All too often, those of us living under glass think we invented occupational suffrage, that nobody ever weathered the vagaries of the chase until WE took up the lens. Or maybe it's just me. Either way, I'm heartened by broadcast archivist Amanda Emily's latest find: a mysterious frame in which a lowly photog tries to avoid being stomped by a camel who's being goaded by a couple of dunderheads. At least that's MY interpretation. For a more accurate take, let's examine the actual photo description, also unearthed by Amanda Emily.
"Ken Maynard's ranch goes agricultural, with elephants, buffaloes, zebras and other normally wild beasts hitched to plows and cultivators. The camel becomes so ornery he nearly kills the cameraman."You'd be ornery too, if Indiana Jones' inbred cousins were trying to domesticate you in front of God and everybody. As for that cameraman, you'd think dodging hooves and loogies all day would at least get your name in the paper. Apparently not. Hmmm? What's that, Amanda? His name was Mervyn Freeman and he was a total bad-ass? If you say so. All I know is he must have had real grapes to set up sticks beneath a raging ungulate. Me, I'd shoot it from the car. Then again, I've never been accused of being a bad-ass - which is why I'll try to keep my bitchin' to a minimum now that I've seen how tough my predecessors had it. Not that I'll stop complaining. It's part of my DNA. That and the deep seeded knowledge that even before color came into the picture, hump days have ALWAYS sucked.
Hey, you know what DOESN'T suck? A reasonably priced paperback detailing the dawn of moving picture news gathering. That's exactly what Amanda Emily has accomplished with her first book, From Behind the Lens: Short Stories of the News Photographers From the Pre-War Newsreel Era. Pick up a copy and hear from the men who invented a medium on the fly and looked damn cool doing it. Order NOW and get a free ice crusher! (Okay, I made up that last part.)