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Do You Scream at Stagehands? STOP IT!

yelling-myself-out-of-a-job

 

Happy Saturday, Entertainment Industry!

I got a really interesting email last night from a local stagehand at a large concert venue in Colorado that would prefer that the venue and city in which he works be redacted, so I have done that.  But you have GOT to read the email below, it’s absolutely disgusting.  I hope you see it the same as I do.

Jim, hi.  Love the site, we here at [redacted] in Colorado read you a lot.  Next time you’re out this way, let me know so we can get you in here and get some better pics of the venue.  I don’t want to speak for all of the guys here, but I know that we all feel the same about this.  Do me a favor and don’t post my name and don’t post that I work at [redacted].  Thanks.

I have a really important question to ask, maybe you can give us some insight on why most of the crews that come through here feel it’s the right thing to do to scream at us all day.  Most of us here are people who are just as good at the jobs we do as the tours that come through here.  Why do you think they think it’s the right thing to do to yell at us to get us to do what they need done?  I went into the Army back in the 1970s and did two tours in Vietnam.  Every very good lieutenant that I served under was the kind of man that could motivate the men without raising his voice, and every time we had to go out on patrol with a squad leader who was a screamer was more times that not a really scary time because no one wanted to help the screamer.  Don’t the people out there driving the tours understand this logic?  To us, it seems like nobody gives a shit about the crew of the day.  We hump cases, we put trusses together, we take care of what they need because it’s our job.  We’re great at our job.  All we want is that people would treat us like we were humans and not a gaggle of stupid people who need their instructions shouted at us.

I’m just an old hippy who used to love my job but it’s hard to get new people to come to the local after they see how we’re treated.  Nobody wants to work somewhere with shitty tour crew yelling all day long.  Any normal person would be just as bitter if they had to put up with this bullshit all day every day.

Keep doing what you do, you give us some sane time before and after the yelling.

[redacted]

Wow.

I suppose the first thing I should say is that I’m sorry this is happening.  I have done my share of shows worldwide, and I don’t believe in yelling at the crew.  I believe that the best way to get the crew to do any and everything that you need done is to show up in the morning bright eyed, bushy-tailed, and with donuts and coffee.  It’s true that I get a lot of shit for that (especially the coffee and donuts part) but if I have to work with guys I don’t know and I know a hard day’s coming for the locals that day, it’s part of my job for the success of the show that they believe in the show that they’re assembling.  It’s not a secret that people will work hard for you if you make them feel like human beings.  It amazes me that people decide to take the douchebag route on their local tours.  I know many people who lead crews on tour, and it’s my pleasure to say that a lot of those people are really great guys and ladies who believe the same way I do.

Are you a screamer on tour?

The first thing I want to know is WHAT is it that gives you the right to screw up the attitudes for the shows that come after you?  Who the hell do you think you are that you can treat people this way?  I know that one thing you’re doing is making a reputation for yourself that assures that your career will be short-lived, because team leaders do NOT want to hire someone who creates a work stoppage in the middle of a busy show day.  Touring is hard enough as it is without you making all of the locals hate touring personnel without getting to know us.  I know a good handful of really unbelievably great programmers and LDs who don’t work because of their attitude — one of them is an awesome cook at a restaurant in Dallas, and another is an insurance adjuster in southern Illinois.  Is this the career path you’d rather have?  Something outside of the industry you love?  If you keep yelling, it’s coming.  I’ll definitely help you exit my industry if you feel that you need to screw up the harmonious and often very rewarding work that the rest of us call a career.

