Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Strike Notes: Week 2-3

Daily notes from 11/13 until Tofurkey Day.

All this week construction crews were working on the sidewalk right by what had been our base camp location, installing fiber optic cable for Warner Bros. We got got dust-filled air, earsplitting jackhammers (crew had earplugs, we did not), blocked-off roads making our van park farther away, and we had to keep relocating the base camp.

Tinfoil hat alert #1: Coincidence that this was going on during picket hours? I think not...

Tuesday - A smaller crowd at WB today due to Picketing With the Stars at Universal, which went shockingly underreported in both local and national media. Tinfoil hat alert #2: The same Big Media that we're striking against owns all those outlets, of course.

From Gate 4 we could see the CSI FANS SUPPORT THE WGA sky banner circling the festivities, although from our vantage point it read AGW EHT TROPPUS SNAF ISC.

Gate 4 is a well-kept secret of WB picketing. It's shady most of the day, which was important during that mini heat wave we had. But it's also quieter, and the executive gate, which means you have to work harder for honks, and you get a few more grumps who flip you off or give the thumbs-down than at Gate 2/3. Some guy yelled that we were holding up his production or something. To which I say, DUH. "Strike," people. Look it up.

More new chants:

Why are we emotional? Streaming's not promotional!
Why are we screaming? It's called free streaming!
Hey hey Bugs Bunny! Stealing money isn't funny!

And we also started just yelling out lines from movies, especially relevant ones like "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!" and "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"

Every day the WGA brings water and boxes of various snacks such as chips and energy bars, and often picketers will bring stuff as well like coffee or doughnuts, but it's been cool seeing what other parties have donated to the cause (and our waistlines) to show support.

Today's StrikeSnacks: Pizza from South Bay BMW.

Wednesday - The first of three days of the early shift this week, early meaning 6am-10am. Ye gods and little fishes, is 4:15am early if you're not used to it. I am not used to it. Traffic to Burbank is light but weirdly macho at that hour. Lots of trucks, big rigs and pickups, driven by the kind of guys who drive trucks at 5:30 in the morning, and in that manner. In my tiny car, I'm a little scared.

Was on Gate 9 today, which is the truck gate at WB, where arriving trucks get their permits to get onto the lot at Gate 7. There was no one on the gate when we got there (7 was covered), so we felt needed. A lot of smiles and waves from arriving Teamsters, but we didn't turn anyone around unless you count that one pickup who did a U-turn in the middle of the street. I think he was just lost. The employees at the gate were supernice to us, letting us use their bathroom.

StrikeSnacks: Granola bars and something else (flavored coffee creamers?) from SUPERNATURAL fans.

Thursday - Our first ugly encounter at WB. Guess we were due. A guy, a crew member of some kind, went off on us about how rich and selfish we are and how he "stands to lose everything at Christmas" thanks to the strike. He wasn't interested in listening to how all unions are in this fight together against Big Media, or that residuals pay into his health and pension fund, or the realities of how most writers live, or that the WGA has been ready to negotiate this whole time and the AMPTP is the side refusing to talk and causing the strike to continue. He just wanted to yell.

"I shit on your protest," he said, and we couldn't help noting that he chose a group of all women to rant at. Big man. But his anger and fear are real and valid, if misdirected at a bunch of girls in red t-shirts. Strikes are not fun things. This one is causing a lot of people real pain.

On the plus side, I met another bunch of cool writers. I learned how research was done for THE PRESTIGE, how BROTHERHOOD outlines episodes, and what the COLD CASE room is like. Reason #152 I probably should have an iPhone: to look people up on IMDB discreetly so I can maybe form an intelligent question beyond, "Wow, is it going to be this hot all week?"

StrikeSnacks: Didn't note any specific food treats, but brought a giant plastic tub filled with boxes of pain relief cream, stickered with a nice message ("WGA... hope the strike ends soon. Apply this for relief after being on the picket line. Thanks for the words."), as well as little bags of picket line essentials like sunscreen, Chapstick, and pocket packs of Kleenex. Very cool!

Friday - Peppier today than it's been, both on the line and in honks from passersby, perhaps due to it being Friday, or the presence of two of WB's best and most energetic cheerleaders, Yvette and BooM. Yay! Go team WB! The high point was the arrival of picketers costumed as three of WB's most famous faces, Tweety, Sylvester, and Bugs Bunny. Their signs were character appropriate: "Sufferin' share-the-cash!" and "What's up, doc? Corporate profits!" A walking photo op.

I've decided that smiling and waving will be my reaction to any and all feedback from the crowd, even some guy sitting in the back of a truck cab doing that scratch-his-cheek-while-flipping-the-bird thing. What are you, 12?

By the way, I'm interested at how varying the reactions have been from Teamsters. That guy was a Teamster, as are those guys who ignore us as they drive past, as are those guys who cross the line but smile and honk and flash the Victory sign, as is one amazingly cool guy who not only refused to cross the line but has been working on it all day everyday at WB, holding a picket sign when he's not driving the WGA supply van or un/loading stuff. All Teamsters.

Tonight there was a dinner at our showrunner's house, and it was fun to see everyone all in the same place again, for a change, and not sweaty and sun-enervated in our red shirts. In the middle of dinner, one person got the email that the WGA and AMPTP will return to the negotiating table on the 26th. Cheers and huzzahs!

* * *

Monday - Did the 6am shift again. I don't mind the early shift, but it's totally screwing up my body clock. Despite the good news from Friday, today was rather subdued, as befits a weirdly foggy morning.

StrikeSnacks: Cupcakes and cookies from Sugar Cup bakery

Tuesday - Big rally in Hollywood! Alicia Keys, zillions of writers and other union reps, another sky banner (WGA - ON THE SAME PAGE).

StrikeSnacks: Tasty mini-scones from CAA. I hear there was cider too, but I didn't see it.

* * *

Off from the picket line today. Used the time to catch up on errands, pay bills (my 5-year-old car is almost paid off! Hear that, Shit-on-your-protest guy? Yeah, we writers all bathe in Cristal.) , and work a bit on some new specs, a DEXTER and a new pilot idea.

Tomorrow through Sunday, The Boyfriend is whisking me away to Las Vegas for some R&R. Yep, he's a keeper. I will attempt to find something vegetarian to eat for Thanksgiving, we'll go see Spamalot and the Star Trek attractions at the Hilton, and drink at lunchtime. Hey, when in faux Rome (or faux Venice or faux Paris or faux Egypt...).

As a final note, America's Second Harvest is one of my favorite charities, especially this time of year. It's appalling how many people go hungry in our land of plenty. It's easy to donate online, if you have the inclination.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Shawna said...

I saw you yesterday as I passed by the WB gate 'round 2 PM. I honked, but then realized that it probably wouldn't derive attention, since y'all are used to the honks by now.

Anyway, I saw you and waved. Go Team WB!

P.S. small footnote -- I was personally relieved that a meeting I had on UNNAMED LOT was at 2 PM so I didn't have to cross a picket line. I'm purposely not going to a big meeting (with free breakfast) tomorrow morning because I don't wanna cross the line. Small consolation, I know...

Kira said...

Thanks, Shawna, for the honk as well as the non-line-crossing support :)