Friday, October 31, 2008

Let's Be Better

My thanks to Gary Sunkin for the use of his Sarah Palin effigy REMOVAL pictures. Gary was on the scene and managed to snap a couple of quick shots when the homeowner came out and took down the offending effigy. No worries Gary, I'm keeping these local on this blog.

This actual story really didn't move me one way or the other, but I understand how it might make other folks upset.

On Wednesday, I found myself rushing over the hill with a reporter to catch the tail end of this little drama.

Photo by Chief Gary

Offensive? Yes.

Not worth the time and effort because there are more important things going on in the world?

Photo by Chief Gary

Let me say this; I tend to follow the school of thought that (reasonably) assumes I can't control what someone else does. I can only control what I do. So, maybe I don't always succeed, but I always hope to set an example of the behavior I'd like to see in the world.

I also like to remember, not everyone is going to get to the same place at the same time.

Sorry for being so preachy on a Friday. I need to lighten up. Gee, maybe I'll get the West Hollywood Halloween Festivities assignment and with that, snaps some great pics of all the odd stuff going on out there tonight.

Yeah, I know there are more important things going on in the world. Hey, quit trying to turn my own post against me.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Make It Count

The number of people who will vote in this election is expected to break records.

I'm curious about the individuals who complain about their life or about the government and still won't take the time to make their choice.

Wait, maybe they are making a choice.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lt. Dan Band Jam Quick Shots

Been meaning to explain these shots that have been up on FlickR for a few days. What? You Didn't know I posted stuff to FlickR? Wow. You've been missing out.

The CBS series CSI:NY shoots on the CBS Radford/Studio City Lot where our station is located.

It seems to be a tradition for their production to throw a mid-season wrap party and invite other folks working on the lot to come over and enjoy music, free food and drink.

The menu last year featured hot dogs and hamburgers. I've always classified hot dogs and hamburgers as some of nature's most perfect foods for all the eclectic ingredients found in each.

Somewhat sadly, I'm really really trying to not put anything into my mouth just because it's free.

(You may chuckle for a moment like Beavis and Butthead)

That's working out pretty well for my overall diet and fitness goals, but I should be honest and admit we got back to the lot late from our assignment and the food was all gone.

I'm going to pretend I wasn't going to eat any hot dogs or hamburgers, but truthfully we'll never know. I was just happy to get a chance to see Gary Sinise rocking out with his band.

While we're pretending, let's pretend I didn't stop for a Tommy's Burger on the way home.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

This Just In.

Well, no, it doesn't have anything to do with broadcast news, but it did come up over the weekend. How could we talk about the glory days of high school and not bring up the formal attire popular during the last of the 70's.

For the record, I was wrong. I didn't wear a powder blue tuxedo to my senior prom, but I think I was rather stylish in my white tux with yellow trim.

From left to right: Rosalyn Wright, Glen Lawrence, Robin Cousins, Keith Boyd, Clifton (CJ) Johnson's date, Clifton (CJ) Johnson, Donna Johnson (no relation to Clifton, Donald Mahoney, Christie Biscoe, beFrank, Tammie Devan and Gregory Dancy.

It was the Junior Prom where I first blazed a fashion trail followed by no one (if you believe what people say).

Left to right: Donald Mahoney, Donna Johnson, Antonia Armstrong, beFrank, Alphonso's girlfriend Valerie (?) and Alphonso Harris.

I don't know if I should admit it, but this wasn't the last time I wore a powder blue tuxedo either.

You can laugh if you want. I figure, it's nearly impossible not to laugh, but I think someone should at least acknowledge my bravery for posting these shots.

Too bad I had to take down a few friends with me.
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Serra We Honor Thee!

I think they never should have changed the school song.

We could debate that all night, here's just a quick post to let any and all of the Junipero Serra High Reunion attendees know that, yup, you're in the right place.

I've got about 130 shots that I think you'd like to see. You can follow this LINK to my FlickR pages.

Feel free to browse everything else posted while you're there.
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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Me, Ray and The Laker Girls

There are bigger sport fans in the world than me, but that doesn't matter.  When you're sitting courtside covering the game, you get into the moment.

It's actually been a few years since I covered any sports.  At some point the station set aside a few guys to just shoot sports and the few opportunities for news shooters to help out have simply gone to guys other than me.

No big deal.  That's just part of the randomness of what I do.  It's all luck of the draw.

Last night, I guess you can say I was lucky.

