The Gates: Installation Day 2

February 8, 2005

Someone didn't do their job. It wasn't me, it wasn't the people around me, it wasn't the people I talked to, but someone who was supposed to get the supplies delivered today didn't get it done. In a scene even more reminiscent of work on a film crew, we showed up at 7:00 AM sharp so we could stand around until 9:30 AM before we got any work done. Why? We were waiting on supplies. It was a mess.

loading the cart When we finally got it underway, we worked like a well-oiled machine, we were installing about 10 gates an hour, people fell into jobs they liked and we are now beginning to understand who is good at what. I am good at the big picture, I can stand back and figure out what is going wrong when things don't work as they should. Another of my colleagues is good at getting the Gates to fit together at the top, two more are good at installing the leveling plates, two more are good at the detail work of keeping the curtain assembly in the proper position for the unfurling. Two more are good at torquing bolts into the proper position. We have a good team. It is sort of strange to be learning and perfecting a skill that is going to be completely useless in four days, but that's what we're doing. I think we're to the point now where we are as good as we can be at installations that go flawlessly, we are still getting better at dealing with problems.

Christo and Jean-Claude stopped by our group today to chat. They asked us if we had what we needed, we did by then, so we were nice. I spent the weekend reading their biography, so it's really sort of a thrill to be with them knowing as much as I do about their lives. They are very nice, Jean-Claude is more of a taskmaster and enforcer, Christo is a sweet man, just as you would expect an unassuming artist to be at the apogee of his career.

Giv AnnI talked to Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas, this morning during our worker meeting. She's just another member of a crew, when someone asked her why she was doing this she just described herself as "an Art nut" in that sweet Central Texas drawl of hers. I told her I worked on her 1994 campaign, she said she was sorry we lost, I said I was, too. Her voice sounded a bit hoarse, but she was in good spirits.

The project is really starting to look awesome. As I was discussing with my crew chief today, even while working on the project it is difficult to really appreciate the scale of it. We walked in for lunch but rode the bus back out, which toured us through about half of the park: by the Metropolitan museum, Clinton Hill, the Harlem meer, the Great Hill, it just looks awesome. I don't know how else to describe it. It is truly amazing.

Everyone complained of being more physically exhausted today than the day before. I felt it, too, but I kept my feelings to myself. I think I can attribute it to it being the second day of pretty physically taxing work, plus we have enough of a routine procedure down now that we can really do Gate after Gate after Gate, there's no more standing around and figuring out what to do, or who does what, so I think we work harder. The food is still good, they still give us a vegetarian option, that's all good, though no cookies today, they did have some pretty good NY state apples.

On a personal note, I had planned to work in the evenings this week. I can't. I'm too tired. I'm old. This is hard work.