Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another One.....

I love live in general. It's freaking awesome we all get to live. We get to wake up, eat good meals, enjoy relationships with friends and significant others. We get to listen to music that doesn't suck and sometimes we even get to score! Seriously, even when life sucks, it's really not that bad. Sorry, I didn't mean to get off on that tangent, but perhaps my favorite part of life is the random moments that help you realize there are reasons for everything. The coincidences that keep you thinking for hours, "This is really weird, and really cool."

Last weekend Jennifer and I went to Wilmington for Kelli's birthday. Her age is not significant, but is indeed a milestone. It's great to go to Wilmington. Most of Jennifer's friends are there and they are all super people. Plus, I usually get a chance to slide in and see cousin Lee and family, so I was really happy we made the trip. Kelli wanted to celebrate at Indochine, a pretty good restaurant featuring Thai/Indochinese/Indian/Japanese and probably three or four other kinds of food. It whipped a ton of ass. Good food, cold beer and good people. We had to wait a while in the bar and I thought the manager walking around the restaurant looked real familiar.
I didn't think much about it, but I was pretty sure I knew this guy from somewhere, but I couldn't quite figure it out. We sat down, ordered and he walked by our table. I decided to stop him and ask him where he was from and he had lived in Charlotte for a short time, but as soon as he said that, I realized Charlotte isn't where I first met him. Some of you know I was in real college for a few months at UNC-Greensboro as a vocal performance major. I sang pretty good in a previous life. Anyway, my good friend Brad got an apartment off campus our second semester and had a seriously flaming gay neighbor who was always throwing big gay parties on Spring Garden Street. They were always inviting us over but I was a bit skeered to take them up on the invitation. Mom had always taught me gay people were nice and not scary so I finally convinced Brad's then girlfriend to go over there with me one night. I was 18 and had zero experience around gay people. I was nervous and not sure what to expect but I vaguely remember walking up the stairs and some dude yelling, "Watch out!! Here comes some straight people!!" I felt a lot better after that knowing they all knew I wasn't gay. It was an experience I'm glad I had at that age. I found gay people to be way more entertaining than myself and my friends, and I got to see people doing hard drugs for the first time. This 18 year old was soaking up life, a completely different life than I'd ever been around, and it didn't scare me. The gay neighbor's boyfriend named talked to us for a while and even after that night always spoke to us and was real nice to us. Sure enough, that was Rob managing Indochine in Wilmington! Freaking random!! I'm glad I don't forget many faces and he actually remembered us, too. Talking to Rob brought back some good memories for me, memories I'd forgotten to tell Jennifer about so I was able to do that. Rob moved to Wilmington a few years ago, retired and now has what he described as a short, vietnamese boyfriend and is about to have a child with a woman. I don't know about all that, but it was good to see Rob.
We left there and headed to the Sofa Lounge for a few more drinks. Jennifer, Kate and Kelli talked about something whilst the boys talked about traveling to Wales for the next Ryder Cup and other manly stuff.

We need to make more trips to Wilmington.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I'm not a photographer. It's weird to say that. I'm a pretty comfortable in my own. I rarely feel out of place, but I'm not yet comfortable with not being what I've been for the last ten years. It's not like I got out of the business or anything. I went to work for a cable network that covers sporting events on wheels. I'm not carrying a camera, though. I'm sitting in front of a computer that controls a shit ton of satellites and imports video into a big assed server. I'm not one hundred percent sure I'll like it. In fact, I may be bored with it. I won't hate it, though and I do get to sit in a room with four 52 inch HD flat panels and several other smaller ones. I'll still watch television for a living, I'll just have a much smaller role in creating it. To make a long story short, it's a sneaker in a much higher paying door with a lot of exciting possibilities. While this is exciting, I'll miss my old gig. Not every part of it, but I'll miss knowing what the hell is going on in this town. I'll miss taking trips to small towns ninety minutes away and not being upset about it. I'll miss knowing every street in every neighborhood. I'll miss running into friends in random places and I'll miss asking police officers if I can stand next to the crime scene tape with the other civilians if I go put my camera back in the truck. I won't miss live shots in the rain and I won't miss trying to turn a complete piece of shit into something that doesn't look like a piece of shit. Mostly, I'll miss shooting high school football. By pure luck, twas my last assignment.
News photographers have an astute knowledge of eateries in every town in their coverage area. I could rattle off twenty that make my socks go up and down at the thought of a vittle there, but there isn't a place that I enjoy eating at more on the job than Bridge's BBQ in Shelby. I pull the sat buggy in the parking lot, walk inside, take a seat at the bar and a nice man doesn't ask me what I want to drink. He simply asks, "Do you want a lemon in your tea?" It's that kind of treatment I live for in a restaurant. I effing love it. Last Friday, my final assignment took me to Kings Mountain for a state semi-final football game featuring the Mountaineers and Kannapolis. Luckily, I was able to leave the station early, mount my Sirius Satellite Radio and drive a good twelve minutes past the high school to eat at Bridge's. I ordered my usual BBQ plate with fries and green beans. I know it's weird I don't care for baked beans and slaw, but that's how I roll. Bridge's is the best. I love it and will miss it dearly since there's a good chance I won't be "swinging by" Shelby anytime soon. I sincerely got more sentimental in Bridge's than I did shooting my final night.
I had to put together a package for the game and arrived twenty minutes before kickoff. That allowed me to tune in and snag some quick sound from some drunken Kings Mountain residents before the game. They delivered with some great tape like all small town high school football fans in the fifties do. I grabbed rosters from the press box and made my way to the field where I was greeted with the weird looks I'm used to directed at my hairy legs in shorts exposed to the 38 degree temperatures. It's high school football! You're supposed to wear shorts!!!! Anyway, I had one of the better football shooting nights I've had in my shooting career. Not the best, but I didn't miss anything and I was on target all night. It helps I shoot Kannapolis almost every week. They won, too which was special for me since there's a ton of good people up there who have treated me well for the last several years. I'll miss meeting new people every day.
I got my victory shots, trekked back up the hill to the buggy where I edited and tracked my package. I tracked it sans script since I used to be a sports anchor and wanted to prove to myself I could still track it 'live.' It turned out alright. It wasn't my best package, but it was ok. (You can watch it here if you press play, then arrow right to the second segment. It's the second game in that second segment.) My final assignment allowed me to finish this part of my career doing what I loved most about my job. I got out of Charlotte, I was able to eat at Bridge's, and I got to shoot high school football. Life as a news photographer is a good one. It is one I'll miss dearly despite several parts of the job that truly suck. My new gig allows me to work with some absolutely amazing technology I'm soaking in daily. That's exciting. And I work in a room that producers won't even have access to. How freakin awesome is that?? I could go on for hours about what I'll miss, but it's mostly the people. I'll miss the random folks knocking on the live buggy door with a story idea when you're slamming out television magic. I'll miss the politicians who I've learned a lot from, the other media members who I've learned a lot more from and I'll miss my co-workers who have made work worth showing up for for the last seven years. Thank Jesus I married the hottest one.
I'm not sure what this blog will be in the near future. There's a good chance it will suck more than it has lately. Travel usually brings out my best blogging and I won't be traveling with this job. We'll see how it goes. I'm not sure how the higher ups feel about detailed blogging about the job so I'll likely stick with extra curricular activities which is mostly what this blog is about anyway. Stay tuned.......oh, and shoot some good tape for me, please.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Effing Atlanta, Again

A trip to Atlanta happens at least once a year for me. I have some good memories of that town. I also have some heinous memories. Let's say I've been down there a dozen times. Something bad happened on at at least ten of those trips. The other two, the Panthers beat the Falcons and we got out of Dodge, quickly. Some of the bad memories include wrecking my friend Sherrie's car and major camera malfunctions. Bad news.

Anyway, I traveled to Atlanta last Saturday to hang out with former Road Reporter and dear friend Jason Bronis and his lovely girlfriend. I knew despite what happened the rest of the weekend, it'd be a great Saturday night. We had a steak at Morton's, then made our way to the Cypress Street Pint and Plate for more beverages. Several beverages later we made our way back to Jason's place where a hooker was walking down the street.

Of course, I did what any other inebriated photographer does when he spots a hooker at 3 in the morning, I utilized my camera phone! Regardless, Bronis was the gracious host like he always is and he's missed greatly in Charlotte, USA. It was great to see him and meet his girlfriend. A fine meal, an inordinate amount of beverages and good company made for a tremendous Saturday night.

I made the trip Saturday because Solarte and I were slated to cover the Panthers vs. Falcons game at the Georgia Dome Sunday. Solarte shoots the Panthers every week and is a way, way better football shooter than myself, so I jokingly said he should shoot the game and I should sit in the press box. Lo and behold, I get to the dome Sunday afternoon and he's wearing wind pants with paint stains. Thus, I sat in the press box for the game. It was weird and I was visibly uncomfortable there. Regardless, the game sucked since we got spanked, but the Papa John's personal pizzas at halftime and unlimited Diet Coke to nurse off Saturday night were nice.

After we got sound(Solarte did let me shoot post,) we fed some tape and rolled up 85. Coming out of Atlanta, I ran over something. I don't know what it was, but we stopped in Commerce, GA for gas and BK when Solarte got out of the truck and heard a hiss. Well, the right rear was going down and in a hurry. Normally, you whip out a jack, change the tire and keep on going like most normal human beings but when you're in a satellite truck that weighs 12,000 pounds, the jack in the back of the truck doesn't cut it, thus you need a tow truck to raise the ass of the truck so you can change the tire.

After an hour, this guy named Shane rolled in with his tow truck and Shane whipped some serious ass. The tire had a gash the size of Fulton County so a plug wasn't going to cut it. We finally got the spare down and Shane swapped the good one for the bad one and we were on our way. We rolled in to the station at 4 am Monday, two hours after our planned arrival. Instead of Burger King, we ate ice cream sandwiches and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos from the gas station, but we made it home safely thanks to Shane.

Sure, Atlanta threw me another curve ball, but thanks to good folks like Bronis and Shane, I won't count this as one of the bad trips down there.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chapel, Minister, Reception, Touchdown!

After an eight month engagement and a ton of planning, Jennifer and I married three weeks ago. I'm not sure exactly what my expectations of the day were. I wanted to see family and friends and I wanted everything to go smoothly so Jennifer wouldn't have to worry about anything. Really, I didn't care about much else except marrying Jennifer.

Some people spend decades searching for someone to spend the rest of their life with. I was fortunate enough to find Jennifer just nine years into my adult life. We grew up eight miles apart, knew a ton of the same people, went to the same restaurants, ate ice cream at Larry's in Mint Hill, shopped at Upton's and even went to the same day camp. We probably saