Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Senior Prom already?

I think I can rest for five minutes and get a quick post done. This past week has been hectic and even though I have no one to blame but myself, I'm gonna claim it was circumstances beyond my control.

I took these shots of my yard on Friday while I was working hard to get it into shape for the weekend.

Remember earlier this month, when I took time off from work and goofed off just about every day? Yeah, well, instead of hanging around eating pizza at Costco, I was supposed to be working around the house and on my yard.

We have a high school graduation coming up in June and I paid heavy for my slacker days that week.

The whole graduation thing got seriously real this past week. First up, it was Senior Prom time for Camia (Scooter) our youngest daughter.

We hosted a little gathering for friends, her date's family, and assorted relatives. That's why I was frantically working on the yard last week.

I don't know if it's the same for everybody, but the senior prom is a huge milestone to me. It's one of the final checkpoints before moving on into adulthood.

Anybody raising kids these days probably understands the anxiety involved with balancing being cautious because of the world we live in and letting go of our children to allow them to grow up.

It's a tough balance and probably not surprising that I see it all the time where kids are held back by their own parents.

Sometimes it's not even while looking out for the needs of the child. Sometimes it's parents trying to live vicariously through their children. Trying to recapture their own youthful glory days or trying to make up for missed opportunities.

There's so much to consider and reflect on in these final months before our daughter heads off to college.

Even though I know better, I still just wish I could guarantee her happiness. The truth is, even with all the "Frank Luck" in the world, I can't see the future. I can only do my best to be there when she needs me and trust that we've done our job raising her.

As scary as it might be to let go, I'll do it anyway. It's not going to be easy, but I know we all have our own lives to lead. I think the best thing to do is hold close to the memories we have (or even better, go out and make new ones).

After all, we had our chance to make mistakes. Let's give the next generation their chance to get it right. They can certainly try, but I'm telling them now. . .

. . .no way will they possibly improve on the perfection that was the tuxedo for my senior prom.

Yep, I'm more than okay with letting them try.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A round of news for everyone.

I started this post a two days ago, but it's been a busy weekend. Please bear with me, I'm determined to finish this.

Some men buy lots of shoes. Maybe not as many shoes as your average woman (that's not a myth is it?), but lots as compared to other men. These other men will buy only the shoes they need and wear them until they're falling apart, leaving tattered trails of canvas, rubber and leather.

Hold that thought.

The May sweeps period ended on Wednesday and that leads into the critically important "round of drinks" with folks from the newsroom. That's how I found myself at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the Polo Lounge last Thursday after midnight (oops, Friday morning).

A couple of beers, a glass of wine, mixed drinks, some club soda (from a good vintage I hear) and laughter until last call when they delicately and politely kicked the lot of us out.

Other folks from the group may have been shown the boot out of better places, but I'm not sure that I have.

Now, it may come as no surprise that on most days I wear tennis shoes to work. My current favorites are a comfortable pair of Fila brand high-tops. I don't have to worry about them getting scuffed up and dirty during the course of my work day. I only bring it up because a part of the appeal of my blog for people is to see the news from my shoes.

The people I meet and the things I do make for an interesting life. Is there scary bad and emotionally traumatic experiences in what I do? Well yeah, you bet there is! I cover the news.

On any given day, there's a lot of bad that I might come across. We deal with it. It's the good stuff I hang onto and I've said it before, the good is always going to see me through.

So, once in a while having a drink and a laugh with the people from work is good. Hearing that what I do is appreciated is good. Knowing that there are people who may not see eye to eye on every issue, but agree on wanting nothing but the best from the newsroom? That's very good and I only wish the people at home got the chance to see that side of things.

I wish more people could see life from my size 10 Fila high-top shoes.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Who's your idol?

I was going to just come right out and tell everyone what my assignment was on Wednesday, but I changed my mind.

I'm going to keep you guessing. I will tell you that it involved running satellite shots for some nice folks from Cleveland (the one in Ohio) and I took a ton of pictures. . .

. . .a few of WOIO 19 Action News Anchor/Reporter Sharon Reed, but that's just because I thought it was cool the way she was working her Sidekick and cell phone. To be honest (and frank), it was just a great day to snap pictures and I also wanted my own chance to be a little artistic.

Taking a candid shot of Sharon was a bit of a challege. I knew the picture I wanted. It had less to do with the obvious and more to do with just capturing a simple moment of her busy life between live shots.

I could write up an entire post on these two pictures and just talk about meeting and working with nice people like Sharon and her Videographer/Editor Dan Wagner in the course of my day.

Heck, if I did that, then I wouldn't be able to squeeze in these shots. See anyone you recognize?

