Thursday, August 19, 2010

When The Man Comes Around...

Spillane, VestedMy first real memory of Danny Spillane centers around a lack of podiatry. It was early in my El Ocho stint and I found myself far from home with soggy feet. "Who comes to cover a hurricane without enough socks?" asked the sat truck guy, as he jammed a tightly-rolled pair of his own in my hands. It was an act that would be repeated during the long friendship that followed: Danny giving me grief while coming to my rescue. Now it seems my knight in logo'd armor is leaving the kingdom, ending a twenty-five year career in broadcasting for an elusive new gig in the corporate sector. It is their gain and local television's loss, as this good natured stickler has been part of the Piedmont Newscape since the glory days of PM Magazine. Yes, back when I was still a clueless truant, Danny was already packing glass and taking names. As a journeyman shooter and Sat Truck Captain, he's attended more crashes, galas and cataclysms than most souls even read about. Hurricanes, Superbowls, Mass Murders, Presidential Visits, Floods, Special Olympics, forest fires and a million collisions in between: "Satellite Dan" was there, rolling tape, pulling cable and dragging debutantes across finish lines long before I ever started twisting cynicism into sentences.

Isabel CrewBut even that benefited from this veteran's presence. Some of my favorite posts - Hell, some of my favorite memories feature this seasoned 'slinger behind the wheel of a satellite truck. There's simply no one else I'd rather huddle in the scrum with, for when Danny and the Death Star roll in, back-up has truly arrived. Countless are the times he's kept me safe and kept me in stitches, be it at the tip-top of Grandfather Mountain or down by some storm-ravaged shore. For a guy who never served in uniform, Danny exudes a certain military bearing. Part Quartermaster, part Drill Sergeant, this fully licensed Irishman always acted like he's been there before - and not just because he had. I remember many occasions when Old Man Danny was truly the only adult in the (mobile news) room. It's a form of real world leadership those far behind the lines didn't always get, but ask any crew member who's taken shelter, received counsel or slammed together an epic in the presence of the elder and they'll tell you news went down smoother when The Man came around.

Danny Spilllane as The EdgeOf course not every day is full of far-flung plunder. Most days are kinda mundane and those are the shifts with Spillane that I'll probably remember the most. We've shared hundreds of meals, analyzed endless edits and traded more war stories than Osama Bin Laden and his cave dwelling cronies. I may pretend to have seen it all, but Danny truly has. He can match my every tall tale with a more believable version he'd all but forgotten. He can tap dance through manuals I refuse to read, polish things I'd rather see rust and still not piss me off when he hounds me about logging off my computer before wandering away from it. If you can't tell, I'm gonna miss the dude. While he's far too much of an adult to partake in the like of Facebook and such, he's got a wide breadth of friends who do. If YOU have a memory of Spillane you'd like to share, I for one want to hear it. Maybe then, he'll realize what an impact he's made around these parts. I, for one, won't be able to think of anyone else, should I ever get the chance to toss some rookie an extra pair of socks.


mangler said...

I'm gonna miss crossin lenses with Danny at various pressers. He's a swell fella and always a pleasure to be around, thats for sure. I'm sure he's probably not going to miss one of my coworkers bald head getting in his shots tho!

turdpolisher said...

damn. sounds like the elder statesman is a hell of a photog. wish i could be there for the send-off.

now, can i hire you to write my eulogy?

joey flash said...

my first day in news i was assigned to shadow danny spillane. dude was ice water as he slammed and jammed a pack out in five minutes with me over his shoulder thinking "there's no way i could ever cut that fast and be so cool about it". then he did it all again for the six and showed me how to fold the reflector.

of course, since i learned from the best i now routinely cut packs in five minutes, but i never ever looked as cool as satellite dan while doing it.

good luck danny!