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Many Thanks to All as We Ramble and Roll…

Apr 3

In Tours at 10:29pm

Picked up again for the second half of the Flashbus Tour. Atlanta Saturday, Nashville Sunday, Raleigh Durham today. This has been one of those once in a lifetime adventures, nothing short of amazing. People across the country have been so gracious. The bus has alternately been loaded with gifts of cookies, donuts, beer, brownies, coffee, candy, beer,  flashlights, and, well, more beer. We have certainly been a motley crew, especially anybody who sees us in the morning, staggering around a loading dock, pre-shower, moving gear and boxes out of the hold of the bus. Very glam, life on the road. Often, we wake up behind some giant building in a parking lot, near a dumpster. I think we have gotten some gifts just because people feel bad for us.

No loading dock in Austin though, where we got a chance to move the bus inside the venue we were staging at. Cool! Gave us a chance to light the bus. Had about 20 VALs (you can see their feet under the bus) and about 50 or 60 art directors for this shot.

This trip has been one of discovery and reaffirmation for me.

For instance, I can confirm that breakfast sandwiches anywhere are really just a vehicle for ketchup.

Heard on the road: “You’re actually really nice. In all your pictures, you look mean.”

A life on the road as a photog makes you quite adaptable to all manner of conditions. For instance, living on a bus is not a big deal. In fact, it’s much, much nicer than many places I have temporarily hung my hat.

I can sleep anywhere, even at dinner. the younger guys on the bus chuckle about it, as the geezer just drifts away, but each of them has had some sort of malaise or illness so far, while the old guy chugs along.

Young Cali is in the throes of an internet romance. If I see him text one more time, I’m going to de-digitize him somehow.

Grippi is a road warrior, and may have found his calling as an emcee. He routinely describes Hobby as “The man who made us re-think the use of our tupperware!” Hysterical.

Sam Spratt is an incredible artist. He did the amazing illustration for the bus, and Andy Szejko at a Few Loose Screws worked up the overall artwork for the bus and the website. Jamie Mullican and the crew at Adnormous wrapped the bus and turned it into a giant, rolling cartoon.

Heard on the road: “Joe, are you limping, or are you just old?”

Hapa Sushi in Denver is the best sushi I have ever had in the continental US. Only thing better I have had is sushi at the fish market in Tokyo, and well….the only more immediate thing I could do would be to  catch it myself and go Gollum on it.

Heard on the road: “Is this bus like the one in Girls Gone Wild?”

Don’t have a group meal at a Mexican restaurant and then get on a bus. (I’m resigned to it though. This summer I go back to Santa Fe, and inevitably one of our class dinners is at a big Mexican type restaurant where all the food sloshes into the middle of the plate and looks like somebody already ate it once.)

The crew on the bus…..

First off, the big guy….Jeff Snyder of Adorama. As I always say, Adorama is the one who put the gas in the tank. Their support got us rolling. So, technically, he’s the client, and given that fact, we should be bringing him cappucino and scones on a platter every morning. But, Jeff ain’t like that. He pulls and hauls like the rest of the crew. He’s sleeps across from me, so when I pull back my curtain, he’s the first thing I see in the morning, which is very disconcerting. My morning salutations to Jeff have ranged from “Good morning, sunshine” to “Fuck off.”

David Hobby….he sleeps in the bunk below me, and I can always tell when he’s awake, ’cause his light glows upwards along the wall and I can hear him tapping out his blog, or moderating comments, or other tasks involved in running the worldwide strobist web. Given the amazing numbers of his readers, it’s very tempting to grab his computer while he’s not looking and tweet, you know, “TTL rules!” or “Manual Sucks!” or something pithy like that to his network.

Drew Gurian….overall producer. He keeps things running, which means paying attention to all the detail stuff, as well as the big stuff, and keeping Grippi and Cali organized, which is a bit like herding cats. He has to ask a lot of questions, some of which Phil, our driver, has deemed so dumb that he has nicknamed Drew “Shortbus.”

Karen Lenz….Lenzbaby directs traffic, organizes the VALs and is our interface with each venue. If it goes well, that’s a happy face, and if it is problematic, well, you don’t want to mess with Lenz before she’s showered, breakfasted and caffeinated. The fact that we have had very few of the typical last minute venue bobbles you could expect is a tribute to her fearsome organizational skills, and uh, persuasive demeanor. Lenz is also a goddess among women. Has to be, as she has put up with 6 flatulent men in a confined space for weeks.

Sleeping on the bus for me has been like sleeping on a train. Engine rumbles, low hum…lights out. a sleeping pill on wheels.

Heard on the road: From the waiting line to get in…..”Hey Joe, try not to suck today.”

Waking up every day at 5am in a loading dock is a good way to keep your feet on the ground. no blue only bowls of m&m’s, no vats of Dom sloshing around on this bus.

Everyplace we have staged has it’s own personality. At the Colorado Convention Center, we, as usual, put up stands with directional signs to our room, and each stand cost $10. We couldn’t use carts to load in, unless we wanted to take out a second mortgage. By contrast, the Seattle Convention Center did back flips for us. The manager there, Bruce, was so helpful we all started calling him Bruce Almighty.

More crew… Grippi….Is a whirling dervish of activity, except after setup in the morning when you can generally find him under a table, asleep on the floor, with his shoes off. It’s okay, he can go zero to sixty in about a half a second.

Cali… aka, Justin Bieber. He is the star of the soft core porno portion of my teaching stint. When he goes double guns for a picture, women in the audience just melt down. Lots of people in audiences have probably wanted to take him home. Unfortunately for him, most folks in our audience are older guys.

Phil, our driver…..Phil tells it like it is. He has driven a motorcycle at over 200mph. I suggested he could beat out any trooper on the highway at that speed, and he shook his head. “Radio’s always faster,” he said.

When told we had done a group shot while he was asleep, and thus not in it, he shrugged and said, “Well, then, it’s not a group.”

I can tell we are becoming family ’cause we are starting to eat off each other’s plates.

If you’re going to take a break from a long road trip, San Diego is a real good place to do it.

The volunteer corps, all the VALs, have been routinely amazing. So helpful. They have been gangbusters at every stop.

I think the younger guys are worried that I’m going to have some sort a nervous system train wreck, and they’ll have to start wheeling me onstage, where I’ll tap out out “Group B, Minus One” on an Ipad with my chin. Or I could be like George Lucas as a director and just have a bicycle horn taped to my chair. One beep is “faster,” and two beeps is “more intense.”

More tk…

107 Responses to “Many Thanks to All as We Ramble and Roll…”

Jason says:

on April 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Thanks for taking the time to do this. The pricing was reasonable, the experience was amazing, and you and David are true professionals. You’ve inspired countless on this trip. See you next time!

Steve St.Lawrence says:

on May 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Joe,
God bless all the heroes and heroines of 9/11. We share similar feelings about getting Bin Laden. Hopefully a threat to more lives has been ended. I pray that it brings some closure for the families and friends of those lost. But sadly, it doesn’t bring back those were lost on 9/11 or defending America since.

Thanks for telling the story about Louie. We need to celebrate those extraordinary acts of heroism.

Sheron Fertal says:

on August 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Salute, I really like your article, your writing form is to the point and if this is a true sample of your whit, I will be back!.

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