No thesis tonight in your coffee, no thesis tonight. Instead you’ll have to settle for a quick traipse through some of the pre-dawn thoughts found in the Sore-Hand Companion. While I can provide no real context for these midnight rejoinders, I can assure you you’ll wish you’d paid attention when I pass out sheets at the end of the tour. Now if you’ll follow me, we have some non sequiturs to flesh out. And please - no wandering away from the group.
Pomp and Squalor
I admit it - the dichotomy gets me off. My inner contrast junkie just can’t help it. There’s nothing I enjoy more than wandering from the enclave of self-afflicted pageantry to the scene of some sordid exploit on the smelly side of town - then back again. Still don’t get it? Bet you’ve never reached for a microphone you attached to that wino an hour earlier and pinned it on some smarmy blowhard’s silky lapel. Therapy for the working man, if you will.
Tripping on the Cinders
Another moment of recorder’s bliss occurs whenever certain incongruent elements conspire to inspire. Litter skittering across the gravel lot of a burned-out restaurant, the crunch of shovel digging into a shady grave, late-day sun silhouetting the carcass of an 18 wheeler, dashboard blue lights throwing crackle and strobes as the crime tape billows…if think all fatalities have to be ugly, might I recommend the night shift? I've seen structure fires prettier than paintings.
Pot Pulls, Cadaver Dogs and Mud Slides
What do the three have in common? No, they’re not individual events in the Redneck Games. They’re three assignments I remember getting absolutely filthy on. The first was an early marijuana excavation, which is a fancy name for a two mile hike into quicksand for six spindly reefer plants. Oh, and watch out above for the chopper wash. While you’re at it, be sure and dodge that steamer ole Rex just left in his wake. That shit can really take the shine off a news unit’s interior.
Whatever the zip code, a tattered platoon of first, second and third responders considers your turf their beat. Paramedics, tow trucks drivers, cops and photogs - we come a runnin’ whenever enough sheet-metal is bent and act like we knew it was going to happen. Given any amount of downtime, we shuffle among the rubble and continue stories we last trouted out at that plant fire, the train-wreck or those lake drownings. You remember...
Pilots, Surgeons and Sax Players
There’s a certain protocol to documenting gross concentration - one that requires patience and subservient lens. It’s hard to put a trigger-finger on, but the same unmistakable aura emits from the hunched sculptor, the squinting physician, the sweaty welder, and the tipsy recording engineer. Remain quiet and still and you’ll soon slink away with potent imagery. Meanwhile, try not to unplug anything. People with power tools hate that.
To Nod or Not
Much of the above centers around spot news: unplanned calamities ripe for the evening news. But a lot of what I broadcast features regular appearances by the Talking Heads. No, not the geniuses behind that song ’Psycho Killer’, but the revolving stable of experts and charlatans we so eagerly cut to every fifteen seconds. But for every sound-bite that airs, a shooter drags his gear in place and rolls - often by his or her lonesome. Thus I regularly find myself feigning comprehension of some lofty ideal being expressed while wondering if I pushed ’Record’ or not.
You know, I could go on all night with the broken prose - but since we both gotta work in the morning, I’ll try and wrap it up. Since it’s late, I’ll skip the quiz - but do me a favor would ya? The next time you’re forced to watch the news, think about all you don’t see - for there in the heavily-edited margins you’ll see the greasy cheeseburger fingerprint of the master photog. Ever since local station stopped airing credits, it’s all we got...