May 24, 2014

#84: Playing Monopoly

Naming Bill, Ethan, Mason & Jacob
+ Text Version of the Stories
Fraud is the daughter of greed. -Jonathan Gash

Last Fall I released a very powerful Audio Exposé called The Monopoly . It contains three large and in-depth stories of my time and interactions with people of various statures in the West Coast Swing competitive community.

The first story is about a well-played game of chess for the US Open teaching slots from the early 2000's.

The second is the bulk of the recording, a detailed description of a major WCS monopoly - one which created incredibly large changes in both the local community, and the global community too. WCS died in their kitchen.

And finally, there is the story of an event director and the silly promises they made - none of which are even possible today.

As I say in original piece, I had been wanting to share these stories with you for a long time, but couldn't quite figure out how exactly to do it - especially in Note formats. But this week I am going to give you a special treat...

Gone are Bill, Ethan and Mason... in are Jack, Ben and Doug. Oh, what tangled webs they've weaved. How many have struggled upon their webs - wriggled and woven in, the death of West Coast Swing in its very birthplace lies quite squarely in each of their arms.

May this Note give you freedom... may this Note grant you peace... may this Note break the power of their spell.

Read on...


Excerpt from the Audio Exposé The Monopoly,
by Katherine Eastvold on YouTube. (Full version only in Audio)


My style of speaking is very different from my style of writing! This is the loose translation of my "spoken word," and it was all improvised - done without any notes at all. So please forgive the relaxed flavor of the text and most especially, the rough edges! Thank You!

"...This is the story of four men and a city.

Let's start with Bill (Jack Smith). Jack is a DJ and has been a DJ for a long, long time. He has been teaching for a long time. Ethan (Ben Morris) was a Lindy hopper as was both Mason (Doug Silton) and Jacob (Pete Green). They are also Lindy hoppers as well.

Bill, Ethan, Mason and Jacob, (really Jack, Ben, Doug and Pete) - none of them are the same age. Some of them are similar in age but most them aren't. This is the story of Jack and how he trusted his friends and these friends were actually just keeping him close so that they could get things from him and in the meantime build up their own businesses.

So I'll go ahead and start with Doug Silton. Doug is my embarrassing story, to be honest. This is something I'm not happy about because I see what it did in the long run. I just wasn't aware at the time - I was very... I don't know if I can say immature..? I was very... naive. Oh, I was so, so naive.

Everyone back then will tell you I was naive. I just believed in everyone and everyone believed in me, etc etc. Anyway, I was the good girl. You can ask them all - I was one leading the Bible studies and everything. So anyway, let's just say that the community had just started to change in this city (Long Beach, Orange County & LA basin), and all of a sudden Doug came you in from another part America.

And Doug came in as a Lindy hopper - you know - I thought he was just testing out the West Coast Swing waters like, coming to see West Coast Swing. And I had actually heard already, even though I didn't have super great ties to the lindy community, but I already heard that they were pissed at this guy Doug, because he came into town, took a workshop with a lindy couple and then taught workshop - the next night!

The same pattern he had just learned- he taught it the next day. And everyone knew it! The lindy community is that tight knit that they knew- there's a new guy in town - and if he takes a group lesson with you he will teach it elsewhere in town...

Which, let's go ahead and admit it, that's not necessarily illegal, you know, not in the United States. But! in a community that has partner dancing- everything is built on trust. You have to trust the people that you dance with, because you have to dance with each other.

You have to live with each other. You are a community. We get closer together than most people. You know, if people are in hobbies and they do things like knitting... they're not holding each other's hands and they're not driving for hours and hours on end to a convention or to a workshop or to a good place to dance that you've heard about.

So, anyway, I went ahead and this guy befriended me, this guy Doug befriended me, and I actually - um - did him the favor of kind of talking about everything that I knew! I knew so, so much and he played it really, really well. He just played dumb and he wanted to know and since I didn't think he was seriously starting in West Coast Swing - I knew he was a lindy hopper - I just shared stuff.

I shared everything that I knew and as you are finding out, or you already knew, I... I know a lot. I know a lot of people. I wasn't aware of just how much I knew or how many people I was friends with at the time, but mostly I only knew how much of it was supposed to be kept quiet.

One time we did a really, really long car drive, just the two of us, to an event. It was around six or eight hours all together. And during that time, I just said a ton of things... I gave him history and everything - everything! And I thought I was also warning Doug - like "watch out - these people will bite you and these people won't," and on and on and on. I'd go on and on and share so many things as time went on.

But as time went on in the relationship, too, I'd started noticing some things. For example he would buy a cell phone and then all of a sudden, on social networks, he would say, "I have a cell phone to sell..." whether it was on or whatever we the WCS community would be using at the time.

He'd say, "I have such and such to sell for 150 bucks," and I'd stop and say, "I thought you just bought that?" And Doug would say, "Oh no- I get insurance on it, then I report it stolen, and then I sell the second new cell phone." And I would think, "well, isn't that... wrong?"

It was fraud. Straight up. It was fraud!

Anyhow, he'd always file insurance and then he'd always sell it to another dancer for 150 bucks so that he could get, you know, "his money's worth." He always said very clearly: "that's what it's for," 'it' being the insurance. It was totally fraudulent activity and he did that with so many other things. (Oh, the stories I could tell!)

I remember when I started my studio. Since I thought Doug's business had picked up so quickly in what I thought was lindy hop, I was like "let' s go to lunch and I'll totally find out business things from you. I want to pick your brain about doing a business."

And he said "great" and picked out this place where it was a hundred bucks for lunch. We sat down and I said, "So! I'd like to know, first, how to get started on a business license," (pre-Google days, of course), and things like that. And Doug suddenly turned totally white and said, "uh oh."


Doug replied...

"Well, it's all off the books. I don't report any of it. I don't have a business license... I do this- I do that or this..." And he completely shared with me how he has all this money hidden from the government! I remember... it was just... wow.

I remember being shocked and thinking, "what the heck am I paying a hundred bucks for?" I mean, he gave me a lot of tips on how to do things illegally and unethically, but pretty much it was a huge, huge!waste of my money and my time and honestly - a relationship investment.

So that's a little bit on my story of Doug. The reason I brought up Doug is because he's also friends with Ben and Pete. Doug would still call me when I had the studio. He would still call and ask for advice.

Looking back on history, I realized that he had really used all the information I gave him to kind of crack the system and really make a lot of money off of it and, well, he just had some great angles that I provided him with, you know? But he had some friends - Ben and Pete that also came along and...

And they all kind of moved into the West Coast Swing side of things. The worst part was I mean Doug was a little bit more covert about it. He was more outlandish in some ways, but made more of a sleazy transition into West Coast Swing. I don't even know how to really say it all, because I soon went off and started my studio and did my thing.

So Ben Morris came in. (Moved into Southern California/ Orange County) I first met Ben somewhere else in another part of the United States and - like I said, he's a lindy dancer, so my very first memory of Ben is - we were dancing - it was a late night bar in the heart of New York City, New York..." Click here to hear the rest! 

And that is all for now my friends - you can listen to the ENTIRE story, along with the two other stories I mention, at the public and free video below from last Fall - I hope you get a whole lot more out of it now that everybody knows the names!



ps - If you liked this history, you'll love this one even more: The History of SwingDiego! Again, a must for every WCS lover both here and abroad. "Be in the know." Always.

From Weekly Note #84: Playing Monopoly released in February 2014. Revised and updated. Please note that this text is only a portion of the audio expose - the full version is available on audio only. As always, these are all of my personal experiences and opinions.