Sunday, August 12, 2007

Grumbling Under Glass

Live Truck Phone Outsider. Insider. Gate-Crasher. Ghost. The TV news photog is all these and more - a restless, jaded, wandering being who travels alone yet gathers in packs. Don't let the cargo shorts and golf shirt fool you, for this particular breed is notoriously intense. You might be too if you rushed from misfortune to happenstance and back again, turning all the world's minutia into disposable photoplays. It's a thoroughly bracing way to spend the day but it can easily leave you numb and cold. See, after awhile the players all seem the same, puffed-up incumbents swiveling in the spotlight, shelter directors embezzling on cue, that missing kid's picture taped to your passenger's side window. I've processed more strife and pageantry than I could possibly ever recall. Should I receive a blow to the head, I'm certain my psyche would burp up a few ground-breakings for me to chew on.

Crime LensI blame the lens. That's what first lured me in, long before I desecrated the threshold of my nearest affiliate. I remember one seminal afternoon, in the shadow of my boyhood home. A friend came over with his Mom's camcorder smuggled in a book bag and we took off on our BMX bikes to a sacred spot. There we popped wheelies over cinderblock ramps while quoting Elwood Blues - the same way we always had. Except this time the camera captured it in fuzzy silhouette and as we sat playing back each jump in the tiny blue viewfinder, I found myself entranced - far more so than a sixteen year old slacker should have felt over such a trifle thing. Had I been more focused back then I might have entertained the idea of film school but I was a fuzzy-headed bumpkin at the time and considered only truancy to be my special purpose.

Habitat RoofLittle did I know that day a pattern had already been established. Four years later I'd pick up a shipmate's oversized Betamax and document countless, ill-advised cannonballs from a series of Caribbean balconies. No great thunderbolts of lucidity that day either, but I do remember being the one drunk sailor who could keep his buddies in frame. Is it any wonder I one day wound up under heavier glass? I sure didn't sharpen any other skills there at the Salamander Inn. Still, I did a way to use my sea legs, not on a pitching ship, but a Habitat for Humanity roof, the lip of a telethon, the crowded back hallway of a dozen County Courthouses. I may no longer be serving my country, but I am keeping the Greater Piedmont Googleplex swimming in drive-bys and bake sales, all from the comfort of their living room couch.

Confidence ScreenStill, one can't help but wonder if he chose correctly when picking his dream. God knows I could have aimed higher than the six o'clock news. But at the time the access was most intoxicating. Hell, driving a logo'd news car used to be a blast - until I logged a couple hundred thousand very hard miles in assorted Peacocks, Eyeballs and Foxes. It didn't take long before that particular buzz to wear off. No longer smitted with my unfettered view, I'd pull up alongside the cops and grab my gear, never every feeling like I'd truly arrived. Perhaps I still haven't. Maybe's there's a imbroglio looming in the distance, one that will render me punchdrunk like that day in my hometown's shade. Or could it be I'm already there, but so sore from the journey that I simply haven't noticed my time-traveling news unit has come to a complete stop...

Perhaps I'm just out of gas...

1 comment:

mangler said...

i'm 25 and still scramble out with my friends with camera in bag on bmx bikes.