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Location: Portland, Oregon

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When A Man Loves A Book Premise

Whenever I find myself reading Anthony Bourdain, I think the same thing that plenty of other people have clearly already thought and have acted on: if I were to write a tell-all about the profession I work in, how would I deal with the question of "names changed to protect the innocent/guilty"?
Having crammed much of my ouvre into the writing of blogs for the last three years, I'm operating under a guideline of my own. To wit:
The circumstances under which I will use actual names of people is when a) they are dead, b) they are crooks, and deserve infamy, c) they already use their actual name on the internet [ala George], and d) they are famous.

So that being said, I would still want to reward to the good and humiliate the bad, were I to write a Backstage Confidential, but I probably wouldn't. There's such thing as lawsuits.
And uh, 'Backstage Confidential'? Too many books use this construction in their titles. Were I to write a confessional about being a stagehand, so many titles suggest themselves from the highly ritualized argot used by the hands themselves:

What, are ya' New?
A Day at Dimmer Beach
Heavy Things in High Places
Subs, Socas and Cheeseboroughs
You vs. Gravity
Breaking A Leg
Show Blacks
When A Roadie and A Stagehand Love Each Other Very Much...
Yer Killin' Me

Actually, all the above strike me as decent chapter names, not book titles. I'm tempted, as usual, to use Gore Vidal's To Do Well What Should Not Be Done At All, but I don't know about that. I could use Wheels to Jesus, which as I've noted before is a MySpace page for a guy who -it turns out- lives here and was my boss for much of this last summer. Perhaps my own There's Plenty of Businesses Like Show Business (which I think I got off of a bathroom wall, actually), would suffice.
The fun thing is that really, I could just copy much of what I have already written here. The last three years mark my transition from guy-who-occasionally-does-stagehanding-shit to year-round stagehand, and it's an intoxicating saga: a journey into one man's soul.

It'd make a great reality show too, I've always thought.

Or 'unscripted series', to use a description I prefer for reality shows that are actually documentaries. You know, as opposed to The Hills or something, where all that's happening is a bunch of idiots who are aware that they're on teevee sit there and live out their not-especially-interesting lives whilst being manipulated by producers.
Shows like Axe Men, The Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers and...(Whatever the one about oil field workers is) are my favorites because despite the obvious presence of cameras, the subjects are all too busy doing their jobs (and trying not to get killed) to dissemble.

Oddly, all of those are about industries that are directly affecting the health of our planet in terrible, terrible ways. Hmm.

So I was standing stage right -'dimmer beach'- at the Carrie Underwood show the other night, and found myself wondering yet again why the Guns n' Roses song "Paradise City" has become everyone's property, somehow. I did note that the song, like Pat Benatar's immortal "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", is on the top ten list of Drunk Girl's Karaoke Greatest Hits, generally performed by a lineup of shamefully smashed women just prior to bar close.
I couldn't keep her name straight, with my mind heading to 'Carrie Bradshaw' or 'Kelly Clarkson' every time I tried to utter it that day. She's really boring, but again, the place was packed to the rafters.

I even could have written a pretty good book about restaurants, having worked in all aspects of that industry (and some time in catering, as well) for roughly ten years. But so many people have, and well...
Besides, we already have M. Bourdain, who is above all else a good writer. Even his crime novels certainly have their moments, and his monograph on Typhoid Mary is fascinating.
Could I do the same, with historical overview, for my profession? Yes, yes I think I could.

But I gotta finish those other three books I'm writing first.



Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Ten years in the biz? No wonder we get on so well. We're comrades formerly in arms.
It was the only job I've ever loved and I wish I could go back.

2:05 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

I sometimes ask myself if I ever would go back. Or even if I could.

I liked it, but in this town, it seems to be a game for the somewhat-younger-than-me.

I'm noting too that I was starting to tell a story about Carrying Wood-Under or whatever her name was's lighting guy, and failed to actually tell it. No big: I'll be back.

10:12 AM  

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