Thursday, June 07, 2012

Non Jovi

Edwards verdict Scrum

It's all the same, only the stations change
Everyday, I sling the same old way
Another place, where the stories are so dull
I go live all night, drives me out of my skull

I'm a PHO-tog, in a minivan I drive
I'm wanting (w-a-n-ting) to get out of my live
Wanting (W-a-a-nting!) out of my live

Sometimes I sleep, usually in the edit bays
And the people I meet usually end up getting sprayed
Sometimes you tell the day 

By the way your buddy stinks
And times when you're alone, 

it's of freelance that you think

I cruise these streets, gas station receipts by the stack
I eat real cheap, 'cause they're slow to pay me back
I been everywhere, but I can't recall
I've seen a million faces an I've double-punched them all

I'm a PHO-tog, in school I did not thrive
I'm wanting (w-a-nting!) to get out of my live
Wanting (W-a-a-nting!) out of my live
Still I drive (I still dr-i-i-ve!)

Cause I'm a PHO-tog
I got lights in my ride
And they're wanting
Me to go live.
(I go l-i-i-ve!)
I go live!
Starting at five...

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

And Justice for Some...

larryAfter much deliberation (and a rather intense spitball fight), the governing council of The Lenslinger Institute has decided to go ahead with its Class Action Lawsuit against the makers of Groundhog Day. That's right, we're going after one Harold Allen Ramis, the man behind the film that forever maligned the reputation of TV News cameramen everywhere. Not that our reputations were all that pristine to begin with. In fact, the perceived character of the photog nation has been impugned since the very dawn of television. Much of that has been our own fault. We've never dressed properly, always bitched and occasionally insisted our prettier partners carry something greasy back to the car. Not a recipe for a widespread love and acceptance. But as misguided as our behavior has been, nothing has impugned the character of we TV stevedores like a certain Bill Murray vehicle. You remember it: Weather weasel travels to Punxsutawney, PA, where he's trapped in some kind of comedic time warp. There he languishes until his surly demeanor gets the better of him, whereupon he escapes his fate by simply becoming less of a tool. It's an engaging concept, though the completed film is more original than funny. Still, it's become something of a cultural touchstone over the years. It's very title has even come to serve as shorthand for a dull, repetitive, never-ending assignment. All well and mostly good. There's only one problem... This guy. Christopher N. Elliott. Once upon a time, he was 'the guy beneath the seats' on the old Letterman show. Eventually, he achieved cinematic immortality as "Woogie" in There's Something About Mary. But in 1993, director Ramis launched a hard-target search for an actor to embody 'Larry', the local station lenslinger who suffers at the hand of Murray's pompous weather prick. Worse yet, Ramis and company gifted Larry with a brief speech that has haunted my kind since the film first ruled the multiplex. To wit:


Now, as profound as that may sound, it's delivered with contempt, leaving the audience convinced that Larry (and every other TV news shooter on the planet) is a lumpy schlub. Untrue. Only about half of us are. The rest of us are raconteurs, bons vivants and artisans Why, I knew one guy who made a whole row of main anchor voodoo dolls using nothing but undead Double AA's and his own stomach lining. You won't see that on the silver screen! Neither will you find realistic depictions of other standard-bearers like taxidermists, auto-pilots or that bearded weirdo who use to stalk you at the roller-rink. People think it's easy skating backwards in glitter shorts and a disco wig, but I'm tellin' ya, it's a *heck* of a lot more complicated than that.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Professional

Neal GettingerAs a freelance sound engineer for one of the networks, Neal Gettinger didn't just monitor the microphones at the John Edwards trial. He set the tone. With his trusted heads-up that defendant's vehicle was near ("Suburban!")' to the crisp salutation that followed ("Good morning, Senator."), to his insistence we TV swine clean up after ourselves ("All right, you filthy animals..."), Neal boosted more than his client's audio levels. He boosted morale. And he did so with a deft touch, one he's no doubt honed over years of hoisting that boom mic over tripe and travesty. Of course it helps that he's a bear of a man with a Yankee's accent; the kind of guy who can get away with saying ANYthing - and not just because he's looming over you with a ten foot pole. Not that he'd need an equalizer. Dude's got a thick stash of zingers somewhere in that mixer board he wears. (Think W.C. Fields with headphones.) Why, I dare say John Edwards himself came to appreciate the towering sound guy who apparently ran the show along press row. I know those federal marshals cracking up behind their sunglasses certainly did. Hell, even the 'scribblers' Neal kicked out of the tent seemed to savor his savoir faire (well, most of 'em, anyway). I myself came to count on the man, for he more than anyone kept the growing scrum of cameramen, reporters, still photographers and attendant weirdos from embarrassing ourselves too badly. Yes, you'll find a quieter recordist than our friend Neal - but you won't find one who holds his audio, his assignment, or even his colleagues - to such exacting standards.

Just don't get in between him and his subject. Dude will flatten ya and make you feel like it was your fault. Now THAT'S a professional.