Friday, January 30, 2009

Lunch Post

I know. We should be covering some news, but our stories are still percolating. We're getting lunch out of the way while we wait.

Scott Mackie there in the background had a double bacon cheeseburger, fries and a diet coke. I had blackened salmon with rice and vegetables.

I'll get back to you if anything interesting happens.
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Night In The City.

Just because it was a training night, that doesn't mean it can't be mildly interesting.  The plan was to meet up with a crew so my Aurora Edit System trainee could shadow another crew.

Shadowing lets the trainee get some practical experience by cutting a piece for air out in the field. 
We started calling this part of the training "shadowing" a while back. 

I love it when we add to our own lexicon.

We made arrangements with the desk to shadow a crew that needed to shoot an interview in downtown Los Angeles and then would eventually be heading to South Los Angeles.

The story was about three dogs who died in a car that had been stolen, then abandoned near 95th and Main.

Whoever stole the car, left the dogs inside.

That was a senseless and cruel thing to do.

We caught up to the crew we were going to shadow at 95th and Main.  Photographer Scott Mackie shot some footage of the area to use in the story and we then had to decide on the location to set up for editing and for the live shot.

I think most people probably don't understand urban areas because their knowledge about them has come mainly from movies and television (maybe news).

There's a fear that might not always be justified.  Certainly most of the people who live in the area don't fear the neighborhood.  I'd be surprised if violence actually touches the lives of most if any of the nearby residents.


It's also probably just a bit wiser to lean towards a more cautious course of action when you're driving a big old easy-to-hit target (we call them newsvans).  Also, let's not forget, live shots have been known to draw quite a lot of attention.

Discretion and valor being what they are, we drove another mile or so further down Main and set up across from the Southeast Division Police Station.  It's so much easier to do our jobs when we're not so worried about becoming the lead.

ps- The trainee edited the story, then he and I headed back to the station.  I found out later the crew we were shadowing was pulled and sent on an assignment out in Fontana.  Yeah, THAT Fontana.

You gotta love the random nature of our job.  Well, you don't GOTTA, but it helps.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Never (okay, almost never) Do These Things.

I came across this after (maybe just before) I woke up this afternoon.

1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

Over the years, I've done a lot of things I'm proud of doing. You probably don't want to hear about any of that. Let me dig and see if I can come up with anything salacious and tabloid worthy.

(I'm telling you now, the biggest secrets of my life are going to be buried with me. It's not that I've done anything terribly illegal or immoral, I've just gotten to an age where I'm pretty good at letting go of a lot emotional baggage picked up from mistakes and poor judgment.)

Here's a random rundown of Se7en Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me.

7. There used to be a drive-in theater at the corner of Redondo Beach Boulevard at Figueroa and that's where-- whoa, wait a minute, I can't tell that one.

There is a church on Hollywood Boulevard that used to be a Pussycat Theatre. The marquee is still there, but none of the original signage. If you had never been there back in the day and didn't know the history of the place, you probably wouldn't know what it had been in the past.

Before porn was readily available on the internet, when I was about 19 years old, I went there with the girl I was dating and we saw the "Deep Throat" and "The Devil in Miss Jones" double feature.

It seemed like a rite of passage at the time. Looking back, I'm pretty sure I contributed to the degradation of society's moral fiber and family values, but I have fond memories of that night at the movies.

6. In my junior and senior year of high school, I worked at a small Inglewood grocery store/butcher shop/liqour store called F&M Market. I was no more than 17 years old at the time, but I was able to sell beer, wine and liquor to adults. As much as I enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage now, even though it was readily available back then, I didn't drink. One of my best friends from high school also worked there and we were "the good kids" at the store. Not anywhere near perfect, but comparatively good.

I'm not sorry I didn't try more of what was available at the time, but I am amazed that we didn't let ourselves take more advantage of the innappropriate opportunities available.

5. I'm an asthmatic and I've always been an asthmatic. I can remember some pretty bad attacks as a child, but it was never so bad that I needed to be hospitalized or even rushed to the emergency room. I've known other asthmatics who have had a much worse time with the condition. My parents had to be very careful wth me and would sometimes limit my participation in sports. They didn't want to worry about me having an attack when I was away from home, so I couldn't join the city park or school teams.

I played basketball, football and baseball with my brothers, friends and other kids from neighborhood, but I never played on a team. I never had the whole "coach" experience.

4. As long as I'm talking about sports, I'll go with a group to a game or hang out with friends watching sports on TV, but I have never once in my life sat by myself and watched any team sports on TV. The closest I've come to watching sports has been watching parts of the Olympic Games, watching my kids play and watching the Roller Derby and Wrestling from the Olympic Auditorium (back in the 60's and early 70's).

Somebody asked me recently how I react when the conversation is about sports. I tend to nod and grin a lot.

By the way, the Olympic Auditorium is now a church.

3. Our older two kids are my wife's (Dellis) from her first marriage. Two years after we got married, it became clear that the kids' biological father wasn't going to play a large role in their lives.

What would happen if anything had happened to Dellis? Legally, biological dad could come back and claim the kids at any point. It didn't seem right at the time. We decided to petition for step-parent adoption and he agreed to allow it.

Over the years, once or twice I've wondered if we did the right thing. I love my family and I don't second guess the decision we made. It's long since ceased to be any sort of an issue.

I'm just thankful the worst case never happened.

2. I bought a copy of Giant Sized X-Men #1 brand new off the rack at a local 7-11. I also owned issue #180 of The Hulk. I don't know what happened to the Hulk issue, but the X-Men comic was handed down to my adult son.

1. On my 21st birthday, my older brother (Marcel) bought me my first "legal" beer at a Hawthorne strip club on 135th and Crenshaw called King Henry VIII.

Okay, comic books, alcohol, pornography and a lack of interest in watching sports. These are some of the things that have helped shape me into the person I am today. Woo.

I have some regrets in life, but I believe we are the sum total of all the things we experience. I may cringe, but I don't regret where I've been. I'm happy and eager to face where I'm going.

I was tagged by Will Campbell.

I'm tagging: William R. Snyder, Fluteprayer, Jill Marie Elliot, Angie Moriconi, Afton Almaraz, Chris Weaver, and Tara Lynn Johnson

Consider yourselves tagged. Sorry.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Starting Now!

Nothing posted since last Wednesday. Sorry. I'm nodding off after work when I usually write and post photos from my day.

Here's a quick update.

I got home last night, kissed my sleeping wife, grabbed a snack and fired up the laptop, then checked my mail while I ate and watched an episode and some change from the second season of "Dr. Who" (YAY, NetFlix!). Somewhere in all that, I fell soundly asleep.

That was not the plan. I'd blame Dr. Who, but I know it was my fault.

It happens more often than I'd like. I had intended to post about my day at work and managed to completely NOT do the thing I had intended.

Now, here I am again, at the station, sitting in the commissary and just trying to keep my head down in the hopes of maybe getting something (anything) posted.

It's so much easier when stuff happens and I get assigned to cover it.

I can tell you though, nothing actually amazing happened yesterday. It was just a training day (one of three scheduled for this week), but I haven't strung together much more than a couple of twitter updates since last week (I start feeling out of sorts when I don't write).

The pics from last night are still in my camera. They'll have to keep until I get home tonight. I promise I'll try not to fall asleep-- wait, I better not promise that. There's no telling what kind of day I could wind up having.

There's always the possibility that I might actually need to crash when I get home.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

McDonalds Melting Pot

I'm on lunch. Big Mac attack hit me as I was turning the news van off Santa Monica onto LaBrea. I'm completely unapologetic about itbut if it makes you feel any better, I'm pretty sure you'll have the last laugh.

This is Hollywood. I walked in and I'm amazed by the diversity of the people dining.

Two transvestites were sitting at tables near the restroom..

A family of four (maybe tourists) sitting together, but experiencing some behavioral control issues of two young daughters.

A teen with two adults. Seems to be some sort of counseling session. The adults are wearing handwritten stick-on name tags.

An asian man sitting alone (behind me) speaking a language other than english into his cell phone.

A young rocker couple with dyed mohawks, leather, tats and small scabs on their head, face, arms and hands.

The one that really got me was the homeless man with scary precision and timing. He entered from one side of the restaurant, deftly picked up a cup out of the trash bin next to the door, walked over and filled it at the drink machine, then walked out to the outside tables and took a seat. I don't think Ronald would approve.


Quite a show. I'm going to have to come back here with a camera someday.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Friends

We heard on pretty good authority there was free wine at a screening in the Westwood area. Cheers to Mandy, Vanessa, Levi and Marisa.

Thanks for stopping by the van. You all made our night much more interesting.
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Where Was I On Inauguration Day?