It was quite a day and even though I was never a regular viewer, the impact this little Tv program has had on popular culture deserves a nod of recognition.

I don't know many people who aren't aware of this show and I bet anyone can name a lot more of the past/present contestants than I can. I was in the middle of a crowd of people who were yelling and cheering each name as they got out of their limos and strolled down the red carpet.

Some of the names I recognized and some I was putting with a face for the first time. I just felt really lucky to be there.

My day was better today than it was yesterday and really, yesterday wasn't so bad. Tomorrow might even be better. Even if it isn't, I'll always have the day after to look forward to.

(The smart money is on it'll be something different and maybe exciting.)

There's just so many things to love about what I do.

ps- Check my Flickr link for the bulk of the pictures from my "mystery" assignment. I'll try to get them posted before noon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Pay me by the mile.

You can never guess where the day might take you. When I woke up on Tuesday morning, there's nothing in the world that would have made me think I'd be shadowing a real estate agent through Ozzy Osbourne's home in Beverly Hills.

Yep, it's the very same house from their reality TV show.

I wasn't a regular viewer, but I'd seen snippets here and there from the show. It was still cool to be walking through and getting a chance to see it for myself. Interesting that their home looked much larger in real life than it did on TV.

What I found most amazing was how similar his house was to mine.

Ozzy's house has a roof, doors, and walls and gee, so does mine. Oh, and windows. Yeah, both our houses have windows.

They want about 12 million for their property. I'll cut you a deal and sell you mine for half that. I know you're thinking, if my house is so similar why low ball it? Keep in mind the Osbourne house is in Beverly Hills.

Location, location, location.

After the shoot, I was thinking they could "lunch me" and then I could hide until the end of my shift. Heh-heh, just kidding. Really.

I get back to the station, drop off my tape and start considering my lunch options. Whoops, cell phone rings and I'm sent out to cover a church fire in Azusa.

When I got sent out, it was believed that someone had died in the fire. The assignment desk was going to pull a reporter from another story. You never know. Church fires are often a red flag because they're prime targets for arsonists.

Yay, it turned out, nobody died. As I fought traffic to get to the location, I was tipped off that the story was evaporating by the sight of our news helicopter overhead flying in the opposite direction. A quick phone call confirmed the fire was out and I'd be just feeding back hopefully a sound bite and whatever b-roll I could get from the ground.

I found out painters working inside the church were stripping some old paint with gas torches. They had misjudged either their ability or maybe their intelligence. Maybe I'm being too hard on them and it was just a freak accident.

Maybe I could get some lunch and go home. Maybe. . .

. . .not!

I drive all the way back to Hollywood and gas up my van. One hour left in my shift and I get sent to Newhall to roll tape on a booking photo.

I'm thinking the whole way out there, don't they just email these things these days? This is lame.

Anyway, the story was this woman got arrested for child endangerment. Apparently there wasn't enough room inside her car for all of her passengers, so she put a couple of her kids in the trunk.

I was outraged. Well, I was actually more tired and hungry than outraged at this point, but you can see how it could be pretty upsetting.

By the way, Newhall and Azusa are at opposite ends of Los Angeles County. Is Los Angeles a big county?

Yeah, it is.

At least the lights of Six Flags Magic Mountain were pretty to look at. It was a long and busy day. I never got lunched, so I treated myself to a Tommy's hamburger on the ride back to the station.

Today? Well, I remember somebody saying, you can never guess where the day might take you. It might be something completely different, but I get to go back and do it all again.

Monday, May 23, 2005

New news in the shadow of old.

Sometimes it's difficult to just concentrate on the story I'm assigned. We're all over the place, so there's always a bit of sightseeing involved in my job. Being somewhere like, say, Italy is going to obviously be a distraction in itself.

Working in and around Los Angeles, sometimes it's less intentional. Sometimes you just look up, open your eyes and see something unexpected.

Friday I was helping out on a liveshot during the late afternoon newscasts. A suspect had been arrested in the Koreatown Rapist case. That was huge in itself.

A dayside crew assigned to the story was going live across the street from the motel where the suspect had been caught. I don't remember exactly when I noticed it, but I could see it plain as day.

We were right down the street from the Ambassador Hotel. I've been there once in the past, covering the slow development of the property by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

There's a ton of history wrapped up in the property. It's not surprising that the building lives on long after the doors were closed back in 1989. There's a strong Gloria Swanson in "Suset Boulevard" feel about the place. Clinging to a past celebrity status and surviving because of historic value and notoriety, but it's ready for its' close up.

