Visions of Madness

Visions of Madness

Wonderland in Wynwood

Most likely as a result of Wynwood being a Mecca for the homeless and hipsters, there’s quite a bit of insanity running around. During the day especially, when they have yet to settle and still fritter about mumbling to themselves and gathering cans or propositioning passers-by for pennies. Set in a bumbling, metropolis-adjacent back left corner of the city, Wynwood is a maze of old abandoned warehouses, beautiful art installations and many combinations of the two. As you might have imagined, when our company was commissioned to help with an Alice In Wonderland event centered here I wound up a little lost.


Feeling as if I had stepped through the looking glass myself, I had to wander the maze of dereliction for a few minutes before I gave up on Google Maps and decided to just follow my intuition. Among the burnt out husks of textile factories and hole-in-the-wall bars the area is littered with, sat a building of enormous proportions colored in a pristine white that greatly differed from it’s neighbors. It seemed I had followed and found my own gigantic white rabbit.



Down The Rabbit Hole

Getting onsite and inside was a cake-walk in comparison to finding the venue itself. Our part in all this was to provide airbrush artists to bring more detail to the book characters that would be touring the event come show-time. I stepped past the mushrooms and through a section of hedge maze looking for someone official enough to lead me in the right direction. Most everyone passed by without a single inquiry as to who the new strange person was in Ünderland but I guess having a company logo on your shirt can get you past the strictest security, or at least a guy texting in a golf cart at the front gate. It helps with the espionage if everyone is too distracted with the vision of their assigned portion of Wonderland coming to life to notice you.

There were still several hours before the festivities began, but I had a short window of time before rehearsals began for the floor show and it would be impossible to get any pictures of our artists work for marketing purposes. Stumbling along, while doing my best to not actually stumble lest I bring down some important irreplaceable set piece, I noticed someone wearing a headset (Take note: Headsets are serious business for event coordinators). A moment later I was ushered into the most expansive part of the building that I can only guess was an airplane hangar in a previous life.

Yes, buildings can follow Buddhism. (I don’t know if that’s actually true)

Luckily enough, though my guide was unsure as to the exact location of my Point of Contact or my artists, the client who contacted us to begin with was headed straight for me. Had there been a little more light in this testament to high ceilings, I may have noticed how frazzled she looked at this point. We had met on several occasions, yet she didn’t recognize me. Though I could recognize the expression of someone whose cogs were too busy grinding to take new input (Again, a logo on your shirt is a life saver). She snapped to reality and rushed us into the backrooms where most of the cast was gathered.

Tucked away in a set of dressing rooms that you imagine whenever you hear of an actress going to make-up (Billion-bulb mirror included) were the airbrush artists I work pretty closely with back at Silly Farm Supplies. Already hours into their work, I could see a good progression of their most complicated subject for the night; A flower-nymph who was to greet guests in the hedge maze. Having begun work on her when they arrived at noon, she was only nearing completion as my time supporting our artists was as well.

There wasn’t much room for me to be productive in that area, so after grabbing some refreshments for my artists, I began to tour the hall.


It became clear rather quickly that in the scope of what was taking place that night that our role, however important, was one of many smaller commitments to a vision of a grand evening. Echoing through the hall seen above was a singer training his pipes for the nights performance, and periodically arguing with the sound engineers about the volume of his track against the music. Meticulous layouts surrounded the banquet hall. From end to end were clear signs of a concise effort of many to become one gorgeous affair. Even a short trip into the bathroom had me face-to-face with The Red Queen.

These didn’t even exist yet! In his defense, he was a man. But by the end of his make-up routine, he wasn’t supposed to be.

It was clear by the time I hopped on my motorcycle and rode home that though this event had only had my influence for a few hours at a time scattered over a few weeks, there were countless man hours putting into production. Had anything we organized for this event gone awry, it had potential to bring the night tumbling down. Between furniture, decor, make-up, hair styling, rehearsals, and set-ups any innocuous mishap could have caused a catastrophe. In this business, if you aren’t moving in time with the rest of the event, you are a busted leg on a Millipede. Nothing whole moves forward without all of it’s parts in synchronicity, with the same vision of the future.




Don’t fake it. You’ll make it.

Don’t fake it. You’ll make it.

Fake it until you make it. Really old expression. Dated, even. At least as old as myself, and soon enough I can rent a car on my own. This particular expression has come up more times than I can count in the quarter of a century I have walked the world. It only stopped making sense a month ago.


We were contacted for an event in February, that was taking place in mid-March. A walk/run to the tune of encouraging adult literacy. Though I had been working with and becoming familiar with the inner workings of event planning for 6 months by this point, most of it was logistic. File this entertainer’s insurance, Send invoices to this clown (profession, not insult!), and the occasional fill-in spot as an attendant of craft stations. So of course it was a little alarming to find out my superior would be out of town the weekend of the event, and it would all be up to little old me.

cross-eyed mike
I look so ready. And like I missed some sleep. (I did)

I arrived early (or earlier than my entertainment) and was able to survey the site thoroughly with the final layout mostly in place. This was important as I found that despite making detailed maps of the area for my crew, the initial layout was different from the final product and had it been left unchanged would end up with a generator and bounce house entrance next to a very displeased DJ. Easily resolved. “I’m getting good at this” I allow myself to think. Naively.

They were so excited I fixed the issue, they almost jumped for joy. Almost.

I begin to mosey around the site a little, take some pictures for sake of making sure the boss stays sane and sees neither myself nor any of our equipment has caught fire, and make sure everything looks good from an outside perspective. I spot the clients chatting among themselves and catch one’s eye to give him a thumb’s up, and suddenly he’s coming straight for me. Oh no, am I on fire now?

“Hey, everything looks great. But where are the three face painters?” Maybe its because its early(-er than I am used to), or I haven’t had breakfast (don’t do that) but I am drawing a blank. Suddenly I’m searching for words to make it better, while simultaneously interrupting El Jefe’s vacation as aggressively as my phone provider will allow.

Should be a few dozen voicemails there, too.

The invoice on my phone, and the hard copy folded into a tiny obsessive paranoid-my-phone-will-die-or-get-wiped-by-Skynet square from my pocket don’t help much. They are identical, and confirm that though three face painters are slated to be here, I have copied early drafts of the paperwork without their contact information. Certainly I handled all this paperwork personally, but the clients are waiting for a good answer and I can’t recall the specifics to give one. The phone isn’t ringing back and suddenly this parking lot feels like it has some really tight corners.

Semi-dramatic re-enactment.

Managing to slip out of the Ring of Fire, I breathe and put my phone away. This is in my hands, now. An urge boils in my gut to assure them the face painters are close, fake the biggest smile I can muster and just hope some Divine Balloon Twister in the sky makes my phone ring.

Sure, let’s go with that.

Just as I resolved myself to the fates of owning up; that everything was figuratively on fire and I might just stick behind a desk, the tides turn. There are familiar, pre-painted faces in the parking lot, and in all the panic of trying to figure out how to make it appear as if everything was fine, it had become so. Within minutes the artists are set-up, the sharks have stopped circling and there are ecstatic kids climbing director’s chairs to become Bat-Girls and somewhat small giant transforming robots.


So busy in trying to find a way to make everything appear copacetic, I had lost the fact that I had ensured everything was in place weeks ago. Suddenly there was no reason to worry or formulate an excuse. The event was a success before I had to pretend it was. In an immense effort to pretend I didn’t see storm clouds, it had slipped my mind I owned an umbrella.

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