Stay Hungry

amy_ephron_color.jpg I had a dream last night that I was living in a youth hostel in London or someplace like London (I have never lived in a youth hostel, not even for a night) and that the communal shower had a cement floor that was a little funky (ditto, the communal shower part) and then somehow, and I’m not sure how this transition was made, I was delivering turkey to the strike line at Fox.

This part I understand.  Not that a picket line is supposed to be a dinner party but when someone is asked to walk around in circles (literally circles, it’s not even like exercise, it’s like something else), hunger and thirst kick-in, bringing your own bottle of water (byow) and a cap is recommended.

Writers Strike

The first day I picketed I was late.  And I have an over eager strike captain  Lance Kinsey, who originally hailed from Second City and who I like a lot but who is a hyphenate – an actor – a writer/actor, who thinks a picket is run like a production: that a 6 a.m. call is perfectly acceptable and if you have one, you’re supposed to be a half hour early.  I have tried to tell him, writers are always late – but I appreciate his organizational qualities – and I’m sort of scared of him so, the first day at Hollywood Center Studios (let’s not discuss my carbon footprint), when I was late, I brought Starbucks pastries for the entire picket line just about...  But that was the first day. 

The next time I picketed at Fox, ICM sent (delivered by the agents themselves) Dominos pizza (lots of them) to the picket line which was very nice of them but Dominos -- some of us had the feeling they were encouraging us to go back to work.  (We wish.) 

At the big rally at Fox at the Galaxy Gate, where they shut down Avenue of the Stars and Century City was like a walk street, assistants from CAA in suits served churros on silver platters.  And there was a William Morris table with coffee and cream cheese and bagels.  But that was the first week. 

I stopped in at Craft when the rally broke up and sat down at the bar.  And ordered a coffee which they wouldn’t let me pay for.  I wanted to order lunch but it was still fairly early and it didn’t seem appropriate to order lunch at Craft after leaving the picket line.  I had a conversation with David Madison, their general manager, who told me their lunch business was off 25%.  25%.  And that was the first week.

Please don’t write in and say, why should we care about the lunch business at Craft.  Because we should.  Because Craft employs hundreds of people, waiters, waitresses, sous chefs, bus boys, dishwashers, (not to mention the Rose gold grits with Vermont cheddar that are the most amazing things I’ve ever tasted and the Hawaiian prawns) and gets deliveries from tons of purveyors, grocery wholesalers, butchers, vintners, drivers, growers, and so on – yeah, the trickle down thing – and if business is off, everyone is affected. 

Why should you care if business is down at Barney Greengrass?  It is, by the way.  The first week.  It was down, also by about 25%.  Which means that not that many people will be shopping at Barney’s – you probably think it’s too expensive to shop there anyway but that’s not the point.  (They have really great chopped liver, by the way.) The point is that we have a fragile economic system particularly in the fall of 2007 and the first week, there is an economic effect. 

writers strikeAnd, now, it’s the second week and the only food on the picket line is occasional donuts and coffee, provided by the writers themselves, and m&ms and pretzels on a table.  Pizza.  Churros,  Donuts.  M&M’s.  Sort of like the food you ate when you were a kid.

And, now I know where the youth hostel part comes in, because there’s a prevailing sentiment in town, that I’ve heard echoed by many lawyers and agents and business types and hyphenates and more seasoned writers who’ve been through strikes before and who are somewhat sitting in the middle of this conflict and the sentence goes like this:  All we can do is pray and hope that there are some grown-ups in the room.   (And that they’re in the room, at all.) 


(also published on the Huffington Post)