Wednesday, December 30, 2009

God Bless Ernie!

I once helped my brother install a starter on my wife's mini-van. I say, helped, but what I really mean is that I stood back and tried not to get in his way.

Thatks what I was pondering as "Ernie" (no last name given) replaced the starter on the SAT truck in the red zone outside of the East entrance to the Morongo Casino.

It took a shade over two hours.

It might have taken longer, but I remembered what to do from working with my brother.

As much as possible, I just stayed out of the way.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I'm stranded at the Morongo Casino. Send quarters.

Starter trouble on the SAT truck. I could be here for a while. Okay, it could be worse.

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Making the Cut!

I've been up since 2AM and starting to feel the lack of sleep. Man, but I'm just happy that coffee and I are back together. Yah, I know. We still have some issues to work out, but I'm feeling really good about where we both are, you know, like emotionally.

Coffeeeeee, I love yoooou!

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I'm a Survivor!

. . .But I'm not standing in line at Morongo to prove it.

This is only a small part of the line. Many more inside (where it's warm).

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Monday, December 28, 2009

On the Reservation

Apparently we can get a microwave signal out from the Morongo Casino.

I didn't know that. Go figure.

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Take Me Awaaaaaay. . .

Doing some SNG for a story on the "Survivor" open casting out at the Morongo Casino.

Not a bad way to make a living. --
Sent from my BlackBerry

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Something From Nothing.

It might come as a surprise, but "skid row" does exist. I think for a lot of people, the thought of a section of this city (which has a certain image of excess associated with parts of its' geography) might just seem unbelievable.

It is one thing to see the high concentration of homeless in a news story from the warm and cozy comfort of your own home. . .

. . .but take it from me, it's another experience entirely to spend half a day out on the sidewalks in the shadow of downtown Los Angeles, working in the middle of a section of the population who didn't have the last liveshot of the day, the end of a shift and a drive home to family and Christmas dinner to look forward to.

I don't have a choice in what assignments I cover. That decision is made back at the station. I know we cover the Father Dollar story every year (sometimes more than once). It's just been a few years since the last time I had the assignment.

Not much has changed.

The man known as "Father Dollar" is a regular fixture on the major holidays in downtown on skid row.

Through the generous donations of several benefactors, he gives out money (mostly one dollar at a time) to the homeless residents of the skid row section of town.

It's not much. It most likely won't change anyone's life, but it is a dollar. That's one dollar more than most of them would have had.

There's not much more to say than what was said in the package we put together for the newscast. We talked to Father Dollar and also spoke with people who lined up to receive that small bit of charity.

The reporter and I made the story as interesting as we could, but I didn't learn anything new that I didn't already know from having covered this story in years past. That's probably the same for anyone who might have seen the story on the news in previous years.

I walked away feeling like I want to do something more, but I don't know what more could be done. I gave out the change from my pockets and the five dollars I had in my wallet. It didn't solve anything, but I kind of got it in mind that I understand the importance of small gestures.

We talked to people who donate their time and some folks who run the shelters, kitchens and missions on skid row. Many of them said the same things. In a year when the economy has choked off much of the large donations, the homeless and the organizations that help them are helped more by small donations that come from individuals.

A donation in any amount, even one simple dollar, means something.

If everyone gave a dollar, we might not have as many people going hungry and sleeping on the streets.

That would be something.
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Father Dollar

There are some stories done every year that seem to rise and fall in priority simply because, well, been there, you know?

It's no less important today than it was last year or the years before to the people in need.

Merry Christmas.

I'm still here too.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jingle Bells

Well, after hearing from a vocal group of folks who wondered why I wasn't wearing it, I've dug out the Santa Hats and will continue my annual tradition.

Ho, ho, ho and all that jazz. --
Sent from my BlackBerry

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Shots Fired, One Killed.

I hate to burst your bubble, but we live in a society where bad things happen (yeah, you might have already been aware of that).

Now, by bad things I'm talking about violent crime.

That's what were dealing with on Tuesday this week.

You know, it just amazes me that people are so tolerant of shootings and gang activity.

We had two breaking stories on Tuesday night.  Both involved shootings.

The first shooting incident of the night happened in Boyle Heights near a Boys and Girls Club.

The victims sought shelter at the Boys and Girls club.  They were able to get help and were transported to a local hospital.

I was working with Serene Branson and I don't know anything more about that story because we were sent from Boyle Heights to Monrovia for a "better" shooting.

This one involved a fatality.

One man was shot and killed and a woman was shot, but her injuries were non-life threatening.

It seems like a lot for an average night in Los Angeles.  I don't know if it's human nature or just an aspect of society.

It's not my intent to keep you awake at night by pointing out how violent a world it is that we live in.  I think most people, on some level, already know that.  The problem is we can only control what we do.  Sorry, but we can't control what other people do.

Thankfully, most of us have our hands full just going to work and raising our families.  We don't carry a gun and aren't running around out there willing or intending to shoot anyone.

Unfortunately, we have to live in the same world with people who are.

BTW - I wasn't going to mention her, but someday I think I will write about the 300 pound lesbian who I offended while covering this story.  I'm very lucky that harsh language, even the most powerful F-bomb, doesn't hurt like a bullet.

Still, I'll be watching my back if we go out for a follow up.

It's just not a safe world out there.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Melrose Lightspace

You know, I just want every picture I take to be a small step towards getting to be really good at taking better pictures.

