Follow Me

As a longtime high rise dweller, I long ago gave up on croquet, gardening, and lawn darts as recreation, but some substitute needed to be found, so I spent many years experimenting.  Binoculars gave way to telescopes, and for a time I was quite adept at picking off annoying pigeons with a slingshot (a large cloud of dust results from a direct hit…).  In those days I spent more time at the sporting goods store store than Mike Huckabee in his prime, and it was always a pleasure to explain, conspiritorially,  to the guy at, say, Ollie Damon’s that I wasn’t buying a spotting scope to hunt elk, as it were, and they invariably knew exactly what I meant.  They also helped me determine which size slingshot pellet would be enough to perturb the pigeons without knocking out anybody’s windows/windshields, and they were spot on.  Over time, it got so the pigeons saw me walking up the street and vacated the area, so I no longer could dazzle guests with my marksmanship, but I certainly had a lot less shit to look at and/or clean up.

Of course, the “Rear Window” thing was more controversial; lots of people though it was kind of weird, and a bit unsettling, that I spied on neighbors with a telescope, until I sat them down, pointed in a place I thought might interest them, and it then inevitably took me an hour to peel them off the steamy glass.  Soon, my roommate and I were always expected to offer turns at the telescope when we had people over, and as time passed, it was disturbingly often I kept running into people I “knew” on the street.

All well and good so far, but the boring thing about voyeurism, eventually, is that it’s just not interactive, and worse, people tend to turn off the lights just when things get really interesting.  Fortunately, at the time I worked for a theatrical lighting company, and a solution was at hand….  Why not rent a followspot, of the sort that encircles ballerinas and rock stars, and bring it home to put some light on the subject?  Naturally, I wanted one of our Super Troupers, not just since they were the title of an Abba song, but also because they were the biggest followspots on earth, and I had a whole city to cover, after all.  Sadly, even with my employee discount, the rental was a tad prohibitive, and even though I was more than willing to unplug my stove to power it, I wasn’t skilled enough at manipulating a carbon arc to be sure it would work, even if one of the huge things would fit in the elevator…

For my first trial I settled on a “Trouperette,” a relatively small, workhorse favorite of evangelical churches and high schools, whose golf-bag size wouldn’t expose me to undue notoriety on the elevator, and only needed 10 amps, yet worrying all the while it would be too wimpy to make much of a stir.  (It also had the advantage of running on a standard 1000 watt halogen lamp, didn’t need a sober person to operate, and if one was free, I could have it all weekend for twenty bucks.)  We waited, eagerly,  for the dark.  At dusk I fired it up, and danged if it didn’t put a huge disk of light on the side of the Hilton Hotel, across the park and some seven blocks north, and I was delighted to realize I could now put full daylight into any room I wanted to, and in white, lavender, blue, peach, or rose, to boot.

The best thing, though, was the way people reacted to being spotlighted; with a few disappointing exceptions, they all loved it and thought they were, 20 years early, on American Idol.  One girl danced a soft shoe in the park below and bowed afterward, and some hot teenage culinary school students a few blocks away ended up coming over, but the gales of laughter from everyone, coupled with the complete anonymity of it all, led me to look into buying my own Trouperette.  This thing, and the telescope to go with it, was more fun than naked Twister.

Sadly, management had, understandably, been informed of our antics, and mere moments after we fired her up for a last hurrah on Sunday evening, we quickly received a rather unambiguous and discouraging visit from the manager, who seemed to take an ignorantly dim view of the whole thing, and therefore promised increased scrutiny of any large lighting equipment that came in or out.  The jig was, evidently, up.

That was over 20 years ago…  And although I’m back in the same building, I bet they’ve forgotten.  Time to go on Craigslist and look up “Trouperette,” with VISA card at the ready.


  1. dirigo says:

    Hag, you should get in touch with that voyeur, Joe McGuiness, and see if you can help him keep watch over the Witch of Wasilla.

    That follow spot might just make a difference in keeping tabs on the little lady, regardless of her paranoid ravings about invasion of privacy and Peeping Tomism (of course, Sarah conveniently forgets she is a public figure and a former elected official, and therefore “fair game” as they say).

    With a tactical flash of your follow spot, she might actually find it irresistible to break into song, or, maybe lap dance with a nearby stranger.

    Joe can hold the light cable and take notes.

    I think I can arrange to have our crack stringer, Harlan Harrington, buzz the Witch’s abode in the CHNN Flying Boat, precisely at the optimum spot flash-point, to record some evocative aerial shots for YouTube.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I can’t breathe I’m laughing so hard. Even a Trouperette at that range would be quite spectacular, and she’d love it. Get that video.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    Ah, the mind boggles at the possibilities… A chopper-mounted Super Trouper would sure do the trick, for Sarah or anybody else who might look good naked. CHNN will be looking into that, pronto.

    • dirigo says:

      Here in the East, the same approach could be applied to the attempt by Scott Brown to retain the former “Ted Kennedy” senate seat in Massachusetts.

      Brown, by now known as a habitual hair-splitter, might try to reprise some of his muscle-head model poses, to ward off charges that he’s just a Massachusetts snob, like John Kerry, who is carrying water this week-end for the lying “combat veteran,” Dick “I served in Vietnam” Blumenthal, the current front runner to replace Chris Dodd in Connecticut.

