Friday, May 08, 2009

Rogues' Gallery  

Via Amanda Emily
Lest you think the idling media scrum originated at the O.J. Simpson trial, Amanda Emily proves otherwise with this artifact from Cle Elum, Washington, circa 1920. I'm especially taken with the cat third from the left; that jaunty stance and lack of camera...Could he be a (muddy) field correspondent? Amanda think's he may the be the 'contact man', what we think of today as a field producer. Either way, it's an impressive bunch even if most of them do look like Winston Churchill. Yup, I wanna party with these guys...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


...with the clingy tops and delusions of excellence: Congratulations - you made it into The Book of Lenslinger. Where exactly, I'm not really sure, but that line you laid on your erstwhile partner today won you a prominent place in the chapter about bad behavior. I only wish I could share it with my visitors here. Instead, I'll have to wait. While I do, let me thank you. See, burgeoning satirists like me pray for displays like yours today. Talented scribes have wandered in the wilderness for years in search of that kind of real life dialogue... and to think you gave it away for free! Honestly, I don't deserve it. But I'll take it, take it and save the whole thing verbatim 'til fate presents me with a proper showcase. I just hope my readers won't think it too over the top. God knows I wouldn't have believed it myself had I not witnessed up close and personal-like. That vast sucking sound you heard when you stopped talking? That was me, trying to force air back in my lungs after your words drop-kicked that dude in the sternum. I thought I'd heard it ALL during my twenty year tenure, but YOU, dear, just added to my memoirs.

It's sad, really - watching a promising young broadcaster devolve into a haughty cartoon. But it ain't like it's the first time. See, I was watching small-market anchors throw big city tantrums back when you were humming along to that big purple dinosaur. So was the cat you so thoughtlessly upbraided. Now, I know that doesn't mean much to a superstar like you. After all, we've never been the subject of our very own promo and I don't get fan mail complimenting me on the way my mouth looks when it moves, but I know a thing or three about where television is going and I'm delighted to report You're Not There. Yes, there will always be pretty people reciting the day's events, but as the last traces of vaudeville fall away from our crumbling craft, I sincerely hope we'll find away to dispose of your ilk... Surely there's a reality show casting about for a primadonna who prefers the taste of her very own Kool-Aid. Maybe there's an endorsement deal waiting with Deluded Shrews, that Lifetime series currently in search of a diminutive villainess ....

Then again you future is not my concern. Happily, neither is the health of your escape tape. In fact, I'm merely a bystander, one of many colleagues currently whispering behind your well formed back. We all owe you a debt of gratitude, for asinine behavior like yours is a welcome diversion in such tough economic times. Why you're a natural treasure! Or at the very least a local laughing stock! That must be worth something, for what better cure for performance anxiety than the quiet knowledge that no one's taking you the least bit seriously anymore. Quite an accomplishment, indeed. So, if you'll excuse me I have to retire to my lair and scribble down just. what. you. said. Thanks for reminding me that pomp and petulance are alive and well in the 21st Century. Thanks for reminding me about the downsides of adulation. Thanks for reminding me WHY I like to work alone....

And now for something completely different:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

No Swine Before Its Time

Big Ass BBQ Sandwich 3
Most TV people want their work to begin each newscast. I live to end them. That's why when the suits suggested I investigate a local restaurant's colossal creation, I merely rose from the conference table and left the room. Some crews would scoff at such a frivolous gig. Not me. Not when the alternative assignment may center on kidnapping, collusion, or worse yet, county commissioners. Besides, silly's in my wheelhouse. If you got a house-cat that levitates, a collection of boat anchors or simply a mammoth sammich in need of a name, well, I'm your huckleberry. The resulting piece of TV won't win me anything sparkly for the trophy rack, but chances are it will distract - and in a broadcast chock full of economic apocalypse, that's a good thing... Now if you'll excuse me, I have to knock back this bottle of Drano. What else goes with 12 pounds of pulled-pork?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Detached from Reality

A recent rash of narrow escapes by camera crews has many lenslingers reviewing their emergency egress policy. Mine's pretty simple: When something wicked this way comes, I try to choke it with heel-dust. Unmanly? Perhaps, but twice now lethal forces have zeroed in on my bony ass, first in the form of water, then in the shape of an out-of-control truck. Hey, I've plowed through enough Stephen King novels to recognize overwrought foreshadowing when I see it. If you don't think I'm always on the lookout for Leviathan Number 3, well you've never seen me run like a lee-tull gurrrrl. But enough of my paranoia, let's do the news:

Dateline: Halifax. A CBC news crew was covering a forest fire when winds pushed a wall of flames toward them. Realizing they were surrounded, the producer and photog beat a hasty retreat, but not before recording a few potent moments. Trust me, when a member of a TV news crew is screaming "Leave your tripod!", the oscillator hath already been shat upon.

Dateline: Kansas City When another 'bad economy' story was interrupted by a swirling storm, a KMBC crew scrambled toward the convection in question. They found it alright, but couldn't quite get ahead of it. The resulting mad dash, captured by fancycam, is the most intense escape tape you'll see not featuring computer generated flying cows.

Dateline: Irving, Texas Rookie players from the Dallas Cowboys were practicing before quite a few cameras when their tent-like facility collapsed around them. Lights, support beams and other heavy things came crashing down, scaring the bejeezus out of everyone and paralyzing a scouting assistant. Through it all, the cameramen behaved like, well, cameramen: they kept rolling

But why? Why do otherwise rational souls risk loss of life or limb simply because there's a Sony on their shoulder? I've postulated opinions before, but let's hear from photojournalist John Woods, of the above tornado ordeal...

There’s something about being behind that lens. I almost feel detached from reality. You can be taping something a block away and feel like you’re miles away. I mean how imposing can a little black and white screen be? When I’m looking through that viewfinder, I feel pretty safe. And to feel that way is stupid, I know this. But there’s a sense of comfort behind the camera. It’s been my home away from home for years now. I know it. I’m familiar with it. It’s been a pain in my neck, an ache in my back, and I swear it’s made my right eye nearsighted, but I love it.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go cower under my news unit. Rain's comin...

Sunday, May 03, 2009

You ever have that dream...

Smitty in the Gorge
You know: the one where lost out in nature but the light's just not right, where odd sounds and familiar silences fog your cerebellum, where the only sensible about the whole damn scenario is the fact that there's a camera next to your head? WHAT? You've never had that dream? You must not be a photog. If you were, you'd know what it's like to schlep metal, glass and plastic across a shifting dreamscape, to wander the confines of your frontal lobe with a reassuring recorder in tow.... Call it Chimeras Lenslingimus. Or don't; it won't change the fact that rent-a-cops dream of roughing up skateboarders, newspaper reporters dream about scribbling in skinny notepads and TV news photogs dream of dragging lenses into trivia. Then again, maybe it's just me. Perhaps my overactive vocabulary, cinematic imagination and well-worn shoulder groove make me an easy mark for occupational hallucinations. Or, perhaps that late night goat-cheese enchilada was, like Sarah Palin, a poor choice. Either way, it's time to end this little delusion. So, at the count of three I want you to begin opening your eyes and s-l-o-w-l-y wake UP. But remember...

Those aren't pillows.

(Big ups to Kentucky's own Jon Smith for letting me riff on his pitcher)