Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Doc StewI've no top ten lists, no words of wisdom, no parting shots at 2006 - just a big, hairy Happy New Years to you and yours. The past twelve months have not signaled my meteoric rise to literary superstardom but they have seen me sit down and write almost every day. Thus, I'm considering the past twelve calendar pages more than a crumpled mass of scribbled grids - I'm officially deeming it a success. Of course I couldn't do that without thanking you - the returning reader who's suffered through my every other screed, from my misguided series of mullet pictures to my attempts at media analysis, from my often bloated prose to my every instance of outright adjective abuse. Thanks - that couldn't have been easier for you. As for what you can expect in 2007, well - I think I pretty much listed it. That, and a few vlogs - granted Weaver will show me how to push all the right buttons on my new Sony.

Stay Tuned...

Every Soul a Stringer

I guess its no surprise that Saddam’s snuff film ricocheted across the web before the former dictator’s remains were ever stuffed in a box. It would only have been alarming had someone not thrust a cell phone forward and hit RECORD’, not uploaded it to the globe via YouTube, instantly enabling heretic and housewife alike to witness Hussein’s short drop into the past-tense. No, most weekend newscast producers were counting on the footage to lead their shows before ever the deposed overlord was ever served his last incarcerated meal - and not because they’d stationed news crews underneath the gallows. Who has to?-when all the world’s your stringer. ‘Stringer‘, you say?
That squirrelly dude talking to the cop, the one with the camcorder and the home-made logos. His name’s Gordo and he’s got more scanners than you. He’ll beat you to a lot of scenes ‘cause he sleeps in his car. He’s also a preacher. Don’t ask...”
Hmm? Sorry - just flashing back to the day I first learned the term. At the dawn of the 90’s, ‘Stringer’ meant freelance journalist (though ‘ambulance chasing drifter’ could sometimes apply), one who responds to breaking news, shoots home video and peddles it to local TV stations for all the cash and glory that be squeezed from two minutes of shaky, strobe-lit carnage. I’m being too harsh, though. Fact is, more than a few freelance cameras have prevented producers from calling me at four a.m. ‘cause the freight train ran into the mental hospital’. For that I’d like to thank each and every one of them. Just give me the number to that Waffle House by the interstate and I’ll get started.

But I digress. What I really came to fathom at was the speed at which news travels these days - and the footage of Saddam-a-swingin’ was news. Just ask the millions of people with broadband in their dens - the same folk who own a cell phone and a Tivo or two. They are the new ‘stringers’ - a citizenry bristling with newsgathering tools, a global populace smitten with those blinking gadgets on their hips. As these incredible tools (the machines, not the people) shrink and extrapolate, expect more of the same. Whenever a plane plummets, a governor gropes or a dictator swings - increasingly clear phone-footage will emerge, long before the talking heads finish putting on the pancake. Where that leaves an over-seasoned cameraman is still out of frame, but I can‘t help but feel like the photog’s role is diminished a bit. After all, what good is a fancy-cam and a sense of entitlement when Joe Dirt’s packin’ a tricorder? I should’ve gone into waterbed sales. Those guys still got a corner on their market...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Wes Goes to Washington

We don't have alot of photog turn-over in our shop. That's why it's a big deal when a long-timer leaves, which is the case with one Wesley Barrett. Seems the Roanoke Rapids native slash diehard State fan has tired of chasing clamor in the Piedmont and is blowing off our fair series of 'burgs for Capitol City. There he'll shoot his share of monuments, nutjobs and politicians in a bustling D.C. bureau. No doubt Wesley will excel, as he has the chops to thrive in any venue - even among the many windbags he will encounter inside the beltway. Speaking of windbags, it was during Hurricane Ophelia that Wes made his most memorable appearance here on Viewfinder BLUES.

7.1 009In this shot - one of my favorites - Wes can be seen executing an early morning satellite shot from the comfort of his hotel room. Having spent my own dawn outside shooting video and dodging flying trashcan lids, I was grateful for the temporary shelter and the granola bars! Not that the fellas noticed. Chad Tucker - the lucky reporter we'd lashed to the balcony, was filing his umpteenth live report of the morning, his image popping up on every other channel of the hotel's cheap TV. Fishing out my digital, I fired off a shot and inadvertently immortalized Wes in ... less than formal attire. It's no biggie in my book, but to a guy normally so nattily dressed, it's immediate webification couldn't have been with out a cringe or two.

Thanks, Wes. Knock 'em dead in D.C. Wait! Let me rephrase that!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Access to a Master

In Presence of a MasterDue to the limitations of my digital camera, this picture just doesn't do justice to today's encounter with Matthew Lewis. But how could a hastily-taken shot compare with the work of this revered Lensmaster? It can't. In the quarter century he wielded a 35 millimeter for the Washington Post, Lewis captured shot after staggering shot of century-shaping events. JFK's funeral, Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech, the launch of Apollo IX, Vince Lombardi at his zenith: this third-generation photographer was there - and the images he walked away with usually became icons.

Today he enjoys semi-retirement here in the Piedmont, but he's still willing to walk virtual strangers through his jaw-dropping portfolio. Reporter Caron Myers and I dropped by to take a peek at his old White House shots of former President Ford. Mr. Lewis obliged and even threw in a rambling tour of his incredible career. Leafing through his tattered masterpieces, I shook my head in in awe at the pony-tailed old man beside me. Though he claims to have wandered through history quite by accident, his indelible images are the hard-won trophies of a fierce competitor. It was then I realized I had a new hero.

And that was before I noticed the dusty bronze medal hanging off a downstairs doorknob was in fact a 1975 Pulitzer Prize.

