Thursday, March 15, 2007

4. Starting work

Arriving in San Francisco, and calling up the Company produced a different result than the one I had expected. Previously, when I called them, I sometimes got half a dozen people on the line before I got to the one I wanted. Now, calling from the hotel room, the phone rang and rang with no answer until just as I was about to hang up, a croaky wheezy voice came on the line. I knew immediately it could not be the receptionist because despite a reputation for being laid back, most businesses in San Francisco had not yet allowed their telephone personnel to greet their callers with, “hey, man what’s happening?”. I tried to explain exactly what was happening and why I had come and why making this Royal portrait was important. The Voice on the other end of the phone thought this was so cool, farout etc and asked me if I could drop by in a couple of weeks and he would be able to make the hologram. The Voice obviously had completely overlooked the sense of urgency I had communicated in my explanation of what’s happening. After some negotiating, the Voice agreed to meet with me the following afternoon. (Office hours at the Company tended to start some time after one in the afternoon and continue until there was no one left to man the phones.)

The following afternoon I got out of the taxi in front of the warehouse where the Company had established itself years before. The building was huge and could have probably housed any production facility that needed to employ a few hundred people. As it was – even when I had visited it – two years before – there was never anymore than about 20 people working at any one time.
Now when I entered, the whole building was eerily quiet. Occasionally, I could hear the sound of a hammer hitting metal a long way a way. But people there were not. I followed the sound of the hammerings to the other side of the warehouse where I found Peter – the original Voice – working away on his “hologram master printer”.

Things had changed, he said, Chris had sold out. Many of the 35 had lost interest, he continued, when they realized the Company was going to be neither a meal ticket or a rent ticket unless they invested some real energy in making it work. This was very much a concept that the 35 could grasp without too much difficulty and when it was presented to them the shock and awe it generated, caused a stampede for the door.

Therefore, Peter and one or two others, inherited the Company and a building that could probably have earned 100 times more in parking fees if it had been turned into a car park than it ever would as a holographic production facility.

Peter looked at my film between drawing on a joint and talking to me whilst he held the marijuana smoke still in his lungs. Far out man, he wheezed. Far out, man. He repeated this so many times I was beginning to wonder whether he actually had a problem like those people that had a nervous disposition which forced them to constantly repeat swear words.
I was anxious to get an idea about the planning because I was on a budget and didn’t want to stay in San Francisco a day longer than necessary. Peter continued to claim that he was really busy and could not do the job for at least a week. We finally settled on 3 days and I left him the film.

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