Thursday, August 19, 2010

When The Man Comes Around...

Spillane, VestedMy first real memory of Danny Spillane centers around a lack of podiatry. It was early in my El Ocho stint and I found myself far from home with soggy feet. "Who comes to cover a hurricane without enough socks?" asked the sat truck guy, as he jammed a tightly-rolled pair of his own in my hands. It was an act that would be repeated during the long friendship that followed: Danny giving me grief while coming to my rescue. Now it seems my knight in logo'd armor is leaving the kingdom, ending a twenty-five year career in broadcasting for an elusive new gig in the corporate sector. It is their gain and local television's loss, as this good natured stickler has been part of the Piedmont Newscape since the glory days of PM Magazine. Yes, back when I was still a clueless truant, Danny was already packing glass and taking names. As a journeyman shooter and Sat Truck Captain, he's attended more crashes, galas and cataclysms than most souls even read about. Hurricanes, Superbowls, Mass Murders, Presidential Visits, Floods, Special Olympics, forest fires and a million collisions in between: "Satellite Dan" was there, rolling tape, pulling cable and dragging debutantes across finish lines long before I ever started twisting cynicism into sentences.

Isabel CrewBut even that benefited from this veteran's presence. Some of my favorite posts - Hell, some of my favorite memories feature this seasoned 'slinger behind the wheel of a satellite truck. There's simply no one else I'd rather huddle in the scrum with, for when Danny and the Death Star roll in, back-up has truly arrived. Countless are the times he's kept me safe and kept me in stitches, be it at the tip-top of Grandfather Mountain or down by some storm-ravaged shore. For a guy who never served in uniform, Danny exudes a certain military bearing. Part Quartermaster, part Drill Sergeant, this fully licensed Irishman always acted like he's been there before - and not just because he had. I remember many occasions when Old Man Danny was truly the only adult in the (mobile news) room. It's a form of real world leadership those far behind the lines didn't always get, but ask any crew member who's taken shelter, received counsel or slammed together an epic in the presence of the elder and they'll tell you news went down smoother when The Man came around.

Danny Spilllane as The EdgeOf course not every day is full of far-flung plunder. Most days are kinda mundane and those are the shifts with Spillane that I'll probably remember the most. We've shared hundreds of meals, analyzed endless edits and traded more war stories than Osama Bin Laden and his cave dwelling cronies. I may pretend to have seen it all, but Danny truly has. He can match my every tall tale with a more believable version he'd all but forgotten. He can tap dance through manuals I refuse to read, polish things I'd rather see rust and still not piss me off when he hounds me about logging off my computer before wandering away from it. If you can't tell, I'm gonna miss the dude. While he's far too much of an adult to partake in the like of Facebook and such, he's got a wide breadth of friends who do. If YOU have a memory of Spillane you'd like to share, I for one want to hear it. Maybe then, he'll realize what an impact he's made around these parts. I, for one, won't be able to think of anyone else, should I ever get the chance to toss some rookie an extra pair of socks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

SOT in the Dark

I don't know who John Hanley is, but I want him to follow me around with a camera. Maybe then I'd have such a striking workplace portrait as young Jeremy Cohn, Ontario photog and friend of the blog. I mean, LOOK at it: the red and blue strobes, the jaunty thrust of the microphone, the silent knowledge that whatever Toronto Police Sergeant Glen George is sharing with our young friend is totally devoid of emotion, detail or color. You can't get that kind of detail with an iPhone! Or can you? I'm still using chapstick and a 20 year old Etch-A-Sketch to capture all my images and that's NOT just because I'm on vacation - which I am. Now if you'll excuse me, the Bourbon is kicking in and I really have no business operating such heavy machinery as this antique laptop... After all, I could spill my drink.

(Oh yeah, Photo by John Hanley)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Some Discomfort May Occur

Roadside View 2Okay so not EVERY day is a blast of Raid to the face, but the average news shift is brimming with contusions, feuds and delusions - not to mention ample opportunity for prolonged social scarring. I’d tell you all that I‘m legally allowed to share, but first, lemme axe you…

Ever stalk a Pepsi Man across campus because it was still Summer and the closest you were going to get to good footage for your Sodas in Schools story later that day was some chucklehead in knee socks wheeling a case of Throwback Dew into the cafegymnatorium?

Ya ever make a fat lady squirm, glare and lose all sense of rhythm, just by wandering into her Zumba class with a Sony on your shoulder? Pop on your top-light and she may very well soil that Danskin.

Ever stumbled mumbling and dumbfounded into a VIP Tent at a Golf Tournament, so overcome with the smoldering stick and glacial pace of a PGA Event that you can’t help but sweat all over a table full of moneyed housewives as you demand to know who schedules such a brutal slog in August anyway? Better have your credentials…

Ya ever silently congratulate yourself on the gazelle like grace it took to clear that park bench seconds before you land wrong on your left ankle and crumple into a broken pile of cameraman parts? Better hope your buddy from the other station wasn’t rolling…

Ever broken off the grab-ass and chit-chat long enough to watch weeping parents walk by clad in black? Days after the attack on the USS Cole I joined family members of the fallen Sailors along with President Bill Clinton for a somber dockside memorial service. I’ll never forget that slow parade of anguish.

You ever zoom in on a dude who looks like he’d just as soon slice your throat, then looked away and whistled, knowing that nine out of ten people still think a cameraman has have his eye glued to the viewfinder for the damn thing to be rolling? Keep it to yourself.

Ever stood on your tiptoes for thirteen solid minutes while your partner of the day fumbles his way through every mistakes listed in Interviewing 101? AGAIN?

Ya ever feel your stomach turn to slush as the pilot beside you decides to throw the Go-Kart with Wings you’re riding into some sort of inverted arcing slow-motion pass over the stadium you’re supposed to rolling on? And you thought that bean burrito would HELP.

How DO YOU clean flecks of Taco Bell out of windscreen, anyway?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Schmuck Alert: Just Spray It!

Just when the Schmuck Alert was growing passé, some tool in Connecticut breaks out the bug spray. Meet Sean P. Quail, loving husband, t-shirt enthusiast, irrational dill-weed. How else do you describe a guy who grabs a can of insecticide out of his handy-dandy dashboard insecticide-holder and aims straight for the Fourth Estate? Oh, I know - SCHMUCK! NOt to mention Defendant, as this sensible gent now faces reckless endangerment, third-degree assault, and a few other charges. It all started when Quail and his beloved exited an Enfield Courthouse after she faced charges of receiving stolen beer. A waiting scrum gave chase; what happened next would be hard to believe, were it not captured on videotape.
(But that's the funny thing about camera crews: they tend to record stuff. Bear that in mind the next time you reach for the RAID, America.)
Reporter George Colli and photographer Alan Chaniewski caught the worst of the wasp and hornet spray. While they rushed next door for first aid, police pursued the would-be Exterminator, arresting him a short time later. It's unclear whether Quail will be rewarded with his own reality show, but we here at the Lenslinger Institute wouldn't be all that surprised. We're just glad members of the media escaped serious injury, for no matter how annoying that logo'd lens might be. no one deserves a face full of distilled bug-death, except maybe Sean P. Quail - who remains a danger to his community and a most repugnant schmuck.