Stick Figure Theater

Stick Figure Cinema
The new dry-erase board at work is proving itself a frightening portal to the darkest reaches of the photog psyche. In the above recently discovered hieroglyphic, a lone shooter wields his lens from the edge of a great precipice, while his co-horts zoom in from below and an angry mob chants enthusiastically for his death. Jeez - maybe we should get the fellas a cheese-log or somethin'...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Get the Widow on the Set


While I was stewing on how to add to the Gerald Ford death smotherage, the great beFrank delivers this press-orgy postcard from lovely Palm Springs. The L.A. photog was but one of many West Coast news operatives bivouacing overnight outside the Ford Estate - all so the morning hairspray brigade would have a suitable perch from which to furrow their brow. In our media-saturated 24/7 world, the late night passing of an ex-President is highly-crafted commodity before the sun ever breaks over the Executive Deathbed. From sleek obituaries already 'in the can' to the instant phalanx of Presidential news experts, we of the chattering classes have electronic retrospect down to a fine art. I'm not complaining, mind you - just noting what an ever-ratcheted Information Rennaisance we currently find ourselves in. Just ask beFrank, whose recent jones for decent spot news is probably diminishing with every hour of lost sleep.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Interviewing Wilson

Interviewing Wilson
I've interviewed folks through prison glass, from hot air balloons and via dual interpreters...but I don't think I've ever collected soundbites from someone across a fence - until today. You see, 'Wilson' here didn't see the flames, didn't hear the fire trucks and didn't even know his most unlucky neighbor. None of which discouraged him from telling Chad Tucker and a region full of viewers all about it today, of course - as long as he didn't have to leave his yard.

Sometimes, this job is too easy.

Stuck Behind the Lens

Proving that parallel universes do exist, yet another news photog has taken up the blog. Meet Aaron K - a Salt Lake City shooter who's hit the scene with tales of school lockdowns, camera orgies and house fires. Man, what a kick-ass job that must be! Seriously, young Aaron seems to have everything he needs to sustain an insightful site: unfettered access to the Daily Goop, a shiny new digital camera and the undying urge to over-communicate. I like him already...

(SLC, huh? Wonder if he knows Fields Moseley?)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Soul Brother Gone

As A white guy from the sticks, it took me years to fully appreciate the Godfather of Soul. In fact, I never gave him much thought at all until the movie Purple Rain hit theaters while I was still in high school. Suddenly on a quest to become a Prince completist, I collected the Purple One's earlier work, unknowingly nodding at the inevitable James Brown comparisons. Still, I'd never spent much time with Mr. Dynamite's body of work until years later, while apprenticing as a commercial cameraman. Saddled with producing an upscale ladies dress shop spot, I set up my lights at the local country club one night and ushered giddy golf wives past my lens.

The very next day I locked myself in an edit bay, where I sliced the resulting footage to the requested sounds of "I Feel Good". Only problem was, the song is well over thirty seconds, - the alloted runtime of my theater of cheese. Unwilling to lay down the first or last half-minute of said tune, I whittled away all day at the staccato horns and bawdy howl of the Brown's trademark tune. When I finished , the re-mix featured a beginning, a middle and the familiar crescendo end. But as any editor will tell you, you cannot replay a trillion times without the ditty seeping into your DNA. Thus, to this day, whenever I hear "I Feel Good", I think of that marathon edit-sesh, the truncated results and the slow-motion frolic of well-heeled housewives spinning in sequined glory.

I just hope the ghost of James Brown will see fit to forgive me.

Baptized by Glass

There was no great ceremony during my Induction into the Lens, no stilted ritual as I hoisted a fancy-cam for the very first time. Just a new mentor of sorts, Thomas Cormier, poppin’ the locks on a pockmarked gray suitcase and revealing an outdated Ikegami. No trumpets bleated in the background when I was allowed to reach down and lift it from it’s smelly foam home, only a distant overhead page for Marge to come to Traffic. I didn’t heart it though, for the blood rushing to my ears drowned out everything, even Thomas’ grave warning never to leave it on a tripod alone. As the cushion-free metal frame of the old camera settled into my shoulder, I fumbled for the unseen hand-strap. Reaching up, Thomas steadied my grip and flipped the Iki’s power switch. Suddenly blue light burst from the scuffed eyepiece, filling half my field of vision with a scratchy test pattern shimmering in azure. Thomas switched another on-board toggle and the picture turned to the cramped gear room I happened to be standing in. For Thomas, it was the gearing-up of yet another new guy, something else to do before he left for his shoot at the car dealership. For me however, it was nothing less than baptism.

Perhaps I’m being too dramatic. It wouldn’t be the first time. Still, I suspect my journey to the news front resembles that of generations of young loner’s: a slog to legitimacy. It’s tough to explain, but the weight of an oversized camera is something my right shoulder fairly yearned for. It made me feel important, dashing, vital. Never one to push myself, or wave to a cop, I was initially miscast for the role of news-gatherer. But something about the heft of a lens left me feeling deputized. I suspect my brother felt the same when he embraced the firefighter’s life. We’d been chasing scanners for years, he more than me, of course. But as my older bro bounded to the red lights, I ran behind him, yearning to pull on turnout gear myself. Eventually I followed in his tracks as a volunteer firefighter, but with a lack of confidence and knack for inaction, I was far better suited for daydreaming in the brake-down lane than trespassing some inferno. Until I weaseled my way under a second-hand Sony and learned to master that distraction.

Now, I find myself closing in on full grown grizzle. No longer a swaggering young punk-ass just giddy to be on-scene, I am a jaded journeyman who’d rather write a thousand words on the Fourth Estate than shoot another fatal fire. I didn’t plan this, exactly - never gave a lot of thought to where this ragged-out news unit is taking me. But now that I’m halfway there, I can’t help but look back at the indelible landscape I’ve passed through. Charred foundations and prize patrol showdowns, over earnest peace rallies and lackadaisical Klan marches, New Year’s Eve bashes and commuter plane crashes. And the characters. Crooked sheriffs and stand-up felons, incisive addicts and half-cocked politicians, whimsical slumlords and the frothiest of failed-actors. All in all, it’s made for a superb milieu in which to grow weary. Early on I was once strung out on the very access, but now I’m hell-bent for the next deadline - hoping I’ll get a little downtime to sort through the residue of press-passes past.

At least I’ll always have something to blog about.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Mini-Me
It occurs to me I haven't been sharing my toy. Actually it hadn't dawned on me until I received a couple of rabid e-mails accusing me of holding out. To that I say, 'Easy fellas! The only thing weirder than a grown man playing with dolls is a bunch of other guys wanting to watch'. But hey, I'm game - so here's a shot of the little dude doing something I've done precious little of in the past couple of of days: writing. Instead, I've been chauffering the kids, catching up on my reading and standing constant guard over a pile of pristinely wrapped presents. Tomorrow I make a mad dash Downeast for a Pittman Family Christmas before returning to the Piedmont for a blessed day of rest and gluttony. But fear not, crazed e-mailers - I'll be back on the beat before you can return that singing catfish Aunt Marge re-gifted you with. Until then, dig on the above doppelganger and know that I have big plans for this humble site in the coming year. Now if you'll excuse me I have to grab that bottle of Maker's Mark in the background and check its fluid levels. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pop Quiz at Center Court

Center Court TreeSomehow I made it to my Christmas vacation without once dragging a camera to the killing floor - er, shopping mall. Well, there was that one time in late November - when I previewed the fact that the local retail superdome would fling open their doors at midnight on Thanksgiving. But since then I haven't zeroed in on a solitary Goth zombie, interviewed the first PR vixen or suffered the slings of a single swaggering food court cop. That's a first! Usually I'm on first name basis with the some of the regulars by now. Last year I remember holding a three week sporadic conversation with a nice Greek couple who ran a calendar kiosk at center court. I suspect they only wanted coverage, but I was always happy to chat - and duck behind the daybooks to lose any stalker-tweens from outside the arcade. By the way, someone should tell that 12 year old that throwing gang signs is no way to get on 'tee-vee'.

