Don Hills Memorial Fiasco W.I.P.ped By No More Mr. Nice Guy

Don’t even read this as I’m so frozen and tired and not ready for months of non-global warming. It’s on days like this that I want to call Al Gore personally and tell him to shut the fuck up! How cold is it? I saw a cabby having a conversation with a pedestrian and his middle finger froze. That’s cold and old.  

Yesterday, in my first post in this new year of the Dragon or Mayan or whatever deity you kneel to, I told you my New Year’s Resolution was "No More Mr. Nice Guy." I’m gonna lose some friends in this process, but Facebook says I have 5000 of those and I feel I can afford to lose a few. Since I am not going out and have nothing new to report on, I will rehash this feud surrounding the Don Hill Memorial fiasco. The players are Trigger who runs Continental, Lyle Derek who throws those Dropout parties over at W.I.P. on Tuesdays, and Michael Schmidt who used to run Squeezebox at Don Hills before he moved to the left coast and broke a thousand hearts. Musto over at the Village Voice has done a great job covering this and I’ve said a few words. My last article lambasted Lyle Derek, the target of numerous attacks from Trigger. Lyle and I have talked in person and I told him he screwed up. I do believe his batty-eyed, plead-of-innocence claim that he thought the Don Hills Memorial at Irving Plaza was going to sell out and his little prequel-end run wouldn’t matter. Some people contacted me saying I had sided with Trigger and that is not the case. Trigger was wronger than wrong and I’m here today to make that clear.
 
I have been swamped with terribly long and grammatically challenged e-mails, texts, facebook messages, and calls about this disaster for about 2 weeks now and I am here to tell you: it’s just lame. As far as I can tell from all the bull-poo sent my way, Trigger completely screwed up what should have been a wonderful night. He dominated, changed his word, miscalculated, badly promoted, and showed the world how not to do an event, and then after weeks of laying low, he began to point the finger at everyone else. People I love and trust tell me that the failure of this gala lays at his feet and you can punctuate this sentence anyway you want.
 
Trigger, it is a crime to take on a big challenge like this and fail so badly. It is a bigger crime to blame others for what you created. The captain goes down with the ship and the responsibility. The failure of this event comes from your attitude, which permeated the atmosphere of the production and promotion. Many people involved did so reluctantly or dropped off because of this atmosphere. You claim to be a great friend of Don’s and I do not doubt that, but your behavior was extremely un-Don Hill like.
 
Here is a quote from many that underscores how people involved felt about the event going in. The name has been left out, and not because they could ever feign innocence:
 
Trig sent everyone an e mail saying no one was to do covers as He, (Trigger) was playing covers… again very odd behavior for a promoter, to feature himself instead of, jesse Malin, Bebe Buell, Richard Butler, Dave Johansen, & Manitoba. he’d pissed off EVEYONE by this point. Most had agreed to just fucking play the two songs & forgo any payment after Triggers insane whining.
 
The show didn’t sell because the love wasn’t there. Don Hill was all about love. Your attitude sabotaged the good feelings, the vibe necessary for success in these types of endeavors. This memorial did not have a Don Hills vibe to it. It had a Trigger "5 shots of anything for $10" vibe.
 
Lyle Derek is no innocent. He did an atrocious thing stealing a bit of thunder from Trigger’s imperfect storm, but there is no way that his action throwing a pre-Don Hill event at his Dropout weekly event caused any real damage. You knew before that Tuesday night party that your Thursday affair was not getting traction. You sent out emails discussing lowering of performers’ fees in the event of low turn-out. I spoke to the honchos over at W.I.P. where Lyle had his pre-party. A few hundred of the "I never pay for anything types" attended. Your insistence that this in-crowd could have bailed you out is at best naive.
 
The Don Hill event at Irving Plaza was ill-conceived. Charging a crowd like the Squeezebox crew $35 or the $25 or even $10 is not going to happen. First of all, the Squeezeboxers who would pay would have come early to see many of the acts on the "early" bill. A 1:30am start time for a club event in a venue that has never been club-friendly was an awful idea. Throwing $6,000 at an awful idea is an awful idea. To blame the late-night debacle for your failure to generate buzz about an event that was such an easy sell is ridiculous and callous. I hung out with Lyle the other night and he has moved on; Michael Schmidt and all the players are to be paid later as well. Don Hill too. Time for you.
 
