Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

A glove-ruining kind of day

Some things are better in the summer – the beach, outdoor barbecues, swimming pools, street fairs, fresh produce.

But one thing that’s decidedly not better in the summer is running cable in a downtown LA alley that doubles as a de facto relief station for the area.

Although the temptation is to blame the mess on the local homeless population, many of the people who we saw pissing in the alley (right in front of us) did not appear homeless. They just appeared to not want to walk the 50 yards or so to one of downtown LA’s  self-cleaning public toilets.

Guess that cable just screams “hey, come relieve yourself here!”

Depressingly enough, most of us are used to dealing with a certain amount of human filth – it’s just something that’s to be expected when one works in certain parts of Los Angeles (although we’ve been known to simply leave extremely heavily soiled cable right where it is and call it a loss), and it wasn’t any worse than any other downtown alley in the morning while it was still cool – sure, we had to watch for the fresh liquid (thankfully, there was much more liquid waste than solid waste) on the ground and on the walls, but as soon as the sun moved into a position to be able to hit the alley the smell got really bad, really fast.

Normally, the production company will pay to have downtown alleys steam cleaned and then block off access until we’re done shooting (in order to prevent re-pooing of said alley), but this particular alley wasn’t able to be blocked as it serves as the access driveway for some of those overpriced downtown ‘lofts’, so I guess production just didn’t see the point of cleaning it in the first place.

Of course, the center of most alleys are not all that gross (admittedly, though, after years of working in downtown alleyways most of us have a pretty high filth tolerance), but we run our cable down the very sides – up against a fence or a wall, and that’s where most folks choose to do their business, if you get my drift.

While I’ll spare you some of the gorier details, I will say that I’m not sure which smells worse after baking in the summer sun – shit, piss, vomit, or used tampons.

At least I was on the crew that was laying the cable. I feel for the poor bastards who will have to wrap the stuff after it’s been pissed on (and worse) for days. I won’t be there. That’s one circumstance under which I have no problem at all turning down work.

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7 Responses

  1. snarkolepsy says:

    I’m calling it a new trend.

    Just yesterday I was getting gas, and this guy pulled out his junk and started taking a piss. 5 feet from his car. But.. not using his car as a shield or any bushes for that matter. It was also right at the entrance to the gas station where everyone pulling in could see him..

    Normally you would say “no one wants to use a gas station restroom – especially guys when they can just use the back of the gas station building”. But this was one of those gas stations that had a Wendy’s right next to it. That should be plenty clean for a guy.

    Call me old fashion, but I reminisce about the days when people would find a discreet alley to take a piss.

  2. geekhiker says:

    I’ve been to that alley. Heck, there’s one just like it right next to where I work. Oh, the glamor of living in LA, eh? ;)

  3. JCW says:

    As bad as it sounds, try filming in S.F. in the Tenderloin….

  4. Lucy says:

    That sounds as yummy as filming in a subway station in NYC. At least an alleyway gets some breeze (hopefully?). I’ve shot several times in stations that have no real ventilation or breezes to speak of, that are home to that particularly pungent variety of tunnel dwellers, that aren’t patrolled by officials running people off, and that are allowed to just keep festering away for years and years. It is literally like filming inside of a latrine after a long day at the fair.

  5. Peter says:

    I will say that I’m not sure which smells worse after baking in the summer sun – shit, piss, vomit, or used tampons.

    Dirty diapers have quite the aroma too.

    Peggy sez: They do have their own special kind of stench, don’t they? Fortunately we didn’t have to deal with those.

  6. [...] Wanna read how a real hardcore filmmaker pays their bills? Peggy Archer. ‘Nuff said. [...]

  7. [...] Archer succeeds in grossing me out (not an easy [...]

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