This is long. I can't help it - it's not me, it's LIFE. "March came in like Lion" to quote Mssrs. Rogers and Hammerstein. Yes it did. A big fat freakin lion that bit a chunk out of our asses.
It's been a rough week all things considered. The good news is that the progress in the lobby, by the day, is palpable and quite exciting. Now when you walk into the entrance it is actually starting to look like something architectural that people might, you know, do on purpose. :) We've suddenly moved from the inside of our building look like a scrap yard meets unfinished basement, to something that might someday be a foyer.
I am proud to report that we have ALMOST finally won the War of the Walls (which is like the War of the Worlds without Tom Cruise but almost the same death toll). Finally the resident masonry expert was called in (yup, that PeGan woman again), and she proclaimed that what we needed to deal with the final most annoying spots (and I mean more annoying than Andie McDowell's film career) was something called Bonding Plaster. So, I went to the hardware store and asked for bonding plaster whereupon they looked at me as if I was, well a small hyperactive confirmed bachelor who doesn't know anything about hardware, and told me very nicely that no such thing existed. I returned home in disgrace (but WITH gummy bears (the best thing about the hardware store)) but LUCKILY this coincided with the the arrival of said PeGan. Margaret took me in hand and we ventured to the OTHER hardwares store whereupon she zipped into the aisle where the joint compound and plaster and stuff was and immediately grabbed the correct bag. Which, I might point out in my defense, had neither the words 'bonding' nor 'plaster' emblazoned upon it. It was called "Patching Compound". Whatev.
So Margaret had arrived that morning in order to assist us with this plaster like patching matter, since frankly, it's not my finest skill. Every time I mix the stuff by the time I get to the wall and lift up my trowel it's all turned into rock OR I make it and it looks like a very unsavory vichyssoise. So. She came to rescue me. Now, as the day went on Margaret managed to paint half the lobby, build a scale model of the Eiffel Tower, convince the living Beatles to do a Benefit Concert for Eckert's Across America, and coerce Hillary into wearing a "Barack and Roll" tee shirt. But she didn't get the plastering done. Alas. This only was slightly amusing because she DID have time to paint a wall a color "just to see what it would look like" :). I am not making this up. Ok, I'm making it sound sillier than it is. See, we had managed (with the exception of the gold leaf on the inside edges of the ceiling ledges) gotten a full coat of paint on everything in the lobby. Except those side kind of inset walls on each side. They were still primer grey. And they kept asking me what they were going to be, and my answer was "I don't know yet". Because those walls originally were going to be something different before the bar got relocated. Sooo... I was going to wait until everything else was done and then take a picture and play with options in photoshop. But these Eckhert's want ACTION. So, Madge just decided to paint the wall the darkest tone of brown to see what it looked like. Ah well. It looks very nice for now - and now at least I have time to figure out a more elaborate scheme while it is no longer aesthetically frustrating.
So anyway - here's a pic of the ceiling edges painted. The brown still needs a second coat, and the faces of each ledge get gold leafed. Which of course I have no idea how to do. Yet. :)
Another part of the PeGan wall solution was to try and get the walls a little defrosted from their usual arctic state. So Larry dropped off his salamander. This thing is amazing and I want one. And I venture to say Larry hasn't had another guy covet his salamander since he swore off showering at the West Hollywood YMCA. No. No. No. A salamander my little cupcakes is THIS:
It's some kick-butt kerosine heater thingy that folks use on job sites to keep warm. And this thing is like standing in front of a 747 jet engine. It's TOASTY. Jo Jo want warm thing. Anyway - it warmed up the walls, and us, for the weekend. Actually most of the weekend I was working on the cake for the Holzingers'. The party was today - so I can show it to you now. Their son is going on his fourth tour of Iraq and has a purple heart. Because we had to go on a chair-scouting trip today (we'll get there, be patient) I had to have it ready for pick-up by Saturday night. And I hate running out of time. So I basically had the cakes baked and going through the magic Linda freezer moisture process - and then started Friday night to frost and decorate. I stayed up till about 5:30 am, then got up at 11 and had the thing done by 2 in the afternoon. When I called Gloria, the mom, to let her know she could pick it up it transpired that they only had a pick up and she thought she would be able to get it home on her lap. Not so much. The cake is like three feet long. So, luckily, the Queen of Pork (who had just stopped by to see the cake) kindly offered to do a delivery with me. They were really happy with it, which was awesome...and hopefully their son, Rob, liked it too.