Lyle shouldn’t have done what he did, but you, Trigger, are way out of line blaming him for your own abject failure to generate real interest in an event that could have been so much realer. The vibe wasn’t right, and looking around for a scapegoat and then blaming and indeed threatening a club hustler like Lyle isn’t justified or in any way worthy of a real-deal player. Trigger, you played way out of your league and your continuous attacks only alienate you from the crowd you so seem to want to embrace.
 
Worst of all, you attacked Michael Schmidt, one of the nicest, most honest guys ever to grace our scene. Without knowing who you were talking about, you blasted him with words and phrases that crossed the line into libel. He warned you about his ability to draw late and with pays. He has lived 3,000 miles away for many years and told you he didn’t know how many people he would draw. In your own words:
 
all of Michaels concerns were valid and i knew intuitively that i’d never take in the 6 grand i had invested in the SB part of the night alone,  to honor Don but I had made other such moves for this night like flying Frankie Inglese in to DJ cause Beavher and Soul Kitchen were also such a huge part of Don Hills. There was no palpable return on that financially but it was my intention to make this a night to honor Don in every possible way and to be as inclusive of everyone as possible.
 
You also stated that one of the reasons you went public with these attacks was: "honestly I simply need to vent!"
 
So Trigger, you have vented to Michael Musto, to me, and to everyone who would listen. As each vent came, you sounded more and more like the real reason for your real mess. You didn’t understand that the legacy of Mr. Don Hill was to lead not to bully, to learn not blame, to make better not criticize, to love those who didnt understand how much you need to love. Don wouldn’t have been squealing to the press, pointing fingers, or counting pays on his fingers and his toes. He had many nights fail and many succeed. He took them all in stride. His legacy is too strong to be tarnished by your bad behavior. Buy yourself a mirror and look at it for a long time. Then, apologize to everyone and we will all move on. I can imagine you reading this and saying "Steve, I though you were my friend!" I am, Trigger, thats why I’m telling it to you straight. Don Hill was a man and Trigger, it’s time for you to man-up and, as I said to Al Gore up top … just shut the fuck up.
 
I am DJing Thursday at Hotel Chantelle or I wouldn’t leave the house. Maybe if I were out I’d check out this Caden Manson/ Big Art Opening at Abrons Arts Center Playhouse (466 Grand Street) Thursday night. It figures to be a hot enough crowd to keep me warm. Heather Litter invited me for the performance she is in of Broke House:
 
Broke House is a new group performance from Caden Manson / Big Art Group and follows a narrative about the residents of a house and their hanger-on, once a documentary filmmaker arrives to capture their lives. On a skeletal set webbed with video cameras, the characters try to recall their given roles as inevitably the foundations of their dreams collapse, and they are thrown into the desert of their own futures. Part comedy, part ritual, part love spell.
 
I hope their landlord gives them heat in that Broke House.

Don Hill Benefit: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I was so not going to post this week, but as the great Michael Corleone said in The Godfather: Part III, "Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in." So here we are, and since we are quoting: The line "No good deed goes unpunished" has been "attributed to several luminaries, including Clare Boothe Luce, Billy Wilder, American financier John P. Grier, banker Andrew W. Mellon, and Oscar Wilde." That’s from Wikipedia, the definitive source for everything in the world, unless you’re looking for a missing sock or stuff like that. I know what you are thinking. I should have taken the week off, but this story is so, so juicy couture that I had to let you in on it. Here is a tale of old-school club folk misbehaving.

We talked here about that Don Hills tribute a couple Thursdays ago with David Johansen, Dick Manitoba, and a long list of rock ‘n’ roll hootchie cooers. It was supposed to be a tribute to that loved-by-all great man and club owner. I was to go, but I had to DJ that night and still posted a couple of stories — you know, doing my part, paying respect. Now comes a burst of e-mails that seem to describe the goings-on in a not-so-wonderful, benevolent, or respectful way.
 
