Monday, March 03, 2008

work delays talk of work ... no more

It seems I wrote this on 3/3/08 but didn't post it. .. . . . . . (?)

Ahh, work.

.... where to begin?

---This not-writing-often-then-cramming-all-recent-happenings-summary into a few paragraphs is self defeating from a motivational standpoint.... as in, the longer i dont write, the less I want to write...

...and so, I never know where to start when I haven't ..started in so long..

and SO... into the fire:

---I'm working. again. finally. It had been since December 18th that I'd had a steady (or unsteady) production job. Granted, the Istanbul trip put a 10 day blackout period for potential jobs I could take so... praise be for the Unemployment Insurance that carried me through the winter (traditionally, very rough on the production world.. most production co's shut down for the winter). The writer's strike also seems to have put the kaibosh on our industry's employment capabilities [whistle - gratuitious use of the word "Kaibosh" - 15 yard penalty - First Down!]

---A friend from my Macy's jobs hooked me up with the job.. Basically, on this job I'm driving the "art cube" around NY & NJ, picking up and dropping of various set related needs to and from renal and supply houses, stores, etc.. and taking them to our three locations.

---The show, you ask? What is it? Hmm. I need to ask my production coordinator just what our confidentiality agreement covers but basically, it's a reality tv show wherein 10 ladies are living together and competing to be the next lead in a popular Broadway musical ...adaptation of a movie. I'm sure the confidentiality thing covers only the results of the show.. ie, who's been eliminated from week to week, who wins, etc... but I want to make sure before I name the show. [[ I can safely add now that the show is Legally Blonde, currently being aired on MTV ]]

---How is it? the work? It's actually quite awesome. When I first started this job, I was a little disappointed that I was the only Art Dept PA in an Art Dept full of set dressers (I'm trying to move into doing just set dressing as that's what I really want to do and the pay is almost double) but as the day's pass by, I'm realizing that I actually have it pretty sweet .. I'm out and about all day, driving around, listening to the radio or cd's and now, I'm on a laptop, parking and 'borrowing' local wifi connections. I've also been getting released at 6 or 6:30, where the set dressers are staying till 8 or 9 or 10 each night. Word has it, everyone's jealous of my off-set freedom.

---How are the people? What's an average day like? Wow, you sure do ask a lot of questions, but ok. The people are great.. absolutely. Everyone's been really nice, mellow, competent and ... fun to work with... there's often a few ...difficult cogs to the production machine, but not on this show. A typical day starts with picking up the truck ( ) at 11th Ave & 45th, heading up to the "hotel" location (where the top floor restaurant has been turned into the girls' apartment), either loading up some stuff into the truck to take to the "rehearsal" spot (where the girls audition, practice, etc) or the "theater" (where the elimination contests will take place before the judges) or heading out to various supply houses to pick up things for those locations. I bounce around between Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Queens, the Bronx and all points in between ... which are uhmm.. basically, the bridges and tunnels.

---Which certainly deserve a paragraph unto itself. In addition to a thousand intra-city traffic laws, trucks are not allowed in the Holland tunnel (just heading into Manhattan, it's ok leaving), they're not allowed on the West Side Highway (above 57th), the Brooklyn Bridge, the FDR, the lower roadways of half a dozen other bridges and basically, pretty much every where you'd want to go. And so, the Lincoln tunnel, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges become your friends. The 59th St bridge is your secret lover allowing you quick access to Queens (what?! eyew). 2nd Avenue and 10th Avenue are good whereas Canal and 5th Avenue are baaad. You quickly learn to pay attention to a sea of street signs you never noticed before doing these jobs and the secret world of shortcuts and traffic blackholes becomes a language you learn, out of necessity, on the job. You discover that all other drivers are, without exception, morons - except for the ones who aren't (ie. the ones who let you make that hard right turn in front of them or anyone who waves 'thanks' at you). Pedestrians, drivers, bikers, handsome cab drivers with their sad looking horses, cops and trashmen, delivery guys and office workers - we're all unboundedly selfish when it comes to getting around this town. Selfish in protecting our valuable time, our spot in traffic, our right to take advantage of the crosswalk lag time between our green light ending and the waiting finally traffic honking 'cause we're delaying their perfect green-light-getaway. Cab drivers "stop right here!" - in the middle of the road, and everyone has to wait. Waiting and rushing, jockeying and occasionally, being that nice guy who waves in the frustrated driver just trying to enter the flow - it's 'traffic' multiplied by New York city attitude, making it logically ordered, chaotically frustrating and the truest test of patience and zen I may have ever endured.

---A quick aside: as I'm typing this from out in front of the "theater" (from which they've rented a few additional floors upstairs for the .. uh.. the "casting office" supposedly from which the musical was "already cast") ... It's 18 degrees out. We've unloaded a truck full of furniture for the "casting office" not 30 minutes prior. Five set dressers and our production designer worked to set it up quickly and now.. I'm looking in my side view mirror at a camera crew of maybe 10 people (2 to 3 cameras, I cant tell for sure) run around and crouch for good angles as the "girls", all in completely non-winter clothes, come running up to the theater (in high heels mostly), smiles on their faces, their laughter visible (tho not quite making it to me, thank you NPR). Two have mini-skirts on. Repeat: mini-skirts. Repeat: 18 degrees. Not counting the wind, which is, in fact, quite breezy. It hurts, the cold.. mostly on exposed skin but your thighs experience a chill that just makes you want to punch the cold in it's stupid fu##ing face, just 'cause you're that pissed off at it. ... Ok. The girls are inside, everyone can again relax ... and get the hell back inside.

---Ok. that's it for now. I suppose a strategy for writing more often is to not write a million pages each time I set out to write, so... let's give that a shot.

[[ unfortunate post script: I was hired on as the one Art Department PA (production assistant) while the guy who got me on to the job, and the rest of my workmates were all "set dressers" - which is now the job title I most often have and what I enjoy the most. I took the Art Dept PA job 'cause that's all they had left available and I needed the work. Long story short.. Local Union 52 entered into successful negotiations with MTV and ended up "walking on" all of the set dressers only (not me since I was the Art Dept PA) ... into their union. As in, everyone I worked with on the job is now in the union. A task that takes some people 10 or more years, some people never get in (some people take the test a dozen times and never get in). Alas.. it was not my time for the union. hopefully soon ]]

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