Thursday, June 30, 2005

Short turnaround.

Hang on, because I'm already behind schedule this morning and I have to do this fast.

Yesterday I had a dog of a story. Not because the story was bad in itself. It's just that it was a long way from home (big tanker truck fire on Interstate 5) and was going to be over long before I got there.

If I had gotten there to see it, I would have had shots of great big columns of flame and black plumes of smoke and long lines of traffic. A lot of very cool stuff.

Like I said, it was over before we got there.

So we did the liveshot closer to home where the traffic had been the heaviest and got a free sample from Starbucks of their new Java Chip ice cream.

Now it's morning and I have to go right back in because I volunteered to help with the setup of the new mayor's festivities over the next couple of days.

Long strange hours ahead. I'll let you know if anything interesting happens.
It's not looking good so far.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

People in pain.

Oww! I pulled a back muscle yesterday or maybe the day before (damn you Tom Cruise!) and I'm suffering for it today. It's a real occupational hazard for photogs and I've been laid up and medicated once or twice for the same type of muscle pain. This one isn't that serious, but I'm going to take it really easy because I could make it worse.

It kind of helps that the Starbucks around the corner finally opened last week. Dellis and I stopped in with a handful of reading material and got a couple of cool drinks. We also split a muffin.

Okay, I ate most of the muffin and she nibbled at a piece of it.

Yesterday for work, I was in the Santa Clarita area covering the results of an LA Board of Supervisors decision to close a loophole that allowed registered sex offenders access to public housing. Yeah, it's more complicated than I want to go into. We talked to some of the residents of an apartment complex where a sex offender has been living. Most of them want him out. Some were sympathetic, but still thought he shouldn't be living so near parks and schools.

One older woman called him a "stinker" and suggested he be castrated.

One younger woman we talked to changed her mind about being on camera and asked us not to use her interview. She became worried that she might be recognized and the man on trial for raping her (or people he knows) might be able to track her down and do her more harm.

I think it's about two hundred yards from my front door to the Starbucks around the corner. I'm going to make my way over there as best I can and have a cup of coffee and read. Not much happened yesterday at work, but maybe I should just admit that I'm a little in denial. I guess when I look back at it all, I feel some guilt for complaining about my back.

With everything other people were dealing with, I should be thankful that a little back pain is the worst that's happening to me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tom, how about beer? Is beer okay?

So, yesterday, there I am on Hollywood Boulevard. I'm covering a screening of the the new Tom Cruise "War of the Worlds" movie. It's not a premiere. Pay close attention, because that's a very fine distinction. Screening, not premiering.

What does that mean? Well, it means I got to stand for a couple of hours in the late afternoon sun in the middle of a closed down Hollywood Boulevard and wait for the Tom Cruise to make an appearance and watch as select industry insiders and special guests walk down a red carpet to go see a movie. Not a lot of celebrities showed up.

The movie was being screened mainly for Tom's fans who have been very supportive of his career. I'm guessing "supportive" is the same as saying "forgiving" or "buying into" all the ridiculous things he's said recently in interviews.

I've liked some of the movies that Tom Cruise has been in, but I just don't have a strong opinion either way about Tom Cruise himself.

He has strong opinions about the medical profession and the psychiatric industry and I kind of just wish he'd make movies and stop doing interviews.

Well, maybe that's not quite true. I was hoping he'd come down the red carpet and do an interview with us. It sort of felt like he was rude for having us come out to cover his screening and not talk to us. Well, he does command enough of the public's attention to do pretty much whatever he wants to do. He didn't want to do interviews, so he didn't.

He showed up without much warning on a motorcycle and did a quick lap on the red carpet with Katie Holmes riding on the back. I have to laugh, because as far as being a celebrity goes, I don't think it gets more over the top than that.

Just between us, I think I'd probably do the same thing if I was in his position. He signed a lot of autographs and that was nice.

It was cool and it was great show for the fans, but I still don't think it qualifies him to give good advice on depression or medication. I don't blame Tom Cruise for speaking his mind. I blame his fans who might listen to him or parents who let their kids be influenced by him.

I'm going to go see "War of the Worlds" when it comes out, because I think it's going to be a great movie and Tom Cruise is going to be cool in it. I'm going to keep following my doctor's advice on my health and medicine and maybe I'll ask my doctor if he's going to see "War of the Worlds" when it comes out.

For me, it doesn't seem like it's that difficult to know where to draw the line.

Ice-Cube was there yesterday. He didn't talk to us either, but I think he's cool too. I still wouldn't take any medical advice from him and I'm waiting for "XXX - State of the Union" to come out on satellite TV.

