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...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Smokestack Cinema

Smokestack ReflectionSeveral times a year an inanimate object will capture the fancy of The Fourth Estate, prompting otherwise logical newsgatherers to lose their freakin‘ minds. The last time it happened around here a water pipe broke beneath the pavement, a giant hole swallowed a car and me and my pals spent a solid week broadcasting from the edge of the abyss. I’m not saying the public didn’t need to know about this hole in the road, but after awhile the continuing team smotherage of Pothole ’07 felt a little silly. As helpless as I was to stop it at the time, I did recognize that a stationary object had gained enough momentum to propel several news cycles. 'Sinkhole Inertia', if you will. Well, it’s happened again. This time however it’s no waterborne depression, but rather a crumbling old industrial chimney that’s stood ignored for the better part of the last hundred years. That is until developers bought the old Cotton Mill shopping center and proceeded to knock the bitch down. As the first bricks began to fall, news executives across the Piedmont stood up, took note and paged an underling. That’s where I come in…

I do a LOT of WaitingBefore a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of the old Cotton Mill on the corner of Spring Garden and Merritt. Not having grown up here, I did not toil in its basement, did not shop in its latter day retail space, did not shed a tear when it stood empty for all those many moons. I did however grumble a bit when I rolled up on its broken landscape only to be kicked off the property by the scary old man from all those Scooby-Doo episodes. That was more than a month ago and since then, many of my colleagues have returned to turn their own Cotton Mill story. Just ten days ago, live trucks from across the Piedmont gathered on the perimeter to watch the fabled(?) smokestack drop. It. Did. Not. Seems the demolition crew was feeling all pioneer like; instead of the usual blasting caps, they stuffed the chimney’s base with a chemical charge and stood back. An emasculating ’poof’ of smoke appeared and the smokestack stood defiantly in place. Cheated of their delicious frenzy, the News Gods shook their glittery fists and vowed to hype the pipe another day…

Smokestack BlowsI rolled up before eleven. With the detonator plunge a good two hours off, I had my run of the grassy knoll, but nary a moment to spare. The noon producers wanted a live shot throughout her show and the El Ocho web geeks wanted to stream it on-line just as soon as I could plug all the gizmos together. So I did, wondering all the whole who watches an old chimney sit still from the comfort of their laptop. By the time 12:30 rolled around, I’d satiated the producers’ needs, locked down a mast cam shot and bugged out for lunch. Fifty minutes and one cheeseburger later, I returned to find my lonesome knoll crawling with photogs, camcorder Dads and a few stoners who’d just stopped by to soak up the mojo. Snap! Like a cheetah I lunged at the nearest available prey, snaring him with my wireless microphone and inane questions. I got so carried away I nearly missed the moment, thanks to a one-minute warning horn that preceded the implosion by, oh…about five seconds. Luckily though I was within reach of my lens and zoomed in smoothly enough not to risk dismissal by the National Board of Cameramanthropology. So too did the dude I’d just interviewed. Handing him my digital camera, I turned back to my fancycam and hoped he wouldn’t run off. He didn’t! Instead he captured the very moment the dynamite ignited, handed me back my baby and scurried off before I got his name.

Oh well. Maybe I 'll see him the next time we're all hovering over some rockpile, gas puddle or grilled cheese sandwich that's holding us all hostage. For now, check out what one time-pinched lenslinger can do with a descending chimney. Heads up!

4 comments:

corporate management said...

Well-timed pic...give that hippie a raise!

Andy Atkins said...

great story... I loved the rewind! But the ad tagged on the front for Cindy's Team is funny, she is holding the mouse upside down.
Love it.

aa

Anonymous said...

Any one else thinking, "you know" give me a case of miller light and a sledge hammer, and well, I could have saved you a boat load of money on explosives?

mangler said...

it might be work, but it was a damn fun couple of hours. better than sittin in the office.