I actually didn't get started on the cake until late Friday night because we went to a sort of farewell party for Margaret's sister, Julia. She's a pediatrician and she's moving to a new practice out of town. So they had a shindig at this place called 'Rumrunners' which was awesome. They had a piano bar (which both Rich and i were astounded to learn was NOT an exclusively confirmed bachelor genre ('piano bar' to us conjures images of 200 lonely intoxicated males with an unhealthy obsession with torchsongs singing "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going"). It was actually a DUO piano bar - two guys on dueling keyboards and they were really, really, really great. If we could afford them and they didn't tour around (apparently they send them on worldwide Rumrunners performance tours) they would be amazing candidates for musical director for the Supper Club. Anyway - these guys were very fun and actually quite, quite naughty. They also had this bizarre thing called a "Phrase Board" upon which an individual, for a dollar, could write whatever they wanted and the piano dudes had to keep saying it. If you wanted to CHANGE the quote then it cost two dollars. And then three. And then eventually people become drunk enough to want to guarantee the longevity of their quote so they put down twenty. And, apparently, by the end of the night (we had left) somehow it ended up costing over a hundred bucks to change the board. I'm now using our wipe off board in the kitchen for the same purpose, but Po isn't taking the bait. And, you will be very proud of me, I did not change the board to say anything regarding Pork or it's Queen. Ok. Rich wouldn't give me the money. But you should still be proud of me.
So Saturday, while I was finishing up the cake, Margaret arrived (with, I might add, no guilt applied by myself at ALL) to fix the plaster. I'm telling you, this woman makes Mother Theresa look like Courtney Love.
Anyway - not only did she come work the WHOLE DAY and prime all the interior walls with Janice (yup - you heard me PRIMED) she also brought along Larry. And, apparently, walked in and said "Larry's here to work - what'dya need doing". Really - I don't know how to thank them.
So Larry and Rich spent the entire day working electrical - and, of course, because Larry is apparently related to a Zulu tribesman, I'm unable to take any pictures of them working because "black box shoot lighting and steal soul" or something. At first Rich was worried that he couldn't be working with Bob while he was working with Larry, but apparently Bob said something along the lines of "Get the hell over there and learn something". Problem solved :) I'll get to what Bob was working on later...
So. Like I said the walls in the inner lobby are all primed. Ok. Not all. There isn't paint on those problem areas yet because we decided that they could use one more swipe with the goo to get them perfectly smooth. BUT they are not bubbling up. They are not peeling. They are GOOD TO GO. Which means - in the lobby at least - the skim coating is DONE. Thank you St. Margaret and Sister Janice. This has been accomplished after, and we went through...get this...
1) NINE five gallon buckets of joint compound. Yes. Nine. Forty gallons of goo. 2) 4 orbital sanders gave their lives for us to have smooth walls. Turns out the Black and Decker orbital sanders (which are nice because they aren't heavy - which is an issue when you're sanding for four hours at a stretch) just couldn't hack the dust and eventually they would give out. We actually went through five sanders - but the fifth one is still alive. 3) 2 shop vacs. (Again, the copious amount of dust killed them.) But, let me tell you, after the Pack Leader started attaching the shop vac hose directly to the sander in place of the dust bag - life got a whole lot more pleasant. Really - it cut the powder in the air down by about eighty percent. So - if you're doing this - ATTACH A SHOP VAC...ok, yah, and kill it. 4) One bottle of conditioner. What? The stuff sucks the moisture out of your hair - these things matter. :)
Janice also spent the weekend working on the metal deco palm light thingies which live in each corner of the lobby. As they were, in their Kermit green state, they didn't look all that appetizing. But on closer inspection we realized that they had hundreds of little pin holes in them to let light shimmer through...but over the years and five coats of paint, they had all been filled in. So, they needed stripped. Rich and Janice's original plan, and I am NOT making this up, was going to be to soak them in a Kiddie Pool of store-brand Diet Soda. They do these things, I swear, in some sort of 'fried egg in skillet, this is your brain on drugs' kind of message to me about what said golden liquid nectar of the gods might be doing to my inside. yada yada yada. Sadly, it transpired that the kiddie pool (which they had discovered in basement... (really I don't want to know WHY it was there)) had leaks. Sooo... Janice decided that she would dip each palm, section at a time into a trash bucket. Filled with Diet Soda.
See you could make fun of her... if it didn't freaking work.
