Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Day In the Life of Properties Designer Dan Pellant (actually two days condensed for dramatic effect)

7am (Background Music - Beatles: “Good Morning, Good Morning”)
Wake up, stare at the wall for about 5 minutes and grumble about having to move a muscle past the edge of my bed. (Not a morning person here, I won't lie.) I stumble out of bed, taking care to avoid stepping on the antique hot plate that seems to have wandered out of the stack of miscellaneous props in the corner and made its way into the doorway. (Perhaps it was trying to escape?) Open my day planner; “MERCHANT PROPS SHOPPING” is scrawled across the weekend in black sharpie-wonder what I'm doing today?

I log on to the the computer and post some ads on craigslist asking for broken camera phones, PDAs and pagers.and a few other miscellaneous items. Mapquest an address, grab a Slim-fast can (breakfast of champions) and I'm out the door. Pause halfway down the stairs. Run back up, dig through a pile of papers, find the one titled “Merchant Props,” and run back out.

8:29 am (Background Music - Raymond Scott: “Powerhouse”)
I'm number 17 of 20-something, awaiting entry to the home of an anonymous someone so I can pilfer through their belongings like a raccoon in an over-sized dumpster. Part of my typical weekend ritual is hitting at least one estate sale in hopes I might find a good deal on something I need - a bargain on an item from the catalogue of this person's life. Apparently, this catalogue is part Sears 1945 & part Pier 1 1992. It's beautiful, and there is plenty I'd love to buy - but I can't really see anything I actually need. Except that syringe looking thing... and those jumper cables...

11:05 am (Background Music - Daft Punk: "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger")
IKEA! Massive, beautiful and terrifying in all the ways you would expect the Norse god of modern affordable home living to be. The furniture store that is a small city unto itself, ergonomically designed to ensure you travel to all the floors of the hive-like building as you search for what you seek - a museum of mass produced, unpronounceable modern art you can sit on. My key items for this trip: market umbrella and table. I consult the map while my fellow “tourists” swarm around me like an automated death squad. I become confused and seek out a guide, who points out that it is August and if I wanted summer-type furniture, I should have come during the summer. I head for the exit, but not before picking up a small lighted CD tower, a “Yurgkurdden” or something like that... this may prove useful...

1:16 pm (Background Music - Jimi Hendrix: “All Along the Watchtower”)
Devon Avenue. Indian/Pakistani neighborhood. Not sure what the nickname is so I've dubbed it “NewDelhitown” - because “Little Bombay” sounds kinda derogatory. A good haul all in all, in spite of quizzical looks from some shopkeepers. I get the biggest one from a woman behind the counter when I ask about the price of a Muslim holy water set. She looks at me with a confused half smirk. “$30... are you Muslim?” she asks surreptitiously. She knows the answer I'm sure, but nonetheless raises a curious eyebrow when I answer to the negative. I'm used to these questions and looks by this point - I've had to do some odd things in odd places for props over the years. But I get what I came for; tea sets, drinking glasses, Indian Beer, luggage, random items of brass and tin - plus a treat! Rose lassi (yogurt drink with rosewater), some samosas (savory pastries filled with potatoes, herbs and vegetables) and some sort of deep-fried Indian dough ball soaked in sugar syrup (no idea what it's called, but I love it!) My love affair with Indian snack foods continues...

3:00 pm - 6:00 pm (Background Music - Pink Floyd: “Run Like Hell”)
Resale shops are a props designer's best friend. Brown Elephant, Salvation Army, The Village, The Ark - I hit as many as I can before closing time. Some places know me by my face at this point I'm there so often. I actually get a few pieces for rehearsal props if nothing else - suitcase, leather folder, round table which can at least stand in for the market table until I find the real one.

6:30 pm (Background Music - Tsunami Bomb: “Roundabout”)
Drop by unannounced at my friend J's. Ask to borrow his Razr phone for a few months. (It's broken anyway, so it's not like he's using it...) Stop home, reply to one e-mail asking $100 for a broken Blackberry with a, “Thank you but no,” which wanted to be a, “You're loony,” and reply to another explaining the finer details of props donation as I understand it. I ask my roommate if he's found the cigarette case I've wanted to buy off him and when he replies, “No,” I'm out the door again.

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm (Background Music - Reel Big Fish: “Take on Me”)
Hit the Belmont and Clark area in search of cigarette cases, flasks, Zippos and other such tools of debauchery and vice. Realize that the Zippos I want are crazy expensive and decide to look on eBay first. Find a few cigarette cases which might fit the bill, but all the flasks are a bit boring... or covered in skulls with plastic red gems for eyes (not really going to work for this show.)

9:00 pm – 11:00 pm (Background Music - Perry Como: “Papa Loves Mambo”)
Home Depot. Lowes. Menards. Linens N' Things, World Market. Doesn't anyone carry wooden umbrella tables?!? They're useful for fall too! Keeps the leaves out of your lemonade and such... Good deal on spray paint at the suburban Lowes though... and I do loves me some spray paint....

Midnight (Background Music - Green Day: “Insomniac”)
E-mails. Check off items on my list. Enter receipts. Do a bit of research on where I should try to go tomorrow for props. Ponder the concept of sleep but give in to the desire to see people with twice and much talent and half as much alcohol tolerance stand behind a microphone and belt Whitney Huston to a cringing public. Temptation, thy name is karaoke... Out the door again - good night!

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