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...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stuff I Never Told You...

I've damn near made a career of whining about my job, but a glance at my calendar shows how good I got it. Take July; a summer month not known for its stellar television. Still, with a flock of photogs on vacation and even more news-makers pretending to be, I managed to pack in enough surreal situations to keep my little repository of thought here bristling with piss, vinegar and the occasional insight. Why there was even stuff I never got around to mentioning....

Back on the 9th, I bum-rushed perhaps my twentieth Native American Pow-Wow. I'd only been there a few minutes when what was either a shaman in the grip of a religous vision or a cross-state trucker on half a bag of mushrooms approached with what appeared to be a necklace made of salt-shakers. "Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy" he said, shaking the suddenly smoking salt shakers at the sweaty cameraman. Actually, I don't know what he said; I was too busy trying to figure out whether I should film, thank or deck him. I opted for the middle way, and mouthed some old Neill Young lyrics at him as he shook the smoke at me and mumbled something back about being the walrus. I chuckled as he did, but soon after he passed I realized that's exactly how more than one Stephen King books start.

Less than a week later, I raced to a village on the Northern edge of Rockingham County so desolate, so remote that I've already forgotten its name. We'll call it Hell - not for it's many sinners, but for the very fact that it was about six hundred degrees Fahrenheit the day I rolled into town. My mission: get in front of a slow-moving convoy of wide-load trucks as they inched a massive generator ever so closer to its new power plant home. I've had good luck with Big Things Moving. Three story mansions, one room churches, library wings: I've hop-scotched around them all as real men in hardhats held power lines apart. Ancestral homes are the best, as the many descendants of the folks who used to live there often trail behind on foot in a slow parade of wistful soundbites. But a hunk of unemotional metal being dragged down a ribbon of rural highway? Not so much. Sure, there were a few woodchucks upset that about all the commotion, but I could tell by the way the fat one kept givin' me the eye-gouge, they weren't talking.

By the 22nd of July, the Piedmont was entering its sixth week of August-like temperatures. In fact the heat became so unbearable it was all anyone could talk about. That included of course the air conditioned souls who hurl me into the great unknown on a daily basis. I'm no longer surprised at what they come up with and most days, neither are they. On that particular day, the brain trust was focused on our bovine viewers. "What pray tell, was the heatwave doing to local dairy cows?" I shrugged a non-response and wondered which one of them listened to the Farm Report on the way to work. But I didn't dawdle, as the guys in Graphics were already searching their database for a picture of Bessie to hang over our anchor's shoulder. So I got busy flipping through my mental Rolodex until I half-remembered a certain cattle farmer I'd interviewed in the past. Hours later, as I followed my new friend through a cloud of black, bloated flies - I wondered how I could share this experience with the cubicle rats back at the station. Luckily, the half inch of moist cow shit that remained stuck to my shoes all day took care of that.

Of course not every news story is as well planned as a stroll through nature's landmines. On Tuesday I managed to pull a full morning of thwarted phone tag, before arranging a hurried shoot at a microbiology science camp. Several rack focuses later, I bid the campers a seemingly fond adieu and made my way through a summertime, visions of dry edit bay dancing in my head. I never made it. Five minutes into my return trip, the bosses called. Seems a lightning strike had sparked a fire at a building at the college I'd just left and the grown-ups in the newsroom no longer gave a rat's ass about some silly science camp. Suddenly I was late - a fate I more than adjusted with my stuntman worthy driving skills. Just ask the fire chief who I tailgated toward a building with a distinct lack of smoke plume rising from it. When the chief jumped a curb I did likewise, but I made the mistake of parking too early by a cluster of fire trucks. Little did I know the hoses ran to the other side of the building. By the time I hustled my gear to a respectable vantage point, my glasses were askew, my boxers were wet and a couple of campus cops were thinking of new reasons to push me back a block or two.

Who needs some old Indian curse when you got a job like mine? Don't answer that. I got a powerful hankerin' for sun-baked cow pie as it is...

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