      His opponent, Linda McMahon, the “wrestling lady” with the $50 million campaign till, is ready to bury Lyin’ Dick; but Connecticut voters might like the liar instead of McMahon, the double-knee-lock cruncher and former CEO of the WWE of fair Greenwich.

      Harlan can also, we hope, buzz the world wrestling headquarters on I-95, for important and timely aerials.

  3. Amanda Whittier says:

    Good times! Believe it or not, I was telling someone this story just last week, especially the part about the people in the park and how their reactions to being thrust into the spotlight were remarkably positive and fun. Makes me homesick for Portland.

    • Denise says:

      Portland is homesick for you too Amanda!
      It really was a stellar party, Thanks Hag!

      • cocktailhag says:

        I’m so delighted that we’re having a Trouperette reunion. I was thinking next time I’d write about that lovely tour we took, with the village idiots, speeding tickets (s), and Carol Shults, whispering to me via intercom in her lovely drawl, “every eye in this whole auditorium is upon me, and you say you’re embarrassed.”

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, before you pine away too much, it’s rained every day but two since May 15. May broke the record from 1950, and June, which kinda just started, has 3 inches already. (several times the average for the whole month.) I stopped counting at about the 500th monsoon, which was a week or so ago.
      I would like to get a Trouperette, though. If you’d ever come visit I’d rent one if I haven’t gotten around to it….
      PS… Next you should tell that person the Dick/coffee table/food poisoning/underwear in the bed story.

  4. dirigo says:

    I just finished a book some of you may know: A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink.

    Mr. Pink (no relation to the dirigo pinks) posits that right brain thinkers are poised to take over the world, or something like that.

    Artists, designers, “conceptualizers” are soon to be in the driver’s seat after the apparent exhaustion, or assumed obsolescence, of left brainers: “knowledge workers,” lawyers, engineers, arbitrage and credit default swap theorists, etc.

    Well, we’ll see, but that would be okay with me since my skill sets hover in my right brain for the most part, and I’ve hungered for power for power’s sake for a long time. So, I’m due.

    It’s a breezy tome, kind of like a self-help book, and it almost starts coming across like one of Tom Friedman’s books (Friedman provides a friendly blurb for Mr. Pink), which almost made me stop.

    Anyway, along the way, Mr. Pink discusses laughing clubs, started apparently by an Indian doctor who decided to cut back on medicine and instead get people involved in such clubs, on the theory that group belly laughs are good for the health of the laughers and may be good for productivity as well. So you can imagine then the Deepak Chopra of laughter is advising corporations to, umm … lighten up the workspace (or sweatshop) and get the help to giggle, and then move to group guffaws during coffee breaks.

    I don’t know if this would help me; it might help you however. Thinking serendipitously, there could be laughing clubs all over, where the members join hands and move, or dance, to stay in the beams of Trouperettes aimed from apartment window balconies all across the country.

    Mr. Pink includes some background in this chapter on the early history of Ford and how, when old Henry was running the show at River Rouge in the Model T days, he had assembly line monitors and snitches watching the workers, taking notes and issuing demerits for casual chit chat, smiling, and even laughing, because old Henry thought that productivity would suffer. So at that time, there were no laughing clubs at Ford, but fenders were installed on time and with zero defects. Amen.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Boy, that wsj will print anything these days. Who wrote those questions, Rick Santelli? One example: Tossing in an “overall” to cover for the fact that for everyone but the top quintile, real wages have been flat or declining for the last 30 years. Every question was framed like that, unless it was utter bullshit, like whether the company with the largest market share was a monopoly. The real answer is “probably,” given our utter lack of antitrust enforcement. Query: If conservatives are so smart about the economy, how come they fuck it up every last time?
      I keep waiting for you to show me a country that has been economically successful with your system. There aren’t any.

    • dirigo says:

      So what are we to make of this, Tom?

      There are too many socialists?

      Not enough check balancing classes?

      Too few mortgage qualification classes?

      The bare minimum when it comes to consumer education with respect to banks?

      Not enough numerical literacy classes?

      A deficit in community-based, up from your bootstraps, rah rah classes at the high school? At night?

      Or, is all this a conspiracy? A mortal threat to the Republic?

      Maybe, merely, massive and gross incompetence?

      I mean: What the fuck do you think is the PROBLEMMMMMM?

      And: Do you have anything to say but the same old THINGGGGGG? Repeating yourself as if we’re all fucking morons who are pining, nay, losing sleep, waiting for your next utterance?

      Hmmmmmmmmmm …. ?

  5. mikeinportc says:

    Well , guess I’m never moving to Portland . ( I like to keep my liberal traitorous activity under wraps.) :)

    dirigo , some workplace help :

    Meanwhile, back at the (gas) drillin’ follies, another,….. wait for it…. , blowout preventer, didn’t, … prevent, that is. Have any of ‘em ever actually worked?

  6. Ché Pasa says:

    Reading the post and the comments on this thread, I feel like a… voyeur…. Must catch my breath. Mop my brow. Take a… walk…

    Oh my!

    The memories. “Trouperettes,” folks who love being in the spotlight, coffee tables…

    The mind reels…

    • cocktailhag says:

      Don’t hold out on us, Che: spill, baby spill! Inquiring minds want to know. (and Amanda had better watch out or I’ll tell the stories of the bike messenger(s), the Moon Dress, and the girdle, among others….)