Monday, November 30, 2009

Shhh, I Heard Something.

It's not that I can't sleep at night.  I'm just in the middle of a goofy cycle of staying up late, falling asleep when I get home from work, then waking up at odd hours in the morning.

That's what happened on Saturday and that's why my minions were getting Twitter updates from me between 1am and 5am that morning.

When it got to be around 5am, it was close enough to sunrise that I figured I might as well run out and snap a few pictures.

It seemed kind of crazy to get up that early (and it is), but the early morning first light that peeks out from the horizon can be pretty amazing.  Plus, I got some decent shots a couple of weeks ago when I had done this same thing.

There's a whole serenity vibe going on just before sunrise.  Last time I'd been running a little late and only caught a few minutes of the good golden hour light.

I left the house earlier, but this time I almost missed it because there was a homeless guy wandering around the lagoon area where I had shot last time.

He kind of creeped me out.  He was wandering around like a zombie and I didn't want to take a chance he was going to come after me.  It would have been difficult to save the camera and fend off a zombie attack, so I decided to move on.

I drove around to the Marina del Rey side of the wetlands.

There's a spot at the end of Via Marina overlooking the channel that has always been a popular spot to hang out.

It was nearly empty at 5:45am.

A few joggers made their way past and I kind of wondered if any of them thought I was nuts for being out that early.

If they did, I just want them to know I was thinking the same thing about them.

Yeah, I was cracking jokes in my head the whole time.  I had to.  Otherwise I might have been too creeped out to snap any pictures.

There were flocks of birds gathered nearby and I had an Alfred Hitchcok moment.  Also, in the early morning quiet, I heard a splash in the water.  It might have been a seal or sea lion or maybe a mermaid.  I never saw what made the splash.  I just know it sounded pretty big.

Anybody remember a low budget movie, "Humanoids from the Deep" that came out in the mid-eighties?

I do.

You'd think I'd be a little less inclined to wander around by myself like this with my sometimes over-active imagination.

Well, that time of morning can still be an powerful experience.  It was unexpectedly an experience I found to be almost spiritual.

So, even if it's not helping my sleep patterns to be out this early in the morning, it does help my peace of mind.

With all the homeless zombies, attacking birds and aquatic humanoids churning around in my head, I can use any little tiny bit of "peace of mind" I can find.

This was another photo expedition that I found to be totally worthwhile.

I'll sleep when I can.
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's Okay, He's With Me.

Happy Turkey Day +2 to everyone. I'm still feeling a bit stuffed, but not so stuffed that I'm not planning out my lunchtime attack on the remnants of Thanksgiving '09.

I believe I'm trying to make up for the fact that I missed the sit down family meal because I had to work on the holiday.

It wasn't bad, a little holiday pay and I get a comp day to named at later time (my pick) and I only covered one story.

Every year, The Laugh Factory comedy club hosts a free turkey dinner for the homeless, jobless and struggling citizens of the Hollywood area. That was my one story and I got to hang out for a bit since there wasn't a pressing need to be anywhere else.

A couple of bizzaro things happened while I was there.

Not the least of which was getting to interview Frazer Smith. I can remember listening to him on the radio back in my early college days. You know, that's a cool part of this job. Sometimes I get to meet interesting folks.

"Interesting" might not be the best description and somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that Sylvester Stallone's mom? She actually qualifies as a third bizzaro occurrence from this assignment.

I also want to be kind, because I think it's an admirable thing to donate your time for an event like this. There's no shortage of people in need and never enough people willing to give of their time.

I was also impressed that even a few bigger stars showed up. I almost missed the chance to get a sound bite from actor/comedian Paul Rodriguez. He showed up just as I was heading back to the news van.

The big bizzaro moment of the evening actually happened while I was just walking up to the club and I'm sorry I didn't get a still shot.

You remember the movie, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"

The voice of Roger Rabbit was done by Charles Fleischer (I was going to snap a picture of him, but he wasn't around when I had the chance, you'll have to google him).

So, I had just locked the van, I was carrying the gear and heading towards the entrance. Charles Fleischer walks up along next to me. Naturally he's heading for the same place.

There's a line out the door and around the corner. A second side door opens and we both turn towards it. An older guy at the door puts his hand out and tells Charles Fleischer he's got to line up.

The older guy doesn't recognize Fleischer.

They go at it for a minute, nothing out of control or loud, but the door guy is being firm that Charlie Fleischer has to line up if he wants a meal. He still doesn't understand that Fleischer is a celebrity coming to help out.

I speak up.

"Dude, this guy's a celebrity. He's here to help. You probably should let him in."

Maybe because I'm carrying the big news camera, but the older guy apologizes and let's us both into the club.

I thought that was pretty cool. It's really rare that I have that kind of clout. I'm surprised Charles Fleischer and I weren't stuck out on the street waiting for a real celebrity to come by and vouch for the both of us.
George Clooney: Dude, that's beFrank, you should let him in. . .and let the Roger Rabbit guy in too.
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for the Good Things

It was like I worked two completely different shifts yesterday. Plenty of good and bad to go along with them both.