Yeah, I'm as shocked as you are that I wasn't in Washington D.C. to cover the inauguration of the first black President of the United States.  What can I say?  Economic times are tough on news.

We've cut back considerably on the stories we're traveling to cover.

I'd long since resigned myself to the fact that "we" weren't going to DC.  Since "we" weren't going, "I" wasn't going to foot the bill myself to witness the inauguration first hand.

There's a better than good chance I'll be adjusting that attitude, because the economy sure isn't going to pop back over night.

That's why I woke up early and drove down to the big public viewing party at LA Live.

"Woke up" might not be the most accurate term for it.  I somehow managed to drag/crawl/stumble my way out of bed and woke up enough to navigate my way down to what was likely the biggest local public inaugural event.

CBS2/KCAL9 had a crew out.  I chatted with a few of my news brethren.  It felt really odd not being on the clock and this was the first time I've ever just gone out to snap stills of a news event.

A few blogging heavy hitters were in the crowd.  (I hope I get the facts right) Eric Richardson of "blogdowntown" introduced himself to me.  I've been to his blog on occasion because I secretly want to live downtown and ride a bicycle everywhere.

Just like another blogging hero of mine, Will Campbell.  Decked out in his most patriotic of cyclewear,  Will (not to be confused with Dave Bullock) also extended his hand in greeting.

The day wasn't about me and my blog, but I really need to mention that Mr. Ali and Mrs. Andrea Santana decided to witness history on the jumbotron screen.

(Woo-hoo, "asantana" made the blog!)

There was definitely something about being in a community of others that seemed to motivate folks to watch the show somewhere other than in the comfort of their homes.

Gee, maybe they should have had the inaugural here on the West coast.

More than one person commented to me about the warm weather we were having this morning compared to the East coast.

Personally, I freeze solid at temperatures lower than "brisk" and I can't imagine what I would have had to wear to keep warm in Washington.

Looking at the t-shirt, I'm surprised there weren't more vendors out (might have something to do with the venue management).  I probably would have picked up a t-shirt or maybe a bacon wrapped hot dog.  The Starbucks was open, but I didn't even want to think about what kind of line might have been going on in there.

Speaking of lines.

One of the more interesting attendees (no, not our reporter).  If this is a mascot for something, I'm sorry, but I don't know what it is.

It was a good sized crowd, but nowhere near as many people as those watching it first hand.  Still, the emotional mood here at LA Live was actually touching.  I could see tears in quite a few eyes.

My job gives me great opportunities to be a witness of history as it's being made.  The down side?  I don't get to participate and I don't always get to let myself feel what other people are experiencing.

It's a bright wonderful day or maybe I might be just jazzed about the Obama Presidency.

There is a certain audacity to hope, I'm told.  I really wish our President all the best on this day.  I thank him for his hard work in just getting to this point in time.

I'm glad I was able to make it out and capture a few moments of this day in photos.

(Heh-heh, I deleted a couple of long paragraphs.  Going off on a tangent, I was writing a whole thing about me and taking pictures, but it got to be more introspective than I feel like being today.  Some other time.)

I've got to run.  You know, the day isn't over yet.
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Some Days Are Better Than Others.

Looking back, I don't mind saying, Friday kind of sucked. It's not that I want to vent. Thankfully, the day is over and done. Plus, I've said before, there are lots of people who have worse days than me. It's just, well, my days are always full of potential and often pretty cool. Friday could have gone much better. Things just never quite clicked.

It started off bad with my drive to work. I travel a short distance on the 105 freeway and much further on the 110 and 101 freeways.

This is what met me on the interchange from the 105 to the 110. Traffic was bad and it never got any better. Bumper to bumper all the way through downtown and all the way to North Hollywood. Longest drive to the station I can remember ever having.

By the time I got there (late) the crews were heading out the door and I was left standing around looking like a newbie freelancer fresh out of Bakersfield.

After a few hours, I finally got an assignment. Take a hand-off from fellow Bakersfield graduate, Photographer Rob Pearson. He was working with Sharon Tay on a story down in Long Beach.

Cool. I love Long Beach.

Unfortunately, while I was en route, that story fell through.

Rob lunched and we eventually hung out near Pine Avenue waiting for another shot at getting Sharon on TV. I hit the Starbucks.

Oh, and we'd also gotten another assignment over near LAX. Didn't get that far, maybe five blocks or so before that story was canceled too.

Back to Pine Avenue, but then the real excitement hit.