The assignment was about the Laker fans in the Inland Empire who would be getting to see a Lakers game being played at their new sports arena.  The small downside to that is the new arena is in Ontario and the rush hour traffic drive to get there was going to be a killer.

The funny thing is, I also had a mandate to shoot as much of the Laker Girls as I could.

I know.  Sucks to be me.

So, there I was courtside, paying some attention to the game, but really just waiting for the perky Laker Girls to bounce into action.

My cell phone rings.

It's Ray Culberson.  He's one of my best friends and he's at the game.  He's seen me down on the court sitting next to the Laker Girls and he just wants me to know that he's seen me.

"Hi, Ray!"

While I'm on the phone with Ray, I ask the Laker Girl sitting next to me to turn around and wave at Ray.  She's cool.  She does it (and now she's my favorite Laker Girl).

I'm never going to be rich doing what I do for a living, but you gotta realize, at times, my job satisfaction is through the roof.
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Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Let's Hope For A Pursuit

Hearing the words "fecal matter" in a reporter's track tonight is making me appreciate the antics of my last shift.

Never thought I'd be missing the pumpkin patch.

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News From The Pumpkin Patch

It's after 9:00pm, we're at a pumpkin patch in the Saugus area working on a relatively lame story.  Maybe I shouldn't be so cynical about covering smaller stories.  The people we talked to were all nice, it's just me.

I'm probably still a little cranky because I'm not getting any of the out of town trips for election coverage.  The station may not send anyone at all, but as of right now, they won't be sending me.

It's okay.

I can't have every out of town trip.  When we are doing a lot of travel, I get to go more often than not.

Back to the great Halloween story.

So, I'm done editing and we're getting close to the hit time for our live shot.  We get a call to feed back tags and break down.  The desk wants us to try and intercept a high speed pursuit that will likely be coming our way.

Hot damn!

We're feeding back tags (looks like a live shot, reporter tosses back to the anchors) so they can run the package we've already fed.

While we're shooting the tags, the desk calls and tells us to scratch the closes, just break down and catch up to the pursuit.  It's coming our way.

I drop the mast.  The reporter and I throw the gear in the van and head back towards the freeway.  We can see the lights of helicopters in the distance.

We watch the lights in the sky slowly cross our path, but we're still too far from the freeway to see any of the ground units speeding up the 5 freeway.  We've left the racks powered up because every now and then we'll get a sweet spot of off air TV reception and we can see the direction of the pursuit.

The pursuit passes us and the CHP finally catch the guy a few miles past Santa Clarita.  Traffic backs up and we're stuck in the middle of it with no way to move in any closer.


When traffic starts moving again, we drive forward a mile or so and pull off to the side of the road just past where the pursuit ended.

It's over.

We can't go live from there, so I shoot some video of the suspect's car and of the officers processing the scene.  We're almost done.  The station doesn't want us to go live, but they want us to gather info if there's any available.

We're hopping off the freeway to head for the CHP sub-station, but we see a couple of CHP cars off to the side of the off-ramp with the suspect.


There goes the adrenaline again.  We park and jump out of the news van.  I shoot video of the suspect sitting in the back of the patrol car.  The CHP officers finish up their business and speed off. 

They actually seemed aggitated and drive off a lot faster than they probably need to.  I'm thinking they just didn't want to give us a good shot of the suspect.  I'll never know for sure.  I'd ask, but we never got to talk to anyone at the CHP station.  We stood around outside waiting for someone to come out, but it never happened.

We finally got the call to come on back home.

So, tell me, did anyone see our Halloween story?

I don't know if it was particularly productive, but I got my adrenaline fix for the week.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Very Artsy

Dellis and I are pretty much on the same page as far as living the bohemian artist life in downtown Los Angeles.

Yeah, that'd be pretty cool.  We'd love to own a loft with a city view.

No, we wouldn't want to live there all the time.

It looks like we'll be staying in suburbia for the time being.  That'll work as long as every now and then we can hit a gallery show opening like the one put on by Edgar Varela's Fine Arts.

I think everybody knows I was coming down with something over the weekend.  Even though I did manage to work in the yard during the morning, I was already feeling pretty far under the weather.  By Saturday night, there wasn't much gas left in my tank.

Still, I've managed to miss most of the gallery openings (except my own) that I'd been interested in this year.

Plus, because of our conflicting schedules, my lovely wife and I also haven't been having enough time together.

