Temporary Guest Worker Program (by Special Guest Blogger Winston)

We are proud to present our very first GUEST BLOG!!! Winston has agreed to expose the truth behind the propaganda... to look behind the joint compound-covered curtain... to give the TRUE HUNTINGTON STORY... Uncut... unedited... here it is: ...NO MR. BOND, I EXPECT YOU TO BLOG Winston visiting with Po (actually…not in Indiana, from last Christmas…)

As you’ve already read on the blog, I traveled out to Huntington over Labor Day weekend to visit Po. I arrived Saturday morning at the Ft. Wayne International Airport. If you count the staff, I was one of about eleven people in that facility and none of them seemed terribly international. So, I was very excited to see Mr. Sparkle pull in to the parking lot. Unfortunately, Po did not feel the need to make the trip to the airport to greet me, but it was nice to see Joel and Rich there. On the drive into Huntington I saw fields of corn and a billboard featuring a picture of Natalie. That billboard was very nearly the last thing I saw – in the excitement of seeing the Natalie billboard we nearly had a horrible highway accident. I had the pleasure of meeting Natalie in person later that day at this great open house she was hosting. In addition to being charming and funny (she thought the near death incident caused by her billboard was a hoot) she is quite the saleswoman…she had me considering the possibility of buying a second home in Indiana, namely the one she was showing that day.

The theatre was everything I expected and more. To say that it has good bones is an understatement. It will be amazing when they finish renovating it. It was much bigger than I expected. And speaking of big, the most astounding feature was perhaps the colossal 1940’s air conditioning unit, which I’m pretty sure is larger than my New York apartment. They plan to remove it by hand, piece by piece to make way for dressing rooms. I will be otherwise engaged the weekend that project happens. I also got to see the famous fire escape/graffiti stained alley next to the theatre where all of the high school kids (used to) have their staged “I’m a bad-ass” senior photo taken, usually wearing a leather jacket and with arms crossed. I swear it was so faux-urban back there that I half expected a gang of finger-snapping hoods dressed in bright colors to come prancing by to a Bernstein-Sondheim tune.

I am amazed by how much Rich knows how to do. I’m perfectly capable of nailing in a board or two when someone cuts it out for me and tells me where to nail it. But Rich is creating a bathroom where there was once a Jesus room. I wouldn’t know where to begin. And he has sooooo many power tools….I’m afraid the next time I’m there I will find that he’s created a huge tile mosaic of Melissa Etheridge. Meanwhile, Joel is working on this special paint application for the lobby. He did a couple of test patches while I was there and the one they decided on is going to be perfect…it really looks like something you’d find in Radio City Music Hall, which is a beautiful Art Deco space where Liza once performed and where Liza’s father once served as artistic director.

I also visited phase two of the Joel and Rich Real Estate Empire – the aptly named Shitbox. During my tour of this little corner of hell, I’m pretty sure the only words I uttered were: “Oh my”, “Oh dear”and the occasional “Oh dear Jesus God.” The place needs a little work. And I use the phrase “little work” in the same way one might say that Joan Rivers has had a little work done. The only thing missing in this place is a toothless tenant. However, the boys do have a grand vision. And we picked out great paint colors, so I’m sure they will take the place from Shitbox to Charming-Yet-Low-Rent-Cottage in no time flat.

I learned that the Hoosiers are very into the heavy foods. The tossed specialty salads apparently haven’t caught on out there the way they have here in New York. I had some delicious biscuits at Bob Evans, some tasty butterscotch pie at Ralph’s Restaurant and delicious fried pork at Nick’s Diner (where I also met the very nice owner and mastermind of Pork-a-Palooza, Jean Anne). Basically, I ate like Elvis in his later years. And with all of that artery-clogging intake, I, like Elvis, might have fallen dead off the toilet but for the fact that in Joel and Rich’s current tiny bathroom it is physically impossibly to fall off the toilet.

Aside from the butterscotch pie, my favorite thing about Ralph’s Restaurant was a wall of posters announcing upcoming area performances. One was for a trio of singers coming to the Huntington area. The poster very prominently stated that the trio was featured on The Lawrence Welk Show. As Joel noted (in Ralph’s Restaurant in a voice that was a bit too loud), you know you haven’t worked in a while when The Lawrence Welk Show is your most recent credit.

There was one odd yet perhaps predictable side effect of my visit. As Rich can attest, my presence seemed to make Joel behave a bit, shall we say, inappropriately cosmopolitan, in public. Exhibit A: We are in Lowe’s (where else?) and Rich is pulling around a flat bed cart with like a hundred cans of paint on it. Joel jumps on the cart, throws up his right hand and begins to sing “with my high starched collar and my high top shoes and my hair piled high upon my head….”. Yes, in Lowe’s.

BUZZ, BUZZ, BUZZ WENT THE SAWS-ALL... minnelli_stlouis.jpg

In Ft. Wayne. Exhibit B: We are in the very unkempt, overgrown front garden of the Shitbox, very near the sidewalk and Joel, in his dead-on Edie Beale voice says “Oh hi….If we’re alive next year, I think a vegetable garden would be quite nice.”


It was quite a weekend. And it was really great to see that Joel and Rich are making their vision for the theatre come to life through lots of very hard work. To all you blog readers, I highly recommend making the trip!