Big accident in Lakeview Terrace. Two teens suspected of joyriding crash their car into a pole.

It's about 10:00pm and we have a long way to go. About halfway there we lose Rob Pearson, but gain another photographer, Nick Mercado. He's in Pasadena and can get there first.

To get to Lakeview Terrace from Long Beach, we zig-zag through four different freeways. We manage to arrive just before 11:00pm. Nick has already sprayed the scene. The wreck looks pretty awful.

It's probably not just me, I think this is a common nightmare for most parents.

There's an officer available to describe what the police know.

It's bad, but the two teens involved are likely going to be okay. You wouldn't guess that from the wreckage, but I'm not going to question it. Much better to just be thankful.

With the plane crash in the Hudson earlier in the week, it seems like guardian angels are working overtime.

Of course the can't do much to help us. Our troubles for the night aren't exactly over.

Power lines line both sides of the street. We can't raise our masts. There's no driveway or side street close enough to help us avoid a ridiculously long cable run. We call the station to see if they want us to try for just a liveshot away from the scene.

They don't.

I was happy to call it a night. People got hurt, but at least nobody died. There's no telling what I'll be covering next week. I'm hoping for something interesting.

If not, there's always Starbucks.
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Hey, Kids, I Just Got The Film Back From The Shop.

Heh-heh, I think that's what I'm going to say whenever I take pictures and don't post about them right away.

Sorry, it's been kind of slow and I really got nothing new to post about.  Since i snapped a few pics of the "tow incident", it seems like a good idea to share a bit more from that.

Plus, Kayla (my dog) is gnawing at my ankle (she wants to go for a walk), so I'll try to make this quick.

Regulars know my van broke down on the return trip from a story the other night.

I was working with a reporter on the Red Flag Warning and high winds we've been getting lately.  The story and liveshot were done and we were driving back to the station from Porter Ranch.

I knew something was wrong.  The van was sluggish and didn't seem to have enough power to climb even a small grade on the 118 Freeway.  It seemed reasonable that we'd be able to make it back to the station.

Around the 118 and 405 interchange, things were starting to get worse.  By the time I made it to the 5, the reporter was asking if she should call the desk.

I have to admit, for a moment I considered trying to limp the van back to the station by taking the streets.  Heck, it could have been worse.  This was the same van that had suffered a small electrical fire not too long ago.

Pulled off the freeway and into a gas station.  Here's a couple things to remember if you're ever driving a reporter in a news van and you have vehicle issues.  I can give advice, because I've now been through this a few times.  Since starting in news, I've been towed back from Oceanside, Running Springs and Carpinteria.  Those aren't short trips.

You have to stay with the van, but you might want to arrange for a ride for the reporter.  Every big tow truck I've ever met only has two seats.  The reporter sitting in your lap or sharing a seat is not a legal option.

There aren't that many companies with trucks big enough tow a news van, so make friends with the tow truck operator.

Gee, wish I had a good third piece of advice, but that's pretty much it.  I was thinking, if you can manage for your van to break down where something interesting and worth putting on the news might happen, that'd be suh-weet.

I was hoping for that myself, but it didn't happen.

Maybe next time.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

. . .and more training.

Don't get me wrong. I'm okay with the training gig. Heck, if I really didn't want to do the training, I'm sure I could have figured a way out of it.

It's just the whole "not covering news" thing that's frustrating.

It's just that history is being made and some big stories are happening. I'm feeling as if events are passing me by.

I can deal. In news, tomorrow is likely to be something totally different.

Funny how that works
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vacation Memories

"Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to January 8th, 2009."

That's not a direct quote. I just needed to get into the spirit of writing up something I should have written about last week.

Not a lot of adventures in news to post, I was on vacation.

No real traveling, I just wanted to relax and decompress at home.

I'm not sure if anyone can relate to my need to just hang out around the house from time to time. Working in news (which I heart very much), has a habit of sending me all over with very little input in the matter. I go where the news takes me.

Sure, I dig that. It's a benefit. I enjoy the random aspects of what I do, but for me, too much of any particular thing makes it less of a good thing.

Well, except taking pictures. That's always good.

Still, from time to time during the year, I find myself wanting to disconnect from the pressures of deadlines and commitments and I just want to relax by indulging in some of the things I work to be able to enjoy.

I may have mentioned, I really like taking pictures.

Last week after two days of going and doing (Venice Beach and Bakersfield), I decided to wake up early and look for some morning golden hour photographic inspiration in my own neighborhood.

