Old School

Where were you in 1986? I had just moved to New York City from Ohio. It was October, and the city had Mets fever. Doc Gooden, Straw, The Kid, Nails, and the manager, my namesake, Davey Johnson, had New York on its feet. I arrived in time to witness the epic battle between the Mets and the Astros, and like nearly everyone else in the city (except, of course, for Yankee fans), I got into the spirit of the moment, watching as they beat the Astros and then took on the Red Sox. Even though I grew up a Reds fan, and eventually became a Yankees fan, I'll never forget the moment when Mookie Wilson's weak grounder rolled through the legs of Bill Buckner. It was a magical time, and I still can't believe that was two decades ago.

Twenty years ago, I'd probably be writing this on an electric typewriter in our New York office. Now, I'm actually writing this from an Internet cafe while on holiday in London. I'll send this into the office in a moment, and the Live Design staff will pretty it up and put it in the layout. I'm attending a performance of Evita in the West End tonight; ironically, my wife was working as a followspot operator on the original production of Evita here 20 years ago.

Followspots aside, much has changed since 1986. Hard to believe, but it's been 20 years since DMX512 was named as a standard protocol by USITT. In this issue, Marian Sandberg takes a look back on its inception (p. 62), talking with some of the key players involved in the process, including Steve Terry, Mitch Heftner, and others. Of course, there were many people who helped make DMX512 happen, and we'd like to hear from more of you who were involved in that process. Send us your thoughts and memories of that time, and we'll publish it in an upcoming issue.

Other things have also changed. Issues of Lighting Dimensions and Theatre Crafts in 1986 discussed radioluminescent lamps; the Genesis tour, for which Alan Owen designed the first ever “completely variable, computer controlled lighting rig,” with nearly 300 “Model 2 and Model 3 Vari-Lites;” and Bill Dudley's design for the stage adaptation of Mutiny on the Bounty at the Piccadilly in London.

Of course some things haven't changed. There will still be plenty of heated discussions in selecting the next step in protocol, featuring, no doubt, some of the same players involved in the process back in 1986. There will still be a young followspot operator climbing the ladder and strapping herself in for a gig tonight, be it on Evita in the West End, Jersey Boys on Broadway, La Nouba in Orlando, or Blue Man Group in Vegas. And, unless things have changed dramatically in the two weeks I've been overseas, the Mets are headed to the playoffs again. An old guy like me can take comfort in continuity every now and again.