Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Murdering the Community

I was in Compton yesterday at a candle vigil for the three people killed over the weekend.  Even with the lowest homicide rate in decades for the area, it almost seems that we're incapable of completely rising above the horrific violence.

I certainly don't mean to be defeatist in my attitude, I just want and expect better from people.  I'm just at a loss as to how we reach that expectation.

The woman in the center of the picture above is the mother of one of the victims. 

I couldn't tell you how many vigils I've covered at this point.  I never bothered to keep track.  You just don't recognize the significance of their quantity until you've been to a couple dozen (or more).

We stayed through our scheduled 10:00pm liveshot.  It's not an easy thing to stand out on the street where people have recently died.  There might have been a motive in the murders.  It might also have been a completely random act (though doubtful).

We don't know and we might never know.

It's not always easy or fun doing what I do for a living.  As always, I'm just doing my job and hoping the random violence doesn't reach out to me.
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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Museum Quality

Even though I can't be in two places at once, I damn well try.

Go ahead, quote me.

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Bits and Pieces (Captioned).

I'm not going to get anything done this weekend if I actually try to write up a post to explain these pictures.

Sylmar barricade on Friday night.  No live shot, but i was close enough to hear the shooting.

The bookends made it home this week for Spring Break and "the heck of it" respectively.  Our youngest daughter and son here being forced to smile for the camera.

The Garden of Angels story hasn't aired yet.  This ranks as one of the saddest stories I've ever covered.

New seats for the Chinese Theater and I got to hang out on Hollywood Boulevard for the live shot.

Actually over a week ago, but I really wanted to mention I had an assignment that put me in the 901 Bar near USC. 

I hate the fact that I'm leaving so much out.  Every one of thee shots deserves a post, but if it's going to happen, I'll have to try to get back to the blog later today.

Happy Sunday.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Enjoying Venice Beach, CA (Part II + 1)

Last week was fun, but kind of brutal. I got beat down by long hours and Los Angeles traffic.

The hours don't bother me so much, but the traffic just has a way of sucking the "sure, I want to do another live shot" right out of me.

After a week like that, I'm thinking maybe I deserved a long weekend. Gee, I knew you'd agree, so I took the day off.

Taking time off isn't always an easy decision to make. You never know when you might miss something.

This was an easy call, because I actually did have the time available and I was tired and I needed it and the best reason of all; my youngest daughter is in town for a visit.

Taking the day off would give us a chance to just get out and spend some time together. She'll be turning 21 in a few days and also graduating from college this year.

Time flies.

Anyway, the youngest and I spent part of the day enjoying a nice lunch together at the Enterprise Fish Co.

She had the garlic grilled shrimp with salad and rice. I had mahi-mahi, steamed clams, and parmesan mashed potatoes.

. . .also a Stella Artois beer.

After the meal, we had a nice stroll along Venice Beach.

You know, I like Venice Beach. There's always something to see and photograph. Maybe a little light on weirdness today, but still, not bad for a Monday.

The youngest and I hung out together for most of the afternoon. Nothing much of interest happened, but I figured I'd share a few pictures with you and tell you about my day.

I'm relaxed and ready to face whatever the world of news throws at me tomorrow.

(Actually, I'm thinking I should have had a second beer with lunch)

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Everybody Dance Now!

Dellis, Camia and I are enjoying a cultural night downtown.

I brought some corn chips in case I get hungry during the performance. Mmmm. Dancing with snackage.
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Airforce One Saved Me From Boredom.

Wow. The last few days have been exciting and even though I'm pretty happy to see the weekend rolling around, I wouldn't mind a few more days like the ones I just wrapped.

Things have been slow for me. A few years ago, it seemed like all I had to do was point my camera and snap the picture while I was on assignment. I'd likely have a picture of something cool.

Back in those days, my job was exciting on a regular basis and other than the death, destruction and mayhem, pretty often fun.

We news people get to see things up close that other people can only see second hand or from far away.

The week started fairly low key with a story on the folks camping out t0 get tickets to the Orange County Obama Town Hall Meeting.

Then it suddenly got all kinds of tabloid wacky.

Yup, that was me in the picture in the Los Angeles Times story on Tuesday's media circus out in La Habra.

Of all the important stories I've covered, I make the paper for Octomom. Good grief.

That's why it really felt good to be a part of the crew covering the President Obama events the next day.

Not that it was all going smooth for me. My initial position during the event gave me the not-so-great rear hall vantage point in the press area behind the riser.

It really would have depressed me if this was the only view I could manage.

Thank goodness after the show got started, the media wranglers were willing to let me up on the camera riser. A couple of minutes here and there for video and I even managed to snap a still while everyone was being so accommodating.

Ooh, here's a little tip. The Secret Service and everyone in charge of the President's media access is much friendlier if you word your request correctly.

Always be specific in your phrasing. I'd like to record video or I'd like to photograph the President is always, always, always, always, always, always better than saying, I want to shoot the President.

Trust me on that one, brother.

My experience at the Orange County Fairgrounds made my assignment to record Airforce One leaving Long Beach seem like a piece of cake in comparison.

Heck, you can't imagine how much easier it is to cover an event when you actually have a spot on the camera platform.

It's amazing, but getting the shots of Airforce One leaving is a full day assignment. The time gets filled pretty quickly with passing through a couple of different security checkpoints then setting up for a photo-op that only lasts a couple of minutes.

Such is news.

We stood around out on the airfield until late in the late afternoon. People who had been there the day before were all freezing. At President Obama's arrival, the sun was blazing and folks got sunburned.

It was just the opposite for the departure. There was a slight chill in the air and the sky was more grey than blue.

