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These last months I've made stitches in the quilt that is a many-year, regular professional contact with a player of some note. He sat with me at lunch one day after a particularly emotional beach walk and talk, hair uncharacteristically tussled since I was used to seeing it on set perfectly slicked back. Thus arose the subject of one of my favorite words: anti-macassar. That's why I knew that in the 20's men favored Macassar with which to slick their hair. The ladies didn't like what it did to the furniture and the anti-macassar was born. See John Garrett's Cart Antimacassar pictured below. I spent a year and a half learning to knit these things, which were originally patterned by Shakers as "dish or wash cloths" and adapted by me first as the Cart Antimacassar, then yarmulke, Desk Antimacassar, bra, thong, and today: Actor Macassar on the occasion of giving a small, portable blue/white one to this fella. The Actor Maccassar is to protect their makeup, set and face when they beat their heads against the wall. When I first left it with him, he put it on his middle finger as a ring and shield for the bird. Last i saw him on his way out, he had it perched on his forehead and was laughing. Good day.
Wiring = epic? Yes in the sense that wiring someone is in my fantasy world an operatic event: adjective op·er·at·ic \ˌä-pə-ˈra-tik\ 1: of or relating to opera 2: grand, dramatic, or romantic in style or effect Opera contains the maximum possible artful layers: orchestral works, song, dance, sets, costumes, stories, technical stuff galore. Much like motion pictures. Have been thinking more critically about how I conduct wiring sessions toward sharing some things I can only assume from artist and costumer feedback don't always happen. All of the following assumes you know your gear intimately, how to quickly troubleshoot, and maximize your particular electronics particular value. Awareness. Each moment of the process requires awareness and the collection of data points for future study. Time to study. Replay the game films. For me it's a kind of meditation on the process. What went smoothly. What could be more elegantly achieved whether sonically, logistically, or politically. Create openings for feedback loops by proving I remember what my colleagues prefer. Mental Confidence. From awareness and time sprouts mental confidence that engenders trust. Physical Confidence. Think of how people groom horses, how doctors and nurses are with your physicality. The physical confidence while placing a microphone was improved for me by means of an early and long connection to dance. Graceful dance. Predictable. Rhythmical. Respectful. Our process is certainly nowhere near an intimate as a prostate exam, but there's no reason I shouldn't treat our physical connection with the same clean, respectful and proven professional intimate touching technique. My wiring psycho-physicality lives somewhere between the dancer and the groomer/OB Gyn: once I move where they can't see me, I maintain contact with their body with at least a forearm as I move around mounting a transmitter and/or dropping a cable. Continued contact with the wire-ee especially important during ankle mounts, kneeling with hands out of sight. There is an economy of movement. I say in advance what I want to do. "With your permission I plan to run the mic in through this armhole, right to the middle and onto the fabric of the Spankx, then to the transmitter that will fit smoothly under the jacket on the waistband. Let's make sure we don't see it on your waistband before we get too far." When I'm finished, I always tap them twice so that if they're in conversation or saying lines they know I've finished without distraction and can relax. There are hand signals I train AD's to recognize, # of wires among them. Communication. "Welcome to my cart-away-from-home where you are an honored guest," is what I endeavor to convey with body language, especially someone's first time at the cart. Beyond the introduction I'm a chick of few words at first. Furthermore, I become in my head a restauranteur: the professional host. Learned to quickly and accurately read customer mood from college and high school years as--ultimately--a high-end waitress. Private? Silent? Modest? Small talk? Philosophy? They have props/drink/sides? Vanna White shows them, "You win! This is YOUR cupholder, this your personal shelf. Jacket here. Let me make you comfortably at home." So much fun. Psychology. Every time we do the thing it gets better. I think about it. Refine the process. Call their attention to significant improvements with a Twitter-length sentence. The moment of pointing out the plant mic is something I enjoy almost as much as their playing to said mic. I serve plant mics up like a 5-star chef presenting the entrée to POTUS. Sound cart as refuge. Cart placement is generally far enough from the fray that it feels significantly less hectic than near camera. It's a calm space. Quiet, positive space. When practical, I clear extraneous people away in advance of an artist's landing. Sacred Trust. Given the microphones, I consider that connection with the artists a sacred trust; I endeavor to illustrate that reverence with every word, movement and action. Respect. I'm never finished wiring until I've put on the costumer's hat and given 'em the once over. I put that costumer hat on when I'm evaluating a new costume, too.
First working sound cart I talked myself into visiting was Dennis Maitland's as he mixed "In Search of Bobby Fisher" in Washington Square Park. He told me very first thing, "Never fuck anybody you work with." Took him at his word. As for those with whom I eventually fell in love, love consciously ended the working relationship. Well, Bill Daly did boom for me one day after we moved in together. Other than that stellar day of learning, no. Sacrifices? Yes. The next thing Dennis showed me--EXT Times Square--was to keep the boom up until just after, "Action" so what was accomplished with the wires was heard in dailies. Later learned he was considered among his peers a Master Politician. Fancy myself a wannabe in that respect, so I study it. Practice it. Learn from the best, among them my excellent boom operator and partner in sound, Brendan O'Brien. I also play with marketing, advertising, PR (see photo). At one point in personal development, fired my shrink and hired a PR person. Like that. As an aspiring human who sees as well as hears, visual art helps me hone that skill. Student of human nature. Seeker of honesty. I love this gig. Compromise remains difficult. 695 Quarterly has invited me to contribute a chick-in-the-biz sound byte. Better get crackin' on that.