Call a Wreck-ert.

Hey there,So this weekend the Najuchs were back in town, so while I’ve been plugging away trying to get the shows written before the actors arrive in a week and half (I’m not quite sure if I’m winning or losing the battle yet… I’ll keep you posted ☺ ) downstairs was a hotbed of activity.

The main event by far has been one a long time in the making. Over a year really. See you may remember that in the middle of our lobby there is this wall.

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It separates the two spaces and for the supper club the audience, therefore is kind of seated toward the stage in a kind of horseshoe formation. Now Rich hates this wall. He has carried a personal vendetta against it for quite some time. When we first renovated the lobby we took out the doorframes in the middle of the archways… but the main wall we were just too nervous to tackle.

Since then every so often Larry would tap on the wall with his ear to it, Bob would pound on the wall... Rich would kick the wall… And George would…well you know George. So. After a careful calculation of the most substantial window of time we had between events and shows… Rich decided that this weekend was Death of Wall. First he poked around upstairs a lot in the kind of attic weird space above the lobby (that is sort of an enclosed cave between our kitchen and my office). He determined that there was DEFINITELY a large steel I beam running along ceiling above the arch holding up the building above the arch, so this section of the wall wasn’t structural. Hurrah. He also determined that there was an lentil running along the bottom edge of the arch-way. So there was support for – you know – the whole building, and there was separate support for the wall itself. It was pronounced that they were 99.9 percent sure that the wall could come out.

This did not stop them jutting four two by fours on each side of the arch as support beams JUST IN CASE. The plan was to keep the bottom half of the wall and create a kind of a little bar shelf thing (behind which I would have my same perch for the shows), but that would be the height of the tables and not create any obstructed view. So basically the middle of the wall was going to disappear. And hopefully, hopefully, I would not have TOO much repair work to try and blend with the existing paint treatment, plaster etc. I was quite quite nervous about this.

So – on Friday I had to go to Fort Wayne to pick up some stuff for my mac (I very very happily discovered that although there isn’t an apple store in Fort Wayne there is a man dealer who’s really pretty cool. So now I don’t have to wait until a trip to Indy if I’m having computer issues. Because Rich is a PC dude, and reacts like I’m asking him to stick his hand up a rhino’s butt when I ask him to try and fix a problem on my mac. So – while this great wall excorcism was being undergone I was not in the building. Before I left they had scored very nice clean line along where the wall was going to remain…

LOOK HOW CLEAN THAT LINE IS... I'M SURE IT'LL BE SO EASY TO REPAIR THE DAMAGE. wall-scored-line.jpg

and they were starting to whack away at the wall. I would point out that the manner in which (I was informed) the whacking had to take place meant that if we DID have to rewind, abandon ship, and abort – the repair work was not going to be insubstantial.

MR. NAJUCH - TEAR DOWN THAT WALL. bob-rippin-down-wall.jpg

Please note - it was at the exact moment that I took this photograph that I learned that they had still not determined if the plan WOULD work... so I'm now looking at possibly repairing this little scratch.

This had me very, very, very much hoping that this project was going to go through without a hitch. So – Jo Jo off to Fort Wayne. Whereupon Jo Jo got lost. With a GPS. Yah – bite me. Anyway – I got back on track and every so often I would call and just check in… First phone call: “Hi” “How’s it goin.” “Fine” “Everything ok?” “Yup – coming along fine”. COOL Second phone call. “What?” “Um… how’s I going”. “It’s going FINE”. “Fine?... really?” “Look, I’ll talk to you about it when you get home.” Click. NOT SO COOL So as I was driving (incredibly calmly (not)) home I had a vision of Rich and Bob standing there holding up a wall like Atlas waiting for Po to come dig them out of the rubble. It did not wound promising.

In fact when I drove up outside the theatre George’s van was outside. The presence of George means two things… a) oh shit. b) plans have probably changed, possibly involving a swimming pool in the lobby.

See you know that lentil that ran supporting the arch below the I beam… well it did indeed support the arch. But it did so on the left and right OF the wall in question. Not though the middle. And so – as they reached the end of their rubble demolition wall destruction journey – they saw...

A gap. Gaps, in case you didn’t know this, for large areas of brick, concrete and say ARCH SUPPORTS are not considered optimal. This was not good news. Apparently they had just discovered this when I last called and Rich and Bob were discussing that probably the best thing to do would be to cut their losses, forget about the idea, and Jo Jo would have to basically replaster, recreate and repaint the wall. With nothin’ to show for it. Fun times.

