The Trip to Atlantic City


Originally published June 2010.

So, I’ve been terrible about keeping a journal over the last few years.  (Yes, I know this is a blog, but I just can’t seem to figure out what to write unless I think of it as a journal.  There’s old-school thinking for you!)  Anyway, since I landed this gig working with my friend Brett Daniels for the summer in Atlantic City I’m making a concerted effort to document all the adventures.  Allow me to catch you up on the first week of fun.

I left Nashville Saturday, June 19 and drove 10 ½ hours to Wilmington, NC.  When I finally arrived at 10:30 pm I had a heck of a time finding a hotel.  When I finally found a decent looking Hampton Inn, they were fully occupied.  They sent me to a Best Western in Leland, NC.  So, I finally got in and settled around midnight or so.  I watch TV for about an hour or so and drift off into sweet sleep.  At 5:45 in the morning (that’s 4:45 central time, and central time is what I am used to at this point) the fire alarm goes off.  I try to ignore it at first, and then I realize that’s probably not a good idea if the hotel is on fire.  I force myself to get up and walk downstairs so I can stand in the parking lot with everyone else staying at the hotel for the next hour while the fire department and the alarm company show up at the hotel to try and figure out how to turn off the alarm.  And no, there was no fire.  (I find out later on that it had something to do a mechanical error or something like that.)  When I finally got back to my room I had about an hour to try and go back to sleep before it’s time to get going for the day.  Suffice it to say, I got no more sleep that night.

I finally get up Sunday morning and get going around 7:30 so I can meet Brett at 8:30 to head over the truck yard where his show props are stored.  We meet up, Brett runs up to my room to take a shower (after driving 20 hours straight from Wisconsin), and we head over to the truck yard around 9:30 or so.  We get there at 10 and meet the two local guys who are going to help us get the trucks loaded.  For the next five hours we manually push huge, massively heavy road cases, crates, and props from two different 50 foot trailers (that aren’t roadworthy) into two other 50 foot trailers.  The heat and humidity become almost unbearable and Brett and I almost fall out from sheer exhaustion and dehydration.

Brett and I leave the truck yard around 3 or 4-ish and hit the road in search of a hotel where we can crash for a few hours and get some much needed rest.  We drive for about an hour or so and finally find a hotel where we take a break and Brett can feed his birds.  So, for the next two to three hours I try to take a nap to little avail.  We arise at 8 pm and get everything situated for the drive from wherever we are in NC to Atlantic City, NJ.  We finally get going around 9 and drive through the night, stopping a few times for food, gas and stretching.  To keep myself entertained and engaged for the drive I call everybody I know at different times of the night.  I have to give my buddy Greg ‘Styckman’ Owens some serious props here for helping me stay awake from 4 to 5:30 in the morning.  I was getting tired until he called and kept me going.  (He’s a morning DJ and keeps ridiculously early morning hours.)  We arrive at 7:30 am and check in to the Tropicana where we’re going to be living for the next two and a half months.  We have to get everything situated and that takes about another hour before I get to head to my room.  Unfortunately, I won’t be getting much sleep because we have a 10 am call to meet the crew, unload the trucks and get everything into the theatre.

I get to my room, take a shower and sleep for about 30 minutes.  You’d be surprised how much that can help when you really need the rest.  So, it’s now Monday morning and Brett and I head down to meet the crew and start unloading the trucks at 10 am.  We work for the rest of the day getting everything loaded into the Showroom at the Tropicana Casino.  The day goes great and the crew is fantastic.  When we finally do call it a day later that evening I know that sleep will be so sweet.

For the rest of the week, Tuesday through Friday, Brett and I pull long days (anywhere from 12 to 15 hour days) working with the crew building props, hanging backdrops and taking care of technical details.  Then in the evening we work with the lighting team on lighting details.  Brett and I both agree that this crew here at The Tropicana really have their stuff together.  The fact of the matter is that every time we put this show (and it is a really big magic and illusion show) in to a new venue, it takes a ton of work and really long hours.  Fortunately for us, this crew is very organized, very knowledgeable and work hard to get the job done.

So, here I am one week after I left Nashville with my first day off and I’m playing catch up with the rest of my life.  I’m estimating that I’ve probably worked somewhere between 70 and 80 hours this first week.  I’m not complaining, because I knew exactly what I was signing on for.  After ten years in the magic business, I’ve learned this is pretty much how it works.  You really kill yourself the first week or two to get everything up and running and then you enjoy the rest of the run with a lot less hours per week.  I’m expecting to really enjoy the beach this summer and the time to work on getting my business rocking and rolling for the fall.  When I get back to Nashville at the beginning of September, I should have a pretty good tan, a lot of great stories to share and a full calendar of my own gigs to do.

Enjoy the pics!
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The show was a lot of work, but it was a lot of awesome, too.  I enjoyed spending time with some crazy talented dancers and all around cool people, Kelly and Rachel above.

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Hanging out with Rachel and Kelly at their other dance gig in a casino resort down the boardwalk from the Tropicana.  And to answer your question, yes, there certainly are perks to this job!

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