Captain's log, star date zero one one, thirteen. As of yesterday before sunrise I found myself in a strange new place. Initial readings indicate that similar lifeforms to that found at previous locations are--
OK, I'll stop with the Star Trek referencing. I'm well aware of it's dorky-ness, but you have to understand that boredom has largely taken over my brain these days, and not for lack of change of venue.
This week the picketing schedules and locations changed. Due to Culver Studio's smaller size, the Guild decided to drop it from the picketing rotation. Myself, and my trusty crew (the people I work and write with) were diverted to Paramount studios. The picketing shifts also changed from 9 AM to 1 PM, and 1 PM to 5 PM, to 6 AM (!) to 10 AM, and 10 AM to 2 PM. I am under the impression that the major reason for this time change was so that the picketers could be present when the Teamsters who drive the production trucks onto the lot arrived -- the hope being that the Teamsters would honor the picket line, turn around, and disrupt production at the studios.
All these changes sent my team a flutter. First off many of them live on the evil (west) side of town, and so Paramount, which is located round the Hollywood parts was not particularly convenient for them. Secondly many of them balked at the draconian call time of 6 AM. The result of this shifting? My team has now fragmented. Some are doing Sony, some are doing Paramount, some are doing the very early shift, others the not so early shift.
Since I live close to Paramount (about ten minutes away, hallelujah!) I've been going there -- and the past two days I've done the 6 AM to 10 AM. First let me say that having your alarm go off at 4:53 AM is downright disconcerting. It's been dark outside when I leave the house, and never before has the desert climate of Hades (Los Angeles) been more apparent to me. When I pull up to the studio my car thermometer reads 55 F or so. When I pull away, we're up to 80 F.
Yesterday I started my shift outside of the Van Ness lot -- the one where the Teamsters generally pull up to. Ain't it downright picturesque?
We picketers were armed with flyers to hand out to the Teamsters to inform them more about the issues at hand, as we encouraged them not to cross the line. Unfortunately this endeavor was not very successful, not that I can blame them. These guys know that production may be shutting down for a while in the near future and they have families to feed. Though I don't think anyone else in my picketing group was angry at the Teamsters for crossing -- I do think the fact that our scheme wasn't working bred some frustration. Picketers started to walk obnoxiously in front of other cars trying to come in at times failing to let them pull into the driveway. Though many of the writers on the line may have fancied the drivers to be the big bad suits -- in reality they looked like a mixed bunch, whose scowls grew as picketers refused to stop their stomping to let they by. Though Emily Post may have fallen out of fashion -- common sense says to me you don't ingratiate someone to your cause by making them late to work. I left this gate of ornery picketers, to find another.
And find another I did. Voila -- the Bronson Gate.
There were about seven or eight writers at this gate -- where mostly suits and other administrative employee types drove in. The picketers were subdued and very polite, patiently giving right of way to every vehicle that wanted to turn in, even when we had the "walk sign" (there is a built in stoplight and crosswalk at the gate -- which allowed for nice albeit brief breaks to the constant trudging back and forth).
Thing is -- while the first bunch I was with were too cantankerous -- these guys were too docile. Too harmless, too nonthreatening, -- walking around without a sign pump to be seen, like animatronics Paramount had put out for passersby to stare at. "Oh honey, look at what the studios make the writers do in Hollywood! Those writers go around in circles for what seems like eternity only to realize they haven't gotten any further than when they first started." (Seriously one of the Hollywood Bus Tours stopped in front of us so the tourists could take pictures -- it was one of the lower points for me in all this) All this good behavior from my compatriots made me encourage honking -- from cars, buses, vans, anyone who I could get good eye contact with and then waving my sign around maniacally when they would. The thing is, when I'm the most vigilant in a crowd? Well, let's just say this does not bode well for the crowd...
I did the morning shift again today -- and stuck strictly to the Bronson Gate -- with a heavy heart that once again I would need to play the role of the rabble rouser. Little did I know I was about to be surrounded by a bunch of badasses. Uhuh, that's right.
(Let the record state that they were all actually extremely nice guys.)