Videography. All those syllables make it sound important. It's not, I'd wager, but that's the subject of another post. Tonight, I want to talk about longevity. It's been on my mind lately; the time I've spent jostling from one tripod spot to another. Twenty years - a number of months that sucks the very breath from my lungs. I never planned to stick the lens this long. In fact, when I started I was fairly certain I'd muck it up in a month. Instead, I found religion. No, a winged-creature didn't swoop down and place a fancycam on my shoulder, but a lot of good people gave a shaggy smart-ass a chance, long before I'd earned the right to televise anything. I still remember pulling up to my first car lot, a van full of camera equipment and nary a clue what to do with it. Countless local commercials later, I was figuring it out, but then an acquaintance took a friend of mine hostage and my baptism by news began. Suddenly, scanners crackled with shouts of prophecy fulfilled and the News Gods smiled down upon their acid-washed argonaut. Yes, it all seemed mystical in the beginning, this portage and deployment of video recording gear. When did it grow so mundane?
I'm not sure exactly, but it did. Somehow, amid the blur of ribbon-cuttings and ride-alongs, the press conferences and protests, the drive-by shootings and bloodmobiles, calamity became the norm. No longer the zealot of other people's peril, I found myself a washed-up apostle, a castigated ape loping from deadline to live shot and back again. What did I shoot last week? Christ, I'm still piecing together yesterday. It was either a daffodil contest or a burning bus full of orphans, itallkindsofrunstogetherafterawhile. What I can tell you is, it's a young person's game, both in pace and compensation. I left for a few years back in the early 90's, tried my hand at cranking out dreck for the man. It wasn't so bad in retrospect, but at the time the office, the assistant and the asshole down the hall felt like a plague of locusts at best. So I excommunicated myself from the House of Pain, made a pilgrimage to the Piedmont Triad and found a sect I could reflect in. An energetic lot, the crew at El Ocho; they took me in and forgave me of my swish-pan sins. In return, I stopped pretending to be grizzled. Suddenly, I just was.
So there you have it, a white-washed version of how I came to be here. No longer the wild-eyed believer I once was, I can't claim to be totally agnostic either. News - or at least the pursuit thereof, still feels like what I'm supposed to be doing. This should please me more than it does, for some folks go a whole lifetime without ever stumbling over what makes them tick. Not me. I learned early how to turn a limited attention span and eye for irony into the suckiest job you'll ever love. From watching the atrocity of a pedophile trial to riding shotgun with Meals-on-Wheels, the ever-present Sony on my shoulder has provided access to an education I never dreamed of back when I was cuing used car salesmen to do their finishing move. I only hope the craft of broadcasting continues to evolve, for I sometimes feel guilty of arrested development. It doesn't take a Mensa member to document life as we know it. Give me a few afternoons, along with one of those table-long subs and I'll have YOU traipsing up some widow's porch reciting 'Wide-Medium-Tight'. Just be careful: at some point you have to come back down and look at yourself in the mirror...
Try not to squint.