Monday, February 26, 2007

White Hack Down

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m afraid we have an indicator alerting us to a possible electrical malfunction onboard and since we want to get you to Cincinnati as safely as possible, we’re gonna taxi back to the terminal for a closer look...”

Curses and murmurs rumbled through the packed cabin as rear-ends shifted and cell phones chirped back to life. The guy to my right pulled a Blackberry out of his pocket and began jabbing at it angrily. Behind me a woman explained to to someone how she was about to miss her connecting flight. Only then did I set down the Ernie Pyle biography and fish out my own itinerary. Damn. With only a fifty minute layover in Cincy, I was in danger of the same. The jet I was scheduled to be on would leave Ohio airspace without me - provided their pilot didn’t notice an idiot light flashing moments before thrusting the aircraft upward. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the crew’s dedication to safety - I did. But the fact was my own mission was going down in flames with every awkward bounce back down the rainy runway. Nope, I thought - there is no way I’ll be in Tulsa by the time the little bald guy with the lightning bolt sideburns takes the stage.

Back inside the terminal, a woman with a shiny nametag, a lovely scarf and a shitty attitude confirmed my suspicion. I would not make it to Cincinnati in time. The plane there would not wait for me. I would not be able to catch another flight West until 10 pm. I would not haggle with the tour manager, score any free drinks form the club owner or suffer the inebriated shout-outs of eight hundred unhinged Oklahomans. Okay that last one I could have done without anyway, but drunken revelers were part of the gig and I had hoped to weave their beer-spittle throughout the profile of young Mr. Turbo-Throat. Why else would I agree to dash to the Sooner State just to sling a lens? Besides the fact that I paid for it. And the knowledge it would make damn fine blog-fodder? And that I love to shoot live music - even if it is from a guy I first interviewed during his lunch-break from Crown Honda.

But it wasn’t the sweaty encores I’d miss that got me down. No, I was bummed by the flummoxing of all that planning. Gauzy profiles don’t happen by osmosis, ya know. They take strategery - and lots of doodads. It’s why I spent all day Friday bouncing from an edit suite blaring sex offender footage to a padded bag bristling with gizmos. I’d thought of everything: tripod, lights, umbrella, extra discs, batteries, microphones - even a three-pronged doohickey I was gonna use to jack into the nightclub’s soundboard. And I didn’t just cadge some of these gadgets from unsuspecting coworkers, I packed them! That’s a big deal, for photogs love to pack. It’s a ritual of preparedness, if you will - the amassing and proper stowage of the myriad of tools that help make television. I know guys who - despite regularly sleeping in piles of dirty laundry - can field strip their news unit’s interior of every working thingamabob and itemize them by purpose, cost and vintage. Blindfolded. Even absent-minded professor types like me harbor a certain categorization fetish. So its no really no surprise that as I schlepped my gear off the concourse, it wasn’t the fact that my all-access backstage pass had been revoked that bothered me, but that all my obsessive acts of inventory had all been for naught.

Sure beats a sudden loss of altitude, though.


FlutePrayer said...

Just got off a plane from Phoenix filled with people who had been trying to get east but were forced west by bad weather. Not happy campers. Fortunately, our plane worked!

Anonymous said...

Stew, thats Delta for you! Trust me you didn't miss much at the concert other than a headache!