Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Droid You're Looking For

Weaver behind the wheelWe were jamming sandwiches down our necks when the first fire truck flew by. I glanced at Weaver and he at me. Not a word was said but I couldn't help but notice he was fondling his Droid. Seconds later it was on the table, bleeding a steady stream of static and southern accents all over that Subway sandwich shop. I tried to ignore it, but between the fading sirens and my buddy's twitchy eyebrow, I couldn't help but chew a little faster. It's a good thing I did; within a minute or two Weave's Droid turned back into a phone. When it rang/buzzed/burped, I immediately knew three things: 1.) Something really was on fire down the road. 2.) I probably shouldn't have ridden with Weaver to lunch. 3.) A chocolate chip cookie wasn't in my future.

Boarding House fireWhat followed can only be described as an out of body experience. No, I didn't hover above my own crumpled form while mumbling lyrics to an old Kansas tune, but I DID manage to gain a new perspective on something I've done a thousand times. Okay, so maybe I haven't covered a thousand house fires, but it damn sure feels like it. This time, however, I was unarmed. My own stunted fancycam was locked up back at the shop. Weaver and I had driven to lunch together and now I found myself digging fingerprints into his dashboard as he readied his famed triple lane-hop maneuver - all so we could watch a house of ill repute ooze a new kind of funk. "Get me killed over a crack house fire and I'll haunt your next ten descendants', I promised Weaver. He just grunted a hung a HARD left.

Unloading GearOne terrorized church bus later, we arrived at our destination. Too bad the great unwashed beat us there. Yes, if you could have peddled popcorn to the crowd forming around that semi-inferno, you could give that Redenbacher fellow a run for his money. Why DO folks stop and stare at bent sheet metal, melting vinyl siding and the like? Why do they bother turning on the local news just so pretty people can spew death and destruction into their dens? How 'bout you forget I ever asked such a dumb couple of questions, since my very paycheck depends on the deep seeded need to rubberneck. Now, where were we? Oh yeah - in a Food Lion parking lot on the wrong side of town. It was there I realized I was lens-less. Then I remembered the Droid nestled on my belt. Have I mentioned this wondrous device?

Firefighters on SceneI swear, the fine folks who make the Droid ain't payin' me to rave. Sadly, no one is. But I'd be less than blog-honest if I denied the news-gathering prowess of this (and other) smart phones. Mine's only a couple of weeks old and already I've called in an air strike, ordered three cheese pizzas and struck a number of rumble strips staring at the damn thing when I should have been looking out the windshield. I resolve to do better. In fact, I've kept it holstered for the most part as of late, which is why it took a moment to realize how easy it would be to document said - ahem - 'pharmacy inferno'. This I did with vigor, snapping off far more frames than this little calamity called for. Hey, it's what I do.

Weaver at workAs for Weaver, he was all up in the cup, scanning the crowd for faces and finding them. After all, that's where the story is. Smoke, flames and hoses only stretch so far on screen, to make good TV you need peeps - be they wiseacre firefighters dropping commentary or trouble junkies leaning on a pole. Then again, thirty seconds of news only needs so many characters. Unless Osama Bin Laden burst through the front door with his turban on fire, this particular conflagration wasn't gonna make the half minute mark. Which is why, five minutes after we arrived, Weaver and I bailed. With separate shoots looming, we both had places to be. I guess cutting edge technology and Jedi like driving skills don't mean diddly when there's only a little smoke showin'...

Shoulda grabbed that cookie.

Monday, November 08, 2010

"...A Hard Thing to See."

It's shaping up to be a tough week for those of us beneath the glass. First, grief-stricken cretins assault the first photog they can find; now a veteran cameraman lies hospitalized after being hit by a car Tuesday night. It happened in Toronto; that's where 58 year old Bill Atanasoff was responding to the scene of a Special Investigations Unit probe. Fellow photog Tony Smyth watched Atanasoff pull up to the scene, but looked away just before the point of impact.

“There was this horrific smash,” Smyth told CBC Radio. “There he was on the ground. There was debris flying around, a hard thing to see.”

Several journalists did see Atanasoff fly through the air after being struck by a 1985 Lincoln Continental. The area was well lit, but the veteran Citytv photographer was wearing dark clothes. Police believe the camera on his shoulder obscured his view of the oncoming car. Police have yet to charge the 68 year old driver of the Lincoln but they're still investigating. Meanwhile, Bill Atanasoff remains in critical condition with severe head trauma, a broken neck, broken pelvis and broken legs. Chances are he may feel alone, but that's simply not the case. The Photog Nation is holding him close in their thoughts and using his undeserved plight as one more reason to keep both eyes open. Godspeed, Bill.