Nearly Blinded by Crowd Injury, Community Rallies to Help RITM’s Bunny

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A literally blinding eye injury from a festival in South Korea has changed the life or Rabbit in the Moon’s Bunny forever. The dance community is rallying to help him, this Saturday with a benefit dubbed the Bunnyfit, at Giant’s anniversary party in LA on September 6th.

For more than a decade, Rabbit in the Moon has pushed the boundaries of live electronic music through stunning stage antics, theatrical costumery, and a dedication to expressing the best of life through their music. RITM frontman Bunny personifies what the group is all about, and he’s become a sort of icon in the dance community. He is warm and gracious to eager fans who declare their obsession with him after a gig and accessible on stage and off for those who want to share in the love-filled rave or post rave experience.

It’s a cruel irony then that Bunny would fall victim to an act of violence that has caused his near-blindness brought on by an audience member. This past May, Bunny and Rabbit in the Moon were hired to perform at the second Annual World DJ Festival in Seoul, South Korea. Bunny performed the first night and accompanied his friends DJ Dan and Donald Glaude to the festival the second night when they performed, assisting them with some technical and sound issues. It was the second night when a glass bottle, thrown by a member of the festival’s crowd, was launched intentionally and directly at Bunny, hitting him squarely in his left eye, destroying his retina, lens, some skin underneath, and his vision. He talked exclusively to Big Shot about his ordeal and the painful aftermath.

“I was standing next to Dan and I got hit in the chest with like, a coin, and some dude in the crowd was flipping me off and looking at me like ‘yeah, I threw it.’ I didn’t think anything of it, just what happens at festivals and stuff.”

“It went right to my face. I got hit in the eye with a bottle. It went directly into my eye. I immediately collapsed, bleeding. They carried me off and took me to the hospital. I basically thought I lost my eye. I’m a visual artist, so losing an eye would be like… I mean, it’s a big part of my life and livelihood.”

It was 20 minutes later when the second object was thrown. “It went right to my face. I got hit in the eye with a bottle. It went directly into my eye. I immediately collapsed, bleeding. They carried me off and took me to the hospital. I basically thought I lost my eye. I’m a visual artist, so losing an eye would be like… I mean, it’s a big part of my life and livelihood.”

At the hospital, his flesh wound was stitched up, but he was given the option of having an immediate and dramatic surgery on this eye to recover some of the vision there in Seoul, risking complications that would have stranded him overseas, unable to fly for months. Bunny opted to return to the US, with the promoters’ promise that his medical expenses would be paid for. That was not the case.

Although every live music event is contractually obligated to insure themselves for these kind of accidents, and RITM’s contract with the promoters of this event was no different in its stipulations, it has become clear since this incident that any insurance policy on hand was insufficient. Unlike in the US, Korea has no law regulating punitive damages, meaning nobody can be sued for liability. Bunny has no legal recourse in Korea, only in the US, and even if the promoters are sued in a US court, they would have to be extradited to enforce a US court’s penalty of law.

Bunny has paid out of pocket for two surgeries this summer. At this point he has about 20% vision in his left eye, which renders his depth perception and peripheral vision obsolete. From the surgeries, he’s also acquired trauma-induced glaucoma, which creates erratic levels of a painful pressure on his eye. “It’s so extreme I can’t even put sentences together,” he says of the times when the glaucoma flares up.

 

It’s been four months since the accident. While he’s learned to manage the day-to-day details of his life, it’s understandable still an upsetting ordeal. He describes moments of waking up and thinking that it didn’t really happen, and then—upon looking at anything—realizes it’s all too real.

He estimates his basic monthly expenses for his eye care—including doctor’s visits and eye drops—is about a thousand dollars, and that doesn’t include any extra procedures or surgeries, many of which still loom in the future. Because so many artists like Bunny don’t have healthcare (certainly not group health plans either), and the US has no national healthcare, Bunny’s story has caught the attention of the dance community, which has organized a benefit, the Bunnyfit, to aid and offset his considerable medical expenses.

Naturally, DJ Dan and Donald Glaude are performing at the Bunnyfit, forgoing their fees to help their friend. Other performers include LA-based artists like Sandra Collins and her husband Vello Virkhaus, Quivver, and Freddy Be. Rabbit in the Moon, of course, will also DJ at the event.

This experience has impacted Bunny in ways yet to be seen, not the least of which is his intermittent anxiety about what could happen to him when he’s on stage. “Things I never thought of in fifteen years of interacting with an audience,” he says of these fears.

Luckily for his fans and his own life, he hasn’t let any of this stop him. “I have to trust. I am at the mercy of the audience and they are to me.”

