[Plura-list] Spike Lee made a David Byrne concert movie; Board unilaterally sells Mountain Equipment "Co-op" to US private equity

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Wed Sep 16 12:17:54 EDT 2020

Today's links

* Spike Lee made a David Byrne concert movie: Stop Making American Utopia.

* Board unilaterally sells Mountain Equipment "Co-op" to US private
equity: This is why we can't have nice things, ever.

* This day in history: 2005, 2010, 2015, 2019

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing
projects, current reading


🍯 Spike Lee made a David Byrne concert movie

Without question, the greatest concert movie of all time is STOP MAKING
SENSE, Jonathan Demme's 1984 film based on Talking Heads's four-night
engagement at LA's Pantages theater while touring Speaking in Tongues.

Not coincidentally, the greatest rock show I saw in the 2010s was David
Byrne's AMERICAN UTOPIA (I even got to see David backstage!). It built
on the incredible choreography of the LOVE THIS GIANT tour (where they
got the brass to do marching band choreography).

On top of that, his designers built a fantastic, eerie, easy-to-strike
set reminiscent in some ways of the STOP MAKING SENSE tour - watching
the hands strike that set after the show in San Jose was incredible - 15

Now here's the incredible news: *Spike Lee made a movie out of American
Utopia*'s Broadway run, debuting on HBO Max on Oct 17:






🍯 Board unilaterally sells Mountain Equipment "Co-op" to US private equity

It's hard to find Canadians who dislike Mountain Equipment Co-Op, the
venerable, beloved co-operative outdoor store modeled on REI. Millions
of us have paid $5 to join the co-op and make it our first port of all
for outdoor gear.

It's being sold to a rapacious American Private Equity fund.

No. Really.

It's a sordid and disgusting tale.

About a decade ago, the board started to favour members who had
operational experience over traditional board members - drawn from the
co-ops rank and file.


They rammed through by-law changes in '13 that let them:

a) Disqualify potential board candidates from nomination; and

b) Recommend slates of candidates to the membership

This kicked off a spiral of ever-more-rigged elections that changed the
co-op's fundamental character.

Board seats started going to people whose experience was in the C-suites
of major for-profit corporations; while the executive ranks were filled
with merchandisers from failed electronics stores who filled the co-op
stores with stupid gadgets.

The co-op underwent disastrous expansion under this new regime, and
began to lose money - $23.5m in losses on $462m in sales in 2018/19.

The board ignored members and founders who called on it to return to
selling good outdoor gear at good prices:


And then, in a stroke of absolute malfeasance, they voted to sell the
co-op to a US private equity firm called Kingswood Capital Management.


As a reminder, here's the private equity playbook: buy beloved
companies, load them with debt, reduce the quality of their products,
liquide their pension funds, collect gigantic "management fees" and walk
away, leaving behind wreckage and sorrow.

MEC's board undertook this decision without putting it to the co-op
membership - you know, the actual owners of MEC - who could have rescued
the co-op with a modest $5-10 fee per member.

It's not clear what will become of the proceeds of the sale (the co-op
owns $372m in assets) - I wouldn't be surprised if the board and C-suite
of the co-op found a way to take the lion's share in "consulting fees"
and similar grifts.

I have served as a board member on a Canadian co-op. This is absolutely
illegitimate, reckless conduct and I hope the board is sued over it. I
think they acted illegally.

Co-op members have started a petition - which has attracted 30,000
signatures in mere days. I signed it.



🍯 This day in history

#15yrsago Finnish Culture Minister: citizens concerned about copyright
are "terrorists"

#10yrsago Official BBC DIY Dalek blueprints

#10yrsago Dark Patterns: sneaky web tricks of scam artists and dirtbags

#10yrsago Blu-Ray falls: HDCP key crack confirmed

#10yrsago Multinational record industry shill calls Canada's new
copyright bill "a license to steal"

#5yrsago America's mass incarceration of black people: the most
important essay you'll read today

#5yrsago Notorious Islamophobic mayor of Irving, TX worried Ahmed
Mohamed's arrest will negatively impact town police

#5yrsago Han Solo in Carbonite Pop Tarts

#5yrsago For the first time ever, a judge has invalidated a secret
Patriot Act warrant

#5yrsago Kilton Library's Tor node is back online

#5yrsago Making while brown: Texas schoolchild arrested for bringing
homemade clock to school

#1yrago Tolkien's Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is probably a misogynist
satire of women's rights campaigner Victoria Sackville-West


🍯 Colophon

Today's top sources: Kottke (https://kottke.org), Naked Capitalism

Currently writing: My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel
about truth and reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 503 words (61542

Currently reading: Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

Latest podcast: IP https://craphound.com/podcast/2020/09/14/ip/

Upcoming appearances:

* Keynote for Law Via the Internet conference, Sept 22,

* DWeb Meetup — If Big Tech Is Toxic, How Do We Build Something Better?
Sept 22,

* Writing into an Uncertain Future, Afterwords Festival, Oct 1,

Latest book:

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

Upcoming books:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

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*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla* -Joey "Accordion Guy"

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