Friday, February 29, 2008

Bar Day

In order to properly celebrate the christening of my new living room watering hole. I hearby declare March 1st to be "Bar Day".

Have a beer and celebrate appropriately. Kiss someone you love.

Happy Saturday (for anyone who doesn't drink).

If you're anywhere near my neighborhood, I coud still use a hand moving it from out of the garage.

Very G'Day.

The time got away from me and I was running late for work.  I called the desk to let them know.  Almost before I could hang up the cell phone, the Super Chief called.  I was needed for a satellite shot in downtown right away.

I could still see downtown in my rear view mirror and the view of the traffic heading towards downtown was starting to look hinky.

Yeah.  I said, hinky.  If I had an Australian slang word for "hinky", I'd have used it. See, I was going to be putting an Australian crew from Channel 10 (Network 10?) on TV and I think that would just be appropriate.

Very nice folks.  I'd meet them recently at another event and it felt good to be of some help in providing their uplink.

I'd managed to get to the station, check out the sat truck and make the turn around to downtown LA with much of a hitch.

I like it when things work out, but it really helps that I've done this enough to have gotten pretty good at it.  Not so good that I'd be arrogant enough to know that I'm only human and I'm perfectly capable of making a mistake.


Oops.  Sorry if I'm bursting a few bubbles, but even though I've had a good streak of successful sat shots, I know streaks don't last forever.

I'll admit, dialing up the Australian IFB was slightly problematic.  Our cell phones don't allow us to make international calls.

I had to call the Newspath office in New York and have them dial it up then transfer me to the Australian station's IFB line.

(IFB is the audio being fed back to reporter during a liveshot.)

The cell phone kept dropping the line and we got pretty close to their hit time before it behaved.  The fourth time was the charm, but keep in mind, I wasn't dialing it directly.  I had to dial New York and be transferred to the proper line.

With a little Frank Luck, it all worked out.  The Australian crew got their liveshot and my streak continues.  That's what I call a good day.


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Okay, breathe in. . .

You know what's always pretty cool? I tell people this all the time, but just the fact that I get to run around the city in the course of my day.

For me, that's part of the fun of being a news photographer.

While I'm out doing my job, I try to appreciate the scenery and take advantage of the opportunities.

Nearly everything I shoot is just what happens to be in front of me during my work day. I might have to otherwise go out of my way to photograph this stuff.

Our video gear is fairly heavy, but the job isn't always physically demanding. There are other aspects of what I do that make the job difficult. Those are the parts why not everyone is cut out to do what I do.

We work under a lot of pressure. We have deadlines that might freak out the faint of heart.

Some people thrive on that adrenaline rush. That's not who I am. I just take it as a matter of fact.

What pressure? It's part of what we do.

Fortunately for me, there's often just enough down time for me to pick up my still camera and snap a few shots.

I don't plan or know my assignment most days before I get to the station. Some days it just works out that I'm where I need to be to take a picture.

It's like a nice calming deep breath between chaos.

For me, that's cool.

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No Country for Old Jewel Thieves

Actually it should be, "No Country for Old Detectives who catch Jewel Thieves", but that's just too long and complicated for a movie title.

Couldn't you just see Tommy Lee Jones playing the LAPD detective?

You know it would also have to star Pierce Brosnan. Face it, he's the "go to" guy for international jewel thievery roles. Heck, I bet it's in his contract that he gets to keep the tuxedo now.

Hasn't he played that role something like ten times in the last four years. That's not including James Bond, who wasn't actually a jewel thief (but could'a been).

Thursday I covered the presser where the LAPD paraded out some of the loot they found in connection to the burglary spree of Robert Caveda.

He was the real deal when it comes down to burglars and jewel thieves. They say he had all the grappling hooks and assorted other gear to make breaking into places "Thomas Crown" easy.

Yup, enough to make Danny Ocean jealous.

This guy was very European/international cool, but he lost me a bit on the method of storage. Packing the loot into a pipe and burying it out in a field seemed a bit mundane

I understand if he didn't want to keep the jewels on his yacht or plane or on his estate in the South of France. That would just be silly. Everybody knows, you don't keep the loot on you.

Still, what was wrong with stashing it in a national monument, the Vatican or in the bottom of Shamu's tank at Sea World.

I call dibs on that last spot.

If Hollywood has taught me nothing else, it has taught me that you should always stash your treasure in the most difficult place possible to retrieve it.

Pff, see that's the problem with international jewel thieves these days. No imagination.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A knock at the door.