Let's talk about the bad. I started off on the wrong foot by getting my shift time wrong. Okay, so I'm not the 4:30pm guy, I'm the 2:00pm guy. I like to own up to my blunders, so I don't mind sharing that. With it being a long holiday weekend, I might just be able to keep my head down or maybe do something amazing and the powers that be will forget about it by the time I see them on Monday.

Naturally , the wrong thing to do would be to post about it on my blog.


Still, a good part about the day was that I got to help out a little with the Amelia Earhart and Jackie Johnson Thanksgiving Cooking Webcast.

Running late, I had to hustle over to the Ralph's at the corners of Coldwater and Ventura and set up for a liveshot. Technical difficulties sent the first hit down in flames, but we were able to track down the problems and fix them.

The next hit went off as planned. It was good that the show was moving on to the next part. Ralph's needed their loading dock where we had set up. By the time we actually left, they were two big rigs parked in the tiny parking lot waiting for a chance to unload.

All during this, even though I had gotten to the loacation in enough time to set up, I was feeling that somewhat unfamiliar twinge of personal responsibility for everything that was wrong in the world.

I swear, I'm smart. Really. Other people have said it.

Anyway, I headed back to the station after that and picked up a reporter, Kristine Lazar. We were being sent out to an accident on the 710 freeway that had been caused by a fatal accident.

I'm still not entirely clear on the circumstances, but the victim had been on the northbound side of the freeway in an accident. He climbed over the center divider, was hit and killed by the oncoming southbound traffic.

We managed to fight our way through 710 traffic snarl and were able to slip into a spot past the flares, CHP cars and earlier arriving live trucks.

We quickly got a statement from the CHP about the fatality and I was a ble to shoot a couple of minutes worth of ground level footage.

Then it was a polite, "Grab you gear and get off the freeway!" order from the CHP. They were opening up the lanes. Good for the traffic.

Bad for-- well, really, I had gotten enough to put the package together.

I tossed the tripod in the back of my news van, hopped into the drivers seat and drove forward through the now clear lane of traffic.

I may have just imagined it, but I think as I sped off, I drove through a large stain of blood that would have been from the accident victim.

Sure, my day was kind of a downer, but that moment really kind of put it all into perspective.

I'm working today and yesterday gets put behind me. I can't help but spend a moment or two wondering about the circumstances that led to the deathon the freeway. Chances are I'll never know anything more about the guy. It just makes me all the more thankful that I have another day to enjoy.

I didn't intend for this post to be any sort of cautionary tale, but it's easy to get lost in thought over the stories I cover.

Hey, I got to get ready for work. I'm going in early.

You know, just to be on the safe side.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Late Breaking FIRE!

I'm still getting used to the new camera. I imagine it's like riding a horse and the horse is rolling its' eyes, because the horse knows the difference between someone who knows what they're doing. Ne-heh-heh-heh-heh.

Fire in Anahiem hills and the whole story about how I got to that point could be a few posts in itself. I made it almost to the scene in record time just before the 11:00pm newscast.

The clock was ticking. I was by myself and the station wanted to get a ground level camera shot to back up the chopper.

You can't see him in the underexposed shot above (sorry), but there's a CHP officer laying out flares to block the South bound entrance to the 241 Toll Road.

I sat there for five minutes while he got the okay to let me through and tick-tock the clock was ticking.

I'll be honest, I didn't think I'd make it in time and once I got to the scene, I didn't think I'd be able to establish a signal with the hills surrounding me.


I passed two other stations set up along the road and drove right up close to where the fire fighters were working to get this fire quickly under control.

It just seemed like they meant business and hot spots were getting shut down quickly with surgical precision.

Of course, that meant my prime location became just a slight bit lame after about ten minutes.

The wind was blowing and I made the mistake of connecting my camera and letting the station see my picture while I was still setting up the rest of the gear.

I learned that my camera was "hot" (live on the air) almost as soon as I had plugged in the video cable.

The wind was whipping right around the truck and would have blown over the camera if I hadn't been standing right next to it.

That made setting up the audio and IFB lines a little tricky. I'm just lucky the road had been shut down. It's even more difficult to set up when cars and trucks are zipping past.

If you watched the newscast at 11:00pm, then you know Glen Walker made it to my my position. Photographer Mark Dunn and he were on another story and had gotten pulled to try to make it on TV with a live hit of the fire.

Remember that time, the reporter got stuck in traffic and they had me talk on mic about what I was seeing?

You can bet that possibility was on my mind.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mike Tyson -vs- The Paparazzi

Mike Tyson is not in this car.  If he were, then this would be a pretty good illustration of how quickly the Airport Police out at LAX dashed him past the line of media crews waiting for him to come out of the station the other week.

I took this picture because I knew I wasn't going to get a chance to snap any still shots of the "real" car.  It's difficult to shoot both video and stills, so it's times like this when I really have to focus on doing my job.

Anyway, you remember the Champ was picked up for being involved in a scuffle in the terminal (or men's room depending on who you ask) with an aggressive photographer.

