Ten minutes into ‘The Pits’, I was drenched. Everyone was - the sweaty Mexican guys shoveling fire and their benevolent boss, Chip Stamey. Blinking back forehead water, the third generation barbecue baron watched me skulk about his smokehouse through a prism of perspiration. Why exactly the TV dude wanted to swelter outback with the pork shoulders wasn’t all that clear - but Warner Stamey’s grandson is far too skilled a businessman to turn down a curious cameraman. Besides, it ain’t the first time I’ve shown up at his restaurant with an odd request. Usually, it has something to do with an event at the Greensboro Coliseum next door, but today I was simply in seek of the heat. As always, Chip delivered.
I’d spent the morning pursuing more frigid temperatures. With the dog days upon us, I was looking for people who worked in shockingly cold environs - a visual yen to the summertime yang, if you will. I once shot a few minutes inside a local dairy’s hardening room - a sub zero freezer where ice cream is set to do ... whatever it is ice cream does in the deep dank dark. Memories of shivering uncontrollably that day while parka-clad workers got their ‘Willy Wonka on’ convinced me to revisit the scene on an insufferably hot day as this, but alas corporate PR flacks got in the way. After a punishing round of no-go phone-tag, I found myself sitting on empty, loitering in my cubicle as the noon hour approached. So I made a mad dash to Stamey’s and thought about the opposites.
All of which explains why, within a half hour of mopping my sweaty brow over those slow roasted pork shoulders, a shiver ran down my spine as I goose stepped across the shiny expanse of the Greensboro Icehouse. General Manager Chuck Burch barely batted an eye as I dragged my sticks onto the rink and took aim at the lumbering leviathan in the distance, a bored Zamboni driver hunched at his workaday wheel. Perhaps the staff had seen me stalking youthful skaters through the glass a few minutes earlier, leaning into my frosty viewfinder and ignoring the white-hot rage of a hopped-up hockey Dad screaming from the sidelines. ‘Hey, I’m just here for the elements’ I muttered as I scanned the walls for a visible thermometer to shoot. A few more frigid frames and I’d have the dichotomy of shots I needed for yet another minute-thirty masterpiece...
Beats workin’ for a living.