If one of my kids went on a shooting rampage and killed several people (including members of our own family) I'm not sure how I'd feel about the media circus parked outside my front door.

We weren't very well received by the family of Roy Perez.  Roy was the 28 year old man who shot and killed his own mother, then went next door and shot several members of his neighbor's family, killing two and wounding two.

The police characterized Roy Perez as having mental problems.

His family wouldn't talk to us.  They called the police at one point today and I was warned by a reporter from another station to look out for the big guy wearing blue.  He'd been trying to intimidate some of the other crews.

If the media ever knocks on your door, you don't have to answer it, or talk to us, or even give us a reason why you don't care to make a statement.

Still, we have a job to do.  We can't leave, it's not our call to make.

It would help us tell the story if you talked to us and helped us to understand what happened.  I can only imagine how difficult it might be, but I'm not trying to add to anyone's grief.

Still, I have to ask.  If he's shown signs of not being quite right in the past and other people in the neighborhood have seen his behavior and asked you to be careful with him.

Where'd he get the gun?

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Free Jeff Mailes!

No, no, you don't get a "Jeff Mailes" for free. I'm lobbying for the release from police custody of our beloved second in command.

News Photographer Jeff Mails was handcuffed and detained in the back of a squad car yesterday during the Glassell Park incident.

He's actually already been released. Jeff wasn't held for very long, but he joins an unfortunately growing fraternity of journalists to suffer what looks to be an obvious abuse of authority by the Los Angeles Police Department.

I don't have all the details right now and the situation is too serious for me to dance around repeating the story second hand, but here's the very basics of what I know from talking to other photographers who witnessed it.

Jeff was covering the drive-by shooting in Glassell Park yesterday. An officer of the LAPD took some exception to Jeff's questioning of where the media was and wasn't being allowed.

From what I understand, the general public was being allowed access to areas where the media was being told to stay back.

A short time later, Jeff was handcuffed and perp walked to a squad car.

That's the basics and I hope I didn't loose you in the complicated nature of the situation. The twists and turns and subtle--

No, wait. It seems pretty clear. It's either a crime scene or it isn't. It's either a secure area or it isn't. If the general public is allowed into an area and it's not a secured area, then there's no real legal basis for restricting access to the news media.

These things seem to take forever to sort out.

I'll probably be able to talk to Jeff when I get to work today and get his full side of the story. I'd really like to hear from the officer who decided it was necessary to detain Jeff.

With everything that's happened in the past year, you would think the LAPD might have developed a better way of dealing with the media, but then again maybe I'm not looking at the bright side.

At least they didn't beat him.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008


I noticed a lot of Flickr folk posted their moon pictures from last night. Not wanting to jump on the bandwagon, I wasn't going to post any of the similar shots I snapped while on assignment in Long Beach.

Yup, Long Beach again (but you wouldn't know that, because I haven't gotten around to posting about my Tuesday night yet).

I looked over at the clock and decided it really might be better to get to work on time. Here's my version of the ever popular handheld/slow shutter speed/high ISO shot of the eclipse.

It's funny, I thought these things only happened every few hundred years. Now it seems like we get one every couple of months.

Careful. It might just be meant to distract us from the upcoming presidential election.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Now there's something you don't see every day.

Just driving into work and I could see the smoke as I was getting off the 101 at Ventura Boulevard.

Back in my early news career days at KBAK29 in Bakersfield, I would have totally shot this and it would have been on TV.

Here in Los Angeles?


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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Working the Service

On Friday I started my day at 6:00am.  It actually started a little earlier, but that was the time that I arrived at the "Faith Dome" at the Crenshaw Christian Center.

So, get this.  At first I couldn't get in.

It took a bit of poking around to get into the media area.  Many of the surrounding streets were closed down in anticipation of the crazy large numbers of peace officers expected to attend the services.

Even with my press credentials, I had to wander around a bit to try and find an open entrance to the media staging area.  It was early and I was already fried coming out the gate.

It really helped to find that common sense wasn't totally impossible to find.  Two Motor Officers made a quick call to verify that the media entrance cut-off time hadn't been reached (it hadn't) and let me in through one of the side gates.

Most of the crew had been on the clock since 2AM and even though it turned into a longer day than anyone on the crew really anticipated, we weren't completely surprised that the service didn't exactly adhere to the published schedule.

I'd be surprised if anyone actually expected this thing to run on time.