I imagine it was just like that scene in "The Hangover" when he knocks out that guy with one punch.

Lucky me, I was sent out to LAX to help cover the story.  You know it was kind of on my mind that I had to figure out what I'd do if Mike Tyson was knocking out all photographers who tried to take his picture.

It was a relief that it seemed to be an isolated and possibly provoked incident.

Lots of media converged on the Airport Police Station.  We'd found out somehow that Iron Mike was still inside and he was going to be transferred to another station.  I think we all knew we weren't going to get an extended "perp walk" on this one.

If we were lucky, we might get a few seconds of video that we'd be slowing down and looping to cover whatever we put on the air.

It was cool though, because we were being given the heads up on what was going to happen.

It was nice of them.

By the way, the funniest thing I heard all night?  At one point when I was told that Mike Tyson had gotten into a fight with a photographer, somebody asked, who won?

That was hilarious.  You know, the smart money was on Tyson in the first round.

We got our five seconds of Tyson video and went back to the airport terminals to do live shots.

We'll have to wait and see how the rematch goes, because I think it'll be held in court.  Lawyer-wise Tyson might still have the edge, but at least it won't be over in the first round.

If it's pay-per-view, I might have it on at my house and invite people over.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Smokey Dokey Sunset.

Even though we live pretty close to the ocean, I'm usually not thinking about sunsets at the beach.  Usually I have no time, so it's just not on my radar most days.

A few friends have suggested I get out and take some beach pictures lately, so I decided to make a quick run for some golden hour shots (sunset style).

The freaking beach was quiet and very nearly empty.  I guess that's what you get this time of year.

What was even stranger happened just as I was getting the last of the setting sun.

I noticed a plume of smoke coming from the sun.  OMG!  The sun has set something on fire!  For a moment there, I was also totally thinking rapture and apocalypse.

Ha-ha, so long, sinners!  Sayonara, Suckers!

Then I noticed a fire department boat racing out of the channel with lights and sirens going and I realized that maybe it was just a burning boat.

Side note:  Did anybody ever read Joseph Wambaugh's book, The Golden Orange?  I think that was the last of his novels I read before he started up with the Hollywood station books.  I only mention it, because the cover had artwork of a boat burning with a plume of smoke in front of the sun setting over the ocean.  This was freakily similar to that.

Anyway, I tried to call the station to see if they were interested, but we had a bad connection (and besides, HELLOOO, I'm on vacation).

I saw one of our news choppers zipping past a few moments later.  Okay, they were on top of it.  I went back to shooting.

The smoke added a nice orange glow to the post sunset sky.  I spent another half hour or so, appreciating the evening ligtshow provided by mother nature and somebody's possible horrible tragic event.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Something's Burning

This could be newsworthy.

I'm out at Dockweiler Beach taking a few sunset shots and this popped up on the horizon.

Posted via email from beFrank's posterous

Along for the Ride.

Since I'm on vacation, let's flash back to last week when I was doing some cool stuff with Orange County law enforcement.

Reporter Juan Fernandez and I were assigned an HFR (hold for release) story about a big inter-agency operation targeting teenagers violating curfew.  Cities like Orange, Anahiem, Santa Ana and Tustin all have 10pm or 11pm curfews for 17 year olds and younger.

We got to ride along with a Tustin unit participating in the operation and came across a pretty good amount of criminal activity.

I don't mind telling you, I've been in police cars before (I don't mind because it's always been in the course of shooting video).  Never been arrested (in this country) and never been hooked up and thrown into the back of a squad car.

It's sad to see so many young people casually doing the wrong things and running into trouble with the law.

Being out past curfew might seem like a pretty small violation of the law.  You might think the police have better things to do.

That was my thought during the early part of the evening, but I changed my mind after seeing how many minors were just along for the ride with felons and addicts who probably weren't going to be the most positive of role models.

The officers told us some pretty outrageous stories about the type of things they see in the run of a day.

I don't know if people like to believe the world is safe or if they just ignore the dangerous stuff going on around them so they can make it through life.

It's like we're sick and ignore the symptoms.  The level of drug and gang activity, even for a city like Tustin, is pretty surprising.  I hate to think what it must be like for a larger city like Los Angeles.

We were only riding along for one night, but we ran into a pretty good cross section of the bad guys that the Tustin Police know well enough to be on a first name basis.

I don't expect the world to be perfect and in fact, I know it's a pretty dangerous place.

It's just frustrating to see so many young people throwing their lives away completely or making bad decisions (just for kicks) that can easily send them down the wrong path.

I don't have any answers for the problems that other people face in their lives.  I know we live in a difficult world.  I just hope that by covering the story, we reach other people beyond the relative few who were directly involved.

Maybe I've used it before and I still don't know who originally said it, but one of my favorite quotes heard this year was simple, "It doesn't matter how far down the wrong path you've gone, turn around."

I know for some people it might not seem like a choice, but I think it is.

It just might not be easy.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

A Few Words.

My vacation is proudly sponsored by Red Stripe Jamaican Lager (that's fancy talk for beer).

Posted via email from beFrank's posterous