Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SXSW at Kenny Dorham's Backyard....culture and commerce can mix

got some stuff to say. please read me.
we are tired. we need a couple of days to rest. will be difficult to contact us by phone, but here and email works.

The marriage of culture and commerce is possible. But, you gotta want to find out how it can work. You have to want to do it.

Proud of our work!
As community members (East Austin), a parent (Harold McMillan), as a CULTURAL ARTS producer/venue ( Kenny Dorham's Back Yard, and DiverseArts), as the most prolific and diverse producing/presenting organization in the East Austin Cultural Heritage District/East End IBIZ District, this weekend we proved that the annual onslaught of BIG MUSIC BUSINESS chaos into our community does not mean that successful, socially/culturally conscious, community-based events cannot be well-produced and attended for the benefit of like-minded tourist folks and neighbors.

I am proud because this SXSW-season DiverseArts/ Kenny Dorham's Backyard came closest to what I envision we want to do amongst and in the middle of SXSW week in Austin.

Our partnerships with https://www.facebook.com/ArtCultureActivism and https://www.facebook.com/chickenranchrecords created the kinds of events that speak most directly to the mission of DiverseArts and what I envision as our responsibility to our local and global community.

http://diversearts.org/content/sol-collective-presents-listen-global-act-local-sxsw-unofficial and http://diversearts.org/content/mad-tiger-fest-2014-sxsw-unofficial-party filled our venue with World Groove, dance, live painting, garden planting, Native American, Jazz, Soul, Funk, Rock, American Roots/folk, Hip-hop, CRAZY, Caribbean music and appreciative and respectful FAMILIES. This is who we are, this is what we do.

Our shows on Friday and Sunday were attended by a multi-ethnic/multicultural community of FAMILIES—old folks, toddlers, teens, t'weens, and parents. Our stage featured high-school musicians, old masters, mid-career pros, and successful touring stars. And, the kids in the audience had run of the Backyard, had toys to play with, and free books to take home with them.

Our patrons did not pee in anyone's front yard, they didn't get drunk in public, they didn't throw trash on East 11th Street and Juniper St. As customers, they said "please and thank you." And they didn't park in front of my neighbors houses and sleep in their cars.

Believe it our not, even in the midst of all of the craziness of big-business SXSW-week activities in Austin, it is possible to do socially/culturally/artistically conscious events, respect your neighborhood, and connect with the local music community and folks who actually live here....and folks from all over the world who share your world view.

This, I believe, is possible (and I think we've proved it). It is/can be commercially viable.

You just gotta WANT to address these goals in such a way that you still can pay your bills for the show.

And, for this, I commend Sol Collective and Chicken Ranch Records/Peelander-Z for having shared vision and commitment. DiverseArts is proud to be in such good company.

Sol Collective a Center for Art, Culture & Activism.
Community Organization: 8,531 like this

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thanks for all of your support, friends!



On April 5, I was arrested by Houston Cops…at Houston Memorial Hermann Hospital

(this photo was taken on the 4th day after the incident. It was much worse when it happened on Thursday April 5)

I now have a criminal case to defend in the Houston Courts......"hindering an official in the performance of their duties" or some such charge.

As much as I'd rather be raising money to support my organization's cultural work, I now will need to attempt to raise funds to support legal expenses. If you want to help (and I do need help), respond below or go to the page on Face Book for information.



I cannot/should not speak on the specifics of the case until it is resolved.

For the most part, these blog entries were just sent to my friends and professional connections, but they have also been picked up by some in the media.

If you are with a media organization, please direct questions to my lawyer. (justiceforharold@gmail.com).

If you are a friend, you know how to contact me, should you need to.

I do check here for responses if you don't have my email address and phone number.

Thanks for all of the support you've shown.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On April 5, I was brutilized and falsely arrested by Houston Cops…at Houston Memorial Herman Hospital


On April 5, I was brutilized and falsely arrested by Houston Cops…at Houston Memorial Herman Hospital


(this photo was taked on the 4th day after the incident. It was much worse when it happened on Thurday)

Here’s the background story. I’m grateful for the support I have been shown, but, honestly, it makes me feel bad every time I tell the story. Emotional trauma is a real thing. It’s easier just to have you read this.


