The TV news business is a small one, with only so many media outlets per populated spot. That’s changing quickly of course as the laptop nation gets in on the act, but for now it’s still a pretty cloistered world of drama queens and A/V geeks. I was reminded of that today when I fell into easy conversation with a striking young woman who used to be in ‘the biz‘. Huddling by the door of a middle school’s gymnatorium, we cackled like hens about look-lives, vosots and re-cuts. As we did, the woman’s husband - a menacing hulk of a man with a close-shaven head and faded gang tattoos - worked the microphone, warning a bleacher full of bored adolescents against a life of crime, drug abuse and ill-gotten bling. Prowling the floor in blinding white Air Jordans and sleek designer sweats, the admitted ex-thug turned motivational speaker held the student body in the palm of his beefy hand. I’d been pretty enraptured too, until my well-honed photog senses told me I’d bagged enough shots for the buck-fifteen report that would air in a couple of hours. Dropping my sticks to their lowest position, I set my camera on the floor and waited for the burly speaker to complete his story arc - at which point I’d retrieve the lavaliere microphone I pinned to him and skulk off to an edit bay thirty miles away. That’s when his wife moved in.
Blonde, smiley and thoroughly lovely, the woman seemed eager to talk. She’d been a reporter/anchor at some hyphenated market in Ohio before leaving the trade to work with her husband. I congratulated her on said sound judgment; she quizzed me about the market size of our particular TV region. When I told her it was in the mid-forties, she expressed surprise. Apparently the clutch of Randolph County towns she’d traveled through hadn’t properly belied our broadcast tower’s reach. Next came a barrage of questions: How many hours of news do you crank out a week? (36, I think) How many live trucks does each station have ? (Too damn many). How often did I work alone? (Every chance I get!) No doubt the lady was just killing time, shooting the breeze with the latest in a long line of crusty cameramen while her virile hubby worked up a tip. I didn’t mind; until I got my microphone back I was a captive audience and what better way to spend ten minutes I ain’t got than in the presence of someone whose perfume smelled so good. At that point, sunlight pierced through the high gym windows and glinted off the speaker’s bald head, reminding me instantly who he looked like ... Ving Rhames, the actor best known for his role as a drug kingpin in Pulp Fiction. In it, Rhames character terrorizes his hyper-violent lackies, suffers righteous abuse from a hillbilly named Zed and - in a key plot point - throws a man off a ledge, for reportedly giving his wife a foot massage.
I spent the rest of the speech back by the bleachers, chatting up the school’s janitorial staff.