Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Confessions of a Commercial Hack

I'M BACK! Well, sort of. The meager belongings of my tribe are firmly wedged in the new hovel, but all is not well in the village: I don't know where the coffeemaker is, my digital camera is missing and there's a fair chance I'll perish in a crushing cardboard box collapse during an upcoming garage safari. Worse yet, the new digs still lack cable and internet. The boob tube I can do without, but unfettered access to the Great Electronic Unwashed is a must. Hopefully though, all will be well in a copuple of days, once the Time Warner fairy pays my new address a visit. Otherwise I may very well scale the new chimney and jump to the grassless knoll that is my new back yard. But my weekend plans aren't important right now. What is important is that I update my humble blog. Since I don't have any fresh adventures on deck, this musty confession will have to suffice:

I haven't always been a news man. I use to make...commercials. Really bad commercials. You know, those locally produced spots featuring bellicose car salesmen, odd farm animal cameos and the stilted vaudeville of a thousand cheesy lines. Crazy Eddie's Having a Sale, indeed. But before you string me up for unleashing all that bad TV on the hapless viewers of Eastern North Carolina, consider my circumstances. I was nothing more than a punk with a bad haircut, one lacking direction but steadily collecting hangovers. Dizzy from a fleeting stab at a Naval career, a brief stint as community college lothario and a memorable winter transporting psych patients from hospital bed to x-ray unit, I was lost and didn't even know it. Some young men wander into the wilderness to find out who they really are. I stumbled into an antiquated CBS affiliate and found myself in the reflection of an ancient viewfinder. It wasn't pretty, but then again, coming of age rarely is.

Back to the ads. They were awful; a gross combination of grand delusion, customer pacification and the cheesiest of line delivery. The station I worked for was so eager to sell ad-time, they rarely charged clients for the actual production of said commercial. For their (lack of) money, area businesses received the cinematic services of one ass-kissing, overdressed sales weasel and me - a camera flunkie with a mullet and a mild buzz. Throw in a merchant with a fondness for his or her image and you have the makings of one very painful thirty seconds. Visually dismal yet ingratiatingly effective, some of those regrettable sequences still play on a loop in the dollar theatre of my subconscious. I remember shooting smarmy beach music deejays in day-glo tuxedos, boozy, psychotic rodeo clowns and - I swear - a full-grown Texas Longhorn Steer inside a steakhouse restaurant.

But you don't have to crack open my melon to see what I'm talkin' about (I'd really rather you didn't). One of the dorkier no-budget campaigns I had a hand in developing still continues in some variation this very day. But since I still got family in the area, I don't wanna name names (let's just say it rhymes with Evans Ford). Quick, envision a chorus line of pudgy car salesmen sweeping a showroom floor in straw-broom unison as the owner of the place does a little soft-shoe and another middle-age white guy does the world's lamest sensation of then red hot MC Hammer.(Now find a way to scour the image from my brain, would ya? A new homeowner needs his sleep.) Yes, I was well on my way to a long career as the area's auteur of awful advertising when something utterly unexpected happened. A local bartender at the restaurant my wife worked at took a friend of ours hostage. Suddenly, I found myself staring through a news camera at a familiar frat guy waving a gun. What followed was a prolonged, intense police stand-off that is etched into recesses of my skull. After that, I'd never shoot another car lot again.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Temporary Dimness

As much as it pains me to do so, I'm going to have to pull the plug. Not on the blog, mind you - but on the computer that acts as its primary mind. It's all part of Operation Cardboard, that series of highly cumbersome maneuvers in which I relocate my every belonging 18 miles to the Northeast. For weeks now my lovely bride has spent each waking weekday hour compartmentalizing our humble abode into corrugated readiness. Now it's time for Phase 2, in which I tap my superhuman powers of photog schlepability to drag every box of books, every crate of Barbies, every trunk full of humiliating family photos into the herculean moving truck that's due in my driveway 12 short hours from now. All of this of course leaves little time for blogging.

But fear not loyal reader(s?), for I am far too hooked on this narcissistic form of communication to completely abandon its discipline. Through the powers of my itinerant laptop, the magic of free wi-fi and the graciousness of my lovely bride, I WILL be checking in to Viewfinder BLUES, even if the home office still is in shambles. Once I am ensconsed in my new lair, I'll have lots to tell you about including more G. Lee, less Idol and a return to the street-level think-pieces I've shied away from as of late. In the meantime, peruse the soon to be dismantled archives, check out the many other fine photog bloggers and know that your lowly lenslinger would much rather be bloviating on-line somewhere than running up and down these cursed stairs playing domestic stevedore.

Oh, and one more thing: Thank You. Writing is something I've found I have to do in order to sleep at night. Knowing that someone is out there reading my drivel is incredibly rewarding, so much so that, for once, I can't come up with enough overblown prose to express my feelings. I'd also like to voice my gratitude to Ruth and Carol, two generous souls who are patiently waiting for me to act on opportunity and achieve some level of near-greatness. That I can do, ladies. Just let me unpack a garage full of boxes, plug in a hundred gadgets and it's on like Donkey Kong. Now hand me that duct-tape, would ya...