To be fair, we’ve all had local crews who haven’t been worth the paper their badges are printed on, and those days do suck.  I’ve had Labor-Ready crews that barely had the skill to not be selling crack out behind the venue, and I’ve had non-Union riggers who dropped cell phones and sets of keys from the grid.  Those are rough days.  But even in those situations, it does you NO JUSTICE to scream at people.  When you’re out on a B or C market tour, you should expect to have these things happen — just recently in February 2013 in Los Angeles, I had a Union stagehand at the Event Live LA show tell me “I’m not pushing those fucking towers, one fell on my buddy and messed up his back for life.”  It was fine with me, all I needed to do was go tell his Freeman foreman that the guy wouldn’t do his job and I got someone else on the crew that would push those towers out to the truck.  I didn’t need to yell.  Sometimes you just get a hand who wants to be a jerk on the jobsite because of whatever reason there is — but just as many times as that’s happened, I’ve been able to smile at somebody who wanted to be a Summer’s Eve in at crew call, tell a few jokes, and get that man or woman to get on board with the work that needed to be done that day.  It’s amazing what can be done when you inject a bit of happiness and compassion into people’s daily existence.  If that doesn’t work, you always have the crew chief to help them get motivated, or to get someone who wants to work on your crew.

All of this is just as applicable to stage hands, too — if every day that you work is another day in hell, maybe you should get yourself into another line of work.  We’ve all got more to do in the short amount of hours in the day without having to put up with your shit attitude.  Seriously.  The large majority of us treat you all with the utmost respect and admiration because you make our days easier.  There’s no reason to act like a jerk when we’re only trying to do OUR jobs, too.

Industry pros, ask yourself:
“Do I think it’s OK to scream at my local crews in order to get the work done?”

If your answer is anything other than NO, maybe you ought to look into working with another industry’s people.  We don’t want you in our business.  You screw it up for every one of us every single time you take your personal problems out on a local stagehand.  I know the service industry is hiring, it might be a good idea to lose your God complex and see how it feels to be in service for a while.  That’s more of a humbling experience than death.

As for the talent?  Well…  as long as they keep paying, karma will sort that out on its own.

listen-to-the-stage-manager

$300,000 to Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Victims

Yeah, it’s not any easier to see.

Did you know that by law in the State of Indiana, the State cannot pay out more than five million dollars for one single tragedy, and it can pay no single victim more than $700,000?!  Ah, legislation.  If you can’t solve a problem, screw the constituents and remove the State of all fault.  That’s the Corporate way.

My source in Indiana says that all of the wreckage has been moved to a warehouse somewhere for “further study,” and that there’s a news story on every night or every few nights about how a reimbursement deadline has passed, or some other nightmare part of this mess has happened.  We’ve just come across a story here about how today is the last day for reimbursement deadlines if you’re taking the state’s offer of $300,000 for a death in this collapse.  A lot of people seem to think that $300,000 is a pretty rough lowball estimate on what their loss of life is worth.  Some people received just a small amount of money for injury, and some received a lot more – like a 17-year-old victim who is now paralyzed from the waist down.  He’s getting just $182,000 and change extra for his expenses.  He is paralyzed from the waist down.  Forever.  Not just until the just under $500,000 he’s being given runs out.   He’s paralyzed forever.  I guess he’s lucky that he’s not dead.  Life’s not getting in his way though – check out this article on how he’s doing, as he just learned to ski without the use of his legs.  Kinda awesome.

Somewhat of a schedule of payments was posted in an article at the Indy Star:

Families of each of the seven people who were killed will receive at least $300,000.

Surviving victims with physical injuries will get compensation for 65 percent of the medical expenses they accrued through Nov. 15.

A 17-year-old who is permanently paralyzed will receive an additional $182,476 for extra medical expenses.

All told, 65 victims — or families of Sugarland concertgoers who died — will receive state money, with payouts ranging from $109 to $503,042.

What gets left out? Future medical expenses and any expenses for psychological treatment.

Feinberg said the victims “have legitimate concerns about the amounts” they will receive, but he praised Zoeller for achieving, “with fingers crossed, (a) general consensus as to how the money should be allocated.”

However, that “consensus” doesn’t satisfy Kenneth J. Allen, the Valparaiso-based attorney who has already filed a lawsuit over the $5 million liability cap and the way the money is being handed out.

Allen, who represents six victims of the stage-rigging collapse, on Tuesday called the procedure “rash and not well-thought-out . . . just like the planning for the fair.”

This is a pretty ugly situation still, and I can only speculate that it will be one for a long, long time to come.  Right now, payouts for medical expenses stop for anything that happened after November 15, 2011.  So what happens if all of the medical expenses don’t stop for this thing until a year from now?  What if you’re paralyzed from the waist down forever?

