I took all the classes that place offered and started to get calls to work as a Background Actor during the renaissance of Chicago Film Production all throughout the 1990’s. I was told on more than one occasion that I had a “Wonderful Face” and stuff like that kept me going, and going, and going! The jobs building steel buildings and silos eventually came and went with me also having to take some afternoons off in order to get to acting school on one occasion from a silo building job all the way over near the Mississippi River where I had to drive all the way across the top of the State of Illinois to get there! I framed the certificate that I got the day I graduated from that class and it presently decorates the wall in the back room of the basement.
This is the part where I started to get a lot of calls and started traveling to Chicago quite a lot to work on practically ALL of the latest movies and TV shows that were shooting there during that period of time where we had as many as like five or more shows all shooting there at one time. It was also the days where just the one single casting agency was doing the vast majority of all the casting for those shows, too, and it just so happened that they were the agency and folks that liked Les Brown THE MOST!
I had what some people like to call a lot of luck at getting some pretty good parts in some of those movies, too, and meeting a lot of guys who I still consider some of my best friends in the movie business today!
The first time I was working on an actual Major Motion Picture was a very basic part where in the end I am just mixing with a number of other actors on the inside of a bar on the Southside of Chicago while the two stars of the movie exit the bar and cross the street to get on a bus. You can probably look closely at the front of the bar in that shot and might be able to see me in the window somewhere, but I think that is a pretty typical first job in that business. It wasn’t too long before I was back in basically that same neighborhood dressed as a homeless person and pushing a shopping cart. I was also in one scene we shot at O’Hare Airport where they had an actual airplane driving back and forth out on the tarmac and like pulling up to a gate or pulling away from it or something. Close to where I was seated there was one of the directors with a radio that I discovered was talking to the airplane and probably another director with another radio telling the driver of the plane to turn around and start the scene over again after every take.
Now because I am sort of trying to build up to the Northridge Earthquake here, I want to say here that I do not know for sure what all projects I worked on exactly before and after the Northridge Earthquake, so I will kind of just give you most of the projects that I worked on in Chicago back in the days and then discuss the earthquake knowing that I might have put one or two of these projects before the earthquake. . . and we might have not actually filmed them until the days following the earthquake. There is also a small amount of confusion checking these movies at places such as Internet Movie Data Base, IMDB, where you will usually get the release date and I am rather discussing the production dates and a few of these movies come up very, very near the date and are closely woven in with the day of that earthquake and it is even difficult for me to figure out which ones we had already shot before the Northridge Earthquake when you also have to realize that one or two of them were in production in Chicago that day, too!
So, with that there was also one other one that was my claim to fame when I could see myself crossing at the end of an alley in a new TV series that we had been shooting and I was actually on the set the day someone came running in and hollered that the show had just been canceled.
I was also spending a lot of my spare time writing scripts for major movies and this was exactly what I was opening my notebook to begin doing when I turned on the TV on the morning of January 17, 1994. Probably flipping through all of those handwritten pages and possibly reviewing the last several pages that I had written like the day before when the TV comes on and announces that they had just had a Major Earthquake in Los Angeles and they started showing a lot of the San Fernando Valley on fire and wrecked buildings and everything. This was a shocking sight and you could say it was a rather nerve wracking day from that point on not knowing what all was going on out in Hollywood and how this thing with the earthquake was affecting all my new friends in the movie business. It would quickly become a day that I decided not to just continue on writing and going about my usual script writing work. Rather, it was a day that I eventually came to spend figuring out how I was going to go about trying to be of some help. Knowing I was probably not going to be getting on a plane and flying right out there even if there was something that I could do during their immediate time of the most need, I imagined them not really needing me to lend a hand out there in person, so I continued on in an effort to come up with some way I could help.
I must have given a lot of thought to a lot of different possible solutions, but eventually somehow came up with the idea that I would immediately begin looking into what might have caused that earthquake in the first place. At about that same moment I can recall grabbing the recycling bag that contained all the most recent newspapers and systematically tearing through them! I don’t exactly know how I came to the conclusion that I came to in the coming moments. I suppose I could rather easily take a quick run to the local library where that series of newspapers that would have filled the recycling bag on that day would probably now all be available on microfilm and I can spin through them all fast enough to possibly illustrate what I found, but until then I will just have to try and explain it in verbatim.
I recall in some other of my writings joking that one of the first things that I found was that Cher had just done a show up in Salt Lake City, but probably knowing that didn’t have anything to do with the earthquake, I kept on searching. Probably a few other things such as that might have showed up in all of those newspapers of which we might normally have several weeks worth of in just the one recycling bag located either right in the kitchen somewhere or just outside in the garage and on this day I’m sure I carefully checked through all of the newspapers that were available there.
Possibly based on the fact that maybe there had been a lot of stories about the weather or for whatever reason, I came to the conclusion in a matter of about two hours of this sort of research, that the Northridge Earthquake had been preceded by severe winter conditions all across the United States and I must have also seen a story that mentioned that there was four feet of snow in the Sierras because I was thinking that could have played a role in the earthquake, too.
It seemed at best plausible to me that extremely low sub-zero temperatures, two feet of snow covering most of the country, and fifty-five mile an hour winds could have affected the tectonic plate enough to force the western edge of the North American Tectonic Plate up against the Pacific Tectonic Plate out around the San Andreas Fault. Knowing that such things as cold temperatures cause contraction in metal, wood and probably most all materials, and that the weight of all the snow could then push down on it and out at the tectonic plate boundary. It wasn’t much at the time. . . but it was enough to convince me to continue on with this project and go on to devote still more time to it, even though I knew I was to now be devoting time that I would have usually been continuing on with my script writing projects.