But it's that very kook factor that makes shopping malls such a target rich environment. Whether you're perched high up on a walkway scanning the Santa Claus line for yummy-mummys, or trawling for soundbites down by the escalator landing, there is no more fertile ground than the highly-buffed corridor by The Gap. In fact, I think I'll make the holiday shopping mall an annual field test for all those photogs studying at the Lenslinger Institute. I'd start 'em off in the parking lot, where they'd have to sweet-talk a security goon or two before squeezing through a reapidly spinning set of revolving doors. Once inside, they'd have 30 minutes to shoot a b-block package due to air in three hours. And they couldn't get away with one tripod position and a couple of God shots. No Sir, I want characters, soundbites, color. I wanna hear from a frazzled Soccer Mom on an Elmo-quest, I wanna drop in on a couple of drooling Dads cast-off at Radio Shack, I even wanna see a clip featuring a middle-age merchant whose very gender is a source of open and heated debate...

They're out there, in every shopping mall tattooed upon this tortured orb. If you as a solo shooter can't strike gold in under a half hour - well, you're not worth your weight in dead camera batteries. Now ge back in there! Meanwhile I'll be out in the live truck, sleeping off those three Cinnabons and dreaming of greatness...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Keep Hope Alive

A New Hope
It's a very Caddyshack Christmas as Don Shea and the gang interview dead celebrities in this week's episode of 'Me and My Boat Anchor'. All's going swimmingly until moisture from a nearby water trap seeps into the recording deck and plays havoc with their deadline. Will they make it to the Winnebago-sized live truck in time? Or will they get busted sneaking into Tony Orlando's dressing room trailer to score a badly needed hair dryer and perhaps a crack at Dawn's digits? Tune in to find out...

(Me and My Boat Anchor, Episode 42. Starring Don Shea as Guffawing Sports Guy, John Cline as Swaggering Lens-Stud and his state-of-the-fart TK-76 as its bicentennial bad-ass self. Special Cameo by the cryogenically preserved Bob Hope.)

Spontaneous Compunction

As a lifelong lover of language, I’m quite used to strange words popping in my head. In fact, I thrive on it. It’s why I fill out crosswords, scribble song lyrics and read non-stop. (That, and all three of those activities involve sitting - something I’m really good at.) Thing is, all that consumption is gonna cause some back-up; I’ll be off somewhere chasing soundbites and some jumbled phraseology will pass through my lips. It happened again the other day in traffic. I was at a stoplight, staring holes through Unit 4’s windshield when I heard someone repeating the same six twisty syllables. It took a second before I realized the voice was mine. I brushed it off, as it happens a lot. (If you find that strange, you’re obviously not a word nerd - but while you’re up and being so smart, explain something I can’t grasp: Fantasy Football - what is that? And how about America’s Top Model? Can you provide an affidavit for that little Eureka moment?) I got more important things to do, like figure out just what the two words I keep pronouncing actually mean. Are you ready? Huh? Here we go…

Cognitive Dissonance

Yeah, I know - not exactly musketeer dialogue, but what are you gonna do? Maybe next week I’ll be speaking in thee’s and thou’s - this week it’s Cognitive Dissonance, which - I believe, is Hospital Talk for feelin’ shitty. But you ain’t here for guesswork, so I’ll try and stick to the facts. Roll that beautiful bean footage...
Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time. The theory states that contradicting cognitions serve as a driving force that compels the mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs, or to modify existing beliefs, so as to reduce the amount of dissonance (conflict) between cognitions.
If you say so…but I gotta tell ya, for a guy who spent most of high school blowing smoke rings, it’s a bit high-falutin’. Let’s break it down to street level, where a schlub like me can understand it. Let’s see, ‘uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time’…Hmmm. You mean the way you feel when you’re covering a tense police stand-off and you hope that whether he gives up or gets gunned down, the guy in the crosshairs has the courtesy to do it before your favorite Chinese lunch buffet closes? Or maybe it’s the emotion that accompanies you up the widow’s porch, where you beg pardon for intruding before asking permission to stick a camera in the homemaker’s soul. Perhaps it’s the conflicting twinge you experience as you gun the engines and giggle at that smoke plume on the horizon.

I don’t know how cognitive all that is, but it’s damn sure dissonant. And that line about tension ‘compelling the mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs’... That’s a little thing we camera pointers call Life. At least those of us who stop the question the madness before the glass. Most of us settle for merely keeping it in focus. But not me. No, I’m cursed with thinking above my pay-grade - savoring the insinuations of all those facts and finks I funnel to the Great Unwashed. I’m no genius - just a guy whose learned most of what he knows by processing happenstance into bite-size nuggets for the nightly news. If you doesn’t drive you up an antenna tower, it’s one hell of an edumacation. I’m just dreading the test at the end...

Gordon Davis Killed

My sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends of Gordon Davis - a veteran television photojournalist killed overnight in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The fifty-one year old news veteran was fatally struck by a car as he was leaving the scene of a strip mall fire around 2:40 a.m. A longtime overnight photog, Davis was known by many and well-regarded by all who came to recognize him at late night emergency scenes in the Washington metro area. He leaves behind a wife and a 14 year old daughter. I didn't know Gordon Davis, but I've met my share of overnight news photogs. Few fostered the kind of reputation Davis apparently did. It is not an easy shift, filled with spot news, dark set-ups and plenty of early morning live shots. That Gordon Davis could perform this arduous task for so long with such obvious aplomb is a testament to his character, and one of the many, many reasons he'll be missed. Go in Peace.

