Thursday, April 22, 2010

Scenes from a Pot-Pull

Weed SafariAs marijuana eradications go, it was pretty weak. An armful of spindly plants, some overheated deputies and a far higher 'slog to weed' ration than I found logical... But truthfully, it was a buzz just being there. That's because it was 1992 and I'd yet to overdose on the thrill of the hunt. It wasn't my first pot-pull (please - no jokes!), but it was an early one and my field training was far from complete. When I noticed Photog Elder Woody Spencer pointing his camera at the the media pack, I looked forward to seeing what magic he'd craft from it. I just didn't know that nearly two decades would pass before I got a peek...

Paul DunnSeems Woody sold The Suits on a story about news crews themselves. His weekly features, Woody's World, were brilliant and I learned something from them every Friday evening. Still, I was a little surprised his bosses let him turn his camera on his office mates. But by doing so, they commissioned a rolling thesis on my biggest mentors, starting with this guy: Paul Dunn. Part good ole boy, part car salesman, ALL photog, Paul didn't teach me how to use a camera. He taught me how to take it to interesting places. I could write books on our many adventures, but for now, know this: TV News became a less interesting place the day he left the business.

Carolyn KusbitBut even swashbucklers have better halves. In Paul's case, it was his then girlfriend/now wife: Carolyn Kusbit. A forthright young woman from Pennsylvania, Carolyn was the kind of person my Father might call a Yankee. Watching her assimilate into the not so deep South was always a kick - until she started kicking ass and taking names. As a local reporter she was exacting, relentless and annoyingly committed to the truth. Our many, many crime scene conversations were the very basis for my humble blog and yellow tape billowing in the breeze still brings her cackle to mind. In Woody's piece, she comes off as Holly Hunter's character in 'Broadcast News'. That's no act - but it was a limited appearance. A full blown educator now, she was recently spotted defending her dissertation. You go, Dr. Dunn!

Andy CordanAs talented as we deeply believed ourselves to be, nobody held a candle to this cat: Andy Cordan. A whirling dervish of lenses and machismo, Andy perfected the cop-car ride-a-long well before Bertram Van Munster pioneered COPS. Though I never could quite fully emulate his chutzpah, his balls-out approach to news-gathering left deep, deep imprints on my neophyte psyche.I still have a fond memory of Andy shoving a lens into a freshly shackled bank robber’s face and ’suggesting’ he show more emotion. Unlike Paul, Carolyn or even Woody, Andy Cordan is still at it, pounding the means streets of Nashville. If you see him down there, say 'Hi' for me. Then get the hell out of his way.

But enough of my rambling; just watch Woody's piece below. If memory serves me correct, it never aired, as Woody's bosses decided it was too 'self-serving'. (Pfft! What must they think of reality show contestants cluttering up newscasts now?) Thus I had to wait nearly 20 years to see just what my elder was up to. I should have known it would feature me floundering...


turdpolisher said...

that's some righteous storytelling, especially for '92. love the 3/4 gear and the wired mics. how'd we ever get anything done with that stuff?

Getawaymoments said...

Ikegami 730 and Ikegami 735 ouch.
great story, makes my back hurt looking at those old cameras. ahhhh my life at the mercy of a fourteen pin cable.
those were the days