a film aficionado, comic-book kook and general patron of pop culture, who had built a nice reputation over the past few years by presenting a series of small events though his not-for-profit Long Beach Cinematheque. With the Zombie Walk, he proved he can promote large-scale events.
But four days after throwing the biggest Halloween party in Long Beach history, Crow didn’t appear especially thrilled. Although he came to the office Wednesday, at 2:30 in the afternoon he was sacked out napping on the couch. In itself, that isn’t so strange—Crow worked a vast majority of the past nine months on the Zombie Walk. But he sounded something different than exhausted.
“I feel very conflicted,” he said. “I’m proud of the turnout, but at the same time I never doubted the turnout. It’s math. We went from couple hundred people to 600 to just shy of 3,000 during three years on 4th Street with nothing like the marketing we did this year.
“So it was awesome we had so many people. But the circumstances behind the scenes were really painful.”
According to Crow, most of those circumstances emanated from David Ashman, manager of the city’s Bureau of Special Events and Filming, whose presentation of requirements and changes continued until three days before the Zombie Walk—and included its brief cancellation 10 days before. Nearly all of Ashman’s requirements were presented in the name of safety, said Crow, including one that demanded the printing of 10,000 copies of a list of Pine Ave. businesses, ostensibly so people leaving the after-party would know there were food-and-drink establishments nearby … instead of, say, foraging in residents’ front lawns or eating their pets.
“We had a vision for what we wanted to do,” Crow said, “and it just got … massaged …left and right. I don’t know any other word for it—many people are saying ‘sabotaged.” I’m not using that word because I don’t know.
“What I do know is that when you put a giant barricade on 5th St., supposedly to alleviate some line of ravenous, freakish, bloodthirsty Long Beach residents who are going to tear through Pine Ave. to make their way to the Press-Telegram building, and then you set up an additional barricade there because, god forbid, they should hop over the fence, claw and make a nightmare, something is wrong with that.
“And then there was lack of consideration that every new regulation cost us money. Every new thing that was thrown our way cost us money. And it was just handed out like candy: ‘And you need this, and you need that, and you need this.’”
Looking back, Crow said that the question he asks himself is why he acquiesced to all the requests from the Bureau of Special Events for so long—until calling the offices of council members Robert Garcia and Suja Lowenthal when the event was temporarily cancelled—with little protest.
“All I can say is I was new to this and defending an event that I knew would be good for downtown,” Crow said. “When they—the experts–say, ‘Logan you need to do this;” yes sir! ‘Logan, you need to consider this;’ yes sir! ‘Logan, we are concerned about this.’
“And again, I was so wanting the event to happen and terrified at every turn that it was going to be cancelled—which at one point, it was…which was ridiculous—the more I didn’t stop and pay attention. But I’m not happy with the way I was treated over the past year … at all.”