THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, part 2 — by Mike Fornatale
November 3, 2003
by Mike Fornatale
I can’t recall why I didn’t go up to the hotel roof after the Philadelphia show with Paula, Chapple, and Julie. I think I was probably too beat. I had had a rough time wrestling the rental equipment back into its cases. The first try is often difficult — what with sprung springs and bent latches and so forth, and this time was no exception. The Troc (gorgeous ancient theater, as discussed previously) has a stage which is actually a raised platform with floor-level walkways around its sides and back, and a long stairway at the back of stage left (clearly visible from the audience) that goes from the floor all the way up to the dressing room door (also clearly visible from the audience.) This lets the artiste make a very dramatic entrance if he/she so chooses. It also means that — after the show ends — when the band and orchestra disappear, they REALLY disappear. And whomever is left out onstage packing up the gear (hi, pleased to meetcha) is pretty much on his own.
Given that, and the fact that I was distracted constantly by a couple of dozen Audience Types who either wanted to meet Arthur or penetrate one of the orchestra members (or both, how the hell do I know?) it took longer than it should have for me to wrangle the Amp Dogies back into the corral, as it were. I didn’t wanna be rude to (most of) The Audience Types, with the single exception of Bruce The Lover (immortalized elsewhere) and his equally annoying friend. Glassy-eyed Arthur Lovers kept coming up to me and asking when he was going to come out and waft some words of wisdom down on their heads or something. Well, he wasn’t of course, but you never know. So I just told them to stay put. But they kept talking and I kept trying to work.
My own personal Double Helix lacks the gene that would let me say “Piss off, you nitwit, can’t you see I’m trying to work here? Can’t you see that by the time I get upstairs there will be NO BEER?” I do, however, have plenty of the genes that let me THINK that. Which was no help, of course. Finally, Daddy-O came down the stairs and asked “How’s it goin’, Mike?” — which, for those of you who’ve never done Backline Tech before, is a friendly query which translates roughly to “What the f**k is taking you so long, douchebag?”
So I redoubled my efforts with the prodigal hinges and clasps, but I wasn’t getting much done. I think the entire ordeal was only about half an hour but it seemed like an eon. This is all very fascinating, isn’t it?
A few minutes later, Daddy-O came back down the stairs and said “Everything okay, Mike?” — which, you’ve guessed by now, translates to “ARE YOU CRIPPLED OR JUST AN IDIOT???” But I was done shortly thereafter, and we piled all the stuff into the two vans (“stuff”, of course, is a designation that includes eleven musicians) and made it safely back to the hotel. Most of us sat in Paula’s room and decompressed for a while, and then a few of ’em went up to the roof to take pictures or do whatever it is you do on a roof. Either I was too tired or I was afraid Paula’s Satanic Stuffed Bear might try and toss me over the side, I dunno. I just went back to my room.
The next morning everyone was still alive so I guess it turned out okay. I went around the corner and gassed up the van — holy jumping spittoons, those things hold a lot of gas — and came back to the hotel to pick up my lovely charges.
Gene (The Red Telephone) had a minivan that carried Arthur, his man Leon, a bunch of cargo, and one or two band members depending on whim. Pete drove the cargo van with one other band member. That left me with the passenger van, one or two band members, and the entire orchestra.
I’m absolutely awful with names and faces, but these are the kind of folks you get to know very quickly. They’re all very nice and they’re all absolutely nuts, each in his/her own unique way, and that makes it easy to tell ’em apart.
And it’s off we go, through Maryland, without incident. Mainly. Though I should note, with only the deepest affection, that one of the ladies (whose palindromic name I will not repeat here — NO — don’t ask me — I will not) apparently has a bladder the size of a neutrino.