Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Last Post of 2008.

I'm just going with the flow and trying to not think about the sadness surrounding the story we covered down in Orange County earlier on the eve of the new year.

Just the facts and basic details, a woman was badly burned during a house fire that happened on the morning of December 31st, 2008.

We were in the O.C. for a change of scenery. The O.C. bureau photographer I'd been working with this week on the Aurora edit system needed some practical application of what we'd been going over in the station garage since last week.

Photo by Dave Turner

We had started off with a lame story and my first reaction to the breaking news assignment was glee. I didn't know people had gotten hurt during the fire.

That bit of news greatly tempered my eager initial reaction.

The fire was mostly out y the time we arrived on scene. We shot the wrap up, talked to witnesses and got official sound from one of the firemen who had to enter the burning structure to save people.

Often we cover fires where there's only property damage. Often enough that it's somewhat shocking when people are hurt or worse.

There is nothing to be done about the situation. All we can do is just focus on the task at hand.

This isn't the way I would have chosen to end the 2008 news year, but I know there's never a choice in the way things happen in life. You can call it fate or whatever you want. My prayers go out to the victims.

We cut the piece, did the liveshot and I'm ready to face the next assignment.

Happy New Year. Goodbye 2008, hello 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Riding It Out

We're on the last days of 2008. I'm making my plans (resolutions?) For next year and managing a training session.

Big things coming up. Don't blink, you might miss something.

I said, don't blink!
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Frank Luck

"Henceforth I ask not good fortune. I myself am good fortune." -Walt Whitman

It's about 3:00am on a Sunday morning and my world is rocking along just fine. My lovely wife and I are enjoying the peaceful quiet that emptynesters feel after the holiday storm.

Our visiting children have returned to the places where they are tending to their young adult lives. Our youngest has had the opportunity to feel what a holiday away from home is like (honestly, I don't think she particularly cared for the taste of it).

With all that's happened in the past year, I guess I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about 2009.

It's probably going to become a tradition.

The upside down Jesus Tree seemed to be a shockingly good hit, sparking debate and showing just how twisted my "Action Wife" Mrs. Frank can be.

Heh-heh, I bet people thought it was my idea.

I'll remember this month for many of the gifts that I received during the holiday season, covering the snow on the grapevine. . .

. . .the bug that was hanging with me for the better part of two (soon to be three) weeks and also for the photo shoot I had with Colonel Paul Skolnick.

Colonel Paul is working on a new music project, but I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to reveal at this point (shush, I may have said too much already).

I just wanted to mention it because I had a really great time working on the photos for the project. Time has always been my most precious commodity. It frustrates me when I'm out sick. It's difficult to not feel like I'm spinning my wheels when I could be working on something and being productive.

I'm lucky.

Lucky in that my time freely given towards doing something I enjoy doesn't always require a price tag. That being said, Knowing that photos I took will likely become a part of someone else's family history, grants me a small precious form of immortality. In my experience it also makes a ripple of good will that resonates beyond the scope of the thing being done.

Not everyone has that opportunity. Not many would value it over money. I'm not so rich or so foolish as to not realize the financial value in what I do.

It is, at least for me, of sufficient value to have answered when asked, by doing what needed to be done.

It is not dependent on denomination or season, it is entirely and wholeheartedly based on faith. My faith in people.

I'm going to grab some breakfast and figure out how to best make little or no use of my day. I know I haven't said it recently, but thank you for taking the time to read the things I write. I appreciate your time. I promise to try not to waste it.

Happy Sunday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

In El Monte, beFrank For CBS2 News!

Don't say, F**K.

I could go through the entire internal monologue, but because of the extra hours I put in at work on Tuesday, I'm behind even further on my last minute preps for Christmas. Plan? Forget the plan. The plan went out the window last weekend when I was too weak to leave the house (well, after I went out to pick up a pizza).

It was my first day back out in the field after being sick for the better part of the last week. Was I recovered and up for anything?


