Roadie life

Let There Be Light

And there was Light. And God saw the Light. And it was Fucking Rad.

I signed my contract yesterday. After 2 separate temporary contracts they officially hired me and though nothing changed outside the drawer of some worker at the HR section, it felt like a really big deal. On my way to the city hall, I remember thinking, “Last chance to back out, now. The choice is made right here.”

But really, there was no honest choice involved. This is the way things will go, the continuation of the events that I set in motion when I decided that I would be there for my son, and that have only picked up in speed as I set my shoulders behind them. Today, I can beat my chest and say that I am almost there- almost to the point where I can face myself and say without shame,

I am a father. I am a stage technician. I have done the things necessary to lay the foundation for the life that follows; my own and that of my son. What happens next, nobody knows, but I can face it with my head held high.

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Unofficial

Perhaps one of the most risky things about getting a job is the fact that you become part of an organisation and represent its political tendencies and convictions. This may not be that important for your average concrete manufacturing plant, but in some cases this is a thing you might want to be aware of. The moment you sign your contract, you agree to work together for the profit of whatever thing you are employed by and you better consider your boundaries well before they are reached, lest you do things you’ll regret.

Again, for the average worker (like you) this is a pretty trivial thing. But what if you were asked to perform your tasks not just for, but with some party that you strongly disagree with, supporting their propaganda? Perhaps you can imagine that, as an employee of a city theater, you better have your principles in order or you might find that you crossed them in retrospect. (more…)


The Marathon

When I am involved in a production and fill in the archetypal role of the technician (I prefer to call it “the specialist”), I have no inhibitions to step forward and contribute actively to the end product. Many will know, I would literally put my hand in the fire for most jobs I’ve had so far. I take these things very personal.

But as a house technician, things are different. When you have a new production passing through every day and sometimes even multiple, you can’t keep up the sprint that you put down as part of the team. If you want to keep this up for 7 days, a whole season long, you have to eat. You have to sleep. At some point, you’ll have to put your foot down and say, “No. Now I take a break and those things you are panicking about, are your problem, not mine.”
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XLR

XLR cables, commonly known as microphone cables, are designed to carry a so-called balanced AC electrical signal from point A (generally a microphone) to point B (generally and audio mixing desk). They have a relatively simple task but a big problem in accomplishing it: Electric current is prone to disturbances from pretty much any magnetic interference from fields in the space around it. This means just about every light fixture, cell phones, pacemakers, hell even the sun.

There is a point to this. Bear with me.

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Keys

Most people live on a weekly basis. A lot of the things they see and do, repeat themselves when Monday starts. Unless some holiday occurs where they get the day off to spend in front of a television, they work like a little horsey for 5 days so that they can consume like a piggy for another 2. Rinse, repeat, retire, die.

Despite my holier-than-thou attitude, I am not so different from this cut-and-paste American dream. The only difference is that my repetition isn’t on a weekly basis, but a monthly one.

Just like theirs though, it starts on a Monday, with an alarm clock murdering my sleep in cold blood and forcing reality upon me. And I too flick some water on my eyebrows (stubborn bastards) and climb in my ‘98 Opel to drive to work. 5 minutes late as usual. Whatever I do, I can’t seem to fix that habit.

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Saint Nicolas

[Note: This post took me over a week to write and relative time references in it are inaccurate.]

If you follow me on Facebook (and you should because I’m interesting af) you might have noticed my latest status update: I found work. And not just any work, no.
When I got back from the United States, I had quite the task ahead of me. Despite all my promises and symbolic efforts, I had made zero progress towards a stable income and a sound financial support for my baby momma. So I got right to work and lo and behold, along came the mother of all job openings: Stage Technician in the city theater of Sint-Niklaas, half an hour drive from home. I applied, together with 30+ other people, 2 of which I knew from classes and work. It was a rat race like no other, with 3 rounds of exams. Within the first 5 minutes, 4 applicants got up and left. The exam was hard.

I made it to 2nd place. In other words, I didn’t get the job and I would get included in the reserve. I tried to take the rejection positively but honestly, it really bummed me out. If it wasn’t for my job coach slapping sense into me, I would have lost motivation for a lot longer. I’m quite embarrassed of that now, in retrospect.

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Learned Helplessness

We live in a crowded world, where everything involves a lot of people with a lot of opinions and lots of toes to step on. Where ever you go, what ever you do, there will be people with the ability to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, and it’s easy to get used to that. Especially when going into a new situation, it’s tempting to let things be decided for you and focus on following the rules and regulations laid out for you, so that whatever it is you’re doing, it won’t be the wrong thing.

Learned Helplessness is that tendency, that pushes you to ask things you already know. It’s a monkey wrench in the machinery of your decision taking, stopping you dead until you have the green light to move. If you would ever pay attention to it, you might start noticing how often you go out of your way to ask a question that you already know the answer to. Small problems pop up, and your immediate reaction is to find the person responsible for the obvious answer, lest you could be the one to blame when shit hits the fan.

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The Push

“No show in the world is more intense than the job of constructing them. No experience can top the things I’ve seen, the experiences that I shared with others. No one in the world loves his job more than I do.
And after this summer, I am going to quit that job.”
-Me, 2014

Above all, we live in a meritocracy. Our merit to society determines our income- at least, that is the principle. Capitalism warped this structure considerably and is now ruling the world, busily disproving any belief in God or karma.

It is everywhere, from the People’s Republic of China to Bundesrepublik Deutschland, from South-Africa to Canadia. It is the system we were born in, and it’s the system we will die in. It’s all we know, and reinforcing its own status quo, has lead us to think there is no other way that is fair.

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Like a Chief

The only remaining crew chief in our stagehand company is on tour. Right now he’s wrapping up preparations and the first few shows in the Antwerp Sportpaleis and then he’ll be off for a few years. Or weeks. I don’t care that much.
Meanwhile, someone has to take over for him on the home front. And that someone is turning out to be me.

It has been brought to my attention subtly that I was not first choice. Or second. It’s because their usual replacement is joining on that same tour and his stand-in doesn’t have the time to dedicate to the job. They have to tell me this so that I, despite my temporary promotion, don’t go and think I have anything to say in the company politics- not that I intended to.

In the land of the blind, one-eye is king. That makes me the one-eyed king, the crew chief of the lowest paid employees in the business. It’s hardly a title to be very proud of, but you know what?
I fucking am. (more…)


What it is

“It is what it is.”

It’s a mental shrug, a surrender to circumstances while la resistance fights on relentlessly. It’s a conscious decision to fight our human tendency to whine and moan about things we can’t change. We steel ourselves this way, clench fists and motivate ourselves to take the next step, however small, towards the solution that will put all of this in the past.

No one understands the phrase better than people working in the event industry. Because whatever it is that day, it definitely is. And it’s a lot of it.

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