Trigger, that guy who owns Continental (that five drinks for $10 joint on the Bowery) sent me a long e-mail last night. The letter complains of his clubland naivete. I hope he hasn’t followed this up by sending a writer something he doesn’t want out there. Now that would be naive. The letter lays out a scenario where he personally flew in people and promoted the Squeezebox reunion as a second half of the Don Hills tribute. Trouble is, that second half had already taken place at Lyle Derick’s W.I.P. regular Tuesday night soirèe called Drop Out. The players there even leaked the appearance of Jane County at W.I.P. days before the party, taking the wind out of the sales that Trigger depended on to recoup the money he had laid out and paid for the tickets and many other real expenses. The Drop Out party was a freebie, while the Don Hills thing needed $10. Very few came to the second part of the Don Hills tribute. I tried to get a straight answer from Lyle last night and he replied as follows via text then e-mail.
 
What’s the beef between you and Trigger?
No beef at all. I respect him all good on my end. I heard tho. I’m sure he has bigger fish to fry
 
I got a thousand words from him saying basically you and Michael duped him into paying for him and Jane etc to play/do a free party at Drop Out on Tuesday and therefore no one went to Don Hills thing for Squeezebox … they took in 460 bucks … the language was not friendly words to the effect of hustled and ripped off etc. he says he lost like 10 grand. I want a statement going to press in am … like how could you book something so similar 2 days before … right now you and Michael are being painted as hustlers or worse.
What’s your e-mail again?
 
Lyle Derick then wrote via email:
 
It is regretful that the "Celebration of Don Hill" was not more successful (financially speaking for Trigger). I have nothing but respect for my elders and peers in nightlife, especially Don who the night was really about and the man that help start Dropout and gave us the chance to do something fun in NY and bring worlds together. Don was a great man, whose presence in nightlife is deeply missed. I wish nothing but success now and in the future for all of my elders and peers in nightlife.
Sincerely,
Lyle Derek
 
Cool and what do u have to say to the accusation that by putting michael and jane at droppout for free on tuesday u defacto sabatoged the thursday event because droppout was free. Did u think the don hills thing was so huge that it didnt matter and it unfortunately didnt turn out that way?
Of course steve, you know me.
 
 
This was the type of thing that used to happen in nightclubs before the bean counters took over with lawyers and accountants in tow. Lyle, eager to ensure his Tuesday Night at W.I.P. maintained momentum, seems to have crossed an ethical line that he will cross when it suits him. Yes Lyle, I do know you and do like you, but this was disgraceful. That line about respecting my elders and peers in nightlife used to work back on a day when your boyish good looks and a little smile would get you out of anything. You don’t have too many "elders" left in nightlife, unless I was paying you when you were four. It won’t work here. I threw you a softball at the end and you threw back "you know me." That really isn’t a good enough answer.
 
Trigger tried to control something a little too big for him to control. Something that he didn’t fully understand. If Michael Schmidt and Jane had only appeared at Irving Plaza I am sure that event would have been better. Nothing can be done now, and Don Hill is still gone. His career was all about his word being good. In this case, trust wasn’t enough. Don represented something that was indeed dishonored by the deed described here. I do know Lyle and Trigger and the players involved, and although Trigger won’t be trading in his trademark "coolie" hat for the hat of a saint anytime soon, and disparaging words about his intentions and his control and a whole mess of other snide, snarky remarks have been laid at my door, in the end he was doing a good deed and he got fucked. Here is his e-mail to me, uncensored:

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Having worked in NYC nightlife for my entire life, post college, I thought I’d seen it all. But what recently happened to me is one for the books, as far as i’m concerned anyway.
 