ADDENDUM: From someone who did know Gordon, 'pre-set' from b-roll.net...
He was the only true "overnight" shooter in the market, and he excelled at it. It was almost a relief to see him there.... You knew if Gordon was on it, you weren't missing something bigger. If you didn't see him, you always wondered why he wasn't there, and what else he was covering that you didn't know about....yet. I couldn't even count the times I've spent at some stupid police barricade or house fire or car wreck, standing next to Gordon, bullshitting with him, telling bad jokes (ussually the same ones over and over), complaining about the weather or gossiping about work, and just hanging out waiting on the PIO. He was the epitome of the quiet professional. Always where he needed to be - ussually before you got there, getting the video, and always happy to see a fellow shooter.

I'm gonna miss you, Gordo. But you'll still be with me out there... I promise.

Photog Feng Shui

Gear StashAsk any TV news reporter and they’ll tell you, we photogs are a picky breed. Sure, many of us dress like roadies on break from OzzFest, but even the sloppiest of our lot is still pretty stickling when it comes to the gizmos. You have to be, when your expected to upload continuous team smotherage at the drop of a wrecking ball, edge of a manhunt, or lobby of a proctologist’s office. Zeitgeist aside, Job One is to be there when the shit goes down, or at least in time to establish an electronic beachhead before all the casualties are carted off.

That kind of situational readiness requires forethought and constant vigilance - especially when it comes to ancillary gear. You know…dying batteries, fraying cable, torn softbox - all tools of the trade that need our attention, if not our love! Hmm-Mmm. Sorry - just trying to explain to any reporters out there why their partner for the day gets his britches in a twist every time you wrap the lavaliere cord too tight. See, that jumbled mass of broadcast implements jostling in the back is more than just high-dollar hardware. It is an craftsman’s palette, a sniper’s arsenal and a work of art in its very arrangement. Disrespect at your own peril. Just ask that shifty sports intern who used to lunch-line everyone’s rig on the weekend. The one they now call ‘Lefty‘.

But don’t let one case of inter-office vengeance scare you off. More times than not we’re happy to give you a guided tour of our toolkits, from the everyday utensils like spare light bulbs and duct tape - to the less obvious tchotchke: clothes pins, tinfoil, even a beat-up hairdryer from back in the day. Truth is, keeping up with all this crap is a full-time job. Schlepping it around the Greater Metro Tri-State and perching on the edge of politics and plunder is quite another. Is it any wonder you off-air partner is constantly glancing in the rearview mirror - moving his lips in silent inventory as he wonders if he’s got enough drop-cord on board. As long as he’s not separating his condiment packets by food group, he’s okay. (Unless he’s a she - then she’s really good at multi-tasking.) Either way, try to embrace your photog’s proclivity for anal-retentive hardware-care. How else can you expect the shooter in your life to be ready to roll when the Governor decides to break dance.

Miss that and you'll never hear the end of it...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cloak of Smoke


While I'm at home playing with dolls, the Australian cameraman known as WIDESCREEN is busy being an action figure. Last week he took daily chopper trips into Victoria's latest burn zone, where he donned protective gear before mining the blaze's edge for billowing imagery. Come late afternoon he's back in the bay, processing shots for an upcoming broadcast he might get around to watching. Not that he needs some talking hair-do to tell him where he's been...
"By night, I am heating up leftovers at home, watching some TV and as my eyes fade to black upon the pillow I can still taste smoke and smell it and if I close my eyes, I can almost be back there."
Dreams at 11...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Wish Fullfilled


Rarely am I rendered speechless, but the Mighty Weaver nearly accomplished that very feat a couple of days ago at work. Summoning me into the production studio, he presented me with an oversized Christmas present and wielded his nifty new stealth-cam as I hesitantly removed all that shiny paper. Imagine my delight when I uncovered a certain doppelganger, courtesy of a few on-line buddies. I'll let the above YouTube clip tell the rest, but first, let me extend a sincere Thank You to Kevin Johnson, Billy "The Blogging Poet" Jones, J.L. Watkins and Newshutr himself for their generosity. Of course a special thanks to Chris Weaver, who not only engineered this act of kindness, but also shot and edited a frighteningly thorough video of the whole gift-giving process. Thanks fellas, look for the little guy to pop up in his own series of blog-posts coming soon. For now, I have to rescue him from the grip of my youngest child, who's, as expected, enamored with 'Daddy's new Barbie'. Sheesh!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Book Review: Manhunt

Where IS John Wilkes Booth? That was the question gripping the nation seconds after the dastardly actor publicly executed Abraham Lincoln. In fact, the .44-caliber ball had barely scrambled the Great Emancipator's brain before Booth staged a hasty and, as always, theatric escape. Dropping from Lincoln's box to the stage, the famed tragedian wheeled on the ankle he'd just broken, declared 'death to all tyrants', and hobbled away to a waiting horse. In his wake, the stunned patrons of Ford's Theater could only reel at this unrehearsed climax - for no American audience had ever before witnessed a Presidential hit. This was more than the deranged act of a famous thespian turned slavery sympathizer, this was assassination as performance art.

Of course, the events of April 14th, 1865 are well known to anyone whose eyes have glazed over in history class. What James L. Swanson does in his book Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, is follow the erudite actor on his speedy journey South - an unplanned trek into the wilderness in which the crippled and cosmopolitan actor was horribly miscast. Swanson paints a vivid picture of Booth and his accomplice ensconsed in the Pine thickets of Maryland as Union Troops thunder past. Later, we watch as the vain dramatist reads pilfered newspapers and recoils at his disastrous reviews. Instead of propelling him to Secessionist superstardom, his murderous deed earns him the hatred of a nation and forever cements Lincoln's status as beloved martyr and liberator.

