Graft, Corruption & Extortion - Rave Music meets Los Angeles Politics

Words by: Sean-Michael Yoder
Posted: 3/4/12 9:30

Graft, Corruption, & Extortion – Rave Music meets Los Angeles PoliticsFirst there was the Burning Man ticket snafu and now the saber rattling of a powerful District Attorney, making powerful accusations not about corruption-as-usual in Los Angeles County but about raves and about how to restrict public access to them. The subterfuge surrounding many popular music events and their production companies seems to be growing in the US and it appears to be as Orwell once warned, bureaucratic. Because it wasn’t force that took down gangster Al Capone, instead he was crushed by garden-variety tax evasion charges. The story according to the LA Weekly writer Dennis Romero casts shades of law enforcement, ahem, overexuberance – classic do-gooder-ism set against the grim business-as-usual politics that often cast a pall on the world’s sixth largest metropolis.

If only law enforcement showed the same kind of zealotry with the Wall Street crowd, what a fair and balanced world this would be. But the fact of the matter is that a greedy political insider acted as mole to help gain illegal sway with both politicians and wealthy, organized rave production companies makes for a much better story when casting the kind of black and white culture villains that catapult dead-from-the-neck-up political upstarts into the walking Rick Santorums that haunt the global community because these lack wits see an opportunity to make EVERYTHING in to a campaign issue. Whether Steve Cooley is such an opportunist is questionable, but his recent statements have caught the attention of more than just your average candy raver.

The back story here isn’t very complex so we’ll spare you the long, painful version: 15 year girl dies at Electric Daisy Carnival, a festival that rivals the very well respected, mostly rich white kid attended Coachella Festival in size and vision and there is political backlash as the community begins to ask questions about this young girl’s death.

The questions got asked, in our opinion, for two reasons: a crowd of 200,000 gathered in Southern California isn’t exclusively rich white kids and the venue – the publicly-owned Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – won’t be found in a nice neighborhood like say Topanga or Pasadena and real estate is all about location, location, location.

According to the recent indictments of rave promoters Reza Gerami and Pasquale Rotella along with Coliseum Events Manager colluded with each other to provide easy access to the low rent Coliseum, devoid of a professional sports team since the Los Angeles Raiders moved out of the venue in the Nineties and sitting mostly empty action as a giant public funds cash suck. It is typical big city chicanery to take less-than-desirable property and gentrify it to death by putting on huge events at illegally set prices because of an inside man, in this case DeStefano’s alleged status a political mole who was able to cut backroom deals with various City Council members via the classic triumvirate of bribe, graft, and extortion. What these three irresponsible parties did is wrong if the D.A.’s indictment is proven in court through testimony and evidence, the proper legal channels and they should most likely serve jail time.

But the District Attorney Cooley’s wide sweeping indictment of the rave scene as a political tool and opportunity to taint the potential jury pool is the kind of will-of-the-people counterintelligence happening at the governmental level all over the United States and as easy as it is to dismiss cynically as more of the same bureaucratic rhetoric that has poisoned the American political process to the point of paralysis. But this one issue IS important if you happen to care about electronic dance music in this country, because as preposterous as Criminal Justice was in the UK, it happened. That means it can happen anywhere especially in such a tumultuous present. Cooley’s words are culture war talk and that can have lasting affects on the climate of electronic dance music and other genres of music for years to come. Sadly, this is the new norm in American life and like so many other music related stories we’ve covered, the ending will probably not be a happy one.


“D.A. tries to tie the Coliseum Corruption case to rave culture's illicit history in bail document regarding Reza Gerami and Pasquale Rotella.” – Dennis Romero (LA Weekly)

"In the past, electronic music concerts, also known as raves, were generally conducted illegally, without permits and with rampant drug use. More recently their promoters have managed to bring the events to conventional venues but have faced resistance from... the public due to continued drug use and other safety issues. The best way to overcome such resistance is always the use of an inside man. In 2008, DeStefano, Gerami and Pasquale Rotella agreed that the two promoters would pay DeStefano personally and in exchange he would use his official position to provide them access to the Coliseum and low rates." – (Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley)


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