please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sympathy for the Entertainment Industry, II

Where have I been? Well, where haven't I been?

Kanye West at the Rose Garden. Strangely poignant, as he talks endlessly about his mental problems...Or his 'character's' mental problems, whatever, right alongside the inevitable screeds against player haters and those who would choose to criticize Kanye. The guy I worked with most closely was a big dude from Texas who chose to just call me 'buddy', in lieu of learning my name. That was fine. I just called him 'boss'.
He barely put a quarter of the necessary asses in the seats, and the remainder were filled with promos and comps. Pathetic. Mr. West has an enormous road show, and is costing his label lots of money to move it all over the place.

Panic! At the Disco at the Expo Center (!)(?). Yeah, this was the Honda tour, who brought Fall Out Boy to the Rose Garden last year, with requisite hollowed-out late-model Honda in tow. It struck me as the corollary to that unfortunate commercial from the middle '90's where the kid says of (I think it was a Honda, actually), "This car is punk rock!"
The corollary? Fall Out Boy? "This pseudo-punk band is a car!"

Anyway, I think that everyone's taking a hit this year, and P!ATD were at the much smaller Expo Center, and again, perhaps a sixteenth of full capacity. The audience was comprised of tween girls ("prosti-tots!", as one of my coworkers described them), who duly threw panties and bras while looking bored.
The stage was owned by a passel of cranked-out freaks who were dangerous to work with. Veins bulging, red all over but not sunburned, wild-eyed and loose-jawed, these were the people who had constructed the stage that, when I unlocked a section of it, collapsed under me.
I slid comically down the former-stage-now-ramp , catching myself with my shins, just as the next piece of stage ahead of me was falling toward my head. It was caught by three of my fellow stagehands before it either crushed or decapitated me, and I walked around for the rest of the night with bloody shins.

Then I built steel towers and truss for a stage in the rain at Mount Hood Community College. I believe this was for a graduation. Climbing a bunch of rickety steel is an iffy prospect even when it's not raining, by the way.
The man who ended up in charge of us was another weirdo from the above-mentioned staging company. He leered and said, "I hear good things about your work. You're an ox," or something along those lines.
Unsure of whether or not I was being baited or actually complimented, I said, "I'm a soldier," then added, "...In a good way."

Two days followed out at Spirit Mountain casino, working for a Beatles cover band. They disliked the term 'Beatles cover band', by the way, and I wasn't the one who asked them this, but...What, then? I mean, you're a band that plays songs by another band. That other band is the Beatles, so hence...'Tribute Act'? 'A Salute To...'?
Casinos are inherently depressing, and this one in particular caters to the Old. The buffet wasn't without interest...The ballroom where the band would be playing (two costume changes, and yes, one of them led to Sergeant Pepper costumes) was cavernous, and the tables were set with nice table cloths and huge floral arrangements.
"I foresee lots of lukewarm applause," said one of the other stagehands.
The band, strangely, could not sing very well, and were a lot too old to be actually impersonating the Beatles. The 'Paul', for instance, was more Sir Paul's age. Their name was actually 'Stars of Beatlemania', which is to say that I believe this was in fact a reunion tour for members of "Beatlemania", a popular stage act of the late '70's, early '80's.

I got about three hours of sleep before going out to Nike for a ten hour day. While I was attempting to sleep in the van, the driver was on the phone with her boyfriend, who bounces at some obnoxious joint in the Pearl. All of her stories about the place either involve women peeing on the floor or men sucker-punching each other.
Well, the latter happened that particular evening, and security seems to have responded by beating the dude so severely that he was vomiting blood. He sent her video footage from his phone, so she could see this while trying to drive us home.
The second day at Nike involved the dismantling of a bunch of high steel towers. I went home and slept for eleven hours.

We went down to Ashland for the Shakespeare. It was nice to be back in that neck of the woods; that city has regained its 'nice' status for me, and I was loath to leave. Saw: A Comedy of Errors (which they chose to stage as if it were in the wild, wild West), Othello (overwrought, and with entirely black or white staging- subtle!) and A Midsummer Night's Dream, which I've seen many times, and always enjoy it. They did it as though it were the Sixties.
I don't know if Oregon Shakespearean Festival started this trend of staging Elizabethan dramas in modern context (I doubt it; but the first time I ever saw such a thing -Julius Caesar as set in the Middle East of the Eighties- it was in Ashland), but I sorta think they take it too far some times. Midsummer is supposed to be campy as hell, and it was, and it worked wonderfully. The Fairies were all arrayed like mid-90's dance club boys, and were ridiculously mincing...But in a way that didn't offend the shit outta me.

I fell back in love with Shakespeare (it's easy to forget, sometimes, how good those plays are), I believe all the kids we had with us liked it too...And Midsummers has a nice message: fairies are controlling your emotions and actions at all times, or maybe just; there's probably a lot more going on in any situation than you might be aware of.

Right after that last play, we wandered over to Martino's, which is a bar mere feet from the front door of the theater. As we walked in there, She Bear called me.
"Where you at?" she asked.
Looking around, I noted that I was in a bar surrounded by actors. There was Othello, there was the guy who played Bottom...I pointed this out to the kid, and she was actually jealous.
"Oh, shut up!" she said. "Man, I can't wait 'til I'm..."
"'Older'?" I said. "You will be."

Of course, I didn't say you wouldn't want to drink with these people anyway. Actors...Feh. The best of them -at their craft- have no personality at all, and the greater lot of them are bores and constant sucking vortexes of insecurity.
And too, above all else, they were a bunch of people who just got off work and wanted to sit around and blow off steam with people they knew.

And so, moving from one house to another house, this weekend, followed up by a lightning run to Seattle to see if I can work with their local...Billy Idol at the Edgefield on the Thirtieth...Oh, and best of all? The possibility that I'll be working for KISS in Sturgis, South Dakota while the rally is going on!
(EEEEEEEEEE!) [Uh, but Rich, don't you think motorcycles are stupid, and KISS doubly so?] Yes, yes I do. But dammit, I went to a satellite party of that thing ten years ago, and it was damn fun. Too much fun. Also, paid gas, lodging and food just to go to the middle of nowhere and work for a band that I am developing a late appreciation for. Who doesn't like "Strutter"?

And, as I felt like yelling the other night- well, okay; the members of Panic!, etc. are sitting behind the Expo getting drunk with their entourage for quite some time after the show. They keep looking in at us working, and I swear, making monkey noises at us.
And, as I felt like yelling, "Difference between you n' me? You've got a lot of twelve-year olds horny for your ass, and I'll actually still have a job in five years!"

Or, after dealing with a particularly prickly lighting guy at the casino, who walked away muttering about the stupidity of stagehands, "On the upside, I bet his mom sure is glad to have him out of the house for a few hours."



Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Another difference between you and Blather at the Disco-they suck and you don't.

8:23 AM  

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