The gallery space was cool.  I like the mid-renovated decayed vibe of downtown art space.

The artists on display were Meeno Peluche (I really want to see Cuba someday), Shalon Goss and Alexandra Breckinridge.

They all had nice works and I'm glad I dragged myself out of the house.

being the goof that I am, I wonder if anybody saw when I tried to toss a couple of bills to the blind guitarist playing in the gallery.

One bill hit the mark.  the second bill landed on the floor by the guy's foot.  I almost reached down to pick it up, but it just seemed too much of a sitcom set up.

The show runs from now until the end of the month.

Time for work.  Gotta cowboy up and head out.
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Artful Saturday Night

Dellis and I haven't ventured out in weeks. I've been promising myself I'd make the effort to get off the couch. That's why you can find us at a gallery opening in downtown LA.


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Thursday, October 16, 2008


The fires and Palladium were high points for the week.

I know it's popular. I know a million teenage girls would love to be standing where I am.

It just isn't my thing.

Stop laughing at me.
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Had some edit computer issues last night and the security at the event had to be convinced to let us set up our live shot in a way that made sense (don't get me started on that).

Otherwise, it was a very cool night at work.

What's not to love about being a witness to music industry history? Not in those exact words (heh, more like, effing cool), but that's what was running around in my head last night at the re-opening of the Hollywood Palladium.

It's been years since the last time I was inside the place and even then I believe I've covered the Tattoo Convention and church services more than I've been inside for music acts.

A fresh coat of paint and some serious structural work on the main ballroom has made the place look very classy.


It wasn't too long ago that our station was next door neighbors with the Palladium and I saw many a homeless person setting up camp in the alcoves outside of the building.

This isn't the first redeveloped property in Hollywood. It seems the area has ups and downs in maintaining an upscale image.

Good luck to them. I enjoy the lights and photo opportunities of the area and it would be great to see it maintain a level of success.

Having not been born yet, I couldn't make the original opening. Years from now, maybe I'll be able to look back at these shots and compare how everything looked on the night of the grand re-opening.

Pretty cool.

Fires early in the week and Hollywood red carpet event. It's only Thursday, but I'm kind of on a roll.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sesnon Fire. . .well, Sesnon Day At Work Without Fire.

It's frustrating, but I'm the only one in the picture who didn't do any real work on the fire today.

In fact, they were all from the day shift and I was just picking up the SAT truck for the night shift.

The fire had laid down and the winds weren't driving it into a frenzy like last night.

Boy that looked cool. Not the kind of cool like relaxing at home with a beer, watching someone else doing something insane cool.

Just cool like I'd have rather been there instead of hanging out a block away from the command post waiting for a press conference with the mayor.

At least I got a couple of nice shots of the fire rigs tonight.

Well, actually I can say, I am happy for all the people who don't have to worry about their homes going up in flames.

A dull day at work is always better than having to witness someone suffering a tragedy.

Photo by Steve Medina

My thanks to Steve Medina for taking my camera and putting it to good use.

Not for my sake, but for all the people who might still be in the path of the fire tomorrow, I'll be hoping for another dull day.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Somewhat Poetic

The APTRA Camp assignment involved a brush fire and today we have this.

What are the odds?
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Live Presser

Right now.
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APTRA Fake Out

I don't know why, but I've never been big on posting video to the blog. Over the weekend, I was a volunteer at the APTRA Reporter Camp up in Mailbu Canyon and I'm suddenly inspired to share a short clip.

It's always a fun weekend. Filled with mostly college age students (but open to anybody) who want to see what it's like to work as reporters in news. It's a great opportunity for networking and a chance to get feedback from professionals.

At the start of the weekend, we break off into groups of two or three mentors and five or six camp attendees. As a group we all work on covering a mock breaking news story.

It's an intense weekend and I'm sure I'm not doing the two day event justice. It takes more than a dozen civilians and volunteers from local and county fire and law enforcement agencies to pull off a really elaborate news story.

The day is fueled by a large group of people who are all eager to show that they have what it take to get their first jobs in news.

With all the folks participating, you get a media crowd of photographers and reporters that's as big as a Britney Spears paparazzi entourage and every one of the students is looking for the next development in the story.

So, you have to ask yourself, what would happen if one group suddenly decides to just run randomly as if they had spotted something important to the story.


Yeah, but it's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. You might have to watch more than once, but as she's rounding the corner of the tepee, one of the girls from my group got tagged pretty good with a camera. She was rattled, but was okay. Most of us (okay, me) didn't even know she had gotten clobbered until a little while later.

