By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
6:05 p.m. The AV guys are trying to hook up a pair of rabbit ears to a laptop in order to get Channel 11 — the World Series is on — which they then want to record on VCR or DVD and in turn project that on a giant flat-screen monitor in the sports-book area. As this is a sports party, Best thinks it would be a good idea to have some actual live sports. “There you go! You almost got it!” Best cheers as the signal comes in patchily.
6:06 p.m. The rabbit ears are operational.
6:09 p.m. One hour to party time. Best is having dinner. He squats in front of a wood pallet beside one of the giant propeller fans, slices a chicken breast with plastic fork and knife on a paper plate, and finishes in 30 seconds. He goes back for another piece of chicken, plops it on top of a black trunk, hunches over and wolfs that one down in 30 seconds.
Out on the sidewalk, men are loading IKEA “Majiker” bookcase boxes onto an unmarked white truck. Ivar’s old-fashioned streetlamps glow yellow in the purple evening light. It is the magic hour. Security men gather on the sidewalk behind aluminum rent-a-fences. They look dapper in black suits, white shirts and red ties. “Hey, Jim, how ya doin’?” They clap each other on the back, straighten tie knots, adjust cuff links and earpieces, getting into character.
6:20 p.m. The black curtain in the dance area is the wrong texture. Disco lights whirl in colors of red and blue and pink, which match the clouds in the evening sky. The ‰ problematic black curtain, which is affixed to an open-air metal frame like a giant birdcage, has the texture of crumpled pleather. “The client came in last night and decided they didn’t like the shiny curtain. So now we’re making it matte.” Why? Best looks at me and shrugs. It takes six men all in a row to raise the black curtain. “How are we closing this thing up? Do we have finials?” Then Emma runs over, asking for double-sided tape. “What are these plexi-sheets for, Bryan?” Best asks, pointing to a heap of clear plastic under a heating lamp. The next problem is that there isn’t enough cable to secure the black curtains. Best digs in his pocket, whips out $200 and dispatches one of the men to the hardware store. Then he devises a system, which involves leapfrogging over ladders, that will raise the matte curtain more efficiently. Then he helps the men lift the new curtains. Then he gets back on the radio. “We’ve got six guys here,” he says to Bryan, who has gone into the next room. “We don’t need that many. Why don’t you come over and get some of them and finish everything inside?”
6:35 p.m. Pellegrino, Sprite, Diet Coke, Coke, tequila, Jack Daniel’s, Canada Dry, vodka, more vodka, red wine, white wine, Dr. Pepper, orange juice, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice. The bartender, a craggy, bald-headed man with thick glasses, sets up inside the doughnut-shaped bar. Staffer girls flit from table to table planting triplets of white tea-light candles in clear votive glasses. They sing to the music: “We’re gonna party like it’s your birthday . . . it’s your birthday.”
6:40 p.m. Bryan’s men spray-glue the cardboard press walls onto wood struts. The walls say “PS2” and “The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation” over and over and over. Inside, there are baskets of condiments — little gold packets of Gulden’s mustard and ketchup. Onstage, the impromptu jazz band is gone, replaced by a tall guy with dark, shiny skin, standing Moses-like in front of two turntables. He is staring at some wires.
“A fucking knife will do. Ghetto style,” he says, looking for something to trim the wires. “Damn, I’ve been biting wires for 20 years now. And it always happens right before it starts. Bite the wires, man, just when things are fucked up and at the last minute you ain’t got no tools . . . bite the wires, man.” He laughs. “I could write a whole chapter of a book on that, biting the wires.” Who’s that guy? I ask Jeffrey Best, who is whipping by en route to God knows where. “That’s the DJ. That’s Grandmaster Flash.”
GET THE PARTY STARTED
7 p.m. The video crews are here, along with photographers and reporters. Amy, a cute girl from the PR company in khaki fatigues and high heels, hands out plastic press passes. There are labeled stickers on the floor: NBA TV, Playboy TV, Fox Sports, People, Entertainment Ireland (!), Access Hollywood, Knight Ridder. A press line is forming adjacent to the red carpet, which is not unlike the line that forms for the polar-bear exhibit at the zoo.
7:15 p.m. Backstage, people are eating grilled chicken, brownies and salad from the craft services table. In the back alley, hot dogs and hamburgers are sizzling on the barbecue grill. Plastic ramps now cover the cables snaking everywhere on the floor.
An army of girls in white mini–tennis skirts and blue cheerleader skirts descend: the wait staff. They dart back and forth between rooms. Camera crews circulate with fuzzy microphones that look like giant cat toys. Gray scrims flutter as people rush in and out between spaces. Little groups of workers break off, coalesce to receive instructions and break off again. Best’s office women are back, freshly made-up, re-outfitted in slim jeans, heels and little tees. Twenty minutes to party time.