Saturday, January 02, 2010

Change You Shouldn't Believe In...

Lens Sunrise 2New Year's Resolutions? I can't keep a pair of toenail clippers for more than a fortnight; how am I gonna keep a pledge for twelve whole months? Simple...I'm not. But I am going to share with you ten, er seven things I'd do to improve myself over the next 52 weeks - were I the kind of guy who to follow up on an oath. Which I'm not. Promise...

In 2010 I resolve to drive less with my knee, to use a turn signal like a law-abiding mortal and to stop flipping people off beneath the dashboard, where they can't see it. Unless of course they cut me off. Then IT'S ON like Grand Theft Auto, baby!

This year I promise not to daydream so much during protracted press conferences, but rather glean every syllable of said podium blather for meaning, nuance and implication. That or purge my iPod of any new Abba medleys my wife may have uploaded.

I hereby affirm that in the next calendar year, I'll continue to pepper my speech with words people just don't expect to hear from a TV news photographer! Words like 'obdurate', 'allegory' and 'Excuse me Officer, is it okay if I park here?'

In 2K10 I resolve not to take a hostage when the weather turns hot. Sure, it's sixteen degrees now, but just as soon as I find all my cold weather gear, the last wind will blow and an underwear-expanding blanket of humidity will once again make this Southerner threaten to move to Maine, fur-shirt and all...

Over the next twelve months I pledge to work by myself more than ever before, if for no other reason than it irks certain colleagues who are too lazy, unwilling or frightened to try it themselves. Have fun with those evening live shots, fellas!

In Twenty-Ten I vow to be a more mature news-gatherer, to thank the assignment desk for any directions, to nod and smile when berated about a bump I've already cut, to exercise a little verbal @&*%$ restraint when The Suits want to send me to Choad County for a photo essay at the Septic Tank Sit-In.

Finally, in 2010 I resolve to cut down on the many lists I post to Viewfinder BLUES. After all, lists are eerily sequential, rarely original and almost always a rip-off of something David Letterman's already done. That reminds me, have I ever told you my top twelve ways to confess an indiscretion. #1) Get a talk show...

Friday, January 01, 2010

Dream Job

Can't get a hit...
Ever have that dream where you're tuning in a live shot and the engineer on the other end of the line starts speaking in hieroglyphics? Then you look up to see a badly smoking spacecraft crashing past and you realize that's just the kind of thing you dreamed of seeing when you first picked up the lens and wouldn't it be life-inspiring to capture such a sequence for all of mankind instead of HOARKIN' AROUND WITH SOME NEARSIGHTED BATTLE-WAGON FROM HELL! And then suddenly you're holding on for dear gear as the golf cart you're in jostles side to as you and a weasel - an actual weasel - chase an inebriated NASCAR legend through a cactus-packed back nine. Through thick cigar smoke the weasel rattles on and on about Ricky Bobby's tight schedule and immediate need for aloe so you lean down low to get a shot of the velvety green landscape strobing by and you lean too far and in an instant you're tumbling in a giant dust-ball of fresh faxes, bad toupees and late 80's bag-phones. By the time you come to a stop you're completely bedraggled and as you shake off the hurt and rise from the now vacant dreamscape you find you can hardly move and that's when you realize you're weighed down by ever camera battery you've ever 'borrowed'... With ever dreaded step, the fanny pack full of lead around your waist grows heavier until it's very shadow blots the sun! Soon you're but a bug squashed beneath a bulging blue canvas satchel the size of a space station and as you lie there trapped for all eternity, the IFB speaker jammed in your ear comes alive and you perish there slowly, as the distant signal of control room coworkers riffing on last night's episode of "Glee" taints your dying breath. You ever have that dream?

Me neither.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sociopath Wanted

Perhaps the most shocking thing about last month's murder of Makayla Sitton is that the man responsible remains at large. Hopefully that will change, now that none other than America's Most Wanted has joined the hunt. Paul Michael Merhige was a guest in veteran TV photojournalist Jim Sitton's home on Thanksgiving evening when family members say he inexplicably opened fire, killing three female relatives before going into six year old Makayla's bedroom and shooting her dead as she slept. The mind reels. So too, do the survivors. But through all the unspeakable loss, Jim and Muriel Sitton have remained vocal guardians of their daughter's legacy. This I hope provides some solace, but the real healing will begin with the capture, prosecution and (dare I say) execution of her killer. Maykala's dad Jim is a highly respected member of the Photog Nation. Many of his behind the scenes brethren would be especially pleased if television - in the form of America's Most Wanted - played a part in the apprehension of this animal.