It saddened me to be there, but being out in the parking lot and having a job to do, it just didn't hit me during the day as much as funerals have in recent times.

Maybe because we were "on" pretty constantly during the day, that kept me from dwelling too much on the sadness and tragedy of the situation.

Check it out.  Yes, that's former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates in the photo below.

Sure, I know he still has his admirers, but I think Bratton (our current Chief) has become a more positive leader for Los Angeles.

Anyway, you know I was dead on my feet and I'm just thankful things went relatively smooth for our coverage.  I hate feeling like I was so far gone on Friday that I couldn't really witness the event as it passed right in front of me, but sometimes just getting through the day is the best we can hope for.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

LACMA Opening (as far as I know)

Exhausted and beaten up by the wacky schedule I worked last week, by Friday night, boys and girls I was gone. If there had been a major news story breaking, I think I would have had to miss it.

Facing facts, it just wouldn't have done anyone any good to have me try to zombie my way through any more time on the clock.

As it was, I still had a commitment to Dellis to attend the LACMA/Broad Contemporary Art Museum opening on Friday night.

Our mismatched schedules for Valentines Day made me really want to not disappoint my lovely wife. I know she'd been looking forward to the opening and I have an unfortunate pattern of having to cancel social events because of work related conflicts.

She's always understanding of that, but I'm sure it doesn't make it easy to miss out on things or to experience them by herself.

We both lead lives of interest to each other, but we don't often have the opportunity to share the better parts of our activities.

That's why on Friday after I got home (you'll hear about my workday in the next post) I showered, put on a suit and tie and took my wife out to the event she'd been looking forward to sharing with me.

I think I should mention again for dramatic effect, I put on a TIE.

It was a beautiful event.  Even in my zombified state of consciousness, I enjoyed the new installations and even the few pieces which I found to be pretentious and silly, were at least interesting to view.

Also, there was food.

In the big tent set up for the opening , there were salads (ceasar and an arugula) and a butternut squash soup (served in mini-bread bowls) which we enjoyed.  There were two types of brownies for dessert (mmm, brownies), a traditional chocolate and also a lighter one that I liked, but can't remember what it was made from.  I wish I could have payed closer attention to what was on my plate, but I'm thinking I'm actually lucky I can recall any details at all.

There's one detail that I can't forget.  Looking at Dellis from time to time through the evening (through my sleep deprived haze), I could see it clearly how much it meant to her that I was there.

I'm a lucky man and I may not know art, but I know what I love.

Maybe someday I'll take a nap, get really well rested and we'll go back and I'll get to see everything that I missed at the museum.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

It's a shame.

I was in Oxnard following up on the big story the other day.

One of the sad parts about this is that I believe some people might feel as if there were no other choice.

There isn't any point about being a man that needs to be proven through taking a life.  There's always another way.

We need to be better.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's Funny

Funny ironic, not ha-ha.  We spend a lot of our resources on covering the awards shows.  Recently it's been increasingly frustrating, as appearances by the biggest stars are becoming more and more rare.

It used to seem very glamorous and exciting to see the celebrities up close and actually have the opportunity to talk to them (even if just briefly).

That innocence is fading away and my somewhat marginal celebrity interest is succumbing to fatigue.  Yup, I can't even think about it right now.  All I really can do is keep smiling and working.  Things aren't likely to change and I'm still too tired from working many long hours to have a good perspective on it.

It's no wonder I'm pressed for time (currently my most cherished commodity).  There's too many little tasks being neglected to put in the long hours.  Gee, I still have to fill out my expense report to get reimbursed for the $15.00 we were charged to park in the designated "media" parking lot.

A cup of coffee and a great story to cover today.  That's all I'm asking.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kermmie Awards?

I'm still recovering from the long day at the Grammy Awards.

This is really the only celebrity shot I got.  Sorry, maybe I just wasn't trying very hard, but the red carpet arrivals just aren't what they used to be.

I've got a few errands to run, but I'll check back a little later.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Grammy Awards from a different perspective.

If you watch the Grammy Awards tomorrow, I want you to notice the width of the red carpet area.  It's not hugely important, but I'll be coming back to it later.

Joel "Iron Chief" Fallon and I did the load in for our coverage of the awards on Friday.  The "load in" is the set up and cabling of our news vans to cover a major event.

It could also be a minor event that we're covering because it just happens to be on our network, but mostly these are the regular annual events, like elections and award shows.

These things might always be similar, but never exactly the same each time and we have to re-invent the wheel several times each year.