There, I have it all worked out.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Wait a minute. . .

. . .was I being too vague with my reference to the Rudyard Kipling poem in the post about my daughter's graduation?

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run --
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!

Just curious.

(Hey, check me out. Two post in one day. heh-heh.)

Listening to the quiet.

I'm not sure if it's official yet, but it is absolutely summertime for me. This was my first weekend off in the last couple of months that I didn't feel like the pressure was on to get something done around the house.

I got to step back and just enjoy my life.

It might have been nice to haul out the lawn mower and trim up a bit, but I'll catch up some morning later in the week.

I'm digging the whiskey barrels I set up as water feature and herb garden. The little fountain pump was just sitting around in the garage after the big pond outgrew it.

The bleeding hearts are coming in and Dellis made a pie from apples off the little dwarf apple tree that never quits. I swear it just hums year round.

There's a sago palm that we still need to get out of a pot and into the ground, but that's a front yard project and I'm not gonna think about that until sometime in July.

It was great to just be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits our labor figuratively and literally (apple pie, yum). We sat out on the deck by a fire and caught up on our reading until it got dark.

After the sun went down, we snuggled up in the hammock and just spent some quiet time together.

photo by Camia Marie Frank

First we talked about how cold it gets after the sun goes down and then we talked about how the backyard looked when we first moved in. Everybody who comes back here now is pretty amazed at the how much we've done in just the four years since we've been here.

With our youngest child heading off to college at the end of summer, we know we're going to be going through some pretty stressful times. Our lives will be changing and it's going to take a lot of faith in ourselves and patience to deal with it.

It's a difficult world that we live in and I'm constantly surprised with the adversity that gets thrown at people. We've seen our share of unexpected hardships and drama, but I think we've come through it all pretty strong as a couple and as a family.

I don't let myself believe that once you hit a comfortable spot in life it stays comfortable. Life has that funny habit of throwing you curves.

I'm just going to appreciate these rare days where I can just relax with my wife in the hammock and my heaviest thought is whether or not to have another slice of apple pie.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Filling in the blanks.

I work more assignments during my work week than I ever get a chance to write about on my blog. That also means that I snap a lot more picture than I get to share.

I didn't get a chance to say one word this week about covering the new sea lion exhibit at the L.A. Zoo. Not a lot of action involved in this story, but it was an interesting distraction from the usual madness and mayhem that makes up the news.

I don't think I knew quite what to say about the story I covered in West Hollywood on Thursday this week.

You would think that an assignment that involves sheriffs from two counties, an interview with a cosmetic surgeon, and a woman injecting silicone into the buttocks of transvestites might be a blog-worthy story.

Well, I'm still trying to figure out really what to say about that one. Maybe it's for the best that I just leave it alone.

My last day of the week started out at LAX on an easy story, but ended in the City of Hawaiian Gardens. A Sheriff's Deputy was shot and killed on Friday. The story broke about two minutes after I had parked my van outside the Tom Bradley terminal.

We hustled across town and got a liveshot out for our CBS shows pretty quickly. We spent the rest of the afternoon with an almost continuous live feed.

The suspect got away, but I'm sure they'll catch up with him. They know exactly who they're looking for and he'll be found eventually.

There's a lot that's going to be written about this story over the next few days and I know we'll be following it. It's been my weekend and I'm glad, because I needed a couple days off just to think about it before I wrote anything.

I want to make some sense out of what happened, but there's so little that I can say. I never even got close enough to the scene to shoot video and it was difficult to get a moment to take any still shots from the area we were going live from.

I can tell you they were serious about catching the suspect. You could tell because it seems like they brought out every available deputy in the state and you could see that determination in the face of every single one of them on the scene.

I've covered a few news stories that involve officers being killed in the line of duty. It seems almost inevitable that it's going to happen. It's a dangerous job and I'm just glad it doesn't happen more often.

After the rush of getting the breaking news on TV wore off, I found myself feeling down. I've had a lot of help from the Sheriff's Department in the past couple of weeks and I'd like to return the favor. I'd like to think our coverage might generate some help in finding the suspect.

The thing is, finding the suspect may actually turn out to be the easy part for the Sheriff''s Department. Plastering the face of the suspect all over the news might help to bring him in, but I don't think there's anything I can do to help with the hard part.

Recovering from the death of one of their own may actually be the tougher job.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Looking for MWF

That should be read as "Missing White Female" (not me, of course).

I've been a little busy this past week and didn't get a chance to actually post when I started scribbling this little rant. I got about halfway through, but couldn't scrap together the time to finish it. I don't know if anybody else does this, but after a day or so, I kind of forget what I was so worked up over.

