Saturday, March 31, 2007

It's My Density

Roof CamI was loping across rooftops on the southside of town the other day, when I stumbled across some colleagues. Lost in their own live shot, they didn’t even see me - which came as great relief since I was wearing my new, ahem...uniform. I don't really wanna talk about it. Just know that your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is more focused than ever on his goals: to raise the profile of the lowly photog, spotlight their plight, dismiss their blemishes and practice the crafted ambivalence of the news-shooter nation. Yes, every smelly mass needs a hero and if that means strapping a giant “L” to my hairy bird-chest, then so be it. Besides, people are already noticing. Just the other days these junior kids passed by me tripod spot in the food court and shot me an “L” sign to the forehead. Yes Sir, those lads know a champion of the people when they see it. Could have done without the spitball, though.

A-RodMiddle school missiles aside, I’m almost ready to unveil my new look. However, I did drop to the blacktop the moment I saw my co-workers across the Greensboro skyline. Better not startle them, I thought - picking gravel out of my teeth. Luckily, they never noticed my spandex form lying there in the shadows of the air-conditioning unit. They were busy anyway - lost in their electronic message of great import: A wailing bald guy was coming to town. Very soon, every patch of pavement below would be overrun by rabid fans - all whacked to the gills on overpriced beer and free pandemonium. For now however, the streets of the Gate City were safe - if not a little dull. I could hear the traffic passing below as Angela Rodriguez (A-Rod to her peeps) emoted on-cue. Sure, she’s cute - but stand in between this feisty Floridian and a deadline and she’ll rip your throat out. With that in mind, I opted to low.

eddie flipA-Rod’s partner for the day ignored me as well. With his tripod, camera and earpiece on the roof, Eddie Hughes had more important things on his mind than some clandestine cohort in too-tight lycra. Like how he got suckered into schlepped his gear up the side of a building. Actually, that was my fault as well. Days earlier I’d poked my mild-mannered head into McCoul’s Pub, had a cryptic conversation with an fetching lass named Simonne and conned my way to the top floor kitchen door. There, a series of inclines led to a most unobstructed view of what would soon be a certain singer’s spotlight, I promptly planted a flag in the name of El Ocho . Peering over the sleepy streets, I figured I’d be the one to lord over the future throng. I wasn’t. Come show-time, I’d be locked in elbow-fiesta with winos and housewives at ground level. Instead this high-rise perch would be manned by one Joe McCloskey - who so eloquently termed the afternoon portion of the shoot to-be as ’butt-ass hot’. Who says photogs don’t have a way with words?

On the Down LowEddie Hughes’ got game. For now though, he remained silent - locked in contact with the one inch screen before him. At one point the did look over his shoulder, right at me! Roof pebbles poured past into my mouth as I tried my best to become one with the rooftop. Eddie looked back to his viewfinder, and twiddled a knob. I remained prone, wondering if I’d been spotted. Mr. Hughes’ poker face didn’t help. Hard to estimate the cool of a dude who sports a Richard Pryor t-shirt and still laugh at my dumb jokes. That’s acceptance. Perhaps he, better than anyone, would understand why I’ve taken to slinking across rooftops in day-glo underwear as of late. The wife sure doesn’t - but hey, that’s her problem. Once my superpowers come in, we’ll all be surprised, won’t we? For now, though - keep it on the down-low. I’m hoping I escaped unscathed, but after getting my cape caught up in the fire escape, I’m pretty sure I heard something from above, three words that frankly, have come to haunt me.

