Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Boston Casual

Still waiting for the birth of my grandchild and still trying to put the time spent here in Boston to good use.

That means I'm taking pictures.

Black and white seems appropriate to the photos, but not really reflective of my current state of mood (playful and upbeat, thank you).

The Prudential building is the tallest building in Boston. There's an observation deck on the 50th floor that has a great view of the city and is awesomely well suited for taking pictures. Entrance to the observation deck costs twelve dollars. Seems kind of steep, but you're not going to get that view anywhere else in the entire city.

It was an overcast and lightly snowy day. I waited until just before sundown and dashed over to the Prudential building (which is really close to where my daughter lives).

It was closed. The observation deck, not the Prudential Building.

I could've called it a day, but it just seemed too easy to give up without looking for a plan "B".

So, I just sort of walked over to the elevator and rode it up to the 52nd floor. On the 52nd floor is a 5 star restaurant called "Top of the Hub". Sure, I had tennis shoes on, but apparently it was either a slow day or they just don't have all that strict of a dress code.

I tweeted and Instagram'd about enjoying a Sam Adams Beer (with a side of cheeseburger and fries) as I relaxed, composed shots and snapped a few pictures through my window from my table in the clouds.

I think Robeert B. Parker would've been proud of me.

Spoiled Rotten

Respectable Taste, Awesome Can

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Boston Proper

While waiting (patiently) for the arrival of my first grandchild, I took the opportunity today to stretch my legs and walk about the area near where my daughter and son-in-law live.

It beats pacing the hallways.

The air is very cool and crisp and it might snow this week.  I'm bundled up and trying to keep a clear head.  Life is beautiful.  Not nearly perfect, but I'm digging the hell out of it right now.

Not much is going to bring me down.

I just need for this kid to make an appearance before Saturday when I'm scheduled to fly back to California.

Fingers crossed.

Spenser's Boston

Taken at Boston Public Library

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Breath of Fresh Art

My Grammy weekend was going to be a long weekend. I had no idea how long it ws going to be going into it, but some things you know about and some things you just can't predict.

Whitney Houston's death changed things up for a lot of people that weekend, but before the news broke, probably before the fatal event even happened, I was blissfully indulging in just being outside taking pictures.

I started out near the Disney Concert Hall, but eventually I'd wandered to the Arts District just East of downtown.

Visually it's an exciting part of the city and that makes it fair game when I'm looking for something to shoot.

With artists being kind of more volatile than normal folk (in my humble opinion), I wonder how it is that we aren't called to visit this area more often.

It's easy for me to imagine the artistic hipsters of the district boiling over with rationalized anger after a potent combination of too much coffee, gallery wine and strong art school opinionation.

It might tempered somewhat by a strong European influence (I did notice what appeared to be a bavarian themed restaurant that specialized in sausage and beer).

So, maybe cutting off an ear is constrained to self expression, but I wouldn't be surprised if differences of opinions aren't settled by ferocious dance battles that erupt into fully gleeful street production numbers.

I mean, come on, just because it didn't happen while I was there doesn't mean it doesn't ever happen.

Also, maybe I just don't get out enough.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

No Spoilers

It's not surprising that I'm missing stuff that should have been posted on my blog. That what happens when you try to focus on everything.

It's Saturday morning and it's time to play my all-time favorite game:WEEKEND CATCH-UP!

If you're a regular commuter on the 60 freeway, I'm probably dredging up some traumatic memories.

Tanker truck catches fire and burns under an overpass. The overpass is structurally weakened and the 60 freeway is closed for in both directions.

I'll say it for you, OUCH!

I deal with traffic on a daily basis. Some of it as my regular drive to and from work, but often as a part of getting to my assignment.

There is very little that compares to the torture of sitting in traffic. The loss of a major artery to and from central Los Angeles makes me kind of want to cry for all the folks caught up in that mess.

That happened months ago and I think we're back to normal.

I still have memories of the time spent trying to get to the scene several days after the initial accident. I wish I could update you on the driver of the tanker. I can't even say for sure how things are going with the rebuilding of the overpass that was damaged.

That's how it is in news. I often get to see the opening credits and some of the good parts of the show, but often I'm gone before the end.

I'm used to it. That's just how it is.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Port of Los Angeles Beauty

Recovering Grammy Weekend

I've got all of ten minutes to recount my long shift at the Grammy Awards, so pardon any typos or anything untrue that I simply make up as I go along.

First off, let me repeat, covering the Grammy (or any awards show) is not the same as attending an awards show.

Sure, it makes a huge difference that I'm actually getting paid to be there, but putting people on TV with a finicky SAT truck is not easy money.

Getting to socialize with the rich and famous and sometimes even talented stars most people only see from afar would be awesome.

It would be awesome if I actually got that close to them.

Nope. I'm simply doing my job and thinking of ways to spend the overtime money.There were a lot of little moments that are worth mentioning, but my ten minutes are up.