You’ll be happy to know that truss collapse survivor and IATSE #30 member Steve Stover is alive and well, having had his entire face reconstructed.  As you can imagine, he’s slowly recovering and working through everything he’s experienced and survived.  Obviously he’s one of the lucky ones, being still alive and being mobile.

You know what makes me want to hurl about this whole thing?  All of the news is now about how the money is being doled out, or how the tort payments law in Indiana is unfair, or how “we need to revisit the law.”  People are dead.  There is a transparency that has been masked by the need to sink teeth into the money aspect of the incident, the need to get the restitution that I know I would feel if I were in any of these victims’ situations.  I didn’t want to be right about this, I wanted this one to be different.

Some additional linkage for this mess:

Talk about hindsight biting you directly on the tukkus – an executive from WLHK-FM came onstage right before the storm hit and gave a weather announcement.  Watch the video, read the transcript:

WLHK-FM (97.1) executive Bob Richards spoke on behalf of fair executive director Cindy Hoye and State Police Captain Brad Weaver.

Richards spoke for 55 seconds, and the statement is transcribed here:

“Good evening.  How are you?”
(cheers in crowd)
“As you can see to the west, there are some clouds.  We are all hoping for the best — that the weather is going to bypass us.  But there is a very good chance that it won’t.  So just a quick heads-up before the show starts:
If there is a point during the show where we have to stop the show onstage, what we’d like to have you do is calmly move toward the exits and then head across the street to either the Champions Pavilion, the Blue Ribbon Pavilion or the Pepsi Coliseum.  And then, once the storm passes and everything’s safe, we’re going to try our best to come back and resume the show — which we have every belief that that’s going to happen.”
(cheers in crowd)
“So please get ready, because in just a couple of minutes we’re going to try to get Sugarland onstage. Have a great show.”

$35,000 Per Life, and A Search Warrant for IATSE #30 – Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Update

So, it’s been a little while since we’ve had to see the images of the Indiana State Fair collapse during the Sugarland show on the grandstand. I want everybody to see some of these images again, I think the only way to freshly get it in your head is to see what happened.

First this happened:

Then all of these people did this:

I just read two articles on the collapse and the aftermath. One of them said that the families of the fallen concertgoers were each given $35,000 for their dead loved one and that the Indiana State Fair attendance is lagging due to the “incident,” the other article said that the IATSE Local in Indianapolis, IATSE #30, is experiencing some grind from the lawyers from the state of Indiana. From an article at the Indy Star:

Lawyers for the state and a stagehands union are working on an agreement to turn over documents relating to the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.

A lawyer for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 30 said Wednesday that he was willing to hand over apprenticeship training files on stagehands who were working at the fair when the accident occurred Aug. 13.

Local 30 stopped the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration from conducting a search of its Indianapolis union hall last week. The agency had obtained a search warrant requesting employment disciplinary records, apprenticeship training records, certificates, licenses and other documents.

“We are trying to resolve this in a nonadversarial way,” said William Groth, the lawyer for the union. “We want to cooperate. We just think a search warrant is the nuclear option.”

Marion Superior Court Judge David Shaheed on Wednesday extended a stay of the search warrant until Nov. 3.

Chetrice Mosely, a spokeswoman for the Department of Labor, said “both sides have agreed to enter a discussion as to how to resolve this. Our goal is to get the records so we can do a comprehensive investigation,” she said.

This is a real bummer. I don’t really have much to comment on about this, I just wanted to share these two stories, as this is still fresh in the hearts of the families and IA brothers and sisters still mourning the loss of their cherished.

Then there was this article

INDIANAPOLIS — Two high-level investigations into the fatal Indiana State Fair stage collapse may not be released in time to help prepare for next year’s fair, the fair’s director said Tuesday.

Indiana State Fair Executive Director Cindy Hoye told a group of lawmakers that information from separate investigations into the stage collapse that killed seven people may not be complete until mid-April.

The state has typically done much of its work for its three-week-long summer fair by that point.

The state hired international engineers Thornton Tomasetti to investigate the wreckage of the stage.