The street where I live borders the 105 Freeway. I'm only a couple of short blocks away from the Crenshaw Boulevard Red Line Station.

Since living here, I've watched some spectacular sunrises and sunsets from my home. I've just rarely taken the opportunity to walk around the corner and snap away with my camera.

I'm not much of an early morning person. Dellis was out of town with her mother and since I'm no longer allowed to make adjustments to the alarm clock settings, it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of the opportunity.

I got up zombie style and set out to snap a few pictures.

I'm no stranger to riding the rails, but I'm not positively clear on the legality of snapping photos from the Red Line Station itself. I do know there's a big sign that clearly states only ticketed passengers only.

No problem there. I bought a ticket. Seemed like a worthwhile investment of a buck and a quarter.

The sun was up and even with the morning haze, I managed to snap a few satisfying pictures.

Nothing award winning, just shots that I'll be able to look at somewhere down the line and smile from being reminded of the memories of that day.

Maybe it'll be years from now and I'll have gotten really good by then at taking pictures. Maybe I'll wonder why I didn't use different settings on the camera. I can see me kicking myself.

It could happen, I do that sometimes now.

More likely though, I'll cut myself some slack. It was a beautiful morning. Nobody called the cops on me (that's always a concern) and the pictures I took will hopefully be around for a long time.

No deadlines were hit. No time sheets, invoices or expense reports needed to be filled out. I took all the time I wanted and as much time as I needed.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to share, but I'm going to cut it here. If I try to say anything more about it, I might screw up that feeling of freedom.

Enjoy your day. I'm certainly enjoying mine.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Broken News

Not the best possible end to my first day back from vacation. The microwave truck I was working from died on the way back to the station.

The van held on long enough to limp off the freeway. Nothing more to do now. I will sit here and hope some big news story happens right in front of me.


I miss unit #19.
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Welcome to the Show

Starting the artful day at the BIG photo exhibit "photo la" (in Santa Monica).

I'm in the hole $30.00 and that's not including what I paid for a seminar this morning.

(Just walked in)

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Enjoying Venice Beach, CA

I'm feeling kind of sluggish and groggy. I wonder is it possible I could be over-relaxing while on vacation? I'm back to work on Monday, but I think I'm going to need your encouragement if I really want to finish my solid week of goofing off.

The last couple of days weren't too bad. While resisting the urge to accomplish anything really productive, I'm still trying to do some of the things that I've wanted to do and promised myself I'd get around to (but never did) for the last few years.

Taking a quick stroll an shooting some of the weirdness out at Venice Beach was on the agenda for Wednesday.

This is another area that's practically in my own backyard, but I don't visit very often.

I can remember bicycling out here once with my older two kids and I've done the same with friends back in the day.

It's a great place to snap pictures and even though I just wanted to hang out just long enough to cross the item off my to-do list, in the short time I was there I found plenty to massage my creative impulses.

The day was slightly overcast and there was maybe a bit of winter chill going on, but the sun was peeking through the gray every now and then. There were fewer people sightseeing because of the haze.

Fewer crowds by far than I've seen on some weekend days.

Along with the pigeons and seagulls, I've enjoyed a nice breakfast or two here at the Sidewalk Cafe.

It probably would have been my lunch spot for the day. . .

. . .if I hadn't already enjoyed some awesome grub over at Enterprise Fish Co.

I don't know if the Sidewalk Cafe serves oysters, but the Enterprise Fish Co. certainly does. They also serve a mean grilled red snapper with grilled vegetables (zucchini and red peppers) on the side, a good porter beer on draft and a triple layer chocolate cake.

I should also mention that I needed the walk along the strand to help me digest some of the lunch.

Oops, I got ahead of myself and forgot to mention the green salad with pears and glazed walnuts I had to start.

During my walk, I was a little disappointed in not finding vendors selling tube socks. I didn't really need any, but I just remember they used to be a hot item to sell.

There were still plenty of sunglass vendors. I think I bought a pair or two from this stand back in the 80's.

I spent more time in the car driving to Bakersfield on Monday than I did hanging out at Venice Beach.

Still, it wasn't the quantity of the time spent, it was the quality of the time.

It's difficult for me to understand how some people feel the need to unplug completely while they're on vacation. At some point I'll have to try that. I'll put down the digital camera and stay away from the computer.

Yeah, we know that's not going to happen.