It's the last production day on the tour and, finally, everything goes the way it should.
We're at the Celebrity Theater in Anaheim tomorrow. It's a round place, so it doesn't count. We'll only take very limited amounts of gear in, although it'll be all the I-Beams.
Today was the last time we put all three trucks of gear on a stage. The venue is the Universal Amphitheater. It used to be an amphitheater, but it's not anymore. There is a whole, long Hollywood historical evolution story to it that I've never heard. In any case, it is now a 12,000 seat proscenium auditorium, and everybody here has played it many times.
The place is seriously departmentalized at the IATSE local crew level, a considerable departure from the sort of independent free-for-all swing of yesterday's crew in Vegas. Everything goes by a square, dog-eared book here. Normally, this results in a day that is off beat, at the very least. Things get done in an order which is dictated by the nature of a show: any fool knows that lights fly before the set rolls in. However, they hit it with a slightly different emphasis in a place like this. Mostly, this has to do with pace. It all gets done. However, it's not so much a case of the touring crew calling the shots with authority...as a case of the local crew asking what the shots are, the way a nosy neighbor asks when you're going cut your grass.
Which, I think, is why it felt so strange to be ready to focus my I-Beams before lunch. The mid truss was off the deck by 10:30 am. That has never happened before on this tour, and it was a bit of a lurch in the gear train.
Wouldn't you know it; just when I was as fed up with Bernie as I could be.
We had a major scene onstage before the show, yesterday.
It was late, of course, and everybody was jammin' to get their shit together in one bag. I had just started my focus when I saw the traveler curtain drawn too closely to center, and blocking two of my shots. Bernie hangs that thing. This point is something that we went over in rehearsal, and it should have become routine by now. When I asked him about it, he completely dissed me. I walked past him and his stagehands, muttering angrily, and loudly enough for him to hear it.
Suffice to say, here, that the home team got an unattractive look at the visitors. It was rather ugly. We didn't look at each other all night last night. We didn't speak to each other until this morning, and even then it was nothing personal; strictly business.
Which, of course, is my problem.
He did everything right this morning. The room and local crew definitely helped him. However, he did several things exactly right. The most important of them was to hang the mid truss points first. This is really instrumental in opening the center stage areas to all sorts of crossing traffic. In principle, the earlier that thing flies, the better.
Now, Bernie isn't the only reason that the day went so quickly and smoothly. This is not a difficult room to work, really. The audio guys had the same kind of day. Dave Lohr had all kinds of time to "voice" his system...before lunch.
However, it went better than I expected it to, and I think it's because Bernie was really good this morning. He was crisp, efficient, thoughtful...all the things I thought he was going to be when I first saw him work at Occidental Studios here in L.A.
How dare he be so good when I was so pissed at him?
All of us are definitely ready to get home for a while. A familiar set of "end of tour" sensations is setting in. We're short, now. We heard the first countdown references a couple of days ago. Of course, they come up more and more often, in situations of challenge or difficulty. Now, instead of a typical exclamation of frustration if a cable doesn't wrap correctly or a circuit won't fire for unexplained reasons, the countdown is in full effect: "Only (x) more days...", usually delivered with a tortured roll of the eyes.
We settle for anything: We played two shows here at the Universal. The last one ended at 1:30 am. The local crew called a dinner break right after the show. They also called a dark stage. This means that we can't do anything during the break. The stage was completely quiet, with absolutely nothing going on. The effect of this on crew morale and the inertia of the load-out is dramatic. There is nothing quite like a forty minute break to dampen enthusiasm for the strike.
When the whistle blew, we strolled out onto the stage like a truck trying to take a hill in high gear. The full-width loading doors opened to a chilly fog descending on the Universal lot on the back side of the Hollywood hills. The out lurched into a gimpy sort of stride, which finally caught up to the speed that we like to run at. In fact; this out came in at very close to the record on the tour...once we got it going.
We rolled with it on a minimum of groaning and complaining. It was what it was and after all: We only have one more show to do.
October 17, 1992
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