What else... Since we last spoke, Rich and I had a lovely meeting with a local force of nature named Debbie Dyer who is the head of the La Fontaine Arts Council. La Fontaine is a location in Huntington, a street in Huntington, and, apparently, a person this Council is named after. I thought the Council was part OF the building but it's not. And the building is pronounced fontAINE and the street is pronounced Fountain (like water). You say potato, Dan says potatoe, whatever. Anyhoo - they are like the local arts outreach organization and, through the Lady of the Loin, she asked if we could have lunch. And, since the lunch was supposed to be at Jean Anne's restaurant, Jean Anne said SURE we would. We would have anyway :) She was super, super nice and so enthusiastic about what we're trying to do, and offered to help anyway she could. She really is hoping that we'll be able to partner on some educational outreach stuff in schools and things - which we really do want to have as part of our mission. We told her that stuff like that won't be possible straight away because we'll be to strung out - but that it's certainly a priority for us and something we think is important. I mean, arts in the schools is being slashed, and we have to make Luke Eckert a STARRRR! (Luke is the tenderloin postcard posterboy, coming soon to a pork-related establishment near you. Or rather near us.)
Now, ever since Rich sang on the youtube video, it seems people think we're song and dance men. And, as I've pointed out in the past, I've never actually met a performer in my life who hates performing as much as Rich. Usually, just for your frame of reference, people who love performing don't LEAVE places where they can get jobs and go BUILD somewhere for other people to perform. I had to practically hold a gun (Larry's shotgun to be precise) to him in order to get him to sing for the video. Anyway. The other day, it was suggested that Rich perform "Beauty School Dropout" for the local Follies. (I don't believe Mr. Ziegfeld is directly involved.) And THEN in the process of our meeting Debbie, she mentioned a fundraiser they're going to be putting together and asked if we could provide the entertainment. Ourselves. At first thought she meant, like, put something together. And we talked about bringing the Supper Club people here early - but we didn't want to present them in a full length free concert and then ask people to pay to see them a week later. But what Debbie needs for this event has to be gratis, and we can't absorb the cost of a full week salary for four people. But then Debbie said "well, I thought the two of you could do it...Can't the two of you do something that would entertain people for an hour?". I said: "Well, we could bicker."
Which, frankly, is pretty entertaining (just ask Jean Anne. See Rich and I don't really get a chance to try and kill each other when Bob and Janice are around, so if they've been here for like two weeks straight or something, so we end up going all Jerry Springer in her car all the time. :)
Anyhoo. We also brought Debbie over to see the foyer and she thought it was awesome. It was really nice to get feedback from someone who hasn't been watching it along the way. It kind of had the before and after impact (she knew the space from before we started) that we hadn't witnessed since things started coming together. You just wait you Rotarians... if we're still alive, you're gonna love it. :)
So - anyway I started by saying that this week was not all kicks and giggles. In fact, the only kicks felt like they were to the head. If the dear old Queen once referred to the year Charles and Diana split as her "Anus Horriblus", this has been our "Weekus Horriblus". I also would like advance credit for not making any elaborate jokes about the word Anus.
Our tenant on the LEFT side of the building vacated this weekend without too much fuss. Which was in itself a great relief. After a 600 dollar water bill, a frozen pipe and the heat being turned off without us being informed... it had already caused enough stress. We're not sure what the storefront's future will be long-term, but if anyone has an itch to open up shop, please give us a shout. It's a shame that our tenant couldn't really drum up a lot of business, but I think having a giant neon sign that says "Reflexology" instead of "Facials" doesn't help. And, when we were dealing with the water, we felt that this particular certificate wouldn't instill a great deal of confidence if I were, say, about to have someone perform an acid peel or laser dermabrasion on my, y'know, face. Just read it a couple times over for any typographical irregularities:
So. That particular oogey part of the week was over. THEN on Sunday we were scheduled to go check out our friend Ray's brothers salvage Valhalla about an hour and fifteen minutes away. This activity was actually about the best part of the week. The drive there was actually the first time Rich and I had been on our own in quite a while, so I celebrated the occasion - by sleeping most of the way there. So, Ray's brother store was really cool (now, he IS a PeGan, yup they're EVERYWHERE, so we expected nothing less). It's like this ginormous warehouse PLUS another cute downtown Olde Curiousity Shoppe typey placey. The warehouse was like that scene at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie when they pan out of that warehouse full of stuff and stuff and stuff. It's HEEEYYYUGE. There was, I am NOT making this up - a 12 foot shoe, carousel horses AND five complete Audrey II plants from 'Little Shop'. Tragically he didn't have 30 chairs for the supper club/Rotary which we were scouting for. But we did get a bunch of dessert and appetizer plates for receptions etc. at a phenomenal price. AND we got table bases for the supper club tables Rich is going to build. And a boom mic for the piano player. AND, and, and kids, he also has like this whole room of bolts of fabric that was surplus and stuff. And they had - get this - some really nice heavy black upholstery fabric with gold and brown... YUP...diamonds. whoo hoo. See, before the Pack Leader came up with the supper club idea we bought enough upholstery fabric for the chairs we HAD, not the chairs we now have plus the ones we NEED. So we're looking for a complementary fabric. And I think this stuff is good. We actually had a fifteen minute debate in the Olde Curiousity Shoppey Typey Placey about whether or not the fabric was black or blue...which, although it sounds quite mundane, between three confirmed bachelors can be quite impassioned. Ray's brother, Pete, by the way is not only a really nice guy - but quite the salesman. My favorite two sales pitch lines were: "Well, you know, green goes with everything." and: "these knives are so plain they'll work with any set you have". Really? What about, say, these...?
