Punk Rock Eulogy

There’s a statistic that says if you make it into the latter part of your 50’s clear of cancer and heart disease, there’s a good chance you’ll live well into your 80’s.

But there’s a corollary: all the other stuff that can take you out before you ever hit 60. Things you can die from at 18 or 53, 31 or 45, birth or 27.

Brain tumor, birth defect, suicide, landslide, broadside, embolism, aneurysm, undiagnosed diabetes, untreated depression, untreated alcoholism, overdose, stroke, heart attack.

No matter how many times it happens, it’s devastating when someone dies unexpectedly.

An acquaintance of mine– a really great stagehand– died all of a sudden last week. He was only 45, putting up a show, and his heart gave out. No warning. I can’t get him out of my mind even though I only played through his town twice.

How does someone you’ve worked with exactly twice leave a mark like that?

When you’re a stagehand on the road, everything changes with every move: Your home, your workplace, your co-workers. An awful lot of how it goes depends on the local crew in the new town. They can make your life easy or make it a living hell.

They can either tell you how to get in & out of the best BBQ joint in town on the lunch hour, or give you wrong directions on purpose. They can load your show in like a dream before you even ask for anything, or they can unplug cables on the sly. They can tell you how to make friends with the head carpenter or set you up to unwittingly play into their long-held feud.

When you played through Providence, Pop didn’t make your life easy or hard; he made your life interesting. He was a truly unique individual and had so much in his life in addition to being a stagehand. Outspoken doesn’t even begin to describe him. If you played through Providence and he liked you, he made sure to stay in touch through email and text before there was Facebook. His was, of course, one of the first Facebook friend requests I received.

He was so punk rock, in the truest sense: no bullshit, and never concerned about what people thought of him. His ideals, his friends, his family, and his work ethic were sacred. He always helped people get what they needed.

He was a staunch union advocate. He backed artists and spread the word on Kickstarter projects. He turned people on to local bands and was quick with gems of history from the scene. He sent comic books to little kids when they had surgeries. He spread the word for fundraisers.

When I posted about #4 being Gene Simmons for Halloween, he sent me a picture of himself as Gene from back in the day. He emailed me when a new guy I had trained played through Providence to tell me what a good job he was doing, how he was holding his own. When my niece Colby died, he shared with me how he was born prematurely and his own twin didn’t make it.

My favorite Pop memory was a small, perfect moment on a work day. We started the show call and I put on Queensrÿche’s Operation Mindcrime to test my sound system, quite possibly the most ridiculous thing that feeds my soul, and walked the house. When I went back to the console I saw Pop sitting in the seats with another stagehand. For some reason I thought they were having a meeting and said, “Sorry, Pop, I’ll cut the music,” and Pop goes, “Nah nah nah, leave it. Turn it up.”

I turned it up. Someone dimmed the house lights. Other guys drifted out and sat down in the dark to listen. We played the album out until they opened the house.

People die young and you’re left there going, What the fuck? 

Would they give anything for it to not be over yet, or in the moment they passed, did they suddenly understand everything they came here to remember?

I don’t want to spend much time thinking about that. I’ll get my own answer soon enough. I picture asking Pop that question and him saying, “Nah, nah, nah, leave it. Turn it up.”

Will do, Pop.

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Chris Popoloski’s Obituary

IATSE Local 23 Photo Gallery

Mindcrime:

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I think we made it

In the [truly] immortal words of the lead character in my show, it is finished.

We open tonight.

Finally.

At some point during the party that follows the show, reviews will start to post online. People with iPhones (which is everyone except me) will read them and word will spread. What did they say? Did they like it? Do we have to look for work next month, or can I buy a new laptop?

And after tonight, irrespective of critics and ticket sales, I start to get my life back.

Right now it looks like this:

That’s our room. All my mess.

Underneath that pile is my writing desk.

My life also looks like this:

*sigh*. Well, at least I know they ate.

I took the kids to school for the first time in months this morning.  I overslept. I was cranky and snappy. There wasn’t enough food for lunches for everyone (not that I had time to make them all anyway). But damn, it was good to see them. I tripped over their shoes and ignored the clothes on the living room floor and gave them money, and sat with the pull of truth inside of what a terrible job I’ve done on the parenting side of things during this production period.

I’m glad we’re at the end of this.

Lots of people have jumped in to help us get through the past couple months, including my mom, my sister, and some of the best babysitters in the world. CC is amazing, the way he’s kept everything running while going into production on his own show. The kids have also stepped up and taken on more responsibility. All while I get to work with some of my favorite people, doing a pretty kick-ass thing. I’m a very, very lucky woman.

Hey, when did we get a rat?

To all the incredibly talented people – and I do not say that lightly – that I am fortunate enough to work with, I say: Thank you. Break legs. And, hopefully unnecessarily preemptively, Ben Brantley is a twat.

Merde!

Too Much Cuteness For One Post (not that it’s stopping me)

I was reading and commenting on some blogs this morning and I noticed one of the results of this work schedule I’m keeping right now: I’m not funny. I’m not feeling funny, I’m not making anybody laugh, and I am not amused.

Clearly, it’s time for puppy pictures.

We finished up at the shop last week and started loading the new show into the theater. I’m still at my old show at night for another week. It’s good to finally be in the door loading in, and we have a kick ass crew.

But I will miss the shop dogs, Gracie and Tucker.

They’re awesome.

And now for puggles.

It’s essential to note that I did not pose any puggles for these photos.

There. I feel better already.

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