Thursday, March 15, 2012

Jurassic Lark


Okay, so it's no radioactive spleen, but there ARE occupational hazards to long term lenslinging. I'm not talking ham hocks and eyeballs either. You can throw out your shoulder or screw up your vision earning all kinds of paychecks. No, I'm more interested in what unfettered access to the good, the bad and the ludicrous does to your noodle. Take your sense of wonder. While you're at it, look for mine. I haven't been bowled over in the line of duty since a sinister semi tried to flatten us. (Not that I'm complaining.) But every once in a while, I do worry about my deep-seeded aversion to being in awe. It's not that I've seen it ALL. But having processed an awful lot of broadcast operas, I fear it's ruined my ear. These days, I wander from shoot to shoot with a certain insouciance, an urgent apathy borne of a million deadlines met. It's not my prettiest feature.

But please, don't take that lack of surprise in my eyes as a sign of cynicism. That I keep in another coat. What I bring with me every day is a heavily concealed appreciation of the absurd. I keep it buried in my run-bag, right next to the spare nine volts and Homer Simpson Pez dispenser. That way I'll have to dig for it the next time something insipid this way comes. I found doing so leads to the most unlikely exchanges...

"They're erecting animatronic dinosaurs all around the Zoo? Will there be refreshments?"

"The forest service is dropping flammable ping-pong balls onto bone-dry woodland? Do I get to wear a funny hat?"

"Bigfoot got caught in a prostitution sting and is asking for me? Those pills aren't mine, Officer."

Anyway, I'm not particularly proud of my prosaic state of mind. Twenty years ago, I'd get excited at the sight of color bars. These days, a space alien could appear hovering over my bed one night and what I'd wanna do the most is sit him down for a triple-lit interview, maybe get a few shots of him and the other grays as they prep whatever anal probe they brought along for me. Only after I woke up three days later with little memory and no underwear would I allow myself to be surprised. Even then I'd squelch my alarm until I got a good look at whatever footage I captured. If I got a lot, I'm bum-rushing the set with a carousel of color slides. But if I came away from a close encounter with no media  to speak of, I'd most likely keep my mashed potato sculpture to myself - for every good photog knows if you didn't capture at least part of it on video, it simply did not happen. But that's a story for another day. I'll tell you all about it sometime, but when I do, please ---

Don't act surprised.

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