I remember walking through the hotel and enjoying the feeling of having seen something for myself. I'll never have to rely on photographs or video to know what the inside of the hotel looked like. (You realize of course, it looked like hell. It's been a while since maid service spiffed up the rooms.)

Run-down as it was, there was still enough of it all there to give you an idea of what the place looked like when it was hot.

I saw the ballroom where I vaguely recall watching the Academy Awards take place and I can say that I walked through the kitchen area where Sirhan B. Sirhan shot Robert Kennedy.

beFrank archive 2002

Mostly I can look at a fading piece of history and keep it alive for a little while longer. There's no real significance beyond that.

It was just an unexpected part of my workday that I thought was kind of cool.

Happy Monday.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

In my mind.

The oil well fire in Whittier on Thursday was a nice bit of adrenaline pumping breaking news goodness that started off my work day.

In the Los Angeles news market, when the story breaks at rush hour (or pretty much any hour before or after 3:00am) you're going to hit traffic.

So you get the mad panic to get out the door. You and the reporter dive through the open news van windows, burn rubber out of the parking lot, jump the news van over the Sheriffs' car. . .


Then sit in traffic for an hour or more as you inch towards the story. It's a fine time to make phone calls, the reporter can take a nap, and I usually fantasize about how life would be if this were an old 70's TV show.

Yeah, them Dukes, them Dukes.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Crash Part II: From Porn to Politics

Well, I was up early and heading in at 8:00am. Getting a jump start on Election Day after a day of crashing a package and covering a story that involved the "Adult Entertainment Industry".

That picture above? No, it's not a scene from the latest Vivid Entertainment release. That's the victory party at Antonio Villaraigosa's Election Night headquarters.

It was a pretty good party. I always wonder where the people come from who show up for these things. Well, I know where Earvin "Magic" Johnson comes from. I was just a little surprised to see him on the stage.

I'm not pointing him out. If you can't spot him in the picture, then you might just go ahead and make an appointment with your eye doctor. (sigh) Okay, he's wearing a grey suit.

I'm glad I'm not the person who has to clean up after one of these things. It's bad enough we have to roll up all the cable we lay out.

Running the cables from the news trucks to the camera platform was just one of the tough parts about the day. It was about a hundred yards from the truck to the camera platform and we ran the cables through a fence. Walking around the "un-hopable" fence to the camera platform was a good three hundred yards. That didn't bother me, since I was cutting and operating the microwave signal (mmmmm, comfy chair). The workload balanced out because after the first piece we put together for our 8:00pm show, we were crashing every piece after that.

Come to think of it, not only were we crashing, we did pop out of the truck after cutting the first piece. We went backstage and I shot an interview with former Mayor of Los Angeles, Dick Riordan.

See, I got a little exercise that night.

You might think it's more fun to cover the winners on election night. It really doesn't make much difference to me. I've been there for both types of outcomes. . .oops, better make that all three. I was in Texas for the 2000 Presidential election).

There's less dancing when the candidate you're covering loses, but then you have lots of drinking. When you're in the camp of the winner, there's dancing and just as much drinking.

You get more confetti with the winners.

We finished up about 1:30am. I don't know what time the guys with brooms finished.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Crash Part I: The Devil in Missed Slot

Two days can go by pretty quickly when you're working pretty much around the clock. Monday started out as a easy and uneventful day. My assignment was a story on adult content being made available on cell phones. I shot an interview at the station with a guy who was lobbying to prevent it and we interviewed one of the head honchos of Vivid Entertainment.

Yeah, that Vivid Entertainment.

It's always interesting to see behind the scenes at places most people never get to see. I'd like to say their offices were just as you might imagine. Lots of red velvet, dark lighting and casually naked women lounging about. All of them willing and eager to do naughty things for visitors.

Sorry, cowboy. Only in your wildest dreams. It was just a normal workplace and the staff were mostly just regular folks who work for a living. They just happen to work in the adult entertainment industry.

Yep, that's actual hot throbbing all-American porn being edited. It's funny, but I keep forgetting why we were there.

This was back on Monday night and they ended up killing the story. Don't know why and kind of don't care why.

I almost made it to the end of my shift with nothing more to do. I was plugging up my van and getting ready to vamoose. It's election day on Tuesday and I want to get home and pack a lunch, because like they say, "It's gonna be a long day."

I get a call from the desk. They need me to edit a package out in my van for one of the 11:00pm anchors. It's a little suprising and rare that they ask the photogs to pitch in on editing at the station, but it happens. Sure, I can help out.

