Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Walk The Line

Wertheimer at Crash
Though I was working in North Carolina television at the time, I did not know Bart Smith, Rick Sherrill or Jim Lane. But when all three men perished in the 1991 crash of WTVD's helicopter, the impact sent shock waves through every television station in the state and nation. Since that time, I've grown to know several people affected by that terrible night in ways big and small. They don't talk about it much and I don't ask. But with the Twentieth Anniversary of the crash upon us, I feel compelled to dip my lens in honor of these exciting young men struck down in the prime of their lives. Of course, nothing I can say will assuage the pain still felt by loved ones, so I hesitate to try. Instead, let's hear from journeyman photog Dave Wertheimer - who doesn't need anniversaries or tributes to relive that awful call...
Twenty years ago I was a Photojournalist for WTVD and I got a call in the middle of the night from Bonnie Moore. The chopper went down and I had to go cover it. At the scene Dave Boliek met me there. I concentrated on keeping my right eye on the black and white viewfinder, trying to insulate myself from the reality that Bart (my roommate), Rick (my best friend) and Jim (close friend and former next door neighbor) were dead in the wreckage. All three were engaged or soon to be. I stayed focused on the black and white images I was recording until I heard Bart's voice pager go off, the voice was his soon to be fiance Karen saying "where are you, are you with Dave? Call me". At that point I had enough and could not shoot any more. I spent the next day or so going between the houses of Karen, Diane and Lisa trying to comfort them in their loss. In the days to come I went to all three funerals. In the years to come I became a "video gypsy" of sorts, moving from station to station trying to find myself, still remembering December 7, 1991 as the worst day of my life.
My condolences to those still suffering...

Monday, December 05, 2011

Hunchbacks of Happenstance

Hunchback 1As a hardened guardian of the Fourth Estate, it's hurts my heart to watch it all crumble. But crumble it does as the tectonic plates of television grind beneath our feet. Thanks to faltering funds, a groundswell of gadgetry and an exodus of peasants, what was once considered bedrock is now a billion shifting pixels. This curtain of uncertainty threatens to swallow us all, until whole fiefdoms cease to be. But you know, it's not the Knights in Shining Hairspray or even the Damsels of Duress I worry about most as those castle walls begin to fall... It's the hunchbacks.

Hunchback 2You know, those poor souls you still see scampering up turrets or floating in the moat. What with their medieval machinery and olde world aroma, it's easy to dismiss as little better than serfs. Until, that is, you see them chase a rainbow, quiz a Visigoth or just heap scorn on reports of a unicorn. Of all the subjects in this whole kingdom, it is they who seemed strangely free, despite their outdated armor and fondness for grog. What will become of them as new civilizations rise from this abysmal industry? Will they rise up and fight - or slink away like some kinky alchemist in the night? Why, I'd give up my one good eye to know...

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm needed in the watchtower.