Monday, November 28, 2005

The Bat Mitzvah arms race continues...
How to make that Ashanti Bat Mitzvah look like dog food.

More EXCLUSIVE 411 on the fancy pants Rainbow Room Bat Mitzvah my brother worked on Thanksgiving...

It was for the daughter of David H. Brooks. There's a Daily News bit about it here from the beginning of November:

Here's the scoop on who actually performed:
The Eagles
50 Cent
(word was this was last minute)

...and more, but he didn't recall the others.

People were leaving/had left when Aerosmith was on, because it was 3:30AM. Most people didn't see Aerosmith; my brother got to see a bit before breakdown. Rumor had it that Brooks issued death threats if the performers didn't show up.

My brother Mike worked 3 virtually back-to-back shifts on Thanksgiving:

At first he was told they would make $40/hour. So he got some friends to work it with him. But the agency said the client didn't come through. Said the client (Brooks) was being very difficult.* In the end they received $20/hour. He worked one 10 hour shift, one 13½ hour shift, and then an 18 hour shift for the breakdown. He also did 3 hours of unpaid work on top of this because the woman who was hiring them was in a bind. He earned time and a half -- 30 dollars -- when the shift went over 10 hours.

They did not provide food or breaks for food, save one time they all received $10 to eat and one hour. Some workers scrounged in the employee kitchen and found rice and a few other things like canned soup. My brother has an odd habit of always carrying food in his bag, so he was OK.**

The work he did was setting up and breaking down. Some of it, most of it, was very physically demanding. Putting up and taking down heavy rigging for the acts and dealing with the Chihuly thingys. But as my brother's well-earned nickname is Jew Ferrigno, this was no problem.

I, on behalf of my brother, was outraged by how little they were paid and how badly they were treated. My brother admitted the lack of food was not cool, but he wasn't kvetching beyond that. He said he enjoyed "the camaraderie." Oh, but after the 3:30 shift, the workers were allowed to eat the leftovers.

Incidentally, my brother Mike is also a Long Island boy. His own Bar Mitzvah featured ace entertainment: Dominick Esposito's band (Dominick being the husband of my father's secretary), and me singing a showstopper from Annie.

*When describing the money they would not be making, they explained to the workers that Brooks was trying to "Jew them down."

**The habit isn't odd, but what he carries is. My brother has very little money and lifts weights. Hence cheap-ass protein often = mackerel. When he's rocking the mackerel in his bag, and we're going out to visit mom, I won't let him in my car.

Update: Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go, coincidentally, to a photo shoot for Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad at the Y. I never mind donning the fishnets and paint to do a shoot, but tonight I'm distracted as I am completely freaking out about reading at HTKP -- all 'cause I saw Time Out use the word "literary" to hawk it. Oi! Oy!

Update II (Tuesday 11/29/05): Lloyd Grove finally picked up the story after Gawker broke it yesterday, causing my sitemeter to go through the roof (I have so few readers compared to the Gawks I don't call my post "breaking" the story). Of course, Lloyd made no mention of the workers being stiffed. And of course, whatever Stever Tyler or 50 Cent got paid doesn't rankle me. I mean, it may be a waste, and sure the orphans could use the millions more, but my brother is not an international superstar. And let's be honest...what have the orphans done for us lately? Squat.

However, if the reports of the giftbags are true (digital cameras and video iPods), that means every guest (over 200) made off with more booty for attending that party (a lotta 13-year-olds) then he made for working 44 and a half hours of back-breaking work. And no, my brother doesn't have health insurance*, and no, this was not, obviously, union work. But still, I'm the only one who's pissed. He's an incredibly nice guy, enjoys using his muscles and has the ability to enjoy the absurdity of it.

*Unless he finally fanagled some medical for being low income. I know he was working on it.

Update III: This is my brother Mike I'm talking about, not to be confused with my brother Adam of NPR fame.