I was trying to cowboy up. The rain had stopped and it really felt like I could handle a plain vanilla general assignment shift.

Turns out I was right.

I worked with a reporter for the first half of the day. We shot a story, cut a piece, did a live shot, wrapped and I was heading back to the station. Somehow I happened to be the only photographer available to drive from where I was on the West side of Los Angeles (near Santa Monica) over to Whittier to cover a charity event.

Whittier is not near Santa Monica. It wasn't a happy surprise assignment. Not getting off work early was like a smack in the back of the head. Ouch, but no big deal.

Then they went and hit me with a breaker.

Hostage situation in El Monte. A guy snatched up a kid off the street. Meet a reporter there and do a live shot for the 5:00pm show.

One of the things all news photographers know to be true? If you hope for an easy day because, say, you're just recently getting over being pretty sick or you have a ton of Christmas shopping to do.

It just isn't gonna happen.

I made my way to El Monte and established a live signal. My camera was pointed at the Chinese restaurant where the suspect was holding his hostage. I managed to snag a PIO to do a live talkback with the anchors. It was rough because I was still scrambling to get things connected. He ended up having to listen to the questions being asked over my headset that was tangled up with my scarf.

Rough, but good compelling coverage. I figured it couldn't get any worse.

I was wrong.

Let me point out, I had no reporter yet. He was in traffic, but still on the way. Suddenly a monumental opportunity was presented to me.

Over the headset, a voice from the control room, "Bryan, do you think you could talk live over the mic and just tell us what you see.

What? Sure. Wait. What?

I've been looking for this moment for my entire news career, just not so much today. I'm actually worn out from the running around. I have the feeling I need more rest than I've gotten so far this week. . .but. . .but. . .aww, shoot, you never know when this opportunity might come around again.

Yeah, I'll do it.

Now, technically, I'm not ready. I don't have a monitor set up yet and I don't have a lavalier microphone. I'll have to hold the stick mic somehow and hope they don't want a lot of camera movement.

Things are happening inside the restaurant. It looks as if the police are moving in, but I can just barely make out shadows. Someone tells me I have a shot of the police exiting with the hostage. Okay, I'll take your word for it.

"We're coming to you next, stand by."

No butterflies, but I have an angel Bryan on one shoulder and a devil Bryan on the other shoulder.

Angel Bryan is reminding me (politely) over and over, you can't say, f**k. Not while live on the news. Devil Bryan is drinking a beer and laughing his ass off because he knows the truth. You SHOULDN'T say f**k while live on the news, but the reality is, well, it could happen.

I hear my name. I'm being introduced by the anchors. To my credit, I don't freeze up. I manage to get out a sentence or two about what I'm seeing. The police and rescue personel are moving in closer. I try to describe as much as I can. My brain misfires and I pause to think of a word. The anchors toss me a question. I answer.

They toss me another one. I though they were done, but they keep talking to me. I want to go home now.

They finally let me off the hook and I take a deep breath. Devil Bryan has fallen off my shoulder and is rolling on the ground laughing.

I ignore it because I'm pretty sure I didn't drop an f-bomb.

Yup, just pretty sure.

And that was it. The reporter showed up and we did a hit for the 6pm newscast, then handed off the footage to a night crew and I drove back to the station.


It was a rough day. Memorable, but rough. Paul Magers and a few other people told me I did a good job. The pat on the back felt good. Sure, at the time I felt pretty goofy and I couldn't bring myself to look at the air check, but I'm glad I had the opportunity.

The biggest downer on the whole experience was the fact (which I learned later) I completely missed something while I was on the scene.

During the rescue of the hostage, the suspect was shot and killed. I didn't know. I think a lot of people might feel as if the suspect only suffered an outcome which he should have considered more carefully before taking the hostage. Killing a human being, taking a life, this shouldn't be a casual thing. Not even when the outcome might seem justified by the provocation. I wrote this post with all the humor that I experienced prior to learning of the death involved because I wanted to share my experience from today.

That being the case, I need to share that I'm saddened by the outcome. I wish it had ended differently. I wish they had been able to take the suspect into custody and I wish he hadn't lost his life.

I'm a little down over the outcome. I'm not as happy as I'd like to be this close to Christmas. I'm not happy as I'd like to be writing a mostly humorous post.

There's only one word I can say about it all and I've been repeating it a lot in my head.

I think you know what that word is.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Back From The Dead

Maybe not dead (but hey, that would be a good trick). Last week I was as sick as I've been as an adult. Whatever flu or seasonal illness that was floating around out there grabbed me in a head lock and wrestled with me all week.

The one day that I managed to drag myself into work seemed to do two things.

It showed the folks at work how dedicated I am to covering the news and it proved beyond a shadow of doubt how much of a moron I can be when it comes to my health.

I never should have gotten out of bed.

Thursday and Friday I watched scattered bits of weather coverage between deep coma-like medicated bouts of unconsciousness.

I'm finally back at work today (sporting my traditional seasonal head-gear) and I'll be here all week. I feel like I'm ready for whatever comes up and that's how it should be when you work in news. Any day you're not up for anything, you should just stay home.

Even if you're missing the good stuff.

(ps - Did anybody notice that I finally trimmed my beard?)


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Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter (News) Wonderland!

Holy Jingle Bells, it's cold out here! Yeah, okay, but I guess I can't complain. A lot of people are out of work right now and the coming year looks to bring the pain like nothing anyone has seen in recent memory.

I'm up in Gorman covering a winter storm. I wish I were two miles up the road, in Frazier Park covering the storm, but like said, I can't complain. The hotel in Frazier park is closer to the better live shot locations, but we got booked into the hotel a couple miles away in Gorman.

That's just the way things go on the road. You kind of have to just roll with it.

We got here yesterday well before the snowfall. I helped with a couple of satellite shots from an overpass looking down on I-5. Traffic was clear and moving full pace. The storm wasn't expected to hit until much later in the evening.

It was cold though. Yeah, it was really cold.

After the 6pm show, we broke down the location, packed up the van and moved to my favorite snow spot. That would be the jack in the Box parking lot near the freeway off-ramp in Frazier Park.

The last time I was here (back in February), we started out as a daily assignment an wound up staying in pretty miserable conditions for the next five days.

No hot water and I became a trendsetting model of truck stop clothing.

At least this time I'm better prepared. I've got a bag packed that will carry me through the next few days and I know the lay of the land much better than I did last time.

I still held out a slim shred of hope that the snow was going to be less than every weatherman expected.

I woke up to this scene from my motel room balcony.


Oh, well. At least (I think) I'm not on the clock until noon. After 9am or so, I'll call the station and confirm what they want me to do today.

It's kind of funny. I fully expect to be miserable being away from home and working in the freezing cold. On the plus side, I'm sure to get a few interesting still shots.

Now that'll keep my smile on. Heck, I bet the cold will even help freeze it in place.

It just brings me back to what I said before about complaining.

Plus, they pay me to be here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Yes. It is cold.

Ouch. My fingers are too stiff to do any pecking on my Blackberry keyboard..

I'm hoping the weather holds up until the end of my shift, but I'm not going to bet on it.

And again I'm wondering why I volunteer for these assignments.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Churn, baby. Churn.

Flipped my shift to help out a fellow photog. That's why you're seeing sunlight in the picture.

It's a great day so far, but the possibility of snow coming to the Grapevine area is sort of chilling (and not just for the obvious reasons).

The last time I was up there, we had to stay for five days.

Well, maybe I'll get some good pictures at least.
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008


You know what I love? I love it when I get sent out to follow a pursuit and it ends before I'm anywhere near the thing. Wait, but then I'm out in the middle of rush hour traffic and I'm stuck trying to get back to the station.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Sad Thoughts.

Things were settling down by the time I'd made the drive down to San Diego. The day had started out pretty cheerful for me and this plane crash was completely unexpected.

If you haven't gotten the basics yet, an F-18 crashed in a San Diego neighborhood as it was attempting to land at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

The debris peeking up over the fence is part of the jet's canopy that landed a few blocks away.

Three people have been confirmed dead and a fourth is still missing as I write up this post. The pilot was able to eject and survived.

I don't want to offend anyone, but that's likely one of the victims being carried out. My first thought was to avoid using that particular shot, but it seemed like that would be less than candid or even honest.

I'm here and that's what I saw.

We were allowed pretty close to the one home that was completely destroyed by the crash. That was surprising. I expected to be kept blocks away, but the authorities allowed us to walk into the area.

Other homes were damaged and it's all pretty traumatic. A lot of the people from the area seemed like they were walking around in a daze. Shaken by the experience.

Not that it needs the help, but there are a lot of details to consider that are just easy ways to make yourself even sadder and depressed about this tragedy. This close to Christmas and at least one small child died as a result of the crash.

If you're safe at home tonight and your friends and family are also safe, be thankful for that. Try not to imagine details that are impossible to know. Keep a good thought in mind for the the friends and family who will need the strength in the coming days.

Well, I'll be here through the 11pm newscast. It's not likely, but I could even end up staying down here through tomorrow.

Unfortunately, that's a lot of time. A whole lot of time to think.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Release the Stars!

It turned out pretty cool. Yeah, I know I might have sounded kind of down on the event in the earlier post. Forget that because (WAHOO!), we got some stars on the carpet.

In the plus column, we had enough room to turn to the left or right without bashing our carpet mates in the noggins.

My luckiest shot came when Christina Aguilera made her way down the carpet. She wasn't slowing down to chat

Keep in mind, it's not always easy to snap a quick shot while handling the big TV camera. I don't even want to think about how many shots I took that are never going to see the light of day. The challenge for me is to get a quick shot between interviews and after I've shot enough b-roll of the celebs while they're still in range. I really have to be quick.

Some of those celebs are skittish and move like jackrabbits.

Not in the plus column, we couldn't bash our carpet mates in the noggins. Well, not with a plausible excuse.

Here's Tim Myers. I know, he's a famous musician. He was the first celebrity to make his way past us on the red carpet and the Grammy people only let famous musicians talk to the media on the red carpet.

Seemed like a nice guy. We didn't talk to him.

We totally would have talked to Taylor Swift, but she was one of the faster celebs.

Wait a minute. No, hey we did talk to Taylor Swift.

LL Cool J, who also holds the land speed title for fastest celebrity on carpeted surfaces, was the evening's host who managed to slip past us on the carpet line.

I've got share my appreciation for Kathy Griffin. We wouldn't have gotten nearly as much "good stuff" if she hadn't been working the carpet.

I've never seen anything like it.

She was blocking, stalling and intercepting nearly every celeb passing up the local stations. She was great. As far as I'm concerned, somebody should pay her to run carpet interference.

Hmm, better yet, everyone just make it a point to try and see her show when she's in town.

Let's seee, who else was there.

Lindsey Buckingham (he was in Fleetwood Mac).

Jermaine Dupri (he was not in Fleetwood Mac).

Christina Aguilara (also in Fleetwood Mac. . .okay, just kidding and besides, do I really need a reason to post another picture of Christina?)

John Mayer, whom I have on good authority, sounded great from the 4th row center (I wouldn't know myself, but we had folks on the inside).

Also, I'm pretty sure he waaaas. . .not in Fleetwood Mac.

We wrapped up our carpet coverage and rushed as fast as traffic would allow back to the station. Okay, rushed might be the wrong word for it. In getting back to the station we wasted no time, but traffic didn't make it easy to get there in anything resembling a speedy manner.

Okay, it's getting late. My back is still a bit twisted up from lugging the camera tonight and I am heading in for some rest. Sure, the first hour was slow, but that's just the way these things usually play out.

The last twenty minutes were not to be missed.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Grammy Noms

Still waiting for the first celebrity to make their way down the carpet.

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