The final tally was a whopping 23.5 hours overtime continuous duty with no breaks. Not bad for a guy who (under protest) has given up caffeine.

Whoop-whoop, you can bet somebody is getting a new lens.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Game On Grammy

Time and a Half for Whitney

It was just a lazy Saturday afternoon. I was scheduled to run a SAT Truck for the 2012 Grammy Awards, so I'd taken a little photowalk in the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles (and I must not hate on hipsters).

I was sitting at my computer just transferring the shots from my memory card and my daughter (the "occupy my den" one, not the married pregnant one) came and sat down and told me Whitney Houston had died.

"Oh, sh##."

It was maybe two minutes before the phone rang. Can I come in to work?

That's how I wound up doing live shots from the truck farm that we'd cabled the day before for our Grammy coverage. The station wanted a crew at LA Live and Staples Center and I was one of the very few people who had a truck farm credential, could run our fiber/Edius ENG truck and (this is the main reason) I was crazy (no, not stupid) enough to pick up my phone on the weekend.

I carry Whitney Houston songs on my iPhone. It was what I listened to as I drove up to Staples Center. It was Kevin Costner that I was thinking about while I was trying to get the security guards to allow me to drive my unauthorized vehicle over to our encampment within the collection of media production vehicles parked near the Grammy red carpet enclosures.

They told me it wasn't going to happen. No unauthorized vehicles.

I think Kevin Costner (who played the bodyguard opposite Whitney Houston in the movie, "The Bodyguard") would have done something badass and gotten his vehicle into the compound.

Me? I'm only that kind of badass when it comes to last minute-hail mary-OMG, are they going to make slot-- getting a story on TV kind of badass.

In my defense, Kevin Costner only does that stuff in the movies. It's not like he can punch out a security guard and run over him to park his car wherever he wants.

You know, I bet Harrison Ford has done that.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Mmm, Beer!

First Fire of the Year!

Hey! I just realized I'd started this post in the Blogsy app on my iPad, but had stopped using Blogsy, so I never actually got around to using the app.


Oh well, for your blogging pleasure, here's what I was doing at my first big fire of the year.

My day had been pretty slow. It was getting close to the end of my shift-- (Gee, I just realized that happens to me a lot. It's almost time for me to go home and I catch some breaking news that keeps me at work longer than I had anticipated.)

Where was I? Woodland Hills? Maybe. Sorry, I get those areas North and West of the 405 mixed up, but anyway, that's where I found myself with only the small comfort of a couple hours of overtime to keep my mind off the time at home I'd be missing (we're talking sleep here, people).

I was the first of our crews to arrive on the scene. It might seem trivial, but a difficult part of covering fires is often just where to put the microwave truck.You want to be close to the action so folks at home can get a sense of what's happening, but you don't want to be so close that you run the risk of interfering with the efforts to put out the fire.You also don't want to be so close that the truck catches on fire. Don't laugh, it's happened before.

It varies greatly how much cooperation and help we get.We might not get any direction from the firemen initially, but you can bet they'll let us know if we get in the way. Woo-hoo, they will.

On this particular night, it was very cool that their P.I.O. (public information officer) actually directed me to a spot that gave us a good view of the structures threatened and of the fire activity.

I parked the the truck, fired up the generator and turned on the racks. Sometimes I need to shoot ground level footage of whatever is going on, but not this night. We were minutes from the opening of the 11pm newscast, so the station wanted me to link in right away.Another crew was almost on scene and the station wanted us live ASAP.

Because of the terrain, I knew I was in a marginal area for our microwave signal. I dreaded the thought of having to move the truck or worse, not being able to establish a signal at all.

Well, I'll never know until I try.I popped the mast, called our technical operations center (T.O.C.) and with their direction, managed to establish a signal (one that didn't interfere with our helicopter which was covering the fire from overhead).

Reporter Suraya Fadel and Photog Nick Mercado arrived on scene. Nick and I threw cables together for the live shot. (Hey, come on, when does our job go full wireless like in the movies?) Suraya gathered information and we managed to get the story on TV during the 11pm newscast.

Property damage is always preferable to lives being lost. I'm happy that nobody got hurt in the blaze, but still sorry for the damage the fire caused.

Even though it was the first big fire of the year, most of the details are lost to me. I almost have to go back and look up the story at this point just to blog post about it. It's not that I have a particularly bad memory, it's just that I know this was the year's first fire, but lord knows, it certainly won't be the last.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

R.I.P. Don Cornelius

Did a long day across from the entrance to Don Cornelius' home in the Hollywood Hills.

My reporter and I got there late in the morning and never really talked to anyone other than our fellow news crews.

Media_httpdistilleryi_zdajb Soul Train hasn't been on my radar for a long time and it just feels kind of numb covering the story and being so detached from it.

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