With 'Manhunt', Swanson provides illuminating details to a story many of us think we know well, probing not only Booth's distorted psyche but also the motivations of those Southerners who chose to help him elude authorities. In the end of course, the asssassin's fellow rebels turn on him, tiring of his pompous demands and promptly locking him in an old tobacco barn. When the cavalry arrives soon after, the results are a farcical back-and-forth round of 19th century negotiations, followed by an impromptu arson and a fatal shot to the head. Defiant, delusional and debonair to the end, John Wilkes booth died like common rabble nonetheless, a grisly fate far removed from the Southern glory he so envisioned for himself. Read 'Manhunt' for the thrill ride, but also for the hundred and forty year old reminder that truth has always been stranger than fiction.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Places I've Been

DSCF0063From cat-napping in a gold mine to stealing a ride on the Good Year blimp, the press pass around my neck has afforded me access to a life of stilted intrigue. But like the copier salesman who dreams of being a dashing day-trader, I have chased cadaver dogs in the rain while fantasizing about a nine to five desk job. The grass is always greener of course, but when a jostling Sony is riding shotgun on your shoulder and the deadlines are gaining ground, the opposing turf is downright iridescent. Luckily though, I usually find time to reflect before doing anything rash, lest I foolishly remove my self from the chase. True, my years of adrenaline abuse have crystallized into chronic detachment - but even I can get juiced about some of the places I’ve been…

Ever pulled up to a fresh plane crash in a dusty live truck, only to be yelled at by men in windbreakers for driving across the debris field? My Bad!

Ever started a near riot at a middle school pep rally, just by walking across the gymnasium floor? Personally, I’d have killed for that power back in the 7th grade.

Ever waded through an angry crowd outside a midnight murder scene and acted like you belonged there? It’s all in how you carry the tripod.

Ever tried to keep up with a screeching platoon of cleavage and baby strollers as they raced toward a shimmering mirage of desert camouflage? Don’t get caught in the middle...

Ever made elevator small talk with a handcuffed evangelist facing federal charges and widespread scorn? Try to avoid the touchier subjects - like God, politics and reasonable sideburn grooming..

Ever shadowed a prize patrol of corporate cheeseballs they bestowed trailer park residents with fabulous cash and prizes? Watch out for the crush of relatives pouring out of back rooms.

Ever tried like hell to avoid hitting the co-pilot controls with your big lens as the guy in the aviator glasses to your left looks for a place to ’set her down’? Man, I hate when that happens!

Ever jammed a finger in one ear and your cell phone in the other as the packed courtroom around you erupts in unexpected verdict fury? Trust me, spent vengeance has no volume control.

Ever hunkered over an upturned viewfinder as blue-haired college kids walked all around you, waving manifestos on homemade poles while they cursed the cabal behind your logo? Lousy punks.

Ever hid behind your camera as a couch-bound zombie described the loss of a recently-slain loved one? Do yourself a favor - skip that one...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Don't Make Angie Mad

Photog Law!
Back during Sweeps, Weaver thought a dry-erase board posted outside the edit bays would come in handy. It did, but now that the ratings period is over, our message center has devolved into the usual scribbled taunts and intra-office ridicule. Most recently, we've used the board to issue the kind of decrees normally found in corporate beer commercials. Personally, I love the idea of 'Photog Law' and plan to wrap my noodle around the concept as soon as I stop spending every evening at some holiday recital/program/concert. Until then, I leave you with Law #1, an important piece of legislation that anyone inside El Ocho would highly recommend. As I've explained before, the lady's a menace!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stiff in the Wind

Hey, is that a stiff hanging from your tower or are you just glad to see me? Turns out, it was neither. Instead, some poor delusional mannequin climbed up this TV tower in Milwaukee and leapt to that great display window in the sky. That, or someone with w-a-y too little to do scaled the 1,200 foot antennae, affixed said dummy to broadcast noose and climbed down to enjoy all the lofty hijinks. That's alot of effort for a simple prank, but authorities are pursuing that lead and totally ignoring my theory of suicidal store dummies. Oh well, at least they'll have no problem spotting the culprit - as anyone who scales such a broadcast tower will suck up some seriously unhealthy radiation. With that in mind, Milwaukee police are scouring area frat houses for the Beavis or Butthead with the purplish complexion and nifty new forehead eyeball. Wouldn't it have been easier just to roll the station in toilet paper?

Dictated Spittle

As of this writing, I find myself in something of a malaise; a by-product of the approaching holidays, another case of writer's block and my own surly nature. But fear not, lone stalwart reader, for this too shall pass. In fact, I may very well follow this post with a flurry of excitable dispatches, culled from my scattered imagination and vast reservoirs of pocket lint. Or not. Whichever the case, know that this silly little web address is never very far from my mind. Neither is it the unavoidable blinding light that it once was. I guess that makes me a pretty typical blogger - one who's been at it for more than twenty-four months now. Back on the 2 year mark of this site, I chose to forgo the achingly introspective anniversary post - lest I repeat the minutia-laden ramblings of my One Year In edition. Now however, I find myself creatively constipated. While I'll lose the digestive imagery in a second, bear with me while I commence with the enema....

On the eve of 2006, I foolishly deemed it "The Year of Fruition". Instead it turned ou to the "Year of American Idol". I suppose I should have seen it coming, but who knew the three locals trying out for this juggernaut of cheese would actually become (temporary) household names? I didn't. Not that I regret it, mind you. Three trips to Hollywood, hundreds of hours fashioning frothy profiles instead of cranking out crime and grime coverage, plus a few new friends made my Idol collusion more than worthwhile. I just wish I hadn't gotten quite so sidetracked in the process. That said, if Bucky Covington ever needs a biographer, I'm a lock!

Another mistake I made going into 2006 was the assumption that blogging would only get easier. Was I wrong. Having already doled out some of my best cocktail party fodder the year before, I found that blogging - er, writing was HARD! Part of the problem lies in my somewhat narrow scope. I wish not to ever fill these pages with political posturing, pet photos or items from my lunch menu. Instead I've tried to frame everything from a photog's perspective, albeit one who abhors police scanners and cargo pants. But I'm also a student of the David Sedaris School of Witty Memoir. While I've yet to earn my degree, I've received much therapy from delving into my pre-TV past. Occasionally, they're even readable!

Far too often, my thoughts are predicated on a certain visual. I guess that's what I get from staring into a viewfinder all these many moons. I yearn to be one of those writers who can fashion whole universes out of nothing but dustmotes, but for now, nothing gets my noodle bent like a good photo to wrap my ideas around. That explains my affinity for the dated broadcaster shot, pictures I regularly search for on the internets. Were I a savvier sort, I'd obtain the rights and assemble them all in one mother of a coffee table book. For now though, I'll keep scanning the web for these priceless shots, until I'm forced to crack open my box of old save tapes and mine my own endless supply of pictures involving old cameras and questionable wardrobe choices.

For every blog post I write, I read about fifty. Many of these sites center around journalism, be it the kind involving emerging media or antiquated news-type. Both harbor great peril for the verbose lensman - as we behind the lens are supposed to speak with our iris and not our prose. Oopsie! Truth is, I savor the chance to comment on the latest gizmo's effect on the media or the troubled state of all those puffed-up newspaper folk. You would too if you withstood their inter-journalistic derision for as long as I. Trouble is, I have a habit of hurling invectives at complex trends and unsheathing my sword on those unaccustomed to being challenged to a duel by a lowly photog. More times than not, I'm just daydreaming while my fingers dictate the spittle of the bored madman inside my head. I'm not apologizing, mind you - just vowing to do a better job of staying on point in the future. Wish me luck!

Speaking of luck, I've had plenty of it this year. Some of my better posts have been picked up by far more traveled sites than mine and sent my site-meter reeling. This has brought me the eyeballs I crave and it has taught me an important lesson: People Read This Stuff. You'd think I'd know that, but sitting here in my upstairs lair, it's easy to forget this magic box on my desk is connected to the world. Boy, is it. More than a few times these past twelve months, I've logged on to find words I only halfway meant ping-ponging across the greater blogosphere. As a result, I've alienated a few people I see on a daily basis with my late night diatribes. I suppose this would be a fine time to issue a unilateral apology to these fine folks, but quite frankly, that notion reeks of horseshit and that's one odor I'm unwilling to foist on the three people still reading this admittedly wordy screed.

In closing, I just wanna say thanks. These inconsequential pixels have helped me deal with countless persoanl and professional issues over the past two years. Knowing that others may take a little time to soak in my bloat is very rewarding. Just don't hold me to every word, wouldya? Nine times out of ten I'm so jacked-up on the wife's good coffee, you're lucky I think to hit spell-check, let alone search my feelings for the unadulterated truth. But that's what a blog is for, right?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Delusions of Grandeur

It Could Happen....
Hey, anybody in the market for an overwrought memoir of a TV camera-toting nobody? A rollicking account of one lenslinger's journey from starry-eyed scanner hound to all-weather auteur? The tortured manifesto of a photog facing forty? A blithering collection of half-baked blog posts? A slim volume of scribbled song lyrics and Guatamalan coffee cup rings? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

Okay, so it's still in the raw data/fantasy stage, but I'm pretty sure it'll hit bookstores by early 2017. (Look for it in your local discount bin shortly thereafter...)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Steve Albert Passes

I didn't know Steve Albert, but when the WPLG photographer died unexpectedly on Wednesday, those who did paid tribute to him on the station's website. The result is a touching portrait of a rare creature - a veteran photog who never let the absurdity of the chase skewer his positive outlook. Steve's co-workers speak of a guy who ate fruit for lunch every day, bragged on his kids to all who would listen and made a habit of never missing a deadline. Those are qualities to admire in any endeavour, but in a business where too many of us let a back-stage pass to life foster apathy and cynicism, it is an anomaly indeed. In my nearly 17 years in the business, I've met damn few veteran lensers who've retained such a radiant disposition (Woody Spencer and Timmy Hawks come to mind). Personally, I fall spectacularly short of that glory - which enables me to recognize a class act when I see it. Steve Albert was apparently just such a person - a trusted pro whose aptitude and attitude made him the very best of our breed. Rest In Peace.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

To Serve Man


Say what you will about The Seventies, but they had the threads, the cars, and from the looks of that guy on the right, some really kick-ass jetpacks! That, or the dude strapped a dormitory fridge to his back. Either way, I like his thinking - for what could two wild and crazy camera guys need more after panning some late model sedan than a couple of cold ones, right? I just worry how Mr. Moustache there is gonna hold up with the la-dees after hoisting that rig all day. I don't want to alarm anybody, but I'm pretty sure I just saw that same camera enslave the entire human race from the ramp of a Late Night Movie's rather chintzy flying saucer. I guess prop budgets were a little leaner back in the day...

Phonajournalism, 101?

So, Yahoo gets in bed with Reuters and pundits the globe over announce the death of photojournalism. Easy, fellas. I've been examining this ugly trend ever since a horde of housewives tried to block my shot of a local implosion a year and a half ago. Since then, a cell phone captured the first images of a crippled London subway, YouTube gave everyone their own TV station and that doofus from Seinfeld went absolutely batshit. On second thought, maybe there's good reason to panic. But then again, what good would it do? A planet full of cameraphone addicts ain't gonna re-think that Blackberry purchase just because we seasoned lensers prefer things in focus. Are they?

My guess is no. In fact, it's estimated that one billion cameraphones will be in circulation globally by 2008. That, my friends, is an awful lot of jittery pixels. And while today's cam-phone footage often makes 'The Blair Witch Project' look like 'Citizen Kane', it's becoming clear the folks we used to call our audience just don't care. Not when they can put Aunt Gertrude on hold and record their own footage of the fender-bender, the Bar Mitzvah, that angry giant lizard scaling City Hall. Of course breaking news has always temporarily suspended longheld production values. Unedited news footage aired unexamined, silver-templed anchors pausing mid-sentence to listen their earpiece, unscreened phone calls patched in live. Compared to today's technology, these improvised methods seem as quaint and antiquated as those hideous blazers with the oversized pocket logos management used to make the anchors wear. Yick!

But I didn't log in to issue fashion advice. One look inside my closet full of wrinkled cabanawear should disqualify me from that mission. But as someone who funnels images to the masses for a daily wage, I feel compelled to comment on the democratization, not death, of photojournalism. As I first wrote more than a year ago, 'the advent of digital camera phones will be viewed by historians as a touchstone event in the Information Age - a landmark development that first harnessed hi-fi imagery with wi-fi dissemination; sleek, marvelous machines that fit in your palm and plug into the world. These ever-evolving tools may well prove to be the great equalizer in the new media frontier; hand-held, high-tech devices capable of generating new streams of information where not so long ago there was noisy static, and once, only silence.'

Well, that silence is long gone. Much like Marconi's wrangling of wireless technology forever ended The Great Hush of pre-Edwardian times, so too has the lowly cell phone caused the era of limited image dispersal to come to an abrupt and often ugly halt. But then again, aesthetics don't seem to matter much to the millions of viewers watching their neighbors re-enact the forbidden dance on YouTube. Nor will proper camera management mean alot to the private citizens who will capture the next global calamity from every possible angle. Lastly, proper cinematography won't be on the minds of news executives who will, if they're smart, be way too busy shoving these myriad of images on-line, on-air and in your face.