With so many stations needing to set up for their own coverage, we all have set scheduled times to be at the location.  That way, we don't end up tripping over each other.

The load in work is can be easy and we get to see a lot of behind the scenes stuff that folks at home don't always get to see.

Hmm, I don't remember this concert stage being here a week ago.

I got to tell you, I can't imagine setting up something as gargantuan and just watching them rig this thing kind of blew me away.  We had three 500' cable runs for our microwave truck and our SAT truck (which I won't be running).

I'm sure it's easier when you have an army of crew members to get the job done.  With just the Chief and myself for our relatively smaller production, it wasn't too difficult.

The hardest part was getting our cables from one side of the carpet to the other.  All the news vans are parked outside the tent on the left and all our camera positions are on the right.

We have to cable from one side of the tent to the other.  Not a problem.  See, the red carpet area you're looking at is set up on risers.  The whole area is maybe about a foot or a foot and a half above the street.

We both took a turn crawling "army man style" from one side and dragging our cables with us to the other side and no, that wasn't fun.

The crews working on everything else were still busy when we left and they probably worked through the rest of Friday and also Saturday.

I got some scratches on my hands from crawling under the risers and I bumped my head.  There you are, I did my part.

I hope they finish off the rest of the work before Sunday.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Great Balls of Fire!

I've never been to the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, but I pass it pretty often on my way to work. Last night I got to cover the Grammy Foundation "event thing" being held there and managed to snap a few pictures on the red carpet.

I'm in and out of the field a lot, but last night I was actually shooting and cutting again. No SAT truck, no training, no load in, just the simple joy of covering an event for the newscast and trying not to screw up.

Can you say, rusty?

Jerry Lee Louis seemed to have an easier time of it than I did. He's getting on in years, but still gave a good performance of his signature hit.

He was the first star to walk down the carpet and I'll be honest, I was fumbling with my camera settings as the reporter was asking her first question.

A very brief moment of low anxiety, then my usual relaxed calm kicked in. His first sound bite was the one we used. I'm lucky I got it.

I was proud of myself for having recognized Chrisette Michele the moment she walked onto the carpet. Even though I'll admit I have pretty crappy taste in music, I actually bought her CD and everybody else in the world also seems to believe she's talented.

Yay me, for discovering her all on my own.

Well, now we're back to my being fairly clueless when it comes to celebrities and pop culture. I could find out who this is, but it's really sad that I had her name last night. Yeah, that was last night.

A little help here. Who is she again?

Nothing against him, but I'm not much of a Fogerty fan. His music might have been in the background playing during some points of my life (I say this because I do recognize the tunes), but if he didn't have a publicist two steps ahead of him, I wouldn't have known who he was.

I know he's popular, so I'll snap his picture and put him on the blog for anyone who is a fan. His first name is John, right?

With the help of fellow photographer Carl Stein, I made it through the assignment. We made it on TV and all I want to do now is charge up my batteries and get ready for the main event this weekend.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

When the smoke clears.

I almost wish there were another way to choose the person to run this country. On some level it feels like a popularity contest and that would almost seem to preclude anyone actually well qualified from winning.

When all is said and done, it's at least of some small comfort to me that I participated in the process.

If (when?) the candidate I voted for loses, then I'll be able to complain about the state of things with a clear conscience.

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Did you lock the van?

With all the long hours of the past couple of weeks, I got a little out of sync with my photos and when I wanted to post about the Republican debate assignment from last Wednesday, the time flew past and look, now it's already just about next Wednesday.


Yeah, I know. Enough of your excuses "be", what'd you see behind the scenes?

Not much, really. It was one of those days where I barely had time to come up for air.

I was running our dual path SAT truck (hey, remember when I used to carry a video camera and shoot the news?). I had to juggle a bit more than usual. It was my responsibility to cover the two SAT paths for two of our crews, Newspath, and also KPIX out of San Francisco.

Honestly, not a lot of adventure to be had while sitting in the truck farm all day and through a good part of the night.

Having been at both events, I liked the relative peace and serenity that was a part of the Reagan Library location. You can compare that to the circus atmosphere that was out on Hollywood Boulevard.

Sure, I've often been part of the sideshow at a (media) circus or two myself and I'm all for people setting standards different from mine when it comes to public behavior, but I liked being able to step away from the SAT truck every now and then and not worrying about some nut case rummaging through the van.

It's bad enough that I have to stay sharp and keep one eye open in trying to keep the politicians out of my pocket.