I’m not a big fan of the word ‘bittersweet’, but if the pedestrian cliché were a coin, it would of course have two sides. Heads: I don’t see the point in leaving New York — Manhattan is good to me, and you know the proverb, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Let’s flip the hackneyed coin and look at tails: look at my friggin’ dreary hotel room — let’s get out of here.
The buses were scheduled to pick everyone up from the hotel this afternoon; The Black Pyramid at 1.15 and Camelot at 1.30. The hotel’s official check-out time was midday, and if I pleaded with the managers I might perhaps have wangled a 12.30 checkout, but as the venue is only a short walk away, I walked there with my luggage — my light luggage.
Arriving at the venue with two hours until the stage was lifted from its compulsory darkness, and facing some time to kill before lunch, I set up a new Twitter account. If you like the No Ideas blog, and you feel uncomfortable following ‘me’ on Twitter, you now have a safe haven from my ludicrous personal tweets. On the No Ideas Twitter feed you’ll find quick snaps, mini-updates, and enough fun and japery to rival a flea circus.
As today’s Radio City show is our last, we must face a certain truth: loadout. Our stage is below street level and after we pack up the cases, they will need to be lifted up to the sidewalk with a forklift. Once outside, the gear will be lifted by another forklift into the truck, where I will wait, in trust of my Winning Team colleagues to ensure it all arrives in suitable sequence. For every show, we have a bit of a plan; Stage Manager Saint Paul comes around and hands out sheets conveying loadout information useful to situations at hand (see gallery below for example). If this were not Radio City, we would usually split crews into sections, and specify the departments they will aid. But the responsibility of IATSE members are murky to us, and this can be gleaned from tonight’s paper plan. When distributing tonight’s loadout information, Paul joked, ‘Basically, it’s every man for himself.’
Soundcheck songs: the band jammed The Stranger for a while, tried out Joan of Arc, then ran through Dance Me, Future, and Different Sides.
NEWSFLASH — the rumour mill has produced the following supposition: instead of Democracy, Canadian audiences may hear a bit more of Different Sides.
DISCLAIMER — rumour is rumour.
After din-dins and during the dark stage period, a number of us watched some news on TV and I must admit I tittered at the idea of 30-year-old Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un asking US President Barack Obama essentially, ‘Hey, gimme a call.’
Tonight’s show began with a standing ovation upon Leonard’s entrance which led into Dance Me; the rest ran as Tampa Verbatim until the encores. For the first time in a while, Leonard played to the curfew’s edge with I Tried To Leave You.
And now we come to it; the Local 1 load out. I’ve had nightmarish experiences in the past with Radio City. The union crews are fast, and if you haven’t organised your cases, they’ll appear on the street and in the truck faster than you can realise they’re jamming the whole process. Sometimes I think I the Radio City guys do it intentionally to mess with your head, but if you’re organised, on top of things, it’s a great system because the gear is rifled in, stacked, and if you can get the guys in the truck to stop chatting among themselves, they might hear you tell them where each case goes. Matters and systems, lists and plans nailed, The Winning Team’s gear was lined up and ready to go by the time I was in the truck. What saved us was Leonard’s transport; there was a car waiting for him and it was in the way of our truck — which was good, because it gave me the time to pack my gear and line it up before any of it got lifted to the surface. If that was a part of the plan, it was a genuine master plan.
For the first time ever, I was complimented by a New York teamster. (Teamsters are the guys inside the truck, a different union again.) Tears nearly welled in my eyes as my knees buckled hearing the words, ‘It’s nice to see a guy who knows how to pack his truck.’ I threw my scarf around my neck and hugged him, like a lady hugs her man in Central Park, her sheered calf rising to kiss the hem of a long autumn coat.
And then came the darker times. I shan’t mention names, but one UHTC member got into a bit of a discussion with a Local 1 stagehand; by moving a bunch of cases around, you are essentially doing Local 1’s job and they don’t like it. It’s hard to fathom sometimes, but after years of seeing it, I’ve learned to let it wash over me and let them do what they do. After all, it means we actually get an easy time of it, and who can argue with that? It might take a little bit longer, being that you can’t offer your own hands for help, but disregarding the union guidelines and disrespecting the union members is a recipe for disaster. At one point, the loadout was in danger of being ‘stopped’ because of the infraction-cum-argument. It remains to say, very plainly, you don’t fuck around with Local 1. Just let them do their thing.
At 2am when the buses arrived, it was time for pie and zombies. There exists an Australian pie company that has a place in New York and their hot pastry pies are delicious. Following an insanely calorie-heavy pie, Dan and I picked up our make-believe weapons and eradicated another 1,487 empty vessels before tiredness and the unending zombie appetite for flesh took us. Our tally is 25,496; if we make it to 30,000, we will consider it a milestone in human achievement.