I really felt bad that she'd gotten hurt. . .but obviously not bad enough to keep from sharing it on the internet.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

APTRA 2008

I'm happy to volunteer my time, but getting up on a Saturday morning (for free) took a lot.

Really a lot.


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Not To Be Confused With beFrank.

Why you don't say it to my face?  Punk.

Couldn't understand why Alec Baldwin would be talking smack about me, but I was quick to jump on setting him straight. 

Then I realized, oh, of course he wasn't talking about me.  He's probably talking about the House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Barney Frank (no relation).

Still, I'm sure you understand, in the current political climate my concerned that almost anything might become fodder for negative advertising.  Just to be on the safe side, I suppose I should issue a plausible statement of denial.

It's not true.  I didn't do it.  I completed a thorough investigation of the accusation and find myself completely innocent of any and all wrong doing.  Alec Baldwin is obviously talking out of his ass.


Now come on, it's the weekend.
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

. . .and slow it goes.

We've had three stories tonight, but I didn't feel like any of them were worth my time.

Well, that's not exactly true. Our stories have just sort of evaporated and now we're hanging at Starbucks.

Beats working for a living, I guess.
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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hot Dam Fire!

It gets in your clothes and your skin (I was going to say hair), your van and your gear and it'll follow you around for a couple days. To be honest, I actually kind of dig it.

I'm talking about good old smokey the smell from a fresh brush fire like the one I got sent to on Sunday when I was supposed to be running SNG for sports.

The Dodgers won on Saturday night and that cancelled out the Sports Department's SNG needs. I volunteered myself back over to news because I wasn't about to easily give up a day of overtime. Nosirree, buddy.

A day of VOSOT patrol would suit me fine and you never know when something big might break. The assignment desk could actually still toss me into a SAT truck on big enough breaker.

As it turned out, I didn't get the big breaker, but I did get the brush fire that burned over in the Sepulveda Basin area near the Sepulveda Dam.

Pretty dam cool.

Most of the fire activity was happening on Burbank Boulevard just North of the 101 Freeway and a little West of the 405 Freeway.

If you were driving in the area around 2:00pm, you couldn't miss it. As I was driving towards it on the 101, a plume of grey smoke was clearly visible.

Here's a little (maybe obvious) fire tip. If you see smoke rising from a brush fire or a structure fire and it's black, the fire is still burning, If the smoke is grey or white, the fire fighters have nearly put it out.

That's not to say the fire couldn't flare up again from a hot spot or smoldering embers, I'm just saying I know my chances of shooting some flame is less likely if the black smoke is gone.

After being sent the long way around by police officers, I made it the area where the fire was still burning. I quickly jumped out of my van, set up my tripod and as quickly as I could, started rolling.

The water dropping helicopters were coming in for a pass and I could see one tree fully engulfed. Good luck and bad luck for me. The wind was pushing the smoke directly towards me and I could barely see anything through my lens.

As I fumbled to get a white balance, the helicopter was flying in low for the drop. The blades drowned out pretty much everything else as it swooped in and dumped a ton of water on the tree that I was hopefully shooting through all the smoke.

The tree was extinguished and a fine mist of water and ash got blown towards me. Yes, yuck.

Not enough water to make me break out the rain gear, but more than enough to dirty up my lenses.

Oh, well.

It felt good being out in the field on a weekend day. There's a different vibe that probably comes from the smaller staffing levels. It's was also good to actually be out and getting my hands dirty. Even on the small Sepulveda Dam Fire and the couple of b-roll shots (for other stories) I picked up later in the day, It felt like I was out covering the news.

Everybody knows, that hasn't been the case this year with all the training I've handled.

So there you have it. It was a beautiful weekend and I hope everyone enjoyed their Sunday afternoon. If it's having dinner with family, relaxing in front of the TV, reading the paper or a good book; whatever makes you happy, I hope you enjoyed yourself.

Even with the folks back at the station avoiding me because I absolutely reeked of smoke, I don't mind saying, I dam sure did.
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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Working Sunday

It was supposed to be a day out at the ballpark. The station had booked me to shadow a retraining day for another SNG operator.

The Dodgers kind of screwed that up for me.

Now I'm just working a regular news shift, but I'm lucky because I got a nifty fire to cover. No injuries, no structures in danger, just smokey flaming fun.

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