Friday, August 25, 2006

Taking the Reins

Enough complaining, it's time for action.

Long ago Lenslinger got fed up with the assignments he was handed, and took matters into his own hands. I don't want to take on that much responsibility, yet, but I do plan on taking a more active role in deciding what stories I cover. It could have something to do with the mediocre story ideas coming from the morning meeting.

Three weeks ago I did a heat story with Scott. Last week I almost did another heat story with Scott. After wringing our grey matter for the first one, what could we do to make the next one different? Seriously. It's August, it's Louisiana, and it's hot. It was hot 10 years ago, it was hot yesterday, and it will be hot again tomorrow. In fact, it'll be hot until October. It's nothing new, and it's not news until something extraordinary happens.

The final straw, though, was our coverage of the officer's funeral one week ago. When he died, I knew his funeral was going to be the top story for that day, unless someone more important was killed, or a local refinery exploded. Somehow, the decision was made to only have one crew cover the event, and do a noon live shot. Ten minutes to noon, the producers have thier collective panties in a bunch, because the procession is leaving the church and heading to the grave site. The only problem is that the crew is stuck doing the live shot at the church, and the shot we can't miss is about two miles away from them.

So it falls on me to somehow get ahead of the procession so I can get the shot of the hearse rolling in under the giant flag suspended by two of the fire department's ladder trucks. By the way, I'm all the way across town at the station, where I have been for the last hour or so, with no assignments on my plate that would have conflicted with getting to the location ahead of schedule. Someone should have realized that a funeral that begins at 10 AM will probably end at 12 PM, so we might need another crew to cover the other end of the procession while the first crew does the live shot and makes its way there. I would have gladly gone in a live truck to set up a second shot, to be used in the second half hour of our noon show, to properly honor the fallen. Instead I have to drive like a man posessed, but I got the shot.

After all of that, I resolved that I would now attend the morning meetings. Maybe I can be the voice of reason, providing some insight on how things might actually happen in the field. If nothing else, my story ideas are just as mediocre as anyone elses!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Some Days...

Some days I wonder what this job costs me, in the long run.

In my personal world, everything is fine. I woke up this morning, went to work, turned a decent story and came home safely to my wife, who is cooking what promises to be an excellent dinner. One can't ask for more of a blessing than another day of life, and all the experiences it brings.

The story I worked on today is a happy story, filled with smiling faces and fun. It isn't the story that has me blogging tonight. The family of Cpl. Christopher Metternich is on my mind, and also the family who lost their home this afternoon to a fire. His story can be found here. The short version is that he died in the line of duty. He was riding his department issue motorcycle when someone pulled into his path from a side street, and he broadsided their car.

I had no part in covering that story, but it touches me just the same. It forces me to realize what can happen to my own father, who also wears a badge, but it also forces me to look at what I do. I worked on one other newsworthy event today, which was the house fire I just mentioned. We arrived on the scene shortly after the fire department, and I proceeded to get great video of the firefighters working to get the blaze under control. I can't say they were working to save the house, because it was beyond saving. All they could really do was keep it from doing more damage to the homes around it. That phrase I just used, great video. That is what I said when calling the station. "I don't know if anyone is hurt, but I've got great video!"

This family has lived in this house for 30 years, and it has been reduced to charred rubble and ten seconds of video in a newscast, and all I have to say is that I have 'great video.' One family has lost all their posessions, but fortunately no one was hurt. Across town another family is greiving the loss of a husband, father, brother, and son. His loss is also felt by his extended family, his brothers and sisters behind the badge, for whom this is the third officer killed in the last two years, and the second one within a year.

These are the events upon which my job is based, but what does it cost me, as a human being, to do this job? How long can I keep working without losing part of my soul in the process? Heavy questions, for which I don't currently have any answers, but I know they will be provided for me. All I have to do is listen, and treat each day as if it is a gift, because it is.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Burton's Secret

South of Lake Charles stands a statue honoring Mr. Burton's Endowment.

Burton Coliseum is the first landmark visitors see after landing at Lake Charles Regional Airport. Standing watch in front of this structure is a statue erected in honor of the man for whom the building is named. For years people have passed this statue as they entered to attend graduations, basketball games, and rodeos, but I wonder how many have seen the secret.

I don't know Mr. Burton's history, but he must have been quite generous for his name to be so prominently hung. At some point a statue was commissioned, to show the man in as favorable light as possible, I'm sure. He is represented as a smiling man, wearing a rumpled fedora at a rakish angle, and carrying a newspaper. This feature is the key to the secret.

I have no knowledge of the artist's intentions, but one naturally envisions the sculptor critically reviewing this piece from every angle, assuring that each detail is perfectly rendered in harmony with all others. If that is so the result cannot be an oversight, but an intentional double entendre.

From most angles the statue seems innocent enough, just a kindly gentleman, casually surveying the landscape. All it takes are a few degrees of movement to reveal Mr. Burton's Endowment, and the Secret of Burton Coliseum.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Coming Soon

I've got more posts written, which will be up soon, but I think that after going for a month without a post, three in one week would be overkill. So, expect another post either this weekend or early next week.

The first is one I've been waiting to write for a while, about a certain statue that many McNeese graduates know very well.

The second is about a recent trip back home. I think I've run out of photo space on Blogger, so I've gotta figure out which web host I want to use for the Cameron pix.

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Electrical Storm

It's been a while. Personal issues have kept me from having the heart to write.

It seems that all I've had the energy to do lately is comment on other's blogs, leading my own to collect dust in this corner of the World Wide Cob-Web. Well, I'm back, for a while at least.

U2 fans will recognize the title of this post, which has become one of my favorite songs. Weather has always fascinated me. It could have something to do with growing up in the swealtering heat of Southwest Louisiana, where the roiling black clouds rarely meant dangerous weather. Instead they held the promise of relief from the heat with a chilly downdraft and cool rain. The most special part of the storm would be the lightning. Nothing man can create can compare with the awesome power one experiences watching the best show money can't buy.

My favorite bolts crawl among the clouds, streaking along from one end of the sky to the other. I hope to one day capture a still image that truly conveys the majesty and wonder I experience every time I witness one of these works.

All of these photos were taken from my back yard during a recent storm. Gotta love digital for learning how to shoot something like this. I'd have wasted a whole lot of film.