Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Schizophrenia in the Trenches

With Idol over and early summer in full swing, I once again find myself slogging through the trenches of 'General Assignment'. What's that, you say? Well, just what it sounds like: General Assignment, that non-category of newsgathering that makes up 89.7 percent of your average broadcast. Be it a visiting dignitary, a slow-motion board meeting or a three alarm fire, working 'G.A.' can be a strenuous exercise in intermittent intrigue. It can also be a stone cold drag - especially when you got quite used to cranking out three puff-pieces a week on bald rockers and ditzy southern belles. But my own occupational aimlessness shall have to be the subject of another post, as this one is about the eclectic nature of elctronic image acquisition. In other words, what I lack in sweeping themes I can more than make up for in random photos and meaningless text. Shall we begin?

Condi and the KidsHoly Bureaucrat, Batman - it's Condoleezza Rice! The Secretary of State (and no longer the only earthling named Condoleezza) was in town yesterday for the Southern Baptists Annual Convention. Moments after her unmarked jet touched down in the middle of Downpour Alberto, Condi ducked into a nearby hangar for a few highly choreographed moments with area Girl Scouts, salivating politicians and soggy cameramen. If you think such an innocuous photo-op would be relatively spontaneous, then you've never haggled with State Department officials as to where you can set your tripod. Luckily, I secured an unfettered spot that afforded me maximum visibility, thus completing my mission and ensuring the future of the Republic. I just wish the fawning Girl Scout crowd had though to bring along some Thin Mints. Mmmmm, Thin Mints...

Austin sets upUh-oh. We seem to have caught my buddy Austin here in mid-erection. No worries - in a few moments he'll be all set up and dozing behind his camera with the rest of us. Truly, the only reason I took this shot was a failed attempt to fight press conference paralysis - that immobilizing force that drains you of any interest whatsoever in whatever the glad-handing podium jockey is droning on and on about at the front of the room (or in this case front of the client-deprived industrial park). Judging from the posture of the schlub in the distance, Austin's a little late to the party. That's more the assignment desk's fault than his, as deskies are notorious for handing photogs a 10:00 appointment a few minutes before noon. Like any good glass-addict, Austin knows how to jump curbs, sprint across parking lots and throw up his sticks in seconds flat - just so he can lose himself in thought - until the midday sun glints off the mayor's giant scissors and reminds him he's already late for his next gig. I feel ya brother, now get out of my shot!

Pit Bull, InterruptedNot to bring down the room, but chances are this pooch won't be alive much longer. Before you organize a protest however, a little background: Eighteen hours before I huddled over his cage, this Pit Bull and his buddy-in-breed broke loose from their backyard pen, roamed the neighborhood until they found a small stable, where they promptly ripped a full grown horse to shreds. I know, I stood over the mutilated mare this morning while the Grandfather that loved her choked back tears just off camera. To hear Gramps tell it, the two runaway Pit Bulls stalked the hapless horse until the poor animal ensnared itself in the stable fence. Once trapped, the horse was doomed as the two dogs - locked in some kind of pack-mentality bloodlust - literally disembowled the 15 year old Apaloosa as hapless neighbors watched in disbelief. Too grisly for ya? Perhaps you'd be more comfy back in the newsroom - where the biggest perils are paper cuts, air conditioning and scanner noise.

Ricky and DaveThere are however, a few benefits to working in the Big House - namely the slow trickle of semi-famous faces that pour through any TV station's hallowed halls. Here, nightside assignment guy David Smith (in green) strikes a pose with (ex) Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver Ricky Proehl. Now I'm no sports expert, but even I knew who Ricky Proehl is. Over the years, his journeyman mojo and dazzling catches have made me spill my Sunday afternoon popcorn on more than one occasion. I told Ricky this and he responded with some NFL minutia that registered as only pops and clicks in my uneducated ears. Hoping to avert his attention from my lack of football acumen, I asked him about his sister Deb - a lady I manned many an icy overpass with, before she wized up and got out of the biz. These days, Deb sells real estate and from what I can tell, does very well for herself.

I wonder though, does she miss it? Does she ever pause during an over-polite Open House to pine for the raucous days of turning tragedy, trivia and tripe into minute-fifteen passion plays? My guess, is yes ... until the holidays roll around and she finds herself lounging by the fireplace, instead of pacing about some unplanned imbroglio with an unshaven grouch like me. Come to think of it, I wonder of there's any room on her Realty Team for a disillusioned lenslinger? I don't know much about property values, but I look do look damn spiffy in a yellow blazer. Whadaya say, Deb? ... Deb? Hello? Is this thing on?


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