Richard Heene: Fringe Scientist, Bad Dad, Media Mogul? Yeah, I know; dude's in the running for Tool of the Year - but hear me out: In his quest for fame, this Colorado crackpot hijacked the 24/7 news cycle like we've never seen before. By convincing his brood that salvation would arrive via cable TV fame, Heene concocted a plan so brash, so ingenious, so colossally stupid that he got what he exactly wanted and absolutely nothing to show for it. This guy should be a network executive - or a community organizer - or that weirdo on the corner who waves at traffic all day! I can't decide which...
One thing I do know: Heene (rhymes with weenie) is a few grade schoolers shy of a payload. Who else would entrust their quest for global recognition to a six year old? Who else would invite the cable news jackals to examine his integrity, knowing he'd hammed it up badly on not one, but two episodes of Wife Swap? Who else would sit by idly talking live(!) via satellite to the likes of Meredith Viera while his youngest son hurled into a cup? Hey, John Gosselin's got more class that THAT! But sextuplet abandonment aside, the henpecked half of John and Kate ain't got nothin' on our floppy banged man of the hour. For while he pretty much proved himself unfit to raise gerbils, let alone three young sons, admit it: dude grabbed the attention of a planet!
Mere moments after Heene phones the media first and the Po-leece second, the world took note. Cable news anchors rushed to their sets, deejays lunged for the microphones and newspaper folk kicked themselves for not having better traveled websites. But that didn't stop the unwashed masses. They took to their Twitters, touched up their Facebooks. Suddenly humdrum status updates featuring sandwich choices bristed with dispatches about Balloon Boy. Balloon Boy: authorities hadn't even spotted the Mylar abomination in the sky before a global catch-phrase was set aloft. It would be ours before late night talk show hosts could sink their teeth into the term, but the snark was already racing across the fruited plain. So too were news crews, desperate to join the chase, giddy that such a sensation had swept through their Thursday afternoon. WHAT was Heene thinking?
Hard to know. By all accounts, the man is a moron. He created the perfect shitstorm and all too soon it came raining down upon him and his family. Whole theses can and will be written about what and how he did it, but I'm more taken with why. Dude wanted fame. He got infamy. He yearned for riches. He's getting ridicule instead. Heene deserves every bit of it and while he may end up being a mere footnote to the fall of '09, he represents a new breed of interloper. Never before has it been so easy to manipulate the mind of Mother Earth. Not with overly-social websites, a rabid press and every other taxpayer sporting a telephone that can jack into and ratchet up the mindless media maelstrom...
Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta work on my robot girl. Wait 'til the world gets a load of her...
Thursday, October 15, 2009
WANTED: Young nomad to electrify. Must possess firm grip, sniper's eye and a knack for gadgets. Endless missions await. Will supply with aging weaponry, middling assistance and new demands daily. Shoulders eroded. Elbow grease siphoned. Spines misaligned. Empty stares lengthened. Must like ugly weather and attractive gasbags. Motoring skills mandatory. Penchants for pockets a plus. Will train but never coddle. Moderate pay tolerable. Bad attitudes validated. Abuse a certainty. Respect sporadic. Other rewards less tangible: Worldview widened. Anecdotes amassed. Swagger magnified. (House Cats Need Not Apply.)
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
No one likes shooting weather video. It's rather boring, often intemperate and always inconvenient. But rarely do you have to worry about jackholes crawling out of the woodwork. Until now. KATU photographer Bob Bullock appeared to be minding his own business while his camera rolled on a rainy day outside Laurelhurst School in Southeast Portland, when a man approached him and came undone. First, Peter Fournier pressed his back against Bullock's camera, blocking its view. Then he accelerated his ire: cursing the hapless photog, calling him a "loser reporter" and finally, taking a few swipes. Video aired by KATU shows the ensuing struggle, including footage of Fournier manhandling the camera as well as some unfortunate off-screen 'sounds of distress'.
Reportedly, Peter Fournier was upset that Bullock was shooting video of children. It's unclear if he was, though the KATU photog was within his legal right to do so from his public property perch. Harrassing kids seems to a special concern of Fournier, as he's previously been excluded from Laurelhurst Park for using a stun gun on a minor. For his latest vigilante efforts, Fournier was arrested for assault, malicious mischief and impersonating an officer (having waved a badge, assumedly coated in cereal dust, at the KATU photog.) As for Bullock, he suffered cuts and bruises in the melee but now has a great cocktail party story to tell about the day 'that whackjob accosted him in the park'. The lesson here kids? Always Be Rollin'. You never when some delusional superhero is gonna pop out of the bushes and declare war on your lens...
Monday, October 12, 2009
Wet pavement, engines' roar, a swath of red and blue ... sling a lens and you'll stumble upon it: a view of the overnight crew. Okay so there's nothing poetic about a midnight collision, but the aftermath does have a lyrical quality all it's own, especially when you approach it with sleep in your eyes. That's how I roll (up): station cap jammed over bedhead, run-bag hanging low, echoes of an unexpected phone call still ringing in my ears. If you've ever scored as backstage pass to a light show such as this , you know how tragic the palette can be. Cory Welch obviously does. Recently, the young Rhode Island freelancer paused to reflect on a beautiful disaster and walked away with an image I'd hang in my upper lair - if only the wife would let me. Where does she think I go when the bedside phone explodes?
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I may have momentarily lost my focus, but Amanda Emily never has. The displaced media genius and archivist extraordinaire continues to post vintage lens pictures faster than your above average shooter can riff on them. Still, I'm especially taken with this particular shot, a 1920's frame of someone named Hislop. That jaunty brim, the tucked-in tie, that camera that looks like it was fished from the wreck of the Titanic. I don't know when exactly the broadcast photographer went from overdressed optimist to scruffy news bum, but it couldn't have been a pretty transition. Not that the journey is complete. What with lenses diminishing and photogs disappearing by the dozen, the current image of a downtrodden journeyman with a full-sized fancycam on his shoulder will soon seem as outdated as the look of self-satisfaction ole Hislop is rockin'. I just hope I'm still around when it does. Otherwise, who will be able to explain this?