Sunday, March 07, 2010

Forced Perspective

Outside Civil Rights MuseumI was gonna unload... drop a pile of bile so vile even innocent pedestrians would smell the funk I'd fallen into. How else was I to explain my absence from this space other than to detail the vagaries of the chase? See, carrying a camera around everywhere I go has left me draggin' glass. Maybe it's the dirty weather, the dying gear or all the chicanery I framed of late. Whatever it is, the rub of a hundred thousand newscasts has left me feeling raw. It's a fact: exposure to so many transmissions can dull the senses, until you find yourself stumbling from palace to massacre with the same pained expression. No, it's not backaches or bunions or even (drive-thru) botulism that takes so many shooters down. It's Burn-Out: that hollow feeling you get after shoving too much mayhem and minutia through a tube. Most days I can shake off the sensation by working harder than I have to, but lately I've been forced to play with others and their inattention to detail has left me teetering between apathy and apoplexy.

Don't get me wrong. It's my nature to grapple with existentialistic angst one moment and search for a camera battery I hid from myself the next. But lately the usual sturm und drang has left me more frenzied than fatigued and it's quite possible I 'showed my ass' at work a time or two last week. By around Wednesday I was reminding those who hadn't even asked how I've carried enough debutantes across the finish line to qualify as a parade float, how I'd keelhaul the next cur that called in sick, how a man of my vintage simply had no time for amateur hour... After some time my colleagues tired of rolling their eyes and slunk off accordingly, warning all along the way that the wordiest of camera nerds was on a real bender. By Hump-day's dusk, I'd fallen silent, suffering a kind of dashboard despondency as I steered my mobile newsroom straight into the malaise. When it came time to pound my frustrations into a post, I found I couldn't do it, so I stewed in my juices until I was about ready to boil. And when I did, I was more than happy to get it all over ya...

Out with Ollie 2Then, I went for a walk; several of them actually, in the company of my kids and canine. It was there - in my suddenly sun-baked neighborhood - that I realized I'd been whining on the inside. As frightfully insipid as some shifts feel, what I do for a living still beats a grown-up job. I still love it in theory but sometimes the real-world execution feels like an unfinished sentence in which I go from a news-man possessed to a half-dead zombie... At 23 I was conning my way into cop-shops, trading gossip and station paperweights for a shotgun seat on the very next ride-along. At 43, I sink in my seat at the first sound of scanner crackle. How I came to be that way is a story I'm still working on, but I'm not too far gone to admit that all the histrionics I can muster are nothing more than the blather of a badly aging hunter-gatherer. I'm not the first photog to curse the universe over dung-heaps in the distance, nor am I the last. But I join you tonight confident in the knowledge that the journey is still very much worth it - as long as you're careful where you step.

The dog taught me that.

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