It has been an interesting project, to keep a journal on this tour. Believe it or not, this is the first time I've ever gone out with the intention of keeping a journal through an entire tour. I figured I could get through 6 weeks. If I can't, then perhaps I have to give up any silly pretense of being a writer.
I have written on the road before, and come up with some pretty good stuff. However, I've never gone at it with the sort of will and discipline that I have on this one. I try to make it a part of every day, to sit down and write about something.
The first challenge to overcome is in finding the time.
We start our day at 8:00 am. I am involved in building the midstage truss until (on the best days) 11:30 or so. The next 90 minutes is taken with grooming Dimmer Beach; arranging the thousands of feet of wire and cables that land near the dimmers in such a way that the area is not a guaranteed broken-ankle zone. This is just one of the things going on at this point of the day, and it is mostly busy work. During the middle part of the day, we wait for the set to get built. Once that happens, lanes of traffic on the sides on the set become clear. Heavy wheeled traffic is normally done, and cross-stage cable runs are safe from its dangers.
After the set is up, Rob, Duck, and I carry on with building the side booms and floor I-Beams, and laying out all associated cabling. As soon as this is done, I grab my Toshiba and run for the house in order to get my focus going.
Occasionally, someone will ask me how long it takes to focus the show. I tell them that it takes as long as I have. I could tweak this focus all day long if I had that much time available. In practice, I keep going right up until Bill is ready to open the house doors, or until I'm satisfied. It is more often the former.
The time between doors and En Vogue (usually approximately 2 hours) is the best time I can find to write. I also have to fit dinner and a quick shower into this period. All of this is presuming, of course, that there is no late breaking crisis to attend.
So, when I sit down to write, I am usually wound up from the day's activity. It can be hard to focus on a particular story. You see, I glance around the tour during the day and try to find a story going on which I can treat here. There is always something going on somewhere...
I'm sitting at the mix as I write this. Arrested Development is onstage at the moment. The full-house Fox in Detroit is rocking to their third-American-worldish beat.
In the middle of all of this, Kevin comes up to me and asks if everything is alright. The look on his face is honestly, professionally, concerned. It is his job to be concerned. Kevin is "Eagle One" (of two). He looks after all of our security needs on the tour. He is a badge carrying officer of LAPD.
He taps me on the shoulder and asks if everything is alright "out here". I nod, smile and thank him sincerely. I think it's cute. He and his partner seem terribly excited to be out here with us. I don't think they've ever done anything like this before. They take it very seriously.
The other day, in St. Louis, I was sitting in the middle of the center aisle of the theater. I had dragged the I-Beam controller out there to look at things "on center" (a very important concept to a lights guy, and stimulus of many discussions of reality among those of us inclined to such perspectives). As I was looking at my stuff, Duck suddenly lit up the "crowd burners"; a set of 1kw lamps focused on the house. They are terribly bright and abusive, often used as percussive effect.
"Dammit!" I yelled. Kevin was walking up the aisle at that moment. By way of joking complaint, I said to him, "Go tell him to get those things out of my eyes."
Without a word, he turned on a heel and was four steps down the aisle, looking up at the truss, before I stopped him.
"I will, you know," He said with a charming smile.
"I know. I shouldn't fool around with that, should I?"
His smile broke into a laugh.
I find it honestly touching that he goes out of his way to cruise out here and check on us at the house mix.
We play in Cincinnati tomorrow, another favorite city of mine. We'll be in a room which nobody out here can remember ever playing before. Front-work on this gig has not made down to trench level ops: I've just heard that the stagehands are not of the union variety. They will be college kids.
I can't wait. College crews are enthusiastic, if not experienced. They take direction well, unlike many of their union competitors.
Wanna know a secret?
I didn't smoke a single cigarette today.
September 26, 1992
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