What Michael Schmidt and Lyle Derek just did to me has me feeling violated. You all know that I booked this event for our Celebration of our dear, deceased, friend Don Hill. When Squeezebox came aboard we were all ecstatic! It was going to be expensive for me because Irving Plaza was adding on 3 grand to the original rent because Michael needed the room from 1-4 am and the original 8 grand rental was only till 1am. Michael also asked me for an additional 3 grand guarantee to pay for Jayne County, Patrick Briggs and himself to be able to fly in and to also pay some performers.
I felt that i’d maybe come close to breaking even with what MIchael was calling the Final Squeezebox. Little did i know that MIchael was hosting a "Pre Party" to my event two days before at DropOut with Miss Guy spinning and Jayne County performing. I wasn’t aware of this till two days before Dropout when Lyle emailed me about it saying "I hope you don’t mind that I’m having Jayne County perform one or two of her non hits and no one’s going to know about it." as if I had a choice. this was two days before his event and 4 days before mine. I brought this up to Michael and he said "That won’t hurt your event at all.We’re all promoting your event Thursday night! I’m even making an appearance at Dropout to promote your event."
 
I never thought of myself as being naive but I have to admit that they really screwed me on this one and for a moment I believed them that it was just a pre party and their real goal was to promote our Squeezebox for Don at my Irving Plaza show. Calling it a "Pre Party" was just a sham. Dropout was THE PARTY!!! They used my money, my Voice Ad (Lyle had the nerve to ask me to say that we were screening his Squeezebox Film all night at my Irving Show). I stupidly agreed to it cause it was all for the cause in my naive mind.
 
In reality I spent 3 grand to fly these guys in to do DropOut where there’s no cover charge and it was wall to wall jammed with all of the same people that would have come to our event had there not been, basically the same event two nights earlier, without all of the rock bands taking up 2/3’s of the night and Dropout was FREE!!!
 
Do the math- i spent 6 grand on Squeezebox to take our event for Don over the top and I took in $460. all because of these selfish, classless pricks.
Irving Plaza asked me if they could close at 2:30 am cause it was a ghost town in there and i said of course they could. who would spend $10 when they could get it for free two nights earlier?
 
You see originally, Michael was understandably worried about my $25 cover charge so I got Irving Plaza to agree to charging just $10 starting at 12:30 for Squeezebox people.I promised MIchael the room by 1am. he got the room at 1:05.  Little did I know that Michael was HOSTING the Dropout night two nights prior to mine and I had actually foolishly had flown him and others in to do it. Lyle said it was gong to be a surprise and not promoted at all but we all know how the internet works and word got out as they knew it would and their event was jam packed and Squeezebox drew just 46 paid people to my event at Irving Plaza!!!!!!!!!!  Lyle even told me he’d email me an invite but he never did cause had i been there and basically seen my night completely submarined financially, spiritually and emotionally I would have flipped out. He never did email me an invite. Smart man.
 
I spent 6 Thousand Dollars to make Squeezebox happen and Michael never had the courtesy to inform me of his other, no cover charge event, with basically the same core of stars as my event. he let me do this without ever telling me about it. it was only when Lyle brought it up a couple of days before Dropout that i heard about this. I rented the extra 3 hours for SB for 3 grand and paid Irving for that in advance and paid Michael his 3 grand for the talent and flights at around 10pm the night of my event having no idea what i was in store for. FORTY SIX PEOPLE PAID!!!
 
These guys sandbagged me and had the nerve to hug me and thank me the night of my event for what I was doing for Don and the Scene while they had already surreptitiously stabbed me in the back.
 
I will recover from this at some point. I will never regain the 11 thousand dollars i lost on this but I did a beautiful thing for a beautiful man and i will take my losses like a mensch and move forward. While it’s true that i’m doing better just running my place as  a local bar rather than a punk rock club, 11 thousand dollars is an awful lot of money to me as it is to most of us.
 
but will these two creeps ever recover from the bad Karma they’ve created for themselves here in manipulating me, double dipping and overall, fucking me over??? I doubt it. maybe people like them get away with lying and cheating their way through life on one level but we all know that What Goes Around Comes Around. These are two very slick, charming, charismatic guys. They’ll probably try to talk their way out of this and act innocent but the facts are the facts. It’ll be something like "You know, everyone has problems with Trigger and blah blah blah." but lets look at what’s real here- I did something pure, from my heart and backed it up with my wallet. Even though i knew i was taking a bath i paid everyone what i was supposed to. Even those two losers.
 
