Now that a certain Canadian's getting all sooty, I've once again become the back-up morning guy. It goes back to my early days at El Ocho, when I cranked out pre-dawn live hits with the then formidable Jami Turner. But that was many moons ago. These days I stays up late and try to sleep past sunrise. That is, until enough auxillary shooters go on vacation and I find myself rising with the chickens to shine lights on roadkill, or bake sales or whatever else the News Gods deem worthy of my lens' attention. After awhile, it all blurs together; the cable pulls, the sleepy people, the endless live teases and monotonous shoulder grinding bump shots. Sometimes it's a telethon, other times it's a deposition, occasionally it's an honest to God circus. This morning however, it was the dreaded Talk-Back.
Talk-Back: that's TV talk for 'the reporter ain't comin'. Today it was meraly a staffing issue; with a main anchor on the beach for a week, my on-air accomplice is riding the desk, leaving me to fend for myself out in the real world. Luckily for me, Mary Young's a natural. When I stuck a microphone on her collar and a tiny speaker in her ear, she barely barely flinched. Instead she stared deeply into my lens and told the Greater Piedmont Googolplex what they could find if they'd just drag their uncultured carcass to the Cultural Arts Center downtown. Okay, so she took a softer approach, but the message is the same. Just to make sure a caveman like myself could grasp all that aestheticism, she made a funny little anchorman of clay. I pointed at it and giggled throughout the morning, until it was time to pack up my toys and leave - at which point I'm pretty sure she smashed my sanctimonious friend into just another muddy lump.
A couple of hours later that clay bastard was all but dead to me as I rolled up on a case of concentrated bedlam. Officially I was there for a press conference, but the mob of young, old, black, white and plaid folks clamoring over a card table outside the the Democratic Headquarters told me the story was nowhere near the podium. See, Barack Obama is coming to Greensboro. His handlers call it a Town Meeting. I guess that means you can ask questions. Whatever the rules, the Presidential candidate who's had a tough week with his preacher is gonna lay the Hopedown on two thousand of his most rabid supporters. Sadly though, all this is scheduled to happen on Wednesday - one day before I blow out of town with the family unit. Listen to the raw audio of today's press conference and you may very well hear me swear when they announce the day. Cursed Democracy!
But enough about me. Let's talk about the crowd of Obama-cons who bumrushed the ticket table this morning. Not since those scary Shriner chicks cornered me at the Ross Perot rally have I seen people so ebullient over voting in a President. Folks who might not normally mingle together stood shoulder to shoulder and nut to butt for a chance at two free tickets to a candidate's appearance. Taking in the crowd's exuberance and broad demographic, I realized for not the first time that - love him or hate him- George W. Bush has undeniably Shit The Bed. People are screaming for change, even if they don't yet know what that entails. As for myself, I had no time to ponder the global implications of it all. Not with THIS GUY in my peripheal. Bill Welsh is a lifer, and like me his politics are buried deep beneath his crusty photog shell. The only party he's pulling for sign his check and since they sport a different logo than mine, it's incumbent upon me to sling mud, clay and a flurry of hanging chads his way.
At least that's what I think I'm supposed to do. Truth is I'm on four hours sleep and the gigs are all kind of runningtogetheragain ... Perhaps I'll lie down.