Saturday, May 2, 2009

Beware The People Weeping

For the first time in a number of years, May Day celebrations in Europe turned into riots. The loss of their standard of living, rising unemployment and lost benefits were the cause of the large May Day turnout. In the US, we, as workers, don't need to espouse any alternative types of economic systems because everything is just going just great. In fact, in the US we don't celebrate May Day anymore because in 1959, the day was rebranded Loyalty Day.

Anger and hunger have a way of making movements develop before there are press releases, before time can be reserved on the bird for stand-ups, before it can be packaged. Gil Scott Heron had some thoughts on this. As did John Steinbeck in the Grapes Of Wrath which is well worth a watch again.

I came across Herman Melville's "The Martyr", his elegy on Lincoln's death, and the last stanza gave me a shock.

The Martyr
Herman Melville
There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare an iron hand.

The truth can be a fearsome thing.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stupid Things The Local Crew Do

While it's a construction accident, we'll all probably recognise it's nature.

So The Boss Said "It Will Be Fine, Don't Worry"

Description: Plaintiff's Construction Liability and Safety Expert Timothy G. Galarnyk of Construction Risk Management, Inc. concluded that Gibbs Construction Services and LeClaire Hotel Group flagrantly violated OSHA regulations by constructing a wooden box and placing this box on the forks of a Telehandler Lift. A similar collapse of a similarly constructed wooden box occurred involving Gibbs Construction less than a year prior to this injury accident. In the previous collapse, a worker had just exited the box on the third floor into a hotel window when the wooden box toppled to the ground.

In this case involving Frohne, Gibbs and the LeClaire Hotel Group instructed Frohne to use the wooden box and the Telehandler to access the gutter installation work. When Frohne was hoisted up to the third floor of the Hotel under construction, the wooden box suddenly fell off the forks and collapsed 30 feet to the ground with Frohne.
Outcome: Plaintiff's verdict for $7 million.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Stupid Things Said By House Crew

Road guys talk about the local crews on a site just for them. It's educational and good to see yourself through others eyes. I can't say I like it but it's real.

I know I'm in for a bad night of mixing when the house sound says "Yeah, it's an acoustically perfect room!". Perfect for what, I wonder? Not for a live show, that's for sure.

A local rigger on a show call for a tour I was on blew me off when I asked him to watch the chains while he was running motors. I believe he said "Ive been doing this longer than you have been alive" or another typical line. Right afterwords he began chatting with his buddy while working. The chain got jammed and ruined the motor while I watched it all happen....lame

Working in a small arena, we marked that one point was to be a split 15 - 15 bridal. we hear the up rigger shout own to the ground rigger "whats the F***ks a 15 dash 15 V" yup.....

So were dumping the trucks, give one of the hands the FOH cases. "Where do these go?" he asks. "Send it to Front of House" our SM tells him. almost 1/2 hour later this kid comes back to the trucks and i shit you not i quote "I looked and looked, but could not find this house you were talking about."

I told a neck-down that I needed all the Stage Right Gear on the STAGE RIGHT Side....He actually had to ask the second dumbest question, "So is that YOUR stage right? or My Stage Right?"

"Ive been a stagehand for 20 years and never once has anyone asked me if I had a cresent wrench."

"Which one is the snare?" Spoken by a local audio guy in a theater, who had just finished telling me he'd been there for 15 years.

My fav was at Madison Square Garden when I said to the stagehands "Are you with audio?" and they replied "No, we're with sound?" You can't make this shit up!

I'd like to hope on that last one somebody was being ironic and somebody else missed it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Oak And The Willow

"The best test of a civilized society is the way in which it treats its most vulnerable and weakest members. "

Mahatma Gandhi

One of the main talking points of the Broadway League during the run-up to and during the strike in 2007 was that the Local was too inflexible in its rules and resistant to change. The Local replied that we were resistant to job losses and that Local would not change work rules without something in exchange. We were called featherbedders in public and worse in private, I'm sure.

The reality is somewhat different, of course. Given the width and breath of Local One's jurisdiction, with scene shops, television, opera, concert halls, Off-Broadway and LORT contracts, there is no such thing as a one size fits all contract. Are there standards that we want maintained? Yes. Safety, retirement security, cleanliness, the ability to take a break and have a meal, minimum calls, a living wage, these are all standards we work to keep. However, we don’t write contracts that close shows or shops. We will make adjustments when they are called for. Stagehands are nothing if not practical.

It was with some pride that I learned that the Local members voted on Sunday to accept wage freezes at two theatre companies that have been hit hard by the financial mess. As a Local we have worked over the years to help grow these companies with contracts and conditions that were appropriate for them and their size. Also passed was a new contract for a space in the Bronx that had been organized. In that contract the Local recognizes that the venue has a split mission, one as a roadhouse and one as community theatrical resource. As a result, there are different pay rates for the crew, depending on the event.

I think one of the inadvertent highlights of the labor disputes 2003 and 2007 is a renewed sense of “community” in the theatrical community. We have a history of helping each other during tough times. Now is one of those times and Local One is doing its part.