A good way to get better at something is to do it and keep doing it.

When I told a buddy of mine that I might be taking pictures this weekend, he had a bit of advice for me.

"Take pictures your ass off!"

It was an inspiring bit of advice. Even more for the knowledge that my buddy was sober when he imparted it.

I've got a lot going on at home in the next few weeks, what with the holidays and all, but I actually always try to follow his advice.

I'm absolutely going to take pictures my ass off.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rainy Night in Geor-- um, Ventura!

It was supposed to rain yesterday and I knew that when I left for work, but the streets were dry and they stayed dry all afternoon. I shoot news, so if the big news of the day is all about the rain, then I know I'm probably going to get wet.

It's usually only a matter of time.

The storm was moving down the coast from the North, so I was sent out to meet up with Reporter Serene Branson.


We were sent towards Ventura with the goal of getting on TV as soon as the storm hit. The only problem with that plan was that nobody could really predict what time exactly the storm was going to roll through.

There's a lot of pressure to be in the lead on the weather stories. After the build-up and tease that rain is coming, I can understand that it might be difficult to keep it all in perspective.

Particularly when you're inside back at the station.

We spent the early part of the evening fielding a persistent string of calls for status updates.

"Is it raining yet?" "No." "Not at all?" "Well, there's some misting." "Did you shoot it?"

(pause) "The ground is dry. There's really nothing to shoot." "Call us as soon as it starts to rain."

(A few minutes later)
"Is it raining yet?"

The rain hit a little after 8:00pm. Serene and I managed to find a good spot for the live shot on Main Street in Ventura.

I'd never been live from that area, so it was a gamble. Okay, I've been live from nearby, so it was a calculated gamble, but still a gamble.

It paid off.

We locked in the microwave signal, I quickly connected the cables and Serene stepped in front of the camera and the rain came down hard.

After the first hit, Serene and I talked about the weather getting back at us. Earlier we'd been joking about the distinct lack of rain.

We did the first liveshot in a downpour and even though it let up later, it rained through the rest of the evening. It could have easily been a totally miserable night and I'm not sure I would have survived it at all if not for a couple of things.

Serene's mom (whom I'm told reads my blog, "Hiiiii, Mrs. Branson!") sent Serene out with a tin of homemade Krumkake. That's a Norweigen pastry that absolutely warmed my cookie monster heart.

Mmmmm, Krumkake.

The other thing that kind of made it easier to make it through the evening?

Serene and I were both up on the Grapevine earlier this week. It was bitterly cold and windy in the snow. We were doing liveshots over the closed I-5 and had to stay overnight at the Flying "J" Truck Stop.

Talk about putting things in perspective.

Shucks, a little rain wasn't going to bother us.
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lost in Thought.

I had a long drive in traffic to face at the end of my shift yesterday.  I needed to grab a bite to eat and that made me even less inclined to dive into the LA freeway system.

Instead of heading for home straight away, I made a quick run up to a favored lookout spot on Mulholland.

I've been wanting to snap a few shots from there with the new camera.  It was peaceful and continued a day that inspired me (did you see the eye surgery story?) and I wanted to share one of the pictures.

This view really beat sitting in traffic.
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Good Morning?

My view from the bed at the Best Rest Inn at the Flying "J" truck stop. Feeling groogy.

I need real food. Trucker chow isn't going to do it this morning.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Winter Wonderland?

Not only are tripods and light stands freezing, but we're locked into the live shot location because the SAT truck dish is frozen.

We're still making shots by microwave, but that means we have to set up on an overpass between Gormon and Lebec.

The dayside crew managed to hang out up here all day long.

I've been here before, but this is the coldest I've ever experienced up here.

The road has been closed since before the sun went down and other than a few stragglers from the area and the occasional snow plow, it's pretty dark and desolate.

I mostly feel like the way things look aren't really ever as bad as what we experience.

Not this time.  If it looks cold and miserable in the pictures, that's because it is.

We'll be here a couple of days at least.  I hope the SAT truck thaws out after the sun comes up.
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Home Away

I am up at the Grapevine for my annual trip to get snowed in at the Flying "J" truck stop.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Artsy Evening

Just hanging out in the Art District. I better be careful. I might get some culture on me.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Assignment: Grammy Nominations

Can't sit and write this morning.  I've got more than a few errands to run.

Here are a few shots from the press pool room at last night's Grammy Nominations show.

It was an interesting press event.  You might have seen the spaghetti of cables that the pool feeds mult boxes turned into.

Early in the day, it wasn't too bad, but it got much worse.

This is just one of those days that I enjoyed even with all the stress and deadline pressure involved.

Too much gear in too small of a space.  I'm just glad I actually got there early enough to secure a spot at the bar.

The room where we set up was actually the restaurant at the LA Live Conga Room.

Grrr. I try not to kick myself for missing opportunities.  I get more than my fair share of photo ops, but I had to be outside at the van while most of the nominees made their passes through the press rooms.

Ok, no Ringo shot (this time), but still a pretty amazing day at the office.

Probably more for the celebrities that I almost witnessed, than for the ones that I did see.

(sigh) Gotta go.  Let's chat later.
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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Checking the Pool Feed

Backstage at the Grammy Nominations show. Lots of spaghetti. Not a lot of room!

At least the fed us. Press chow, yum.

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Flying Cow Spotted

Hey, look. Andy Royer is hanging out at LA Live today.

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