(From The Keys to a Cage)

Not long after Merhige's ugly mug was splayed across the airwaves, an America's Most Wanted viewer called in with a tip, leading authorities to a small motel in the Middle Keys of Florida. A 'John Baca' had paid in cash there for a two week stay. According to reports, Paul Michael Merhige was on a computer when U.S. Marshals burst into that room. (I'd love to know what he was looking at.) Marshals apprehended him without incident and found his Toyota Camry nearby, underneath a car cover. Merhige faces four counts of first-degree murder. Hopefully, the Sittons can begin to heal. But as Jim himself says...

"This doesn't bring Makayla back. I'm not jumping for joy. Her room is still empty. But the monster is in a cage now."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009: Ten I Can Live With

FocustrationListen to your keyboard long enough and you'll recognize its rhythms. That's what I do more nights than not: sit and stare at a glaring laptop until one of us starts to talk. I know, I know: strange pastime - but hey, the hobby shop was out of model airplanes. Besides, what other unpaid endeavor allows one access to a glowing, mocking screen - one whose very cursor taunts the creative spirit with every wretched blink? Forget I mentioned it. Just know that for every fortnight of thwarted expression, an epistle slipped by that even a self-doubting lout can live with. Here's ten from within 2009, in particular order:

Life, the Universe and Everything
By years beginning, I was channeling Douglas Addams, in hopes 2009 would pack the punch of a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster. So far only fizz, but I still like the way this birth announcement goes down...

Dear Madam Here's a deal: You don't wet your pants whenever I point the fancycam your way and I won't be forced to vent my spleen all over the internets that very evening. Until then, clean up on Aisle 5.

Eau De Photog Speaking of messes, you oughta get a whiff of your average news day. Equal parts smoke plume and generator fume, this bouquet boasts the bottom end of a cadaver dog and the top notes of a homeless camp. And that's not counting the stench comin' off that guy behind the camera...

You There... Of all the blather I've slathered across the web this year, this entry sparked the biggest response, from coworkers who fived me in the hallway to the shapely object of my disaffection who cornered me in the edit bay that day. Can't say I regret a moment of it...

Satisfaction Doubtful As an avid student of the Exploration Age, I've been meaning to fashion a post after those great recruiting posters promising little more than pain and suffering. I just never had a suitable image to go along with it - until a frustrated Carter Francois popped up on Flickr.

Fair and White-Balanced
Far be it from me to hate on another news shooter, but this particular entry was interpreted as such. More than anything I was admiring a competitor's chutzpah - if not his idea of suitable light. Still waiting for this guy to bean me in the back of a head with a nine volt battery someday...

Pursuing Hootie
I've chased a lot of famous people, from Nikki Sixx through an underground parking garage to Paula Abdul through her latest delusion. But few have been so gracious as the artist formerly known as Hootie - who even took time to chat about The Attic.

As Seen on TV Long before Billy Mays ordered up that one last 8-ball, I tried my hand at beign a pitchman. So far no one's hired me to host their infomercials, but I feel that has more to do with my budding curmudgeon(ism) than my spray-on beard.

Breaching the Fiefdom Hey, even a jaded gargoyle like me can't help but notice the Fourth Estate is crumbling beneath my talons. Thus I filed this grim report from my not so lofty perch - despite the fact that, assignement-wise, it's been a pretty fly year!

No Rhythm Required Then again, perhaps I'm still a bit giddy from the Father-Daughter dance I attended last February. Ya know, it won't be long before I'm back in the Empire Room, threatening my teenage daughters with one photog's attempt at The Robot... I knew this blog was good for something.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Frame High

Look up and Linger

Couldn't tell you what I was looking at in this month old photo, but I'm willing to pretend to I do for the sake of an update. Chances are I had just grown bored with Congressman Brad Miller's spiel and was scanning the heavens for any falling turkeys (It was near Thanksgiving). Perhaps a massive spacecraft was about to suck the local leader into its belly and I was opening my iris before the giant shadow fell over our valley. Maybe I just threw my back out again and was pretending that passing Cumulus was of great and sudden import. No matter. When you jab glass at happenstance, you're gonna get distracted. Why, just the other day I wandered away from a heated press briefing to watch icicles bleed in the parking lot. Can you blame me? Sit through enough impasses and the mind tends to wander. Next thing you know you're missing the soundbite of the day because a puddle of light under some plate glass caught your eye...Focus, Man! Ahem. Where was I? Oh yeah, my celestial glare... Would you believe a kid in an experimental balloon? Neither would I.