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...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pawns Before the Storm

With Gustav already fading from the national consciousness and a slew of storms queuing up in the Caribbean, a time honored broadcast tradition is taking place along the Eastern seaboard. It's aritual as old as Dan Rather's rain slicker and almost as musty; an age old practice in which promises are made, deals are struck and favors called in. That's right, I speak of the Hurricane Haggle - that previously unseen bartering session between camera crews and the overdressed executives who hurl them into the void. Trust me, it's no day at the beach.

Unless you gave up television back in the Seventies, you know the scenario: a gleaming correspondent - clad in logo'd poncho and brand new ball cap - dodges sheet metal and drops clichés as a disembodied hand dabs madly at the lens. But before said news team can expose themselves to hundred mile an hour winds and dozens of granola bars, they have to convince their bosses they're worthy of such punishment. Pity The Suits who must suffer these endless appeals, for it's not every middle manager who has to listen as their underlings beg to be abused. And beg we do. I know of no other business where employees plot and scheme for a chance to deprive themselves of sleep until they forget their agent's name, to shack up with co-workers they don't even like, to take a clandestine dump between sand dunes - all so they can provide color commentary to winds with a nickname...

Of course for on-air talent, a hurricane live shot can be money in the bank. Yes, the chance to brandish a wireless microphone and a false sense of entitlement while coconuts and trash can lids fly just inches above your designer raincoat is a veritable right of passage for those who's stations are within a hundred miles of an open sea. Countless are the reporters who've placed footage of themselves lashed to a telephone pole and waving one of those wind-speed thingie onto the very beginning of their escape - er, resumé tape. Far-flung news executives - especially those trapped inland - eat that shit up. It tells them said reporter is a trusted member of the team, I guess - that or they have just the kind of harrassment prowess needed down at city hall. Either way, there's a long list of reporters I'd like to maroon along some storm-ravaged coast - with or withOUT a camera crew.

But it isn't just the hair-do's who beg to abandoned at continent's edge. We folks behind the lens also volunteer to eat sideways rain for days on end. Unlike our prettier partners we have more to keep dry than just a stack of headshots. Cameras, lights, tripods and scrotums - all must remain mositure-free if we're to do our thankless jobs. And rarely is there a raise or promotion waiting for us when we finally dry out. Instead there are only bragging rights, the ability to name-drop the latest storm at the very next keg party; it's the TV news equivalent of getting a new tattoo. Sadly, I myself am not immune. Hell, I've documented storms from both sides of the lens, cat-napped through the eyewall of a Class 2 'cane and of course taken a fancycam for an impromptu skinny-dip. You'd think I'd had enough - but still, I threw my packed bags on my bosses desk this morning (metaphorically, anyway) even though all I gotta do to witness the effects of Hurricane Hanna(h) is open the door to my eleven year old's bedroom.

Like I said, it's no day at the beach...

2 comments:

turdpolisher said...

back from gustav. he blows. station lost all microwave recieve sites. 95% of baton rouge without power, including the polisher ranch. 4-6 weeks before power fully restored. . . but my scrotum is dry. . .that's gotta be something.

will start blogging again soon as the lights come back to the ranch.

crookedpaw said...

As soon as the weather gods named this storm I know in my mind that you would make a play to be involved in its coverage. If you get the call bring it on down and stop at the Crookedpaw spread for a dose of Coldbeer and a bunk if you need it. Sounds like the turn would have seen more action if he'd stayed home. I've finally heard from most of the folks I grew so fond of that live south of Houma and rode this thing out as it came right up their main street. They have lots of wind damage, no electricity or running water, but all are safe. Let me know what adventures the suits pick for you....Crookedpaw