Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Lure of the Lumbering Cyclops

You know, there's nothing like a fresh disaster scene to remind you how random fate can be. Hurricanes are one of the weirder examples of this force of nature and few have more access to them than the local TV lenser. After all, we are the often the first to feel the winds pick up - and we're damn sure always the loudest about it. But then, would hurricanes even crash our coast if they weren't assured their very own mini-series? Think about it...

These twisting storms are media sensations before they even get out of their warm Caribbean waterbeds. When we see them coming from half a world away, we crank up the local Fear-Plex and send our most heavily-logo'd members scurrying to the shore. A signal is established and we slap a thousand brand names over the vortex, using our super trooper Doppler to document every nth-degree of weather degradation. Soon the swirling maelstrom is a featured player in the nightly TV news line-up...

"Death and Destruction closing in on the East Coast, but first - is your dog psychic? We'll tell ya after the break..."

Depending on the impending Cyclops’s lumbering speed, this protracted teledrama can lurch along for hours on end, until rain-hooded reporters are interviewing stoned surfers and worst of all, other rain-hooded reporters. As the wind increases and it's starts to rain upside down, a nation of viewers is held captive on their couches by the dumb, the brave and the pretty. Who will be the first to lash themselves to phone poles and try to act casual THIS time?

Finally the storm hits, either near the cameras or far away but it doesn't matter...we rush to the nearest visible scars and blast the airwaves with handheld images of sad clich├ęs: a broken trailer, a crumpled mansion, a toppled SUV - all videotaped proof of Mother Nature's strength once you really piss her off. As traumatized homeowners shuffle through scattered possessions, we pull cable close and set up camp.

Back at the shop, the weather experts go back to sleep and the guys in the art department re-dress the storm graphics. No more swirling palm tree at the edge of the screen, the lives taken by the storm demand a subtler hue, a heavier drop-shadow and more somber music. The Fables of the Reconstruction have begun.

How long this part of the saga lasts depends on the proximity of the storm's footprint. If all were lucky the surly journalist could soon be home, but it's not unheard of to suck sat truck engine fumes for weeks at a time, testing your limits with poor diet, multiple packages and extensive sleep deprivation. But of course, it's nothing compared to the plight of those you track. Just look around...

I remember bitching about day three of cold burgers while standing outside a high school gymnasium full of homeless flood victims - only to be rendered speechless by the sight of a mother changing her baby's diaper in the middle of the rainy field. I turned to look away and watched an old man sit behind the wheel of an rotting sedan as he brushed his teeth with a filthy handkerchief. It was enough to make even me a windbag like me shut up for once.

4 comments:

HiDefinition said...

Great post 'Slinger. Another great post!

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alena said...

Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!

alena said...

Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!