My brother died of a massive heart attack a couple of weeks ago in Houston at Memorial Herman Hospital. When the funeral home picked up his remains, the hospital failed to send his personal belongings with the body. After having time to bury him and spend time with family up north in Emory, it was my task to go to Houston to retrieve his stuff...my sister is in Dallas, I'm closer.


On Wednesday (April  4) of last week, I spoke via phone to the appropriate folks at the hospital to arrange to pick up his stuff. They were to leave the necessary documentation with the security station, next to the emergency room. Simple. I'm supposed to show up at anytime. They are supposed to pass on the appropriate paperwork to security. I should be able to pick up his stuff and leave in a manner of minutes.


I get held up in traffic and get there after 5pm (April 5). However, I've been told "any time, 24 hours a day," is good. Security office is open around the clock.


I get there to the security window....they can't find his stuff at first. After verifying a lot of information for them to check, they find it. Then they tell me they can't give it to me. I ask if they got the paperwork from "Jessica's" office. They did not. They can't give it to me.


I say that this should be easy to resolve. We just need to get the information from Jessica's office.

Jessica is no longer at work.


I ask to speak to a supervisor.

I get the security (I assume) supervisor. He is not badged or in a uniform. White shirt and tie. From the start his attitude is disagreeable...he seems pissed at me for asking to speak to him. I explain the situation to him and tell him I'm sure this is easily resolved. If he can't help me, surely there has to be an administrative manager who has purview over the "guest relations" office. Even if they are closed, she/he might be able to go to the appropriate desk and look for my paperwork....god knows, she might even be able to call Jessica's cell number and clear this up for us.


He calls said admin supervisor. She's busy but might be able to come down shortly. I say thank you and get ready to wait for her to come down and clear this up.


But....he starts back in on me. The attitude is kinda "how dare you come here and ask to see a supervisor. That office is closed, I don't care if you just drove from Austin, nor do I really care if your brother just a few days ago died 50 feet from here. You could be anyone....maybe the family is fighting over his belongings and your are not the one who should be picking them up (he actually said that last thing)."


I'm still doing ok at that point, composure-wise. I take a deep breath, I assure him that at this point he is not the person who can resolve this, and the administrator will clear this up for us. No problem. I'll wait. I tell him I realize he has done all he can do.


Amazingly enough, he starts back denigrating ME. Really bad level professionalism and attitude. I tell him it is really a breakdown in their system. Jessica's office was to have sent him/security the appropriate paperwork or we would not be discussing this at this point. However, not to worry, I'm sure the admin supervisor could take care of the situation and solve the problem. I told him there was no need for me to argue with him about it. I'm happy to talk to the admin supervisor when she came down. I assured him that I understand how organizations work and that this could be logically solved.


He went at me again about MY attitude. I took another deep breath, and said again that I know how this system SHOULD work. There was no need for me to argue with him. He could not help me anymore at this point. He admonished me about my bad attitude again (this is all through a security window. I'm in the hallway; he's behind the security glass). Finally, I'm feed up with him not doing his job nor being helpful and I say, "please just let me speak with the administrator."


He turns around and says something I can't hear to someone. I can't see whom he's talking to. Apparently, he's told his cop to arrest me....at least that is what seems to be the case.


Next thing I know the office door opens up and the big tall HPD guy is in the hall with me. He says, "we need to talk to you back here." I ask, why do you need to talk to me back there? He simply repeats. We do this a couple of times. I tell him I prefer to be in the hallway in front of these cameras if you can't tell me why you want to talk to me "back there." I've done nothing wrong. Why do you need to talk to me back there in the office?


After I ask again "why do you need to talk to me back there, rather than here in the hallway in front of these cameras"......he is quickly behind me, has my arms to my back and I'm off the floor and being lifted to the door. I ask him if his audio recorder is on. He says NO. I tell him I have one on my phone (still in my hand). I try to thumb to the right screen on my phone to start recording....he shakes it out of my hand and it goes across the floor. He pushes me through the door (I think I was likely still airborne). He has control of my body (I weight 125lbs) and ironically, enough he starts to say, over and over, "stop resisting."


Next thing I know he has slammed me to the floor, mashed my face into the floor, put his knee in my back, and brought my left wrist behind me and pulled it so hard that it was up my back to my neck....all the time repeating " stop resisting." Then the right arm, same. The handcuffs. There.


After that, we had some time to talk about it all.

I asked if I was being arrested.


I asked what the charge was....the security supervisor told me it was for my attitude and language.


I told him it was not against the law to swear (which I did do ONE time in a half hour conversation. I asked the cop again....he said he'd tell me later.


I said, if I'm being arrested, don't you need to tell me the charges, explain them and Mirandize me?

He said, "I don't need to do that, I don't want to ask you anything, I don't need to."


He went into his office, closed the door and made some phone calls. When he emerged, I asked him if he was really arresting me. I'd done nothing wrong. He said he has spoken to the prosecutor's office and I'm being arrested for "hindering an official in the blah blah of their duties."


I told him I didn't understand that, and asked him to explain it to me. He said, he did not have to explain it to me; they would do that downtown when I got booked.


At that point, I got to look in a mirror and see the damage he had done to my face. Mind you, I am IN a hospital, just down the hall from the emergency room. They would not allow me to see a doctor. Said I could see a doctor when I got downtown to be booked.


After being banged up and handcuffed, I sat with these guys for an hour or more. We talked. I told them something of who I am, explained that the whole situation seemed surreal and I could not believe how I had been treated; and once again said that the problem with my brother's belongings could be resolved as soon as the admin supervisor arrived. I told them I understand how large organizations work and I was simply doing what I'm sure their protocol calls for....if you are not satisfied with the customer service you are receiving at one level, you have a right to seek resolve at the next level of supervision. I asked if they could understand how this might be frustrating and flustering to me, given that my brother had just a few days before died right down this very hallway. I told them that I am actually a calm, logical person and I was only seeking to problem solve a fixable situation. I even apologized---sincerely--- for my being upset.


I asked if they felt their judgment here is right. They told me they felt good about what they had done and they confirmed that, yes indeed, I was getting arrested and going to jail.


The supervisor started lecturing me again. He explained that they did not know me (regardless of who I say I am). He makes a comment about how I am dressed (shorts and t-shirt, cap). He says that, just looking at me, how could they know anything about me.  He says maybe I am dressed that way because I am on my day off or whatever, but "look at you."


He says some thing like, "just look at me (referring to himself)." He points out that he wears a white shirt and tie. Then, and I couldn't believe he actually said this, he tells me that if I would have been wearing a suit or shirt and tie, this situation probably would have turned out differently.


The administrative supervisor finally shows up. She had begun to work on resolving the situation. I ask the security guy, "now that she is here, can't we go ahead and resolve this situation so I can be on my way?"


The response: "You can't talk to her, she can't talk to you. You are under arrest."


I was transported to the Houston City jail somewhere around 8:30pm on Thursday, I think. I spent the night there. I was finally able to reach my sister around 5am Friday and she began efforts to try to get me released on bail. Later in the day Friday, I was transported to the Harris County jail. I saw a judge sometime after 6pm, was informed that bail had been posted for me. I was finally released sometime after 9pm (April 6).


I never saw a doctor throughout the whole process. I would ask. They would tell me I could come to the clinic after the next part of the process. Never happened.


That's the story of my adventure in Houston.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Need a venue for your SXSW Event? Kenny Dorham's Backyard has avails

Kenny Dorham's Backyard has possible openings for day-parties and private/public showcases for SXSW. Spacious outdoor venue, central east location, easy access. Reasonable rates. Drop a line here if interested.

Harold McMIllan <director@diversearts.org>


Monday, January 16, 2012

SXSW day-party and showcase slots avail at Kenny Dorham's Backyard

Kenny Dorham's Backyard has possible openings for day-parties and private/public showcases for SXSW. Spacious outdoor venue, central east location, easy access. Drop a line here if interested.


If it's Monday

If it's Monday (and it is), it's the Blue Monday Blues Jam at the Victory Grill. Doors/signup at 8:30 on, East Side Blues Syndicate at 9pm. Join us, bring your axe. $3 cover


Monday, January 9, 2012

If it's Monday, it's gotta be Blue Monday Jam at the Victory Grill

Come join us tonight at the Historic Victory Grill for the weekly Blue Monday Blues Jam.

Doors and sign-up begins at 8:30pm.

East Side Blues Syndicate starts the music at 9:00pm.

Special guests tonight, so come sign up early.

Hope to see you!!