The ride from Oakland to Vegas took 10 hours. Duck and I were awake for the last 100 miles or so, and we sat in the front lounge watching the incandescent desert roll past the tinted windows of our land yacht. Monty Python's "Holy Grail" was rolling in the VCR, and Duck and I rolled off the bus, ready to go.
The Alladin Performing Arts Center greeted us with an expansive stage; hundreds of square feet upstage of our deepest line, and way more than enough wing space. The load came in through wide doors directly upstage.
The local team was a well knit herd of independents; this is not an IATSE house. These folks reminded me of some of me younger days...Hooking gigs with local promoters and production companies around central New York. A labor broker who keeps track of the best neighborhood production talent, and who can shake them all out of the trees on a given date, is able to offer a production manager what I consider the best possible local crew. The people who work on these teams are, far more often than not, hired for their skill and hustle rather than vague associative hook-ups. They deal on a date-by-date basis, filling in their calendars with a variety of employers.
When they arrive on the gig, they are usually combat ready. That's what these people were, and within a few minutes we had a wide, fast moving stream of gear fanning across the stage. Duck worked the truck, directing the loaders through every piece of the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling semi pack. I worked the door, directing placement of the bits. Rob worked the beach, receiving dimming and power distro gear, and making it ready for power.
In between us was a sharp and attentive group of locals. This characterization is important. The prime difference between these people and an ingrown union crew is their ability to receive direction, and the willingness to carry it out. They don't come on with a "We just did `Les Miserables' and we know everything about putting any system together; including yours" attitude. They don't make silly assumptions which complicate operations. They move quickly on orders, and are rational in their initiatives...unlike many union locals who move as if they are doing you a favor (at $XX.00 per hour), and who can be counted on to dodge an opportunity to run with a loose ball...unless they run the wrong way.
The team in Vegas burned pretty hot for us, which was cool; The hike from Oakland was long enough that we didn't see gear rolling on the deck until 11:30 am. That's three and a half hours behind schedule.
If we'd had to paint every picture on the big easel, with the big crayon, with sign language for the hearing impaired, it would have been a tough day.
It was good for us that it went as easily as it did. We're getting short, now. Everybody is just a bit tired. We saw a sharp example of that this evening. As a matter of fact, I'm just too tired to go into it now. I'll save it for a later entry.
In any case, we're near the end, and everybody agrees that it's just about time.
October 16, 1992
Las Vegas, Nevada
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