It took some juggling, but I got a couple of shots.

I've seen Presidents fly through town on Airforce One before. This just felt so much better for coming at a time when I've had so much less to feel excited about while I'm at work.

Maybe I should knock on wood or something. I still have one more day at work this week. I'd hate to end on a sour note.

Still, part of the interest in doing what I do for a living is always wondering where the next day's assignment will take me.

It could be something tragic, so I have to be careful about hoping for things to happen.

All I can do is just show up for work and be ready for anything. With any luck at all it'll be something cool. If not, no worries, there's always the next day.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Don't Hate the Player.

I've been so very lucky. In the whole cycle of Octomom media coverage I haven't been assigned to the story not even once. Last night when two of Nadya Suleman's children were brought home from the hospital, I was set up on the street in front of their home for live shots.

I don't know what to say.

I don't doubt that our presence contributed to the circus atmosphere, but the choice between doing our job by covering the story or not covering it isn't much of a choice at all.

There's no question in my mind that Nadya Suleman, her Octuplets and every angle of all the morality questions involved should be covered.

I don't want to cover it and I'm not particularly interested in standing in a mob like last night's again (yay, six more kids to go), but this story should be covered

It's ugly and doesn't inherently speak to anyone's intelligence, but you better believe people are watching.

It's so large that I can't even begin to defend the idea of less coverage.

It's another one of those days where I want to make a point, but I've only got a short time before I have to leave for work.

If the story is bothering you, then tell me, what would you have us do?

As much as you might question the judgement of the people in news who make the decision to go after a story like this, we can't ignore it. All we can do is cover the story as appropriately as possible.

I can't control how other people behave. I can only control how I behave. That's why you didn't see me on TV hanging from an SUV last night.

You know, to put it into perspective, I got about 19 comments from people who felt strongly about the coverage. That's more comments on any one story than I've gotten in quite a while.

Maybe that tells you something.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yup, Octo-Mom.

Just outside of the Octo-House waiting.

Mom is on her way home.
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Artistic Lives and Loves

A smart man knows his limitations.  I hope someday to be a smart man.

It's 3:00am and I really should be in bed, but I felt like I needed to add further proof to my theory about the weekend being maybe five or six hours too short.  So here we are and even though I did some of what I intended to do this weekend, there's one thing still to be done.

I can't quite call it a wrap just yet.  I need to mention that Dellis and I attended the 0pening reception for a Gallery Show at the Avenue 50 Studio on Saturday night.

It was a great reception and the coolest part was the fact that my lovely wife had one of her fiber sculptures in the show.

Woo-hoo is right.

It was a juried show and the Avenue 50 Gallery has got quite a bit of street cred in the Los Angeles art world.

It was quite an honor to be included in the show and I'm all kinds of proud of the lovely Mrs. Frank.


I'm starting to go a little crossed eyed from sleep deprivation, so let me just add my thanks again to all of our friends and family who made it a point to come out and support Dellis' artistic endeavors.

Heh-heh, I also would like to thank all the people we DON'T know who made it out.  Heck, now that we've gotten acquainted, next time let's try to car pool.

PS- My thanks to fellow photographer Auxy Herrera for taking over the camera for a few shots.  I like being in the picture too sometimes.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wake Up For Breaking News.

We were on a story.  A perfectly good story over in East LA.  UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles) were holding an informational rally at Roosevelt High School and we had already covered the story, cut the package, done our first liveshot and I'd already eaten a burrito.

The burrito is not a regular component of my work day, but still, it was a really good burrito.

I was with Juan Fernandez and I think we both were looking forward to just killing time until our next liveshot and mostly having an easy night.  Right.  We all know that's not how it works.

It was just after nine o'clock.  We got the call to break down and head up to North Hollywood where Howard Stern (Anna Nicole Smith's, not the self proclaimed King of All Media) was believed to be going to turn himself in to face charges being brought against him in connection with Anna Nicole's death.

We were going to stake out (sit around) the North Hollywood police station in the hopes that we might get a shot of him turning himself in.

Well, that didn't work out.

Before we'd managed to even get on the road good, the station called us with a breaker in Altadena.  The Sheriff's Department was investigating a home invasion robbery and the suspects were believed to have been impersonating law enforcement officers.

Shoot.  Now this was getting serious.  We were going to have to change gears and step up our game.

We were now heading to a possible lead story.  That meant gathering the facts, shooting the scene, getting sound from an official (and hopefully a witness), cutting a piece and going live.

There was no time for a proper lunch break, but I'm sure glad I had scarfed down that burrito. 

Maybe I'm getting jaded, but my life in news has been somewhat less than thrilling recently and i think that's why it took a moment to wrap my head around the idea and realize, HOLY CRAP, IT'S A BREAKER!

Heh-heh, breakers are always a "yee-haa" moment for me.

We made our way up Fair Oaks almost to the foothills above Altadena.  Deputies were working on the investigating part and we went about our business of quickly gathering shots and information to try to piece together what had happened.

We were the only crew on the scene.  Somebody's helicopter did a pass overhead, but no other stations showed up on the ground.

Well, you know I'm glad nobody was seriously hurt.  The robbers did get away with some cash and property, but I've been to robberies that got notched up to homicides.  I can only imagine how traumatic it must be to actually face that kind of situation.

Even though it didn't turn out to be really compelling enough to be a lead story.  We did two liveshots before heading back to the station.  Kind of a routine breaker (if there is such a thing).

I've always found it odd that a story like this might not be the biggest news of the night.  I bet the victim and maybe other residents of the neighborhood, they probably felt like it was a pretty big deal.
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