That was a big decision that I had to make right there. I had to decide to devote still more time, yet, to this project not knowing how much additional time I would now be donating to the earthquake project toward ultimately trying to hopefully be of some help to all my new friends out in Hollywood. I am now going to devote even more time to the project and in the future would ultimately decide several more times in the future that there was enough good reason to keep on with the project. This moment in history would not be the only time that I would have to more or less just drop everything else I was doing. . . and put some time into what I eventually started calling my new job of working with earthquakes!
I decided that it was something I should take a trip to my local library and begin looking into. The next big surprise came when I started to compare what I found preceding the Northridge Earthquake and it did not match up with the events that preceded a lot of the other Major Earthquakes throughout history. One of the things I found immediately was that there was not even close to a correlation with earthquakes all striking in January, which might have been one of my early theories.
The system I used to do this research was initially that I would take the dates of some of the biggest earthquakes of history and go through all the old newspapers from the days that preceded it similar to how I discovered those most severe winter conditions that preceded the Northridge Earthquake. It didn’t take me too long on this project to discover that all of these other major earthquakes that I was researching had not been preceded by winter conditions at all, rather I was finding Major Hurricanes and Typhoons making landfall in the days preceding all the rest of them! It’s even sort of ironic as I am keying this into my laptop today that I had been led to this point by a correlation with severe winter conditions and that few or none of the other earthquakes had been preceded by severe winter conditions, don’t get me wrong, I would eventually use severe winter conditions in December 2003 and December 2009 to make Great Predictions! On the other hand the landfall of the biggest hurricanes and typhoons made a lot of sense to me the same way those severe winter conditions did after giving it some thought, too!
One particularly interesting edition of the Janesville (Wisconsin) Gazette, might have been Janesville Daily Gazette then, from 1923 bears the banner headline “Japan Deluged With Disaster: Typhoon, Earthquake, Landslide, Fire.” I might assume that I originally discovered this headline across the top of the front page which I will check with them one of these days and see about permission to use, while I was looking up all the biggest earthquakes of all time knowing Japan had a few of them. Probably by looking up “Earthquakes” in an old brick and mortar encyclopedia, you know.
Came a time when I also walked into the library with a name or names of big windstorms in an attempt to reverse research this whole potential correlation and am here to tell you that reverse research was also very successful. After a while it was just as easy to walk in there with the name of a big windstorm such as a Hurricane or Typhoon and go through a few old newspapers into the future days beyond the landfall of one of those biggest of windstorms and find out now what Major Earthquake occurred as a result of that landfall. This would have also probably been about the time when I came up with the saying knowing that medium sized windstorms cause medium sized earthquakes, big windstorms cause big earthquakes, and the biggest windstorms of all time tend to cause the biggest earthquakes of all time. Therefore you could more or less say that I usually already know, before I start to search the days after a huge hurricane or typhoon makes landfall somewhere, just about exactly how big the earthquake that follows is going to be.
That also reminds me of a way that a person can still to this day always double check my work by trying this process out for yourself simply by finding a huge hurricane or typhoon from somewhere throughout time and checking the days and weeks that followed to see where the big earthquake would be. You can also try to guess where it might be at, too. Today I go by the month, say September 1989 when Hurricane Hugo made landfall at Charleston, South Carolina, you would simply then type the following month in, such as say for instance “Earthquake October 1989” and see what results you will get.
It was necessary for all of this research to make sense to me at every step along the way in order for me to keep continuing on, and continuing on, and continuing on at this seemingly now endless life of researching, researching, and more researching not ever actually knowing if and or when there would ever be an end to it.
I think there was actually a point in time one day when some of the other activities that I once enjoyed had to begin to take a backseat to all of the work I was now doing with earthquakes. I know for sure that the few minutes every day or so that I used to take time to enjoy some work on my guitar was about one of the first things to go. Couldn’t hardly find even a spare half-hour a day to pick the thing up much less the few minutes it might take to play a scale on it and try to tune one or two of the strings. When was I ever again going to find the time to plug the bass into the amp and play some of my favorite old songs like “Heard It Through The Grapevine.” As videos from those days will probably prove it was the end of me recording much in the way of music and guitar playing at all. . . . . and starting to be the beginning of me doing a lot more stuff with earthquakes which would also one day start to become my latest videos! Not fun, but possibly worth all the time I was to be putting into it.
About all that was missing up to this point was the work I was doing as an actor in Chicago Film Production. This was an activity that would go on for a little while, yet but not too long. I was now finding myself walking around on-set and talking to people to find out which ones were from Los Angeles and then asking them all sorts of questions about earthquakes. It wasn’t that it ever really bothered any of them to be on set talking about earthquakes so much as it was the fact that my focus just didn’t seem to be exactly where I might have wanted it to be. I would have much rather gone on and completed the renaissance of my days with Chicago Film Production by continuing to meet the awesome people that make it all possible and continue on getting bigger and bigger parts, but that would have to become talk about earthquakes now, and I knew it would eventually start to spell the end of all of the drive that I had that got me to where I was at right at the moment of the Northridge Earthquake. It was now time for me to begin to back off from my acting. . . . . and begin my new job of Bringing Earthquakes To Life.