I’m pretty embarrassed by this that i could be taken so easily and be so trusting. it’s not like me. I foolishly thought that we were all on the same page- that this was for our friend Don and there were no hidden agendas. Little did I know.
 
Still in shock and feeling violated…Trigger
 
*here’s just a few of of their pre show "non promotions"  my show for Don Hill was Thursday December 15th. I found out about their "Pre Party" December 11th. I’m an idiot for trusting them and even a bigger idiot for paying Schmidt the 3 grand guarantee to fly him and others in, in reality, to do Dropout.. I naively was expecting a packed house. little did I know that the "Packed House" had already taken place.
 
DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th with DJ Miss Guy at WORK IN PROGRESS …
events.nydailynews.com › … › New York Music Events DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th with DJ Miss Guy at WORK IN PROGRESS in New York – Special guest MICHAEL SCHMIDT hosts a Pre-Party for the Don Hill’s tribute show …
 
DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th with DJ Miss Guy at WORK IN PROGRESS …
events.nydailynews.com › … › New York Music Events DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th with DJ Miss Guy at WORK IN PROGRESS in New York – Special guest MICHAEL SCHMIDT hosts a Pre-Party for the Don Hill’s tribute show …
 
DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th – NYC Calendar | Guest of a Guest guestofaguest.com › Calendar › Dec 2011 Dec 13, 2011 – DROPOUT @ WiP invites you to a very special Tuesday edition with DJ Miss Guy DEC 13TH Special guest MICHAEL SCHMIDT hosts a …
 
DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th – NYC Calendar | Guest of a Guest guestofaguest.com › Calendar › Dec 2011 Dec 13, 2011 – DROPOUT @ WiP invites you to a very special Tuesday edition with DJ Miss Guy DEC 13TH Special guest MICHAEL SCHMIDT hosts a …
 
TONIGHT!!! Don’t… | Facebook
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TONIGHT!!! Don’t miss DropOut Tuesday with DJ Miss Guy, Michael Schmidt, Live Show by Transgendered Jesus and special guest Jayne County. DropOut…
 
DarianDarling – Twitter
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Punk rock icon Jayne County will be making a special appearance w/ Transgendered Jesus TONIGHT at DROPOUT! 34 Vandam 11pm Say my name @ door.
 
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The end, for now …

Possible New Trends in Nightclub Design: Dead Horses

Unusual items come up for auction all the time, but when a dead animal carcass is expected to fetch upwards of six figures, it’s downright weird. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening next week as Christie’s auctions the lovingly preserved remains of Trigger, the equine sidekick of famous 20th century cowboy Roy Rogers. The golden palomino, who died at the age of 30 in 1965, is expected to fetch between $100,000 and $200,000. Trigger’s in fine form, despite being dead for 45 years. Standing 15 hands high — that’s five feet at the shoulder to you city slickers — he maintains a regal presence, rearing up on his hind legs and champing at the bit as if ready to gallop into the midst of a cattle stampede. But who would purchase such an icon of American history?

Someone who expects to make their money back, of course. My suggestion: an owner of one of New York’s poshest nightclubs. Trigger could be a great draw at the Boom Boom Room, Kenmare, or Avenue, where the young, rich, and stylish could pose with him in the VIP area along with the remains of Buttermilk and Trigger Jr., Rogers’ lesser-known steeds, which are also on the block. Far from matching the dark, brooding vibe of most Gotham clubs, Trigger and Co. represent a simpler time, when all Americans worried about was the length of miniskirts on girls, the height of tail fins on cars, and the threat of mutually assured nuclear annihilation with the Soviet Union.

So what do you think, nightlife empresarios? Do you have room in your club for a 75-year-old horse that was more famous in its day than any contemporary human celebrity you could hope to lure past the velvet rope? If so, get your finances in order and show up at Christie’s next Wednesday prepared for a serious bidding war. You’ve got one shot at Trigger before this unique opportunity rides off into the sunset.