Our first image comes from the recent furniture factory fire in High Point. This officer was nice enough in person, but he looks fairly menacing in this snapshot - kind of like he wants to arrest my camera or something. I can hear him now...“Yeah, base - run the plates on an unmanned fancy-cam at the corner of College and Main. I’m writing it up for unauthorized logos and flagrant loitering -- aided and abetted by a tripod from the Civil War. There’s also a guy with hairy forearms and a thousand yard stare taking pictures of me. I‘m gonna run a strip-search...”
If I look a little non-plussed in this photo from five years back, there’s a good reason: I had just jogged up Hanging Rock when Bob Buckley snapped this inherently unflattering shot of your friendly neighborhood lenslinger. Following a group of excited furniture executives on an early morning motivational hike up a mountain seemed like a cool gig when I signed up for it, but halfway up the craggy trail I wanted to cough up a lung. Maybe it was the frenzied pace, the antique camera bouncing on my shoulder or the sixteen dying batteries stashed around my waist. Either way, I remember looking over a glorious sunset and thinking, ‘I’m too old for this shit.”
“Then he said, I bet that WON’T fit up your nose.” Okay, so that’s NOT what the nice gentlemen in the hospital bed was telling camera crews moments before his surgery. Fact is, I don’t remember what he said to me and my camera-swinging cronies, only that he was a likeable old chap from Alamance County. Fifteen minutes after the interview, my esteemed colleagues and I popped each other with rubber gloves as the anesthesiologists gave Mr. Nose the sleepy juice. What followed was a breakthrough nasal procedure that made for a pretty decent health piece - not to mention another weird episode to embellish the next time me and my buddies are babysitting the crime tape.
Speaking of idling at the edge of drama, there’s plenty of that in my line of work. Whether it be the protracted train wreck, the tardy Governor stop or the city council stalemate, the waiting truly is the hardest part. Here, veteran photog George Harrison and ever-happy Eric White while away the hours debating the finer points of company logo wear - namely the merits of late-breaking blue versus the look-here allure of action news red. After that scintillating topic, they moved on to Rock-Paper-Scissors. I’d tell you their final score but I was too busy trying to open a vein.
Of course sometimes the monotony erupts into moments of sheer terror- like the time the good ole boys at the Barrier One test site tried to send Eric Liljegren and me to that great press conference in the sky. Twice. Trust me, until you’ve run for your life from an out-of-control truck, you haven’t truly contemplated a second career. The one minute video of our impromptu mad dash is downright guffaw-inducing and will hopefully soon make an appearance here on Viewfinder BLUES. Right, Weaver?
Aside from all the excitement, I get to hang out with and compete against many talented and interesting people. There’s no finer example of this phenomenon than the legendary Leonard Simpson. I like Leonard alot and not just because he originally hails from Downeast like myself. I dig him because he’s a class act - an old school news warrior who has worn off more scars than I’ve yet to collect. Here the wily veteran thumbs through a copy of the Rhino Times from the comfort of a dry news unit - while his trusty partner Bill Welch shoots video out in the pouring rain. No Sir, they don’t teach that kind of cleverness in J-School.
Lastly, I must veer off the straight and narrow news path to observe an occasion I’m most proud of. Back in 1990, I brought a series of bad decisions to a screeching halt by asking the most incredible woman in the world to marry my sorry ass. Back then she was a promising student at the University of South Carolina and I was a budding derelict trying to erase all visible signs of my recent naval service. After a whirlwind courtship, a tortured seperation and a most unlikely reunion, I weaseled my way into her life and exploited her momentary lapse of sound judgement. Together we made an unlikely couple, but the chemistry between us was undeniable and in the end I came out the winner. Thanks for an incredible fifteen years, Shelly. I swear I’ll make you proud yet.
Well now you’ve made me get all mushy. How am I supposed to foster a veneer of cool indifference when you let me show snapshots from the Great American Romance? Next time, I’ll up the macho news quotient with a riveting post from the edge of danger! I’d tell you more but I want to keep you in suspense. Okay - here’s a one-word clue: