12 10 2007

I was driving home from work Wednesday night, enjoying the night, totally relaxed, and I had a realization…

I can’t even begin to remember when the last time I drove home from work relaxed.  The daily grind of churning out fodder for the news beast just beats ya down, to where eventually you can’t take it anymore.  I’d be cranky, or irritable, or tired, or all of the above after a day in the newsroom.  I haven’t felt any of that since I left.  And I like it.


And now for something completely different.

Tonight driving home, listening to my Ipod,  I heard “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” from Styx for about the millionth time.  The song is from “Brave New World”, and I’m pretty sure it didn’t sell very well, but being a huge Styx fan, of course I bought it.  And I like the album.  Sadly, it was the last album before the big split with Dennis DeYoung.

Dennis wrote “High Crimes”, and it was mostly about the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.  But, listening to the lyrics, you can see that the song can be applied to just about ANY politician, especially now with the election year politics hitting high gear.

Here are the lyrics…

High Crimes and Misdemeanors (Hip Hop-Cracy)
Written by Dennis DeYoung
Lead Vocals by Dennis DeYoung

They want you to believe
The unbelievable
They say you should accept
The unacceptable
Forget your common sense
It isn’t sensible
Good times for fools and dreamers

Watch ’em all deny
The undeniable
See how they refute
The unrefutable
They’re ready to defend
The indefensible
High times for lawyer schemers

They say we must forgive
The forgivable
They want us to respect
The unrespectable
The pious and the hip
So hypocritical
High crimes and misdemeanors

Hip hop hip hop-cracy hip hop
Hip hop hip hop-cracy hip hop
Hip hop hip hop-cracy hip hop

See how they explain
The inexplicable
Watch ’em debate
The undebatable
Apparently a lie
Is never liable
Prime time for talk show screamers

They say we constitute
The Constitutional
With justice here for all
So justifiable
I’m tryin’ not to laugh
But man it’s laughable
High crimes and misdemeanors

Hip hop hip hop-cracy hip hop
Hip hop hip hop-cracy hip hop
Hip hop hip hop-cracy hip hop
Hip hop hip hop-cracy hip hop
Hip hop hip hop-cracy hip hop

And so
Today we find
They’ve changed their minds
They’ve switched their points of view

Oh what tangled webs they weave
When their beliefs ain’t really
What they believe

They’re trying to divide
The indivisible
Because they think we’re fools
So foolable
I’m tryin’ not to laugh
But man it’s laughable
Boom times for Wall Street dreamers
They want you to believe
The unbelievable
They say we should accept
The unacceptable
The pious and the hip
So hypocritical
High crimes and misdemeanors

High crimes and misdemeanors
High crimes and misdemeanors

Hip hop hip hop-cracy hip hop
Hip hop hip hop-cracy hip hop
Hip hop hip hop-cracy hip hop

This isn’t the first time lyrics from Styx has made me think.

A few months ago, I heard”Fallen Angel” by Styx.

Now, most of you probably haven’t heard the song, but listening to the song got me thinking about stuff.

For instance, here’s the beginning of the song…

Hell nobody’s perfect
One hundred percent
No saint, no Pope, no King no Queen
No President

But our hunger for heroes
Has made us blind
We seek salvation
From the cup of human kind

But every time we hear the voice
Of some new Abraham
We wake too late to realize
It was just another scam

I’m a fairly independent kinda guy. I do my own thinking, trying to find things out for myself instead of following some other person’s ideology blindly like a lot of people do today. In my opinion, that’s a huge part of what’s wrong with society today. Republicans are blindly following their logic, while the Democrats blindly follow theirs, with nothing of significance getting done.  And, again, with the election coming up, it’s even worse.

I guess I’d like to see politicians actually do what’s best for their constituents, not necessarily what will only get them re-elected.  Pie-in-the-sky dreamin’, I know.

Wow, kinda wordy tonight, huh?



6 10 2007

I know you all have been waiting, breathlessly, for an update on the new job.

Well, wait no more.  Here ’tis.

I walked.  I walked a lot.  I mean, I walked A LOT!

Mott is not a big campus.  Walking from one side to another takes about ten minutes.  But when you walk back and forth, numerous times, the mileage quickly adds up.

The first day I met about a thousand and a half people,  of which I remembered about a dozen.

The second day, I worked a thirteen and a half hour day, minus a half hour for lunch.  It made me nostalgic for news again!

Morris Dees, a prominent civil rights attorney, spoke on campus that evening.  Which meant we spent a sizable part of the day setting up.  We set up the audio system, including a mult-box, and worked a long time getting the hum and hiss out of the audio.

Then, we set up the modulator to sent the video and audio to a second location for the over-flow room (which, it turned out, we didn’t need), and had to spend another sizable period of time getting the static out of the video.

He started talking about 715pm, finishing at about 830, and we spent an hour tearing down everything. That was a long day.  When my head hit the pillow at home, I was out like a light.

Friday was a relatively easy day, just trouble shooting stuff, getting acclimated to the  campus some more, until just before quitting time when we discovered a problem in a conference room.  We decided it didn’t need to be fixed ’til Monday morning, since no one would be using the room ’til then.

I like the place.  The people are friendly, the campus nice (of course, autumn is my favorite time of year), and the hours are good.  I’m happy to have made the move.

Last Day

2 10 2007

So, should I call myself “ex-photogguy”?  Nah.

Some pics to help me remember the last day…

Exciting stuff, huh?


30 09 2007

I remember the first days in all the newsrooms I’ve worked. I already wrote about Cadillac.

My first day in Lansing, after filling out the paperwork, was spend on my feet, in the media gallery, of the Michigan State Senate. All eight hours of my first day. It was a rough indoctrination into covering the legislature. I hated it that day, and every single time thereafter I was sent there.

I was shadowing Tom Schmidt. He was the chief photographer at WLNS. The reporter was Paul Friefeld (at least, that’s how I think the last named is spelled). And I didn’t do ANYTHING except stand there, all frickin’ day.

The days got better in Lansing. There was a real feel of camaraderie in that newsroom then, mostly because we were all getting paid for crap, so we all hung around together. Chris Bolla, Kelli Saam, Pete Ziemilis, Brian Baltosiewitz (two last names I’m sure I got wrong!), are but a few of friends I made there.

After three and a half years, I headed for the worst (or second worst, I’m not sure) mistake I ever made. I took a job at WEYI. I thought it was a good move. They were adding newscast, buying new gear, I was moving back home. But, oh my GOD! was that a rotten place to work. The new gear they bought? New 3/4 gear. In 1993. It was downhill from there.

My first day there was spent shooting a story with Pat Scott. We did some story at the University of Michigan-Flint. And for some reason, on the drive there, I kept thinking how trusting people are. Here I am, driving a station vehicle, using expensive equipment, with a woman who has never met me. Hell, I could have been an axe murder!

Again, all of us being stuck in a hellhole, we (mostly) pulled together to make the most out of a bad situation. After 47 weeks, I had had enough, and moved to Battle Creek.

When I interviewed for the job at WWMT, for the bureau photog position, Steve Hayes met me at the Battle Creek bureau, showed me around the place, asked me questions. Then he bought lunch at Schloztskis (again, I’m sure I’ve messed up the spelling). I remember telling him that he had to hire me, just so I could keep having lunch there! Mmm, that’s good eating! Or was, until they closed up.

I loved working there. Battle Creek is a great town. Big enough to have things to do, small enough to not feel crowded. And I learned how to be a good photographer there. The station had a photog-oriented philosophy. Good video, good editing, good story telling. And I ate it up. I watched the newscast to see how other photogs shot their stories, and try to emulate them. I made good friends there, both at the station, and among the community. And, I was at spot news so much that the fire chief would walk up to me to give me information.

Every spring and fall, the zoo would move the petting zoo animals either to or from winter quarters. And I got to shoot video of it. They (or maybe me) called it “the running of the goats”. It was tricky to shoot because there wasn’t a lot of time to shoot the animals, and I had to make sure I didn’t get trampled! But it was fun!

Eventually, for partly personal reasons and partly professional reasons, I left the Cereal City to head back home. I got hired in the newsroom I wanted to work in almost since the first day I had a camera on my shoulder.

I remember watching ABC12 while growing up. Mom would watch WNEM at 6 o’clock, and ABC12 at 11pm, and even then I thought ABC12 was a better product. When I started learning about shooting tv news, I began to understand why I thought ABC12 looked better. And I wanted to work there.

Phil Hendrix called me up in June of 2000 and asked if I still wanted to work there. I said yes, and I gave my two-weeks notice to WWMT the next day. I liked working there from day one. The first day there was spent basically standing around, getting the feel of the newsroom, the way they did things.  Then I went with Stan Simmons to a live shot at the Atlas Country Club, a live shot for Ed Phelps, the dean of sports in the area.

There’s a certain feel about that newsroom, a professionalism balanced with an understanding that there’s life outside the newsroom. And it my opinion, that feel is because of Jim Bleicher. He’s the best news director I’ve ever worked for. He balances being boss with being friend. And that’s a hard balance to find. I figured I’d end up retiring from there, unless of course Diane wanted to move somewhere else.

But the old feeling kept creeping in. The feeling that I didn’t want to have a camera on my shoulder until retirement, standing in the cold, shooting fires in the rain, doing live shots while dodging lightning strikes. And the feeling that the business is run by consultants. The stupid “next great idea” that the business would chase after. I wore me out. I’d had enough.

When I saw the job opening at Mott, I knew that this was my chance to get out of the business that I’d loved since day one, the business that I had become disillusioned about. I’m going to miss shooting news, miss the newsroom, the people, I’m just not going to miss the inanity that I feel is rive. I feel I would think this way no matter where I would work. I’m not running away from ABC12, I’m escaping a business I don’t like anymore.

Requiem for a Vet

27 09 2007

I got surprised today.

While strolling through the blogosphere, I saw my picture!

Lenslinger wrote a post essentially about my impending release from the prison of tv news. That, my friend, is quite a compliment. Stew is the photog’s voice in the blogosphere, putting in words the frustrations, the joys, the daily grind we photos go through everyday. It was not uncommon for me to be feeling the same thoughts that Stew would write about. Of course, he would write about it better. Maybe it’s his thesaurus.

Thanks, Stew.

Nearing the end

26 09 2007

As I enter my last week as a professional television news photojournalist, I’m getting a bit contemplative. I keep looking back at the last 19 years with just a bit of nostalgia…ok, maybe a bit more than “just a bit”.

I remember my first day working in a television newsroom. October 17, 1988. I was a senior in college, and Dr. Schock got me a job at WWMT (oops, I meant to type WWTV.   Stupid call letters((Thanks, Steve, for pointing that out.)) in Cadillac, Michigan, better known as the Great White North (summer is three weeks of bad sledding!). I would spend five hours a day, in the evenings, five days a week essentially interning (although getting paid) at the station, after a day of higher learning at college.

My first day, and many days thereafter, was spent recording and logging the evening feed from CBS. In those days, it was easier to have someone sit in front of the record deck and log what was on the feed. This did a couple of things. It gave the anchors/producers an idea of what was actually fed from the network, where on the tape the stories could be found, and showed me what professional video should look like. Well, for the most part…there was (and still is) some really bad video on the network feeds.

After the feed ended on that first day, the anchor, Kathy Pulaski (I think…it was nineteen years ago) showed me what needed to be done, which meant that day I just followed her around like a lost puppy. Eventually, I learned how to edit the videotape (I did editing in college, but honed the skill there), how to write stories, and essentially how to produce the newscast. The hard part was after taking classes, I would drive an hour to Cadillac, be at the tv station by 445pm, work five hours, drive an hour back to Mt. Pleasant, go to bed and repeat. I don’t remember a lot from the last year at school…I was tired!!!

I look back on that first day, about three lifetimes ago, and wonder what it was about this business that sucked me in. There’s a lot of things I could say grabbed my interest, but I think the thing that really grabbed me was the camaraderie of the newsroom, the sense of belonging. We were for the most part young kids just getting started, learning the business together, living in a town with not a lot of stuff to do. Suffering together, we hung together, sharing our misery, our accomplishments, whatever.

I look back, and realize I miss those days…even though I know I wouldn’t want to relive them.

God, I love stupid people

20 09 2007

I saw this video on ABC’s overnight news at work…

I laughed my ass off!