It's a heavy topic. With the missing girl in Aruba and stories like Lacie Petterson's, the idea keeps popping up that missing white females are somehow automatically granted greater news coverage.

I remember David Gonzales.

In the past year, I've covered a few missing person stories. They aren't easy to cover and can be pretty emotionally draining. It's just goes with the job to bear witness to the tragedies of others. I try to not let what I do and see at work affect my life outside of work, but most of us do lose something of ourselves in the course of doing our job.

Maybe because I know that sadness, it makes it easy for me to know my heart on the matter. I think I've said it before, I don't ask what color a person is when I point my camera at a story. Unless I missed a memo, I don't get sent out (or not sent out) to cover a story because of the person's skin color. Is it that hard to believe?

Is it hard to believe that of the hundreds of thousand missing person cases each year only a handful have the elements that captures the public's attention on a national level?

I remember Sharon Anne Santos.

It's just sad to me when real thought is given to a problem and the effort is wasted because the problem is being approached from the wrong way.

I don't think the problem is going to be solved as long as the assumption is being made that paints the newsroom as a racially exclusive entity.

Even though I think racism continues to be a problem on the whole planet, I don't think anyone is going to initiate change in news coverage by making a sweeping accusation of racial bias. I think all it really is going to accomplish is in making the innocent resentful.

Also, I hate to break it to you, but I don't think the guilty are going to care.

I even remember "Missing Kidney Woman".

If there's a problem that stems from news coverage weighing too heavily in one direction in regards to race, I think there's a greater chance of expanding the diversity of the coverage by expanding awareness on both sides of the TV screen.

We make mistakes and we follow the wrong story at times. There's always a chance that we might be missing a story that deserves to be told, but most of us just want to do the best job we can.

Unfortunately, I remember Guadalupe Maria Radillo.

As always, I'm short on time, but I hope I made sense. Unlike a lot of the people who complain about "the media" I hate to vent and not be able to offer an answer to the problem.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"be"Life 101

I'm still floating pretty high from the weekend. It's a Daddy/Daughter day and I'm taking it off from work to attend the High School graduation of one of my nephews. Yesterday was a 3rd Wheel day and I attended a meeting at work. I didn't even see a news story all day.

It was a slow and mellow day. I sat in downtown traffic for a bit while running an errand for the station. While inching along the 101, I had plenty of time to reflect on things.

Hmm, strangely enough, I didn't have to do much reflecting. Things are pretty damn good right now.

I'm a realist (not to be confused with pessimist). Life is not always going to be good. I don't expect it to be. I know all about the highs and lows, but I have a little smile on my face right now and that's all I'm caring about today.

It's nice that the recent graduate is going with me later today. I'm going to want to spend lots of time with her in these last 67 days, 3 hours, and 22 minutes before she leaves for college. It's also nice that I'll come home to a lit candle or two and an evening with Dellis.

I'm almost sorry that not much news has happened, but some days are like that (if I'm lucky, I'll have another one tomorrow).

Thanks for all the nice words for the graduation and for Father's Day. A big thanks to TrueWillow from The Sum Total of Me for her e-card. I hope she and her family had a great day. She has a very sweet blog which I beFriended and lurk often (mmm, Jelly Beans).

Now, I'm off to toss a quick mow on the lawn and maybe treat myself to Starbucks and a trip to Costco. I know it's a bizarre life, but I'm loving it.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

"If" Kipling had a daughter.

It was a huge weekend in the beFrank household. With Father's Day following closely on the heels of the main event, my youngest daughter's High School graduation. I've been blown away by everything all weekend and I need just a little break to catch my breath.

Yeah, as in break open a bottle of Pyramid Hefeweizen.

Moments like this really make me appreciate how truly and completely amazing life is. I'm glad I can handle a camera. The moment went by so quickly, I need to look at the pictures to hold on to all the things I thought and felt as Camia Marie Frank's name was read and she walked over to snag her diploma.

I could almost hear the "YOINK!"


(sigh) I've been know to wax poetic at times, but holy crap! That's my baby daughter.

She's the youngest of the three children Dellis and I raised and the last child of our household. Shakespeare, Bukowski, Parker, Fried, Mosley, Conroy and Snyder all put together couldn't write about how I felt this weekend and really cover it fully.

Here's my three contributions to polite society and I'm happy that with the youngest one (in the middle), I got to see it all from the day she was born. Wow.

In a couple of months she'll be heading off to college and even though I know my job will never be over, I know my job will change. Change is a part of life. I'm good with that.

I welcome some parts of the changes coming, but I'm going to miss her fiercely. Just like I miss the older two. It's kind of different because she's the last one to leave home and things are going to be strangely quiet without her. The thing is, my feelings of loss is by far outweighed by my pride in seeing all of them grown up and able to enjoy the things that life has to offer.

In part because of the things I did to help prepare them.

Yep, Dellis and I will have a little more time to spend together. We maybe even can pursue some of the personal goals we've always had in our sights, but couldn't chase. We chose to put our family first and it was a good choice.

We'll try to squeeze a little time alone together in there, but I'm sure that before we know it, the next generation will "be" popping up.

We can get a little grandparent practice in now with little ones belonging to friends of our family and some from parents who started later than us.

Naturally, I'm not in a big rush to meet it head on, but I am looking forward to it. . .down the line. . .eventually. . .someday. Hey, there's something about dangling a child over an open body of water that gets in your blood and kind of helps to define you.

Just remember that water will dry and childhood traumatic shock builds character. That may not be right out of a textbook, but I have to believe that you can't argue with success.

It warms my heart to know a lot of young adults I've influenced will be supporting the psychiatric medical profession in the future. I'm glad I could do what I could to help.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Dellis! How do you spell Baccalaureate?


After all the drama of Michael Jackson the other day, I've been busy getting things set for my youngest daughter's graduation.

I could write a book about everything I've been through this week. It's a very surreal feeling. Even in my old age, I have clear memories of my graduation from the same school back in 1979.

These pictures are from the Baccalaureate. That's not even the main event.

That comes later today and then we'll be the parents of three High School graduates. Wow.

I simply couldn't "be" any more proud than I am. It's a very happy day in the Frank household.

Thanks for dropping in and sharing a bit of it. You know I'll post more pictures later, but it might have to wait until I dry out a bit. I expect things to get a little misty for Dellis and myself.

I may need a beer to settle down the emotional rollercoaster.

Wow. I may need two.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

You take the fifteen on the left.

It's not like I don't realize how invasive reporters and photographers can be when we're all trying to get a story. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I know that at times the line for what's appropriate and what's unprofessional can get fuzzy and blurred.

I'm sure there are times where the aggressive pursuit of a story has resulted in emotional (if not physical) harm to people. I can't prove what's in the someone else' heart, but I'd be willing to bet that there are some journalists who are more concerned with making themselves look good by getting a killer sound bite or springing the "gotcha" on someone.

I've never met anyone who'd be willing to admit any of this and again I can only speak for myself. I don't behave in this way when I'm working, but I am aggressive in what I do. It's part of the responsibility that I feel goes with my job.

Yesterday when a large group of thirty to forty Michael Jackson fans decided to start disrupting liveshots in front of Neverland Ranch, I didn't look at it as the same as what we do.

I'm sure they all had their own reasons for behaving the way that they did. I'm sure they all felt they were justified. Some seemed to be angry and wanted to express their anger towards the media's treatment of Michael Jackson. Others just seemed to be along for some laughs and they seemed pretty happy to keep us from doing our jobs.

I hope they understand that the rights and freedoms they enjoy are based on all the principles of this society. Including the bit about freedom of the press. I don't know if that matters to any of the fans of Michael Jackson out on the road yesterday. I don't know if any of their actions were done with malicious intent or nothing more than youthful boredom. I do know people were scared and the situation could have easily escalated into something worse.

We put out a 911 call for help and the cops came out (oops, Sheriff's Deputies) to keep the peace. Before they arrived, at one point I was standing by myself with the whole crowd of fans jumping up and down, screaming and yelling at me to go home.

There's no doubt in my mind that if things had gone any further, I was going to get my ass kicked by a gang of geeky Michael Jackson fans. I think they gave up when they couldn't get the reaction they wanted out of me.

I'm glad nobody got hurt, but I'm sure there are people who feel like we should have let things get violent. It would have made for a better news story at least.

Discretion/valor and all that, we moved our trucks into town and set up to do our next liveshot. Somewhere in getting the satellite dish deployed and the camera position cabled up, we happened to meet a couple who were just on a holiday in the area. We answered some of their questions about what we were doing and talked and got to know them a little. They also got to know us a little.

You know, it was really "just another day at the office" for us. A little scarier than usual, but still just part of what we might experience any day we go to work.

I hope Dave and Gayle realize how much they helped us last night. I think they saved us from losing faith. Again, I can only speak for me, but with happy, reasonable, thoughtful people like them in the world, I might just be willing to take a beating from a screaming pissy mob of Michael Jackson fans.

Hmm, we are talking about Michael Jackson fans after all. There were only thirty or forty of them. If a fight did break out, I think there's actually a damn good chance, I might have won.