Ever meet someone for the first time only to soon wonder if they’re about to kill you? The thought crossed my mind Saturday as Mike James plunged his Porsche Carrera into a hairpin turn at what felt like three hundred miles per hour. I’m told it was barely a third of that, but when you’re not entirely sure of your driver’s state of mind, it feels A LOT faster. As it turned out, I had no need to worry, for like Dustin Hoffman in that most overrated movie, the man behind News Blues is an excellent driver. Of course that didn’t stop me from making little girl noises each time Mike waited until the last possible second to tap the brake. When he did, the car’s momentum invariably shifted and we’d make it through another curve that had seconds ago seemed destined to be my final resting place. I’d been inside the Virginia International Raceway for less than thirty minutes, and as my host tried to press the accelerator through the floorboard of his souped-up import, I found myself wondering just what was in that waiver they made me sign at the front gate. Sensing my unease, the dude known as Your Surly Editor threw his head back and laughed. Good to see one of us was enjoying this.
I’d been wanting to meet Mike James for years, ever since he began featuring my work on his popular newsblues.com, the website of record for anyone willing to cough up some coin for the latest in TV industry dirt. Each and every link spiked my own traffic and a whole new class of broadcaster came to know the blogging blowhard known as Lenslinger. For that, I’m grateful. The e-mail alone from News Blues readers has enriched my life, though so far no one’s stepped forward to line my many photog pockets with silver. Whether that will ever happen remains to be seen, but its safe to say that The Irascible One has done more for the Lenslinger Institute than anyone (outside of Chris Weaver, that is). Sooo, when I heard one Mr. Mike James was spending the weekend driving in circles an hour from my house, it didn’t take much convincing for me to climb in my pick-up and head his way. Twenty four hours and a fresh set of skivvies later, I’m still glad I did.
But as I snaked my way through the bowels of Southern Virginia, I had to wonder: Who would be there to meet me? The snarling arbiter of industry drivel? A grizzled distiller of vinegar and piss? A snarkier-than-thou outsider unafraid to excoriate strangers and fans alike? Not so much. The Mike James I met was welcoming, warm, affable even! In fact, this cuddliest of curmudgeons and I got along famously, finishing each other sentences, lamenting the bent of modern day broadcasting and sharing the kind of sordid war stories I don’t dare include in these (somewhat) publicized pixels. Yes, if I were to ever dig deep and write a book, Mike James would be the kind of guy I’d like to see edit it. But who reads books theses days? Everyone’s far too busy poking at social media with self-aggrandized sticks to crack open a tome from a cameraman they’ve never heard of. Maybe a blog is all Viewfinder BLUES will be. That is, until I twist it into a seminar of sorts and launch a cross country tour of affiliates under fire. I’d even meet up with MY Surly Editor somewhere along the way and wage a campaign of unvarnished truth across the goofy, fruited plain.
I just wouldn't let him drive. Dude’s a menace.