I write today as a proud 50-year member of the Screen Actors Guild, live theater’s Actors’ Equity, and a few other unions.

I write today to honor Aaron M., 58 years of age, who stood on the street in front of a Hollywood studio a week ago as the skies above the Hollywood sign darkened, and the very letters of that fabled sign began to flutter. The skies opened up, the lightning flashed, and the biggest storm in 80 years took the sign from Aaron’s hands and smashed it into the window of a nearby parked Maserati.

It wasn’t Aaron’s Maserati. Aaron drives a second-hand Prius that was parked at home in his San Fernando Valley house, the one he just had to sell to keep groceries and medicine on the shelves of that very house he would soon lose.

Aaron is a fierce member of SAG/AFTRA, the union that along with the Writer’s Guild has been on the streets of Los Angeles and New York since July 15th of this year.

Aaron started out on Broadway with an Actors’ Equity card in his pocket and came to Hollywood to build a career.

Hollywood writers have been on strike for 100 days — and there’s no end in sight. Striking Writers Guild of America workers have been walking picket lines since May 2.


Aaron’s sister is a struggling television make-up artist, and her daughter has a small catering business that has been feeding A-List stars on the folding tables at six movie sets.

There are the dry cleaners who tend the costumes, along with the costume builders, make-up artists, hairdressers and wig makers, cafes and restaurants that bring food to the sets.

And all the union members in transportation, like the union delivery drivers, transporting thousands of materials of sets; and the hard working visual artists, dressers and prop men and women. Ordinary folks, but specialists in the industry.

When the magic of movie and television stops, their checks stop as well, and rents and house payments, doctor bills, loan payments stop. Life goes off the rails.

Today, as the union street workers, cops and firefighters shovel their way-out of the historic storm damage, they need to be honored as well.

They don’t drive Maseratis either, but they’re out there on the streets in the dark of nights risking their necks to put paychecks in their pockets.


Actor Martin Sheen, dipped in fame, recently took the stage at a rally in Hollywood with the cast of his famous “West Wing” television classic, and told this story.

“The Irish tell a story of a man who arrives at the gates of Heaven and asks to be let in, and St. Peter says, ‘Of course, just show us your scars.’”

“The man says, ‘I have no scars.’”

“Peter says, ‘What a pity, was there nothing worth fighting for?’”

Simple fairness is worth fighting for. Dignity is worth fighting for. Honor is worth fighting for.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: