Holy Screen-Shot Batman! Every time I think I’m through raving about the fine work of George Crocker JR. at ENC DTV, he goes and digs up more unignorable images from my past. Whatever stash of tapes he’s pulling from, it’s a collection of television from my earliest days behind the lens. I gotta meet this guy!
But first I have to show you this frozen image from another time. As anyone who grew up East of Raleigh with a TV set can tell you, this is Carolina Today. For more than 35 years, this esteemed broadcast started everyone’s weekday morning with news, information and the down-home stylings of one Slim Short and Diane Bowen. What the show lacked in glitzy production values, it more than made up for in technical difficulties, cornpone delivery and intensely loyal viewers. I first stumbled onto the set in the latest of the eighties, just another half-sober drifter pretending to know a thing or two about television. Before I knew it I was dragging an ancient studio camera across the floor, juggling an avalanche of free ham biscuits while I marveled at the homegrown legends all around me. There was a time I thought I’d do that forever.
But then my wife’s co-worker David Melvin took a friend of ours hostage at an area restaurant. When he did, I rushed to the scene and wormed my way behind the viewfinder of one of my station’s news cameras. The next several hours dragged out as jacked-up SWAT cops, gaping onlookers and one very nervous gunman made time stand still. In the end, the gunman’s level-headed uncle coerced him to let the hostage go and give himself up. When the front doors opened, a surprisingly handsome frat boy type, strode out in camouflage pants and an ECU sweatshirt. I can still hear the still cameras' rapid-fire shutter as the SWAT team moved in and dropped him to his knees. David Melvin changed a lot of lives that morning, the least of which was mine. But from that day I gave up the studio cams and the cheesy car commercials. It’s been a lurching blur of murders, mayhem and meetings ever since.
There’s a lot more to the hostage story. I’ve written about it before and will no doubt do so again. Someday it will be the oipening chapter of my memoirs. Until then, these faded frames will continue to live inside my head, looping over and over in glorious Viewfinder Blue.