The state also hired Witt Associates to assess the fair’s emergency preparations. Witt has completed much of its work but will wait until the engineers complete their investigation before issuing a report together with them, Hoye said.

“We’re progressing right now with looking at our emergency preparations, we’re doing a lot of front end work,” Hoye said after the meeting. “I think that report will clarify and put a snapshot on some of the things we need to do.”

There is more to this article of course, here – what we should be taking away from this whole thing is the amazing amount of bureaucratic inflighting and policy clouding will be involved with the results of the collapse by that time.  Let’sd hope not much – but we can all watch the news and determine how good this situation is going to come about once it becomes filled with politics.  I sincerely hope for the sake of the hearts of those involved that this time is the one exception.

 

Help A Killed and An Injured Brother in the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse #hoosierstatecollapse PLEASE RT

UPDATE:  I have received information on how to make donations to Nate Byrd’s family.  Send donations to:

IATSE LOCAL 30
ATTN:NATHAN BYRD FAMILY (you MUST SPECIFY)
1407 EAST RIVERSIDE DRIVE
INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46202-2037

Right now we have a task to do for our fallen brother’s family in Indiana, everybody.  Nathan Byrd was up in the truss when it fell to the ground in a storm.  He was working to support his two kids, who are now in need of support because their father died in the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage on Saturday, August 14, 2011.  You’ve read the articles I’ve written about the disaster, and undoubtedly seen the video.

Nathan Byrd’s obituary:

Nathan Lee Byrd
51, of Indianapolis, passed away August 14, 2011. He was born September 24, 1959 to Alvin Lee and Loretta J. (Wilkerson) Byrd.

A lifelong resident of Indianapolis, Nathan was a graduate of Manual High School. He was a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local #30, where he was instrumental in the erection and lighting of stages for various venues in the Indianapolis area. He was a member of Calvary Tabernacle.  Visitation will be Wednesday, August 17, 2011 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Shirley Brothers Thompson Road Chapel , 3333 E. Thompson Rd., with funeral services Thursday at 1:00 p.m. at Calvary Tabernacle, 902 Fletcher Ave.  Nathan is survived by his parents, Alvin and Loretta Byrd; children, Trevor and Natalie Byrd; siblings, Randy Byrd, Kim Byrd, Marilyn Barfield (Joe), Scott Byrd and Bryan Byrd. http://www.shirleybrothers.com

This is a rough time for the families of all involved.  If you can do anything to help Nathan Byrd’s family, I know that they would be so grateful.  The brothers and sisters of IATSE Local 30 have started a fund for Nathan Byrd’s family at http://www.cicf.org/.  I’m so sorry I don’t have many details on the fund yet, but perhaps CIC will.  Shirley Brothers located above in Nathan’s obit might also know of ways to help the family.  If you have a few bucks, please help them out.  This is, as you can imagine, is not a good time for them.  If you can’t afford to help, then help yourself as we all have to do.  JimOnLight.com is making a donation.  If you have the means to help, skip a month of lattes, that’s what I’m doing to help this family.

Luck shone on Steve Stover, a stagehand from IATSE Local 30 who was also in the truss when it fell, but managed to not be killed in the fall.  From the last I heard about this after checking in on it, Steve is still in ICU in critical condition, is expected to make a recovery, but he’s apparently in for a long-winded recovery.  Lighting Designer Cosmo Wilson is asking that we send Steve a card for when he comes to in the ICU.  I just filled one out, slapped a stamp on it, and it is on its way.  If you wanna send Steve a little note, please do so by sending it to his hospital room:

Indiana University Health
Steve Stover / Room A5216
PO Box 1367
Indianapolis, IN 46206

Thanks for everything you do, everybody.  Help if you can, and send good thoughts if you can’t help out right now.

We need to have industry professionals involved with this investigation.  Somebody like Bill Sapsis, Erich Friend, somebody with the engineering background and the knowledge of our systems.  Perhaps they’re already involved, I personally do not know, but no one is doing or saying anything outwardly to put any comfort into this situation.  Our voice is the loudest when we speak as one people, one industry.  If you feel that you want this investigation made by people who are industrial professionals, please make your voice heard, leave a comment here.