On our way back we exposed Lee to his very first, yes FIRST, trip to Denny's. No longer can he say he is a rooty tooty fresh and fruity virgin. Ok, maybe one out of the five :).
Anywayyyy... While we were rummaging, meanwhile back at the old red barn Janice and Bob were on call to meet with the carpet installer who was going to arrive to measure and give an estimate while we were out. Rich had been through a detailed conversation with the nice people at Lowes to book the appointment - and we had been informed that it would be a little bit pricier than their normal install price "since it was commercial." Any second now these quotations are going to be important. Anyway - Rich explained to them that we had to had to had to have the carpet installed by April 1st (giving us enough time to do finish work for the Rotary). They said as long as the guy came Sunday and we ordered Monday, we'd be just fine. While we're on the road the guy calls Rich and says he's on his way... Rich says "It's the big THEATRE you can't miss it." Yup, these quotations and capitals will soon hold relevance. The dude, as it was relayed to us from Jan Jan, arrived. Came in. Looked at the room and said "This is commercial. I only do residential". And left. Bye bye. Grrrrreat. Now the Pack Leader, upon hearing this, on top of our other trials of the week, said something like "@#^$&*()%_%)($@@**" Clearly the people at Lowes knew the job was commercial since they told us it would BE MORE for commercial. Luckily when Rich called them they were super nice, very apologetic, and said that it was very strange because that installer had commercial listed on his profile, and they would send someone in time for us to get the carpet in time. So, they're coming tomorrow. Sigh. Ok, sigh with a feeble 'yay' tacked on at the end.
On top of the other stuff going on (and we haven't even started the worst thing kids) we had an article appear in Business Weekly magazine with a color photo. Now, yes, this would normally be cause for great elation. However right below our picture, due to the slightly incongruous way they do their layout) it said "Pulse Opera house to present six shows this season". The Pulse Opera House is the local community theatre. in case, in the process of reading this blog you haven't figured this out, we're not the Pulse Opera House. So I was preturbed. Dear adorable nurturing maternal Rose at the Visitor's Center was the one who gave me a copy of the article when I first saw it. Because Rose is the definition of a glass half full person, she opened it up and handed to me like a present on Christmas morning (because after all - it was a pretty big article with a color picture). I however looked at it and said, as I recall, something rhyming vaguely with 'fire truck'. Ah, well, there's no such thing as bad (or confused, I suppose) publicity. Rose was so perplexed that I wasn't thrilled...apparently soon after she went over to show the publication to Jean Anne (who also had a VERY nice picture and article about her). Before Rose even mentioned anything about our encounter, apparently Jean Anne opened it up, saw our article and said (not making this up)...
"The Jo Jo isn't going to be happy about this."
is there anything better in life than friends who know you? I think not.
So. Don't you think enough has happened. Well I do too. For about a year, never mind a week. And then, just as we thought we'd survived Weekus Horriblus... On Sunday afternoon:
There were THE DOORS.
There is no possible way that this particular issue does not require it's own chapter in our blogged life. However, I will give you one small taste... In the midst of madness, calamity and tsuris, while Bob and Rich were in the midst of a very important conversation with someone, a woman walked up to them and says...
"Are you going to be doing Broadway shows and shit?" "Um. Yes." "Good. Huntington needs some culture."
I'm having the billboard printed now: "The Huntington Theatre: Broadway Shows and Shit". xo jojo.