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...

Monday, November 01, 2010

Farewell, Greg Pell...

Pell on Scene
When I grow up, I wanna be just like Greg Pell. After all, dude's a legend; a pipe-smoking wise-ass who's been lighting up North Carolina news scenes since the mid 70's. I, of course, didn't meet him until 2007, when he came out of retirement to school a younger generation of journalists on the Art of the Grab. He should know. See, back when I was mastering the alphabet, Pell the Elder was ushering in the age of video at Charlotte affiliate WBTV. Since then, he's shot every kind of news story there was - and a few there weren't! When asked, he'll tell you his favorite era came in the 80's, when he and BTV reporter lived in Raleigh and covered what they damn well pleased, untouched by the drama of their distant newsroom. From the Legislature to farm news to any old excuse to head to the coast, Greg and the fellas enjoyed the kind of autonomy most modern day news crews couldn't fathom.

But Greg doesn't just live in the past. Far from it. When I met him in 2007, he was fresh off a thwarted retirement, slinging yet another lens and chortling all the way. That in itself is a towering achievement. Most of us beneath the glass inevitably let it drag us down. Be it the lousy hours, punishing pace or close proximity to liars of every stripe, we news shooters aren't exactly known for our decorum and grace. Which is why I was thunderstruck the first time this silver-haired photog with only one arm be-bopped by my live truck, humming under his breath as a cloud of sweet-smelling pipe smoke trailed in his happy wake. It was not the last time he made me feel foolish for cursing the News Gods. And it's why I brightened each and every time I ran across him at drive-by shootings, charity bake sales and the occasional Presidential pit stop. I'd like to think his serendipity even rubbed off on me, but I know myself better than that...

Still, if I haven't yet followed his example and learned to age gracefully, it may very well be too late -- for Greg Pell is retiring. And this time, he ain't comin' back. For years now, Greg's enjoyed dual citizenship in two very different slices of Carolina. On weekdays, there was no telling where he'd pop up along the suburban swath that is the Piedmont-Triad. But come the weekend, you'd find him wandering among the hardwoods of his beloved Ash County. Now that he's hung up his press pass, it's unlikely he'll venture down from the Highlands all that often. He definitely won't be spotted loitering outside some inner-city imbroglio as a distant producer counts backwards in his earpiece. No, that would be ME. And while I don't promise to be as placid as Pell, I'll do my best to emulate the man, should a junior 'slinger ever seek my counsel.

So enjoy your down time, Greg. You certainly deserve it.

2 comments:

Hospital Dan said...

I had the honor to first meet Greg in the early 80's in Raleigh. We were setting up for election coverage at the Jessie Helms HQ, he was strapping an RCA TK-86 with a 110 Sony recorder deck, he was kicking ass and taking names. But he took the time out to talk to very rookie shooter who was covering his very first big election. Thanks Greg ! Enjoy retirement.... it is well deserved.

dejavoo said...

Top notch article on a top notch News Videographer!!!!! Ashe county is lucky to have Greg... I am worried...do they have a Krispy Kreme in Ashe County????