No, the only ones who will balk at the new 'phonajournalism' will be self-important schlubs like me, who've spent the last fifteen years perfecting their grasp of the heavy lens, only to have their once captive audience discover the freedom of phoning it in themselves. I'll be in back, replaying a bunch of stilted news stories from my past if anyone needs me. Until then, hold all my calls...

The Legend of Kev

In this, the latest in a coincidental series of pictures of men with their arms raised, we check in with b-roll.net founder Kevin Johnson, seen here downing a brewski at last year's Las Vegas Beer Bash. But the long-limbed photog isn't always this undignified. Usually you'll find him soberly plying his trade in the nation's capitol, when he's not tinkering with his landmark website, that is. Recently he even added to that impressive cyber-domain by launching his own nifty Wordpress blog. So far it's mostly gadget blurbs, but I for one am hoping he'll soon favor us with a few sto-ries. I know he's got 'em. But for a guy who's encouraged this and many other photogs to take to the web with abandon, he sure doesn't let loose very often. Unless there's beer involved, of course. Then, he's a wild man.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Adventures in Radio

Shortly after I conned my way into my first TV job, I struck out to do the very same in the exciting world of radio. Hey, if I can push antique cameras around a warped studio floor, surely I could master the local FM airwaves! Or so I thought as I leafed through the yellow pages in search of a station to grace with my undeniable talent. Maybe I was feeling cocky, having just scored a minimum-wage gig at the CBS affiliate. Whatever the case, I set aside my lack of ambition just long enough to ring up a couple of program directors around town. Besides, I thought as the phone rang, once they heard my dulcet tones, I’d probably spark a bidding war. After all, I was Captain Nemo.

No bigger than a broom closet, the radio booth aboard the U.S. S. Mount Whitney had been my island of solace in a sea of discontent. A shipmate first turned me on to the small compartment just down the passageway from the flag bridge, a dusty little booth with Vietnam War era turntables and boxes of LP’s from the Armed Forces Radio Network. The buddy who first let me in to that tiny space had no idea I‘d be back so soon. But once I got a look at the antiquated control board, with its oversized knobs and still shiny toggle switches, I was hooked. The fact that the noise produced within radiated all across the ship via close circuit radio was but a distant thought;. I was seeking refuge.

I found it - soon skipping precious sleep just so I could sit and spin the finest in late 80’s hair-metal. Though I’m still not sure any of my shipmates ever really listened, I quickly developed an evening radio show and a persona to go with it: ‘Captain Nemo’s Taps to Midnight - featuring an eclectic mix culled from the official onboard library and a dozen shipmates private CD stashes. I guess you could say I was playing radio, but it was one of the few things that kept me sane as my ship did lazy circles off the coast of Guantanamo Bay for weeks at a time. I’d pull the lights down low in my inner sanctum, crawl into a pair of government issue headphones and forget all about all the haze gray world on the other side of the hatch..

The Navy didn’t make me a radio star, but it left me convinced I was born to broadcast. That realization deepened when the second program director I got on the phone that day invited me to come in for an interview the very next day. Eighteen hours later, I steered my battered Toyota into the gravel lot of a rundown one-story building on the edge of town. After checking in with the world’s most disinterested receptionist, I sat and waited in the chintzy lobby - mostly sober, over-cologned and excited about my new career as a radio stud. Imagine my surprise when the Program director - a fellow in a wrinkled sweatshirt and sleepy eyes - poked his head through the door and motioned me back.

Though the guy looked like he slept in his clothes, he was all business. Tossing aside my copy of Captain Nemo’s Greatest Hits, he jammed a few sheets of paper at me without ever listening to the homemade cassette. I was halfway through filling out the forms when I realized I had the job. Beaming inside, I stole glances at the aging equipment around me. Only some of it looked familiar, but that didn’t matter; this guy obviously knew talent when he heard it. Half an hour later, the scruffy Program Director escorted me out, told me to report back the following Sunday night for my first on-air shift, and promptly dead-bolted the door behind me. I skipped all the way to the car, ecstatic at being discovered and in awe of the Program Director’s quick grasp of my immense talent. Little did I know, he’d just been happy that I had a pulse.

-----

I listened to the station all the way in. Drumming the steering wheel to its cheesy top forty beat, I followed the strengthening signal to the edge of town. At the end of my journey I found the same gravel lot, anchored by a slab concrete building and a rusty transmitter tower. Parking beside the only other car there, I strutted to the front entrance, tapping the faded station logo on the door with newfound affection. As the last minutes of sunlight left that summer evening, I pressed the buzzer underneath a pockmarked loudspeaker. Nothing happened. Shifting from foot to foot I bobbed and nodded as the door continued to ignore me. Suddenly the half-gallon of sweet tea I’d downed the hour before roiled to the surface, making the barely reformed country boy inside me eye the woods behind the transmitter. Just as I turned to dash off to the shadows, a heavy metal click sounded from behind me and the door clicked open.

Inside, I found the lobby darker than before. It was a small room with a desk, chair, sofa and coffee table that looked like it was picked up at a trailer park fire sale. On the wall, scratched plaques from the local free weeklies competed for space with black and white framed photographs of the radio station’s on-air talent. Amid the white man afros and gold chains, I recognized the familiar face one of the disc jockey’s - a grinning jackal of a man I’d one day build a series of used car commercials around. But that particular travesty was a good nine months off. For now all I knew was that radio superstardom was a mere thirty-five minutes away. I was literally about to piss my pants with excitement when I grabbed hold of the interior door‘s latch - only to find it disturbingly dead-bolted.

With my face jammed against the door’s heavy-wired glass I could see the on-air booth at the end of the hall. Inside, a dumpy silhouette hunched over the control board, perfectly still. This lasted through the better half of the Milli Vanilli song echoing in the distance one beefy wrist hove into view and twisted some unseen knob. Just then Rob and Fab faded and the slightly less gayer sounds of Hall and Oates filled the deserted halls of the South’s dumpiest radio station. Rapping my knuckles on the door, I tried in vain to get the deejay’s attention. But no matter how I motioned and waved, no matter how I pee-pee danced around the lobby’s dated furnishings I could not tear the disc jockey’s stare away from the board. In fact, he barely moved at all, appearing as if a surgeon would while immersed in his lifesaving work, instead of some broadcast drop-out spreadingthe last of his curly fries over a Mr. Mister CD.