“Nice tights, Pittman.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Colonel Corn's Mission

Those of you familiar with your Viewfinder Blues field manual will recall a deep operative by the name and rank of Colonel Ken Corn. A decorated veteran of the newsgathering front, this Charlotte photog thinks and writes as well as he shoots. For awhile the good Colonel issued weekly intel reports, tipping friend and foe to the motives of a Queen City news-shooter. Sadly, some fragile egos were shattered by friendly fire and Corn deep-sixed his blog - lest any more collateral damage render him ineffective. But this road-weary sniper hasn't hung up his glass. Instead he's using his lenslinging skills for good instead of evil - spearheading his church's video recon into the hearts and souls of Kenya. So report there immediately for a complete debriefing and if your stipend allows, cough up a greenback or two. You'll know your helping a special ops photog do some real good in the world, instead of playing grab-ass with some schlub who spews military metaphors. Dismissed!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Tortoise and the Hairy

Tortoise Wars
So why did the tortoise cross the road? Why, to lay a big ole steamer center-screen, of course. It's been awhile since a shelled herbivore has defecated on cue for me, but then again I don't get to the North Carolina Zoo as much as I used to. Was a time I visited Asheboro's crown jewel once a month or so - profiling puffins, stalking sea lions, taunting third-graders. No more. Now I only head down Zoo Parkway for the occasional VIP visit. That's how I found myself dodging Cryptodira crap before lunchtime today, in hopes two Galapagos Tortoises (tor-TIE?) would issue a comment for the camera. It took awhile, but either Tort or Retort (reptile gender forever eludes me) eventually belched up something pungent into my lens. When I came to, a kid in giant SpongeBob sunglasses was asking the zookeeper what time they feed the cameraman. Suddenly in search of a Zippo lighter to stick up my nose, I fled North - where, with the help of Chad 'The King of King' Tucker's lead vocals, I turned my close encounter of the turd kind into a decent little feature. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go pressure-wash my spectacles...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Photog Fashionista

Big Ups to Turd Polisher (NOT pictured here) for alerting me to the Photog Equinox - that special time of Spring when Southern news shooters pack away their winter britches and break out the bermuda shorts. It ain't pretty - but there's more to Mother Nature than puppy kisses and sunsets. Hey, you put on a pair of rough-cut dungarees and run the deadline guantlet in 100 percent humidity. I'm chafing just thinking about it. What with Al Gore's endless plume of hot air, even the planet is convinced global warming does exist. Here in central North Carolina, tomorrow's high is in the low 80's and might I remind you we're still on the calendar page labeled 'March'? That sucks from where I sit, which by the way is in the floorboard of Unit 4 - where the air conditioning vents taste better. Not that I've ever barricaded myself in a station car while waiting for a crazed gunman to throw his revolver out on the sunbaked stoop. More than once, anyway.

Yes, with the sweltering air soon to settle in for a long summer's nap, I suppose I'm lucky I can even wear shorts to work at all. Problem is, I rarely ever want to. Sure I still do, but given my sartorial druthers I'd pick something a bit more sophisticated than a pair of wrinkled cargo shorts and one mother of an ugly palm tree shirt. See, I never really know where I'm gonna drag my camera to from day to day. Dressing like a tourist is no problem when you're watching meth-labs burn, but sport those too-tight jean shorts and billowing hula girl print to the Republican fundraiser luncheon and you're gonna feel a little conspicuous. Sure, photogs pull it off all the time but it's hard enough to get the Governor to take you seriously when you're blessed to be without a reporter - let alone when you're dressed like Charlie Brown on a field trip.

Perhaps I'm just getting old. What 40 year old wants to feel like a fourth grader picked out his outfit, anyway? Mine actually did; the ten year old in question told me just yesterday she prefers Daddy suitably bearded and sporting something tropical. When I told her I wasn't exactly Magnum PI, she cocked her head to the side and asked what kind of car was that exactly. Not knowing what to say, I followed her to the Clearance rack where this child - the one who changes outfits three times a day - picked out the loudest, most obnoxious Hawaiian shirts allowed by law. Trailing behind her, I realized I'd never make that cover of GQ, when my job involved heavy gear portage, patrol car contortions and spontaneous ghetto safaris. No sir, until I get a real job, I'm just gonna have to pretend to grin as I mix and match Garanimals. I guess there'll be plenty of time to be dignified when I'm dead. Now, what shoes can possibly tie together these pink and green plaid golf shorts with a pit-stained Hanes beefy-Tee?