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...

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Splinterquest!

2011-04-05_12-02-08_769It doesn't take much talent to point a camera at a pile of sticks, which is probably why I'm so good at it. Then again, I've had a lot of practice. For two decades strong, all manners of calamity have passed through my glass. Minivans flipped by wind, homes broken open up by fallen forests, flimsy splinters driven into sod -- I sometimes think I've shot it all. I haven't. Nor have I swarmed around every type of storm victim, a lesson I learned today when I stumbled upon one Terry Lawrence. But more on him later. First, the news: I don't know if it made the papers up your way, but Mother Nature took an unexpected dump on North Carolina Monday night. I was lucky enough to sleep through much of it, but I arose this morning with the certain knowledge that I'd spend the day paying for that uninterrupted slumber. Was I ever right.

2011-04-05_11-53-37_872It seemed like hours before I hit pay-dirt. In fact, it had only been eighty minutes since I tore out of the door at the TV station, a cameraman on a mission. "Go find Randolph County damage," someone said as I peeled out of the parking lot and onto the interstate. Several miles and a few phone calls later, I was deep into said county and altogether lost. Oh, I knew where I was; I just didn't know where I was going. The overnight storm had raked across the region, leaving isolated pockets of toppled trees among otherwise unscathed neighborhoods. But without solid intel as to where the destruction was, I was forced to drive blind, scouring the passing countryside for any signs of downed branch, tangled power lines or drunken wildebeests. I guess two out of three ain't bad.

2011-04-05_12-12-42_480Eventually, I found just the kind of carnage we needed to keep the commercials from bumping into one another - but it wasn't due to my stunning hunting skills. No, it was social media. Folks like Terry Lawrence flooded the station with photos, tweets and clips of what nature hath wrought, providing with he street addressees needed to harass them accordingly. Which is why I was so impressed with Terry. Cordial to a fault, he took time away from staring at the tree in his kitchen to show a photog all the best angles. Had the fallen tree trunk not blocked access to his fridge, I do believe he'd have offered me refreshments. And I would have taken them too, for you don't turn down a man with a red oak in his breakfast nook and AC/DC for his ringtone...

'Hell's Bells', I think it was...

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Fritter and Waste...



TV News. It ain't ALL high speed chases and breathless live shots. Quite regularly, the pace of the hunt slows to nearly unbearable levels. Nowhere is this phenomenon more common that when engaging the judicial system - where cameras aren't always allowed in court. It's when the committed lenslinger has to tap into the powers of inattention that landed him such a silly gig to begin with. Don't believe me? Just ask Paul Martin, who demonstrates the proper loitering technique all the way from across the pond. Of course NOW we all just stare at our Blackberry, iPod or Droid, but you get the idea...

Monday, April 04, 2011

Valor On Tap

Rob Cook, Hero

In a world where television journalists are considered to be lower life forms than lawyers, it's refreshing to see reality trump perception. Case in point: Rob Cook. Wednesday night the WLEX photojournalist was driving his station's satellite truck to Houston for the Final Four. Just outside that city, Cook witnessed a fiery car crash up ahead. A car hit a median; a fire ensued and smoke soon filled the interior. That's when Rob Cook acted on instinct and in doing so, elevated our profession. He approached the burning car, ripped out a window and pulled a woman to safety. Another Good Samaritan managed to free a second passenger. Soon after, flames engulfed the car. Both occupants of the car received minor injuries, but thanks to Cook and others, they lived to tell the story. Heroic? Youbetcha. But of the photogs I know, 3 out of 4 would have attempted the same. That makes us no better than any other wage earners, but it does make us decent human beings with our compassion intact. Sadly, that's a news flash to some. So here's to YOU Rob Cook. We've never met, but I know your type. I work with and compete against them everyday.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Dichotomy's Rot

Okay, this is the part of the show where I pull a few fresh photos and assign some irony to them. To be honest though, it's Sunday night: in the past two days I've ridden 18 hard mountain bike miles, quelled a few sibling insurrections and changed the cat box a time or two. I'm tapped out. Still, it's my self-appointed duty to provide cogent cameraman analysis, so here goes...

2011-03-31_10-21-35_554Anoop Desai is a nice guy. (Hey, that rhymed!) He's also the smartest American Idol contestant you'll run across at Charlotte's Freedom Park. That's where Shannon Smith and I met him Thursday morning, not quite by accident. See, we're putting together a 'Where Are They Now' piece on some North Carolina Idols and that kind of thing would simply be incomplete without a visit with everyone's favorite UNC Grad student turned R&B singer. Anoop (Dawg) is done with Idol, of course, but he's still making music. Currently unsigned, he's living in Atlanta and shopping his tunes around town. It can't be easy. Don't get me wrong: Anoop's got serious vocal chops and a helluva brain to go with it, but fame is a fickle bitch. What was so fresh and new two seasons back is often but a distant memory to the twelve year olds and asexual shut-ins who hang on Idol's every ingenue. I just wish Anoop would a write a book about his post Idol experience. Contractually, he probably can't - but dude's got some sober-eyed observations on what it's like to step OFF that global merry-go-round. Me? I'd be holed-up in some bad hotel lounge reminding anyone who would listen just who the hell I used to be. Not Anoop. He's got too much savvy, class and talent to go that route. Look for his music soon. Hell, use the twenty you were saving for that Adam Lambert disc and buy from the one American Idol contestant on the planet who could explain the social implications of our state's urbanization without using all his fingers...

2011-03-31_17-02-05_990Speaking of fingers, I'd just wrapped mine around a most righteous hamburger when I got my next assignment of the day: Babysit the plane crash. Okay, that's not a direct quote, but you get the idea. Some eighteen hours earlier, a small plane had crashed into a High Point neighborhood, killing the pilot and a passenger. Tragic, yes and big news to boot. Before neighbors could even grasp what had happened, a squadron of photogs, reporters and even a few management types were assembling on scene. I myself was lucky enough to miss it, as other duties pulled me out of pocket. But a debris field waits for everyone. Which is why, a full day after impact, The Suits dispatched me post-haste. It was not my first plane crash scene and most probably not my last. But unlike other crash locales, this one was occurred in a neighborhood much like my own. Trees clipped in descending order, fuselage wedged in a house, intact engine sitting in the street...let's just say you had to be there. And the media WAS there - print, TV, even a radio reporter or four. By five o clock, we'd gathered in a semi-circle, each crew vying for an unobstructed view of the destruction. Did we stop to gawk at the plane parts, wax emphatically on the frailty of life, vow to never board a stump-jumper again? Not really. We were all on deadline, you see. We were far more concerned with editing, audio and IFB. The fact that the backdrop was a debris field was sad, but not particularly distracting. If that makes me a jackal, well, you know where to send Animal Control.

Now, about that irony. Honestly, there is none. Interviewing a pop-star wannabe in the morning and shooting a fatal crash in the afternoon is about as unique as that burger I barely finished. Or maybe I've just become numb to the vagaries of the chase. Do anything for long enough and it becomes the norm - be it looking at life through a tube or feeling compelled to write about it (most) every night.

Now if you'll excuse me, there's a beveled reflection I must avoid...