As a jaded purveyor of local TV news, I gotta watch what I get worked up about. After all, the same grim demeanor that helps one navigate a crash site ain’t half as handy at the home and garden show. I know; there’s been a time when the sheer pace of what passes through my glass has left me strangely out of sync. How else to explain my crappy attitude at the disabled pet-blessing? Or all those dark maxims bandied about in the glow of fire truck lights? My Mama taught me better. Which is why, on occasion, I stray from the chase. Not physically, mind you. I still can’t afford that. But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t slept-walked through another person’s worst day ever, or jungle-stared some struggling keynote speaker just for the fun of it. I’m not proud of it, but compared to the other long-term effects of news-gathering I’ve seen (affectation, self-hatred, logowear), it’s an affliction I can live with. I just can’t always write about it.
What I can testify to is the power and the (lack of) glory of the B-Block. Years ago I gave my lens over to the Church of Charles Kuralt. It was He who first discovered life after those commercial breaks. In doing so, he forged his own languid style and inspired millions of lesser storytellers like me. Which is while you’ll find me far from the opening moments of that oh so average newscast. I’ll be bringing up the rear - or more likely the middle - serving up the quirky and the absurd to all those viewers faithful (and lazy) enough to stick around while that Viagra spot peters out. A couple ties the knot at a Jiffy Lube, a marching band finds out they’re gonna strut through Manhattan, roadies fluff the mother of all Bluegrass festivals.. what do tehy all have in common? I wrestled them into existence under heavy deadline and still left the station that day before most photogs had loaded up their live trucks.
So why am I grumpy? I’m not really. This sourpuss mask is all for my protection. One quick glance and people leave me alone, allowing me to aim, gather and try to move you with heavily-edited television with a light and loving touch. I can’t help I look pissed in the process. You would be too, if the desk expected you to overshoot, undermine and out-perform the competition on a never ending basis. You know, whether you’re chasing an Amish Mime troupe or the leader of the free world, it really doesn’t matter. I’m photagnostic. It matters not to me if that Bigfoot fella is fake or if he just tore through an orphanage. I’m going to bring the big guy into focus just the same. I just gotta smile once in a while, lest I become the most grizzled dispenser of frothy news topping this side of that Andy Rooney Ice Milk Hut. Besides, who wants to be the simmering presence at the Easter Egg hunt? Not me. My life’s too short to be kicked out of a(nother) Kiwanis Club.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go practice my scowl. It came with the cape.