Friday, November 09, 2012

Snatching Glass

Lens SunriseIn what sounds like a scene from RoboCop, a cowardly band of marauders snatched a California news crew's fancycam before wheeling away in a couple of luxury sedans. In broad daylight, no less. KPIX photographer Gregg Welk and reporter Anne Makovec were wrapping up a noon live shot outside Oakland Technical High School Wednesday when five, count 'em five, no good hoodlums bum-rushed the duo. Details are sketchy at best, but apparently the furious five grabbed the station's six thousand dollar camera, yanking it sideways in such a fashion that even viewers at home could tell it was just another chaotic day in O Town. To add injury to insult, one of the punks even popped Welk in the mouth before the five of them made off in a Mercedes AND a Lexus.

UNCOOL, on more levels than we here at The Lenslinger Institute can list. But even clowns like us have to shake our heads in disgust at the brazen nature of this latest attack on members of the media non elite. What has this heartless orb come to when a first world news crew can't sleepwalk their way through a nooner without getting assaulted and robbed on live television? I know, I know: it's late 2012 in Alameda County. That don't make it right. Is it a gang initiation? A simple crime of opportunity? Or one more sign that social mores are crumbling under the weight of a generation raised on violence and smitten with instant gratification?

How should I know? I'm just a cameraman. And while it's easy for a proud Carolinian like me to chalk it all up to West Coast excess, I'll be keeping my head (and lens) on a swivel here in the Piedmont. I suggest YOU do the same, whether you sling a lens in Detroit, Durham or Duluth. A societal shift is upon us and it's coarsening our offspring. As much as I'd like to believe otherwise, you ain't got to be in Oakland to get your ass camera-jacked. As for the good folk of KPIX, they'll continue to cover their beat, but not, some sources say, without their very own security guards.

Where's Peter Weller in a tin can when you need him?

Monday, November 05, 2012

Election's Hex

Screen shot 2012-11-05 at 10.41.56 PMTwisted spinsters, noon live shots, dangling chads! There's A LOT to fear on Election Day! That's why I've cocooned myself in several hazy layers of soft news: pithy distillations of pothole operas and fawning profiles of forlorn clown fish. It's just the kind of well-lit drivel that should keep me the hell away from the polling place. Then again, I could be ripped from the studio's womb before the first precinct chief overdoses on doughnut glaze. If so, I'll try to keep my wits about me as I jostle for oxygen in Democracy's mosh-pit. If I'm lucky, I'll surface before the crush of supplicants makes escape impossible. Loiter too long in the wrong campaign headquarters and you could find yourself running the cameraman equivalent of the Mogadishu Mile. Okay, those creepy people in cardboard hats aren't gonna chase you on foot, but get caught withdrawing cheese straws from a shattered candidates' buffet table and you may be sleeping with the fishes before the first concession speech is lip-synched.

And that's assuming you make it past the geriatric terrorists who keep our nation's polling places safe from any spotlights. Forget the angry gang-banger or unhinged drifter. You're most likely to perish at the hands of a 78 year old woman hopped up on the Magna Carta. That's her in the corner, clockin' your every move through at least two cataracts. She's missing her soaps, her support hose are killing her and somewhere in those pockets is a rusty spoon her beloved Horace carried over the beaches of Normandy. Get too close to that voting booths and she'll gladly use it to carve your heart out. Don't believe me? You won't be the first photog to vanish in the clamor of Election Day - or the last. It's why the closest I get to campaign headquarters is some dusty field behind a Harley-Davidson shop. That's where I found some friends of mine gettin' medieval in  name of prognostication. I don't know accurate it'll turn out to be, but dodging airborne gourds felt safer that eye-gouging some granny from across a crowded cafegymnatorium floor.       

Now go vote for somebody.