Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Learning to Loiter

Manhunt WaitWas a time I didn't know how to wait. Maybe it was my youthful vigor or my generation's diminished attention span. Perhaps it was just my streamlined mullet. Whatever it was, this lenslinger apprentice was never very good at cooling his jets. And jet-cooling is an integral part of the newsgathering process - whether waiting on a jury's verdict, daydreaming as a County Commissioner bloviates or drawing circles in the dirt while a state trooper pimps his Smokey the Bear hat - the waiting is the hardest part. Or so it used to be. These days I welcome the chance to dally, to become suddenly recumbent by sallyport, ditch bank or stage door. Why the willingness to wait? Simple. I'm no longer terrified I'll miss my deadline. After seventeen years of gathering morsels for the machine, I've learned that the news beast will eat whatever I bring it. I'm all for over-feeding it, but I no longer put my sanity on the line each time it wants to dine...I really didn't mean that to rhyme. Doh!

Journalism at 70 MPHTake the other day, for instance. When a midday plate of 'cue was interrupted by my cursed cell phone, I washed down a few more hushpuppies before dashing out the door. Seems a fleet of Crown Vics was amassing outside Denton, their drivers stepping out and into dark green jumpsuits, some pulling longarms out of their trunks. Soon the denizens of a nearby trailer park noticed and before pouring out of their mobile homes for a better look, at least of them called El Ocho. With an overnight stabbing quite near that locale, a crafty assignment editor realized we had ourselves a manhunt. I say we. I was the only boob jostling my sweet tea over the steering wheel, suddenly late for a Dukes of Hazzard episode. Luckily, I been down this dusty two lane before...

Chopper OverheadWhich is why I didn't throw in with the bloodhounds and follow them into the woods. When I arrived, the dogs were bounding into the forest behind a dilapidated trailer, their beer-gutted handlers trailing not far behind. Setting up my camera on the tripod behind my car, I popped off a few shots of the K-9'ers before they became one with the foliage. Across the road, a clutch of plain clothes detectives gossiped and threw a few Clint Eastwood looks my way. When one made eye contact, he motioned for me not to point my lens his way, while secretly wishing I would. I did - but only when he wasn't looking. (Never tell a cameraman not to shoot you.) Most of all though, I wiped away sweat and tried to meditate. I'd just reached a decent level of Zen when a black helicopter roared overhead. Circling back, the chopper grazed over the treetops, right where the dogs had entered the woods. Through my viewfinder, I zoomed in on the chopper and followed it awhile. As I did, the Sheriff drove up, told me he'd be back in a few minutes and rumbled off...

Spot News ParkingI'd love to tell you the next few minutes strobed by in a flash, the bad guy emerged from the woods with a bloodhound hanging off him and surrendered to me center-screen. No such luck. Instead, I sat and dripped liquid for the better part of ninety minutes before the good Sheriff returned and dispensed with the soundbites. With an interview and a dozen images on tape, I packed in my gear and fled the scene, knowing my half-abandoned plate of Lexington style Bar B Cue didn't suffer in vain. It allowed me to fill thirty seconds of 6 o clock newscast, sweat off a few extra pounds and gave me time to think about how much this job has and hasn't changed me. I just wish it had made for a better blog post...

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