HOWEVER - the Pack Leader, being the all knowing clever little critter that he is, at the last moment, suggested that they call George Eckert - just in case he could come round and tell them whether or not they were as screwed as they thought they were. And George arrived with his truck and his tools and his son. And if George can't fix it. No one can. Basically the Najuch's just stand aside. And I'm sure you know it takes an awful lot to get two Najuch's to just sit and WATCH.

Sooo. George determined that our best bet would be to get a welder to come in and connect that gap. Then we'd be able to get away with a small support column in the middle that would be a whole lot better than the whole wall. And was a whole lot better than having to rebuild the destroyed wall.

And then George sat and thought.

And the plan changed.

I was like "Gosh - are you sure there's no way we can support it...." So George looks. And thinks. And then he climbs up into the upper cave secret space with Rich and pokes around. And he has a plan!

Rip more crap out. Well - it's George. Frankly, that's always his plan... but this did have reasoning. If we took out MORE of the arch header and could get access to the beam above then we could weld the two cross beams together AND weld a cross piece that would connect it up to the main I-beam for support from above. Genius. Goodbye middle of wall. Rich said to me "It'll be more work for YOU" and I said "I'd rather do more work and have it be open then do work anyway and have a pole".

WHY DOES EVERY ECKERT MAN HAVE A GIANT DRILL? GOOD GENES. eckert-giant-drill.jpg

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AND - it turns out that it won't be that much more work for me either. We have an aesthetic scheme that is gonna look cool. Anyhoo - here is how it looked when George was said and done...

HE'S GOT THE HOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS... and-now-the-hole.jpg

George's last words were... I wouldn't move those two by fours. Of course it was the memorial day holiday and so we couldn't reach a welder... so the two by fours held up our theatre very nicely for the weekend. um.jpg

But see how much it's opened up the room... it's kind of incredible.

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On Tuesday morning Rich called Kevin Amick, a welder/Supper Club patron. He came over, took a look at what needed to be done and said that he could come in the NEXT DAY! He is a very very very nice man. He came in, brought a great big hunkin' piece of i-beam in with him. welding-one.jpg Rich laid down plywood over the carpet (the sparks can, y'know, burn carpet) and he got to work. I wish I could have gotten some more exciting pictures - but you're not really supposed to like stare close up at a guy arc welding. If you want to maintain vision, of course. Depends on your personal priorities, I guess. welding-2.jpg In just a few hours he was done. We were so grateful - and he did a beautiful job - the thing looks perfect.

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Isn't that wild? And Grant said to me (when i expressed my wonder/disbelief at how something like that can hold the arch) that apparently something that has been welded together is like six times stronger than the steel itself. Isn't that cool? So, apparently, the arch is not going to land on my head while I'm sitting there doing a show. Voila.

Our plan is to make a really sexy little wallpaper panel in the 45 degree wedge shape like the ones in the inner section of the lobby and use that as a header to cover the hole on each side... it will also allow some air ventilation which would be great - because in the winter the heat always gets stuck on the one side of that arch because there are only vents in one half of the lobby. The wallpaper company got right back to me - and even though they hand print the stuff, they had a roll of it in stock and it's on it's way. Hurrah.

So - that was our Memorial day weekend. Just another lazy holiday!

While all this was going on I have successfully managed to get the whole Italian show researched and written. I've got to start on the Berlin show next - time is ticking away. I've also FINALLY at least managed (now that my mac is all video-editing-friendly (which was quite the ordeal)) to get some of the videos from last summer up on youtube. Which is great because it will help sell tickets, and the actors really deserve to have the stuff for their reel. So now I have to catch up on the xmas show and the judy show - which I'm gonna 'pencil in' to do when the last show opens up in august probably. Right now I've got about a week and a half to write the other two scripts, scan the next 100 pages of music, and design the whole program. Eeep.

Ticket sales are picking up really nicely. We've also hired a stage manager from Philly that seems really nice. So it's full speed ahead. The Italian show is shaping up to be super cool and tickets are still available so get with it kids... And if you don't remember HOW great Jordan is (he's back all summer) just remind yourself with this little clip...

WING AND A PRAYER But tomorrow - we are officially declaring a day off! day-off.jpg

And clearly - some of us really need it. dscn0881.jpg

xo Jo Jo.