My bladder quivering to a breech and my inaugural radio shift just minutes away, I grew increasingly spastic there in my shag-carpeted hell. Despite my convulsive display, the deejay never seemed to notice. So I forgot about him, training my direction instead on the gaudy vase dominating the scuffed glass coffee table. Normally not one to vandalize, I seriously considered filling it to the rim with recycled tea, lest I soil the pants I’d so deliberately picked out earlier in in my slummy duplex. I was about to desecrate the discount ceramic when the silhouetted deejay finally unlocked the door, and a pasty Dungeon-Master with skin issues stuck his head out.

“You the new guy?” he asked in a booming voice normally heard only at tractor pulls and beach music parties.

-----

In my own feeble tone, I asked him where a fellow could take a piss and he pointed a beefy forearm down the hall. I stiff-kneed it in that direction and found a Mens Room with a tinny speaker blaring out the station’s on-air signal. Though I tried to drown it out with the thundering cascade of a spent bladder, I could clearly hear a familiar British metal track winding to a bombastic yet girlie finish.

“That’s the latest from Def Leppard on Hits-96! I’m Your Man Stan and I am Outta Here! Up next, The New Guy with all the music you need to rock the night away! But first here’s Peter Gabriel!”

With that, the ex-lead singer of Genesis launched into a syncopated dirge about sledgehammers. As he did I burst out of the restroom, anxious to pick the Dungeon Master’s brain about the control board before I had to fly solo. But he wasn’t in the booth at the end of the hall. Nor was he in any of the offices I passed along the way. “Stan” I called out, not feeling so much like a hero of the airwaves anymore. Overhead, Peter Gabriel asked the sledgehammer to call his name as well. Neither answered and it dawned on me to check the booth for nay of Stan the Dungeon Man’s belongings. I found none, and with a trace of panic bolted for the lobby door. Pressed against the glass, I saw the car I’d parked beside earlier leaving the lot, gravel and dust kicking up in its wake.

About that time the slow-motion kicked in and I found myself running back to the booth as if underwater. Peter was still screeching his love for certain implements but experience and the CD player’s red countdown clock in the middle of the board told me that would soon end. Lunging forward, I grabbed a stack of 45’s and began flipping the few switches I recognized. As I did the speakers fell silent, but a row of herky-jerky needles told me the board was still transmitting sound. Next I fumbled through a stack of liner carts, befor finally giving up when the countdown timer marched backwards to zero. A half second before the goose egg popped up, I dropped the needle and podded up the source. I Still couldn’t hear anything, but the audio meter needles began dancing to a new beat. With relief not felt since just emptying my bladder, I fell into the rolling leather chair and caught my breath. This control board had a lot more buttons and dials than I was used to, but it also held a lot more possibilities. Wiping my brow, I looked the antiquated board up and down, a sly grin overtaking my expression of doubt. Abandoned or not, I could figure this out, I thought, because I, I possessed genuine broadcasting talent. Trying not to gloat, I looked down and saw all a telephone flashing six different lights. Eager to chat with any new fans, I picked up the receiver and in my most booming carefree tone, bellowed “Rock 96! Captain Nemo speaking!”

The voice was that of an adolescent; its crackling pitch deflating my newly swollen radio ego with its simple message..

"I think you’re playing this song at the wrong speed."

Needless to say, I had a very short career in radio. I was much more adept at escorting antiquated studio cameras through their daily news moves, than forging new paths in FM territory. I’m hoping eventually all this television will pay off. I'll let you know.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Year End Liquidation

Sat Dish SkyIn the grand tradition of TV in December, I'm breaking out the retrospectives. While I have to save the smarmy wrap-ups and obituary montages until after Christmas, I can share with you the very finest in residual imagery. That's right, reheated leftovers from my Flickr account...

Kitty TripHey, ever tranquilized a lion and stuffed him in a minivan, all in a hundred percent humidity? I haven't either - but I did hover over a sweaty group of good hearted souls who enacted that very slow-motion mission one sweltering July day. Some scenarios cannot be rushed and man-hauling a catatonic apex predator is one of them. By the time the big cat was was stuffed and cuffed in a jumpy vet's backroom, I wasn't sure what was worse - enduring the ungodly heat or smelling what Mufasa had for breakfast. Warthog and Meerkat, I think.

Gear StashAs much as I like to feign existentialism, I'm really just a guy who drives around with tools in his truck. With that in mind, you'll understand how nothing is more sacred (or guarded) than a shooter's arsenal, pictured here in all its new/antique, dead battery, color-coded glory

The KingHalloween was the farthest thing from my mind when I blew into Madison, North Carolina on Ocotober 31st. So you can imagine when my surprise when seemingly every citizen of the tiny Rockingham County town turned out to meet me - in disguise, no less. Sure the DA candidate I'd come to interview said something about an annual trick or treat event downtown, but I knew the pimps, vampires and zombies were there just to screw with my head. On the way out of town, I couldn't help but grab a snapshot of this Elvis worshiper - in hopes he'd stop following me. When I got back and really looked at the shot, I realized the dude really wasn't in costume. To him, it was just Tuesday.

Rig and RideSpeaking of days of the week, all mine kind of blur together. But that's bound to happen when you spend all your time racing from unplanned calamity to scheduled event. After a while all those tireless stops seem the same, whether they center around chalk body outlines or golden shovels.

Idol CrewLadies and Gentlemen, I give you Lenny and Squiggy. Okay that's probably not their names, but in my mind they will always share the monikers of Laverne and Shirley's skeevy neighbors. This particular shot comes from outside the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, hours before Taylor Hicks reached full American Idol ascension. Tall and Skinny I don't know so well, but Short and Swarthy I recognized from all those Idol audition shoots. Dude's probably shot more delusional humans than Bob Barker's floor crew. Think of him the next time some hysterical pair of glitter twins is bouncing off Ryan Seachrest and your TV screen. Hope he gets combat pay...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Roadside Snowgasm


No, snow didn't blanket the Tarheel State, but it did pummel the Midwest, where photog-blogger CJ broke out her new camera and captured her toothy co-workers in action. The result is a delightful series of images in which her fellow broadcast-nauts frolic, hurl snowballs and file breathless live reports from beneath their logo'd parkas. Here in the Piedmont of course, we'd also advise viewers to construct temporary shelter, stock-pile weapons and scavenge every bread aisle within ten square miles of their homes.Call us alarmists if you will, but zoom in on a few southern fried soccer moms as they gun their SUV's over icy overpasses - and you'd spread a little panic too.