It hits me like a wave, everyone involved is in full panic mode. The piece was somehow lost when it was halfway done being edited the first time around. I heard it took two hours to put that half together. I'd have to start from scratch on material I'm not familiar with and finish it in little more than an hour. There were other factors involved that complicated things and I got the distinct impression people were worried it couldn't be done, but it was teased in the earlier newscasts. The story featured an interview with the mother of Samantha Runyon and everyone knew how bad it would be if this piece ran late (or worse, didn't air).

People who know me, know I don't panic. I don't ever want to let things go to my head, but I like being the calm in the eye of the storm. I like being the Ed Harris character from Apollo 13.

"Failure is not an option."

The running time of the finished piece was close to four minutes long. On the average, our stories run one minute and fifteen seconds to about one minute and thirty seconds. It was close, but we made slot. Lots of guys who do what I do could have done what I did. There's also lots of guys who couldn't. I got many pats on the back and a couple of really nice phone calls thanking me for getting it done.

Shucks. I was just doing my job.

After I put the van away, all I could do was smile, tip my hat, hop on my horse and ride off into the sunset. Fade to black, cue music, roll the credits.

I got home after midnight, kissed my sleeping wife and went to bed. I'm drained mainly from the passing of the adrenaline rush. It seemed like I fell asleep and two minutes latter the alarm was ringing. It's about 5:30am and I get up with Dellis to start the day.

I'd like to get into the election coverage, but I feel guilty for taking up so much of your time. How about we all come back tomorrow for the rest. I can't promise porn, but it was still an interesting day.

See you tomorrow.

Miles to go.

Just a quick note to let you all know, I'm stll alive. Tired and hungry, but still breatheing. I'm going to get some sleep and try to put it all down for the blog after I wake up tomorrow. . .um, today.

beSafe and check back around noon.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Bryan Year One

It's a memorable day today for me, but then so was yesterday. In fact I want to talk about yesterday first. Dellis and I went and checked out the 2005 Spring Brewery Artwalk. It's an annual artists' studio open house.

The Brewery is billing itself as the world's largest art colony. I don't know if that's absolutely true, but I do know we had a great time and I saw a more art that I found inspirational than I've seen at some of my recent museum visits. It's hard to describe what it was like.

The best way I can put it is that there was just a very positive and honest artistic vibe about the place. It might have been the free beer, but I don't get the same feeling when I go to the big museums.

Sure, you had a tortured artist every now and then.

But most were very approachable and were willing to talk about what they do.

We both discovered artists that got our attention. That sense of discovery and just a lack of pretension made for a great day. . .

. . .and afterwards, we got barbecue from a pretty good rib joint near downtown. See, that's the simple kind of stuff that makes life worthwhile for me.

Now, on to today. I don't know if anyone might be paying attention, but this is the one year anniversary of "beFrank" the weblog.

It's hard to believe.

Starting out, I never intended this to be anything more than a means of showing my kids what I was doing at work on any particular day. I never made it private, but it was still a great shock when other people came across it and enjoyed reading it. It took me a while to find out that blogger had put me on their homepage Blogs of Note list. Suddenly I had people all over the world checking out my blog.

I've been told often that it's not just the job I do as news photographer, but also what I share of my personal life that people find interesting. It still amazes me.

Where do I go from here?

I still enjoy what I'm doing and I plan on continuing it. There was always something about blogging for a whole year that interested me. I was curious (and maybe a bit concerned) if my job covering the news might change me over time.

Well, what do you think? I still love my wife and family. I still drink beer. I still smile and laugh and do all the things I did a year ago.

For all that, still I know I am different from the person I was when I sat down at my computer a year ago. Writing from my heart about covering the murder of 11 year old Bryan Lockley.

I believe that story is pretty much forgotten. That's okay. What I see is always going to stay with me, because I'll always be the sum of my experiences in life. Even if I don't commit the details to memory, everything I see does help me to be a better person. Witnessing how much suffering goes on is a tough load to carry. Just trying to be better than the bad guys and not add to the suffering of others is what helps me to deal with it all.

So, I don't have to commit it to memory, dwell on it, or be haunted by it. I just have to appreciate the good parts of life whenever I can, because I know how randomly it can go from good to bad.

Really bad.

My call time is 2:00pm today. I'm blessed in that I'm happy to be going to work and able to look forward to it. I hope the story I cover tonight is interesting, but I hope nobody has to suffer just so that I have something do. Whatever it is, you can be sure I'll be blogging about it tomorrow. If I haven't said it enough recently, thanks for stopping by. I might be here anyway, but because I know I'm not alone I'm always inspired to make a better effort. Again, my thanks to you.

This has been my first year out. Welcome (still) to my world.