Off the Road Again

October 27th, 2012

I was playing at Castle Farms which is located just south of Alaska in Charlevoix, MI.  People come from all over the country to be married there, making it is one of the most prestigious places to play in the state.  I knew I had to be on my “A” game and execute every action flawlessly.  So naturally, the first thing I did upon arrival was crash my DJ trailer into their property.

Despite hauling a trailer for over a decade, I am still exceptionally bad at driving with one.  I really should have taken this into account when I came up with a plan to get around the limo parked in front of the entrance.  I took the Jeep into a shallow dive to the right of the entrance, intending to swing around and back the trailer up as close as I could get to the door.  I did not notice the giant cement plant pot.  At least not until my trailer impacted with a sickening screech of grinding metal.

I put the Jeep in park immediately and went to investigate the destruction.  Amazingly the the pot showed no sign of damage and the trailer was only a little dinged up.  However I now had a problem.  I was stuck.

One of the Castle managers came out to greet me.  She was less than happy.  Guests from the wedding were starting to arrive, and an obnoxious red trailer blocking the entrance wasn’t the magical first impression they were going for.  She forcefully encouraged me to get out of the way.

As a DJ, I can perform under pressure.  As a trailer driver, not so much.  I backed up.  I pulled forward.  Then I backed up.  Then I pulled forward.  This went on for several minutes, with no luck.  I got out of the car and tried to move the pot, which weighed more than a hippopotamus and wouldn’t budge.  I went back to my forward/backward plan, but could not escape the gravitational pull of the pot.

Castle employees began to gather, watching the spectacle in awe.  “He hasn’t got a clue.” remarked the manager to one of her staff.  That stung a little, but could I really argue?  Let me tell you why I suck as a trailer driver.

When all hope seemed lost, a guest of the wedding offered to give it a shot.  He owned a boat and had a slightly higher grasp of trailer physics than me.  I gave him the keys gratefully.    In about thirty seconds, he was clear of the pot.  Everyone applauded, as he waved to the crowd and flashed a dazzling smile.

For every hero, there is a goat.  On that day I was the goat.  I sheepishly unpacked my equipment as quickly as possible, dodging the daggers coming out of the manager’s eyes.  My place in the Trailer Driving Hall of Shame is secure.

 

***

More DJ Disasters

 

DJ Wedding Stories – the book!

September 12th, 2012

My Tales from the DJ blog series is now a book, exclusively on Kindle!

Nudity, violence, drugs, ducks…it’s all in a night’s work for the Wedding DJ. I’ve edited and compiled the stories into a complete collection and added bonus stories you won’t find in the blog.

$0.99 gets you a front row seat to the bizarre world of weddings as I revisit my greatest DJ triumphs, tragedies and trainwrecks…

Man this thing is dusty!

February 6th, 2012

Hello neglected blog. I promise to start using you again soon…

Tales From A DJ: Worst Job Ever

August 29th, 2010

I’ve neglected Tales From A DJ for some time, but this past Saturday demanded documentation. I thought I had a rough job. The bride who had refused to talk to me on the phone earlier in the week quickly took command of the dance, with instructions not to play any “stupid shit”. In other words, my entire show designed to make sure everyone has fun and gets involved. Screw you old people! I agreed and played it like a high school prom. Midnight couldn’t come fast enough, but of course this was a “One more song!” group including the bride and groom who strongly insisted I play longer. Dejected I agreed and went another fifteen minutes. The groom said I did great and cut a check devoid of any tip. A drunk groomsman did at least give me six bucks.

As I started my three hour drive home I got a call from Ryan. He was finishing up a long drive as well, having also played in the far northwestern reaches of the state. His story put things in perspective. Comparatively speaking I had a great night. He had THE WORST JOB EVER.

Usually when Ryan says this it just means things sucked. It would take a lot to actually top some of the things he’s dealt with. He’s been verbally and physically assaulted, become violently ill, had the cops and firemen called on him several times, been threatened by a bride’s mom on lithium who smashed a folding chair into the wall, and on two occasions had someone die. One of the deceased was the groom’s grandpa, which put a bit of a damper on the party. After hearing his story though, I had to agree he very well may have had his worst job ever.

Upon arriving he found himself faced with a long narrow driveway, lined on both sides with hundreds of votive candles. There was no room to turn around at the end, so he had to back his ginormous trailer in. You wouldn’t think of votives as a road hazard, but it’s amazing how much damage small pieces of glass can do. Unable to avoid crunching the candles, Ryan popped a tire on his truck. Another tire took the shrapnel slightly better with only a slow leak.

The time he would have spent setting up equipment and getting dressed instead was used to install a spare tire. With seconds left on the clock, he grabbed his speakers and started running. Unfortunately he failed to see the puddle hidden in the grass. He slipped and fell in the mud, with the full ninety pound weight of the speaker crushing his chest. Somehow he still managed to start the ceremony on time, but got several looks from the guests. Where there should have been a neatly groomed DJ there instead stood an auto mechanic covered from head to toe in grease and dirt.

Afterwards Ryan had some time to clean up. The ceremony was at the house of the bride’s wealthy family, but he didn’t feel comfortable asking to use their shower. Instead he opted for a bathing suit. The guests stared unbelieving as this madman scrubbed himself off in the beautiful waters of Lake Charlevoix.

When you ask your DJ to work an eleven hour day, it’s considered a courtesy to feed him. However the caterer told Ryan no accommodations had been made. It was a plated dinner for exactly the number of guests and no food could be spared. A stolen sugar cookie from the children’s table was his only sustenance for the entire job.

One of the first lessons every DJ including myself learns the hard way is “Never let a kid touch the microphone.” Frazzled and malnourished, Ryan forgot this very important rule. Sure enough the precious little flower girl took his thousand dollar piece of equipment and dunked it in water. It is slightly less functional now.

Starving, battered and beaten, Ryan finally made it to the end of the night. At which time of course everyone started chanting “ONE MORE SONG!” This one last song lead to another and another. When it was all said and done, he had played an additional forty minutes in hell. This is an eternity in DJ time. After the job was over, they cut him a check for the exact amount, devoid of any tip.

I shook my head and thanked him for the story. In retrospect, I had THE BEST JOB EVER!

Kickstarting Kickstarter

June 22nd, 2010

Finally wrote my bio for http://www.kickstarter.com. I plan to have a project listed for my next short film, Killing Kevin in the next couple weeks, so stay tuned!

ABOUT ME: Hi, my name is Steve Gast and I’m a filmmaker. Well, that’s enough about me, let’s talk about you. What are your hopes and dreams? What are you passionate about? What’s your favorite Star Wars movie? Phantom Menace, seriously? Let’s just keep that between us, ok?

The important thing is that I can relate to you. If you’re visiting this website, you’re most likely a creative spirit, unbound by the confines of society, yearning to express yourself in a dynamic, unique way. In other words, you’re a weirdo. Not to worry, you’re among friends here. Out in the real world, people react to your aspirations as if you told them you plan to open a McDonalds on the moon. Instead of sharing your enthusiasm, they respond with confusion and pity. Hey, I’ve been there. Unless you actually do plan to open a McDonalds on the moon, in which case, dude, you’re nuts! Subway has much better franchise benefits.

What I’m saying is I know where you’re coming from. When I was laid off from my Fortune 500 job two years ago, everyone treated me with sympathy. They were sorry I would no longer be able to work in shared cubicle eight to ten hours a day, sucking up to middle management, doing the same stressful yet boring tasks day after day until The Man had all but crushed my creative soul. They asked what I planned to do for employment. I told them I was going pursue my life long dream of making movies. I may as well have told them I planned to try out for the Detroit Pistons. Admittedly, I may have a shot at power forward this season.

The key is to take action and not to let other’s reactions affect your belief in yourself. Each day do something that gets you closer to your goal and builds your confidence. Since I lost my job I have worked on the crew of the short film Raised Alone which has won several awards and has been screened at film festivals all over the planet. I did public relations for Street Boss, the first feature ever filmed in my hometown of Saginaw, MI. I wrote and directed my first short film Last Call and am now in pre-production for my second short, Killing Kevin. I am working as a consulting producer on Zomedy, a full length horror-comedy filming later this fall. I have also completed two feature screenplays, one of which I will be producing next year. So when I meet someone, I can confidently look them in the eye and say, “Hi, I’m Steve Gast and I’m a filmmaker.”

Of course it never hurts to have a Plan B, so if this doesn’t work out, I will be exploring lunar fast food opportunities. That said my fellow weirdo, I hope you are beyond successful in making your creative dreams a reality. Thank you for taking time to read my page and best of luck in everything you do!

Steve

me vs tree

April 15th, 2010

The Magnificent Tree in the back yard crossed the line.  This is the same tree that attacked me the day I cleaned the gutters (April 13th, 2008).  Today it escalated hostility, attacking the roof itself.  The gutter was bent and scraped.  The shingles were smashed and scattered.  You’ve gone too far this time Magnificent Tree.

I calmly evaluated the situation and worked on a plan to deal with it.  This mostly involved crying.  Crawling up on the roof with my friend’s monster chainsaw would guarantee a trip to the emergency room.  But what choice did I have?  I picked up the phone to call him, when in the distance I heard a magic sound.  WRRRRM-NA-NA-NA-NA  WRRRRM-NA-NA-NA-NA.   I followed the sound across a couple yards until I found the source.  I can honestly say a 6’5″ man with a chainsaw never looked so good.

I pleaded my case to him and agreed to check it out.  He looked at the tree, fired up the chainsaw, stretched out his massive arms and one WRRRRRM-NA-NA-NA-NA later the branch was history.  I should have done the manly thing and bought him a beer.  That’s what real man guys do right?  Instead I thanked him profusely.  At least I managed to not cry while doing this.

The man left to chainsaw other lands and I took to the task of dismantling the giant branch. I dug out my gloves from the last time I did yardwork (April 13th, 2008) and began the breakdown. Only an hour later the branch was all bagged up and ready to go. I celebrated my victory. The roof may have been dinged up, but I have to say I won this round.

Yet as I write this, the Magnificent Tree looms in the back yard, silently plotting its revenge.

The Bully

March 2nd, 2010

I know the appropriate thing to say is “He was such a nice guy.”  I honestly can’t say that.  The truth  is Mike was a bully.  There’s no getting around it.  As a rule I hate bullies, but I can say Mike was an exception.  When he bullied you it was never personal or malicious.  It’s just who he was.

It was in my best interest to keep one eye on Mike at all times.  In football practice he would throw dirt in my eyes or grab my facemask and headbutt me so hard I saw stars.  In the hallway he would grab me without warning and throw me several feet.  Coming from anyone else that would really piss me off, but it was different with Mike.  I could never really explain it, but looking back now I think I know.  Mike was just fun to be around, despite the occasional bruises. 

Today I was shocked and sickened to read Mike passed away.  There were no details on how or why, only that he was gone.  It’s hard to imagine someone with his tenacious energy going so young.  He was a fierce competitor and he left the game far too early.

All I can do now is remember the good old days when he would beat the crap out of me.  Peace out ya big bully.  I hope we headbutt again some day.

Cooking with Steve

February 13th, 2010

Funds for groceries are getting a little tight, so my girlfriend recommended I supplement my frozen Lean Cuisines with…what is the word for food that isn’t in your freezer or fridge?  I don’t even know, but she has stockpiled enough of these food type products to last us ten years.

The problem is that requires me to use the big white thingy in the kitchen.  I think they call it a stove.  My first attempt was oatmeal.  Not the oatmeal that comes out of a paper packet, requiring just a little water and one minute in the life support machine, also known as a microwave.  No, I’m talking real deal serious in your face steel cut Irish oatmeal.  The kind of oatmeal you wash down with whiskey and a pint of Guinness.

The directions read: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, slowly stir in 1 cup of steel cut oats, wait 5 minutes for oatmeal to thicken and then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.  I’ve always struggled with the word “simmer”.  Simmer on what?  There are 9 numbers on the stove dial, can’t you just pick one?  Simmer on 3.  I could work with that.  But no, it’s just “simmer”.  That’s like giving someone the directions “Drive down that road for a while, then turn right.”  Simmer is cooking with no GPS.

I opted to simmer on 5.  Seemed like a good compromise between 9 and 1.  Unfortunately I was too slow pouring in the oats and my 4 cups of water had boiled down to 2.  Ten minutes into “simmering” I smelled something burning.  The water had boiled off completely leaving my oatmeal black on the bottom and undercooked on the top.  I still ate all of it over the course of the next three miserable mornings.

When I told my girlfriend what happened, she bit her tongue, took a deep breath and said, “You know you can add more water right?”  Seriously?  That’s genius!  It wasn’t long before I put this gem of wisdom to use.  Tonight’s dinner was Stove Top Stuffing.

Step 1: Boil 1.5 cups of water and a tablespoon of butter.  Check.

Step 2: Pour in contents of package and stir.  Check.

Step 3: After five minutes, fluff with a fork and serve.

It didn’t actually say to “simmer” but come on, I know the drill now.  Two minutes into simmering my stuffing there was a familiar smell.  The smell of burning non-frozen non refrigerated food product.  Again, the water had boiled off completely, but this time I was prepared.  I poured in another 1.5 cups of water to compensate.  I waited for the infused water to gradually cook off, leaving a pile light fluffy stuffing goodness.

This did not happen.  The end result was a paste like substance chemically bonded to charcoal.  I should have saved it for the next time I need to use my caulk gun.  Instead I ate it for dinner.  Quite filling actually.

When I told my girlfriend what happened, she was stunned.  “There’s only three steps!!”  She reviewed them with me.  Steps 1 and 2 checked out fine.  However I missed three little words on Step 3.  “Remove from heat.”  Ok so first I’m supposed to be psychic in determining how to simmer, and now I’m expected to read every word on the directions?  Sorry, but I think I’m going to reserve my cooking talents for Lean Cuisines in the life support machine.

Freakin simmer.

The Little TV

January 12th, 2010

Once upon a time there was a little TV.  Well, actually he wasn’t that little.  He was in fact a 42″ widescreen and while not the largest TV in the store still had a ginormous beautiful LCD screen.  But he was lonely.  All day he sat on a shelf, dreaming of the day he could make a family happy.  He fantasized about making children laugh with two foot hamsters, fans cheer with High Definition NFL action and husbands sit through ultra crisp Blue Ray chick flicks.

The other TV’s in the store told him he was crazy.  There was a recession and no one had money for fancy TV’s.  The Little TV refused to listen, but as the days went on, it seemed they were right.  Then one day, just when the Little TV had almost given up hope, a family entered the store.  They told the sales girl what they were looking for, and she pointed to the Little TV.  They smiled and said “We’ll take it!”

The next week was the happiest of the Little TV’s life, displaying football, and chick flicks and hamsters.  He delighted in making the family’s two little boys giggle with joy.  The older boy held his arms wide and claimed he could never go back to watching a small TV because he “needed to see the WHOLE show!”  The Little TV would have shed a tear if only TV’s could cry.

The Little TV was very content and everything seemed perfect.  But then the boy’s parents discovered an ad from the store boasting a TV with all the same features for a hundred dollars less.  “That sounds like a good deal to me.” said the boys’ father.  He called his awesome brother Steve who came over and helped take the Little TV back to the store.  After standing in multiple lines and talking to several employees, they exchanged the Little TV for the cheaper TV.

The store employees took the Little TV and placed him on the display shelf.  No one ever buys the display TV and the Little TV was devastated.  He missed the little boys terribly.  He knew he would never find a family so perfect again.  Several hours passed and he fell in to a deep dispair.

Just when all hope seemed lost, the father of the boys and his awesome brother walked in to the store.  The father was very red in the face uttering words never used on the boys’ TV shows.  As it turned out, the cheaper TV “with the same specs” was not at all the same.  It had inferior picture quality and a shaky DVD frame rate.  The father asked the sales girl what could be done.  She pointed to the Little TV.  He grumbled and said “We’ll take it.”

And they all lived happily ever after.

Pig heads and other fond Hawkeye memories

January 5th, 2010

In honor of this year’s Orange Bowl, here are the highlights of my time working for ABC Sports covering Iowa Hawkeye Football:

* Eating cold pizza in the break room with Lynn Swan.

* Holding the parab mike on the sidelines, standing next to Big Ten linemen and realizing just how short I really am.

* Having my head almost taken off by our kicker’s practice kick into the net.  The ball bounces back like a shotgun.

* Having my legs almost taken off by our running back.  Keep it in bounds man!

* Listening to Keith Jackson grumble how awful Iowa was during commercial break.

* Getting yelled at by a foreman for trying to help with a carpenter’s job.  Unions suck.

* Getting encouraged to eat bagels  in the break room so we would all get $25/hr overtime.  Unions rule!

* Meeting Bob Griese and having no clue who he was.  Went undefeated, really?

* Meeting Joey, technical director of Monday Night Football and head of the Mafia (except for the Mafia part)

* Trying to identify the object the student section just threw in front of me.  Not every day you see a skinned severed pig’s head.

* Spending a beautiful sunny birthday on the thirty yard line, and getting paid lots of money to do it.

Good times.  Go Hawks!