Words: Zel McCarthy

Update: September 6, 2008
Since this story first ran on September 3rd, we’ve received a great deal of feedback from fans and members of the dance music community. Many have asked if there’s a way to help the cause if you’re not in the LA area. Bunny has sent us a link to a page set up specifically to help him out. To make a secure donation, you can visit TheBunnyCoalition.com.

UK Tabloid Leads Burial to Out Himself (and Journalist to Shoot Himself in the Foot)

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It’s perfectly acceptable for an electronic music artist to remain anonymous. Iconic Detroit techno act Underground Resistance and Parisian house masters Daft Punk are never seen without their masks and tracks crafted by producers (some well known, some not) under the guise of an alias regularly devastate dance floors simply because they’re good, not because of who made it. When dubstep producer Burial made his debut in 2005 with his South London Boroughs EP, he opted not to show his face or talk to the press. While many were curious about his identity, few lost sleep about it since his subsequent productions were so incredibly good.

While one-named, angst-ridden, renegade folk artist Jandek has never revealed his identity over the span of 50 albums, it seems Burial’s nomination last week for a coveted Mercury Music Prize inspired Gordon Smart, a writer for UK tabloid The Sun, to embark on a self-appointed mission to discover the identity of the man he calls “the Banksy of music.”

Smart urged readers to help him “dig up the real Burial” and it was obvious that some people just messed with his head. “A reader texted me this curious puzzle: ‘Burial is not Jesus but was born of Mary. The riddle takes you to Germany where no is the Kode.’”

Burial succumbed to the pressure and revealed his identity last night on his MySpace blog. “my names will bevan, im from south london, im keeping my head down and just going to finish my next album, theres going to be a 12″ maybe in the next few weeks too with 4 tunes. hope u like it, i’ll try put a tune up later.” He added: “im a lowkey person and i just want to make some tunes, nothing else.”

Although the cat was already out of the bag, Smart, who apparently didn’t check Burial’s MySpace page, devoted another column today wondering about the producer’s identity. Perhaps justice was served when The Guardian gloated that Burial’s identity had already been revealed in an article their paper ran about the Elliot School back in February. Does The Sun not shine on Google?

Lily Allen Does About Face On Chemical Bros’ Ed Simons

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Lily Allen has reportedly broken up again with The Chemical Brothers’ Ed Simons. Allen announced the couple’s split on her Facebook page. Allen parted ways with Simons in January after she miscarried the couple’s baby. At Glastonbury in June (where she learned her grandmother had died), the couple seemed to have reconciled and offered hints of the reunion on their Facebook pages last month. (On July 7, Lily changed her status to “in a relationship with Ed Simons.”)

However, Allen has reverted back to her single status, after updating her profile. On Friday, an upset Lily posted that she was “wasting away.”

Two Resident Advisor Editors Quit Citing Loss Over Editorial Control

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The struggle between editorial and advertising departments date back to the age of Gutenberg. More recently, in 1996, then Rolling Stone editor Jim DeRogatis was fired after going public about publisher Jaan Wenner nixing his negative review of Hootie & The Blowfish’s Fairweather Johnson. Last year, the editors at Gawker.com raised a brouhaha when they discovered the site’s colors had been switched by the sales department from black to pink and blue, the colors of an upscale water advertiser. Now accusations of shenanigans are being made by two former staffers against the owners of Australian based dance music website Resident Advisor.

According to an e-mail statement yesterday, RA Editor-In-Chief Tami Fenwick and Reviews Editor Jeremy Armitage resigned when a review of John Digweed’s Transitions 4 was pulled—unbeknownst to them, they claim—from the site in favor of a newer, more favorable critique.

Said the editors, “The back story behind the switch is that Renaissance is a long term advertiser on RA, and Nick [Sabine, the sales representative of RA and also one of the owners of the site] decided to commission and publish a more favorable review as he was worried that Renaissance would read the original review and withdraw their advertising contract.”

Fenwick and Armitage describe the incident as “the final nail in the coffin of an ongoing struggle to separate editorial and advertising” that dates back to 2006. They state that their threat to resign if the new review was published was taken up by the site’s owners.

They added, “Unfortunately, after months of haggling, explaining and re-explaining why this is necessary for the success of RA, we haven’t been able to convince the guys at the top of the wisdom of this approach.

“Of course, we are reasonable people, and we have gone out of our way to accommodate advertising concerns where we can, for example by writing news items on client parties and releases which we don’t feel are in any way in touch with the magazine’s readership, and working with sales to try to find a place for client-sponsored features on the site. We’ve even gone out of our way to match writers with reviews so as not to rock the advertising boat too much. But all of these steps have been taken with a view to eventually separating advertising from editorial. In the end we couldn’t come to an agreement with the owners of RA about this philosophy. Thus the parting of ways.”

Big Shot contacted RA’s management for comment on Thursday night. We did not receive a response as of Friday night EST.