Sunday, January 09, 2005

AND I THINK I CAN EXPLAIN THAT...: The total balls-up where Fairfield Warde high school tried to honor old boy John Mayer, only for him to be frogrmarched off the premises as a "security" threat has become a running sore for headteacher James Coyne. And he's attempted to explain exactly what went wrong with, um, limited success:

"I guess I'm disappointed with the attention it's been given," Coyne said Monday. "A complete explanation wasn't provided in the news stories. The one thing that didn't come out is we very much wanted to honor John, but we wanted it to be in an atmosphere appropriate for the students and safe for everyone concerned. We have a great deal of respect for what he accomplished and think he has a positive message for the kids. He had a dream and he followed it."

That's right, dammit - it's so disappointing when the media latch onto something like a school bundling its honoured old boy out the back door and into a carpark from an event designed to praise his success.

Coyne says that the problem was that Mayer only accepted the invite two days before the event and " that did not allow enough time to hire security and police officers to keep excited fans at bay, [Hall of Fame Committee Chairman James] Conley said.

Anyone who's ever seen the Yellow Pages for that area will acknowledge that it could take days, maybe even weeks to search the listings for 'security' - and you can just picture the number of excited fans we're talking about here, who'd be making their way out to Fairfield to see John Mayer.

"I'm sorry it happened," Conley added. "I'm not apologizing for anything, because we did our part. He just didn't give us any time. You have to have security when someone of his stature is around. What do you see when you go to a concert? Men in front of the stage with shirts that say 'security.' All we had was me, and I'm 68-years-old."

Well... yes, it's true at gigs you do often see men with tshirts that read "security" - that would be at a gig, mind. This was a school event where only students and teachers and a few family members were gathering. It was hardly likely to be Altamont.

Conley said he was standing near [Fellow inductee JJ] Henry's baby, who was fast asleep in a carriage.
"That could have been a disaster," he said. "'Having John Mayer there ... with no security?'"

We don't know for certain, but we suspect that Battleship Potemkin may have made a deep psychological impact on Mr. Conley. People - babies - excitement? You don't even need the Odessa steps to see how all that could end up.

We're actually not sure how Henry and the other inductees must be feeling about all this, to be honest: the message seems to have been that the school decided they were so obscure they needed no protection from braying crowds at all.

Aside from the potential for a frenzied crowd of students during a full day of school just before the holiday vacation, Conley said it also would have been unfair to some students if Mayer was allowed in. The auditorium could not house the entire student body, Conley said, and teens who did not get to see the popular performer would have been disappointed.

... but Mayer hadn't invited himself - he'd been invited in the first place. So what would they have done if he had said he'd go all along? Or would the students who'd missed out been okay and not disappointed as he'd RSVPed promptly?

The story gets better when Mayer does turn up, and the teachers panic that he might be spotted:

When Mayer arrived at the school, he was led into Coyne's office, where the headmaster said they discussed the security situation and made a tentative agreement for him to come back to the school.
Coyne said he waited until the bell rang so students could change classes without seeing Mayer in the hallway, adding he "could understand why Mayer thought he was stalling him."
"He was accompanied to his car as a courtesy," Coyne said, "and I thought we had agreed to do it at another time. Because he is such a celebrity, his presence in the school at that time wasn't something we thought was a good idea."

Still, we guess the main idea behind the Hall of Fame had been to raise Fairfield's profile around the planet. They really managed that.