Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Most Trivial of Pursuits

I’ve been a bit lax in the digital camera department lately, and for that I’d like to present you with this full and complete refund. Now that we have that out of the way, let me disclose another regret: I’m in a rut. Just days after the rush of accomplishment following my little anniversary thingie, I now sit before you a man bereft of any real missive, premise or epistle. But that’s one of the sacred tenants of blogging, I‘m finding: Never let a lack of subject matter stop you from filing a report. In that vein, I offer the following daily digest, a cameraman’s conspectus, if you will…

It was last Friday that Jeff Varner and I rendezvoused just after dusk to stage a tactical assault on Winston-Salem nightlife. Armed only with camera, wireless microphone and Jeff’s dimples, we forced our way into a dozen clubs, always causing a stir with the sudden appearance of a fancycam and semi-famous face. We hit‘em ALL, from the strobing mosh-pit to the pitch dark jazz club, the seedy pool hall to the over-perfumed wine bar, the throbbing crush of packed deejay booth to the zombie-like quiet of open mic night at the poetry slam. At the end of the evening my shoulder was sore and hearing was gone, but it was a refresher course in the allure of the lens. What do I mean? It’s hard to explain, but imagine the reaction you get when you stroll into a packed house after packed house of drunken revelers with a shiny camera on your shoulder. It kind of like being Bono, minus the groupies and that pesky quest for world peace, of course.

Monday wasn’t nearly as manic, but a deadline’s a deadline, so I gave it my all. The topic of the day? Flu Shots, and the possible shortage thereof. A lightning round of phone calls to different health departments told me supplies varied from county to county. I was surfing a line of blushing inoculators in Alamance County when my cell phone called my back to Greensboro. Seems a local physician had just been told his clinic wouldn’t be receiving their long delayed flu shot shipment. The news sent the good doctor into an apoplectic seizure and his nurses summoned the media for an emergency on-camera seething. Thirty minutes later, I cornered the grandfatherly MD in an examining room, marveling quietly at how much he looked like Bob Barker while he railed the injustice of the recently reneged prescriptions. This morning, I bent at the waist to pick up the newspaper off my driveway, running my fingers through my bedhead as I read the same story in black newsprint. This afternoon, a couple of coworkers revisited the issue. Funny how news works.

Twenty four hours later I found myself mired not in missing medicine but music. Well, high school band music, anyway. I showed up at Western Guilford High School without an appointment but with a mission. A hallway interlude with the school’s resource officer led me to an impromptu visit to the Principal’s Office. Familiar territory for a former delinquent like myself, but this time I wasn’t under threaten of expulsion. Instead I was promptly marched to the band room, where I roamed unencumbered among a group of seated young instrumentalists, following the whim of my lens as the surrounding sophomores plucked, drummed and blew. Minutes later, I braced for impact as the teenagers flooded around me into the instrument storage room, the place where a half dozen flutes, trumpets and piccolos recently formed a band and hit the road. That, or they’re sitting in the dusty recesses of some Piedmont pawn shop, waiting to launch a world tour of black lights, bartering, and bad decisions. Be sure to catch them when they come to your town.

On Wednesday, I finally got a `chance to meet two people I’d heard about all week; the Cancun Couple. Two days earlier El Ocho reporter Caron Myers had traveled to the Boonville home of a most distraught family by the name of Vestal. Through pain choked tears a fifty-something told Kevin Wrenn’s camera about his grown son and newlywed wife. Four days earlier the young couple has left for their Cancun honeymoon. Soon after, Hurricane Wilma rolled over the Yucatan Peninsula and took a seat. Now however , the young honeymooners had returned home, sunburned, exhausted and eager to recount their maligned vacation for my camera. They told a tale of five days spent on beach chairs inside a large resort hall, as Wilma drove wter droplets through ceiling tiles. With eight thousand Americans still stuck in Cancun by the time my story aired, it made for a nice localization of an (inter)national story…if you like that kind of thing.

And then there was today - a hurried shift of phone calls and cross county road trips. The topic: all terain vehicles and the kids they crush. Okay, that’s a bit harsh, but with a wife who’s an ER nurse, I’m heard too many horror stories to endorse these four wheeled sternum-crushers. Still, I kept my opinions to myself as the positively pleasant proprietor of a local motor-sports store told me how safe ATV’s really were - provided you didn’t speed, ride without a helmet or crank the engine. To his credit, the retailer knew his stuff, quoting the minutia of a new law that banned six year olds from driving ATV’s. Afterward, the store manager ordered a lackey aboard a four wheeler so I could shoot some video of the much maligned vehicles slingin’ nasties outback. We all had a good time out there behind the store, even if I did pretend to be appalled by the very idea of motorized transport an hour later as a trauma surgeon reeled off the many ways a throaty four wheeler can stop your pulse. Fun guy, that doctor.

So there you have it, a six day exercise in the random access that I call my life. It ain’t pretty, it rarely makes sense, but it ALWAYS makes deadline. Possibly the only thing weirder than dedicating your every waking hour to this most trivial of pursuits is sitting up all night writing about it. Speaking of which I gotta get some sleep.

Next time: Dictionaries, beauty pageants and the pictures to prove it…I hope.

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