Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Published on Thursday, November 06, 2014

It Only Takes Money!

Brainstorming sessions are fun. The idea is to have a free-flow of ideas, wants and desires without the thought of possible impediments like actual cost and logistics. The sky is the limit and anything is seemingly possible. I don’t get the chance to participate in them as much as I used to though, so either they are becoming a thing of the past or fewer and fewer people care what I think. I’m hoping its not the latter.


MCA ChicagoI have seen David Bowie perform three times over the years. Each time he was a different incarnation of who he imagined himself at the time. They were good shows but I usually went because it was someone else’s idea and I was just a passenger at some point.


When it was announced that the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago was going to be home to the “David Bowie Is” exhibition for a few months, I was told I was going. It turns out this was the only U.S. stop for the exhibition, so I amicably agreed.


David BowieIt was a great exhibit even if you were not a Bowie fan. If you have enjoyed music at all in the past 40 years, it was very cool to say the least and I’m sure you could relate. If you are in Chicago or intend to visit before January 4, 2015, try to make it.


One story that stuck out was during the 1974 Diamond Dogs tour, David Bowie wanted to construct a complete city as a prop on stage and destroy it during each performance.


So how would you like to have been in that brainstorming session (imagine a lot of smoking going on)?


Crane on Diamond Dogs TourBowie: “So, I’ve got this sketch I made of a city that I want to be built as our stage.”

Manager: “Okay. Sounds great. So you’ll be walking around and we’ll have lights and such, right?”

Bowie: “No, I’ll be climbing on it, jumping around, flying over the audience. You know, blow everyone’s mind kind of stuff.”

Manager: “OK, I’ll look into finding out the cost and how we will move it around.”

Bowie: “No. No. No. You don’t understand, we’ll just destroy it and rebuild it again the next night and then build a new one in the next city. Won’t that be just so wicked?”

Manager: “ Are you &^%*& nuts? When Pete Townsend crashes his guitar, it’s 500 quid. This ain’t Pete Townsend’s guitar, its a whole %^$#$ stage.”

Bowie: “You’re such a killjoy. It’s always about the money with you, isn’t it?”


Diamond Dogs Tour setIn the end, it was about the money (some mechanical problems too). The cost to build one stage set was over $250,000 and that was in 1974 money! They did it a few times I guess but finally scrapped the concept. It would have been pretty amazing to experience, that’s for sure.


So here was this great idea about really pushing the envelope beyond what was being done at the time. Ultimately it was unrealistic because somehow it had to be paid for and executed correctly. Maybe if they would’ve destroyed only one section, it could’ve worked and made sense from a monetary and logistical standpoint.


I’m looking forward to participating in the next client brainstorming session (imagine no smoking).


DroneClient: “So we want flying drones, fireworks AND an internet connection...”

Me: “Let’s check with the convention center and show management on those, okay?”

Client: “You are such a killjoy!”

Me: “Hey, an internet connection at shows can get pretty pricey at these shows.”


I would be a hero, then, just for one day. It just takes money.


Steve Moskal

David Bowie Is









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Steve Moskal
Steve Moskal

Steve Moskal

Other posts by Steve Moskal
Contact author Full biography

Full biography

Steve’s journey in the trade show and event world started in 1983 with one of the original Nomadic Display sales organizations in North America. In 1994, he co-founded Prairie Display/Chicago.

Steve was an Allied Board Member of TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association) from 2007 to 2011 and recipient of the TSEA President’s Award in 2009. He also served as Financial Chair of the Midwest Exhibit and Event Professionals (formerly the Chicago chapter of TSEA) and as a commissioner with the Elmhurst Economic Development Commission from 2011 to 2016. Currently he is Vice President of Education for the Addison/Elmhurst, IL Toastmasters Club.

When not working with customers and co-workers at Prairie, you can find him trying to spend more time biking and pursuing other creative endeavors. Steve lives in Oak Brook, IL with his beautiful and equally understanding wife of 26 years, Shelley.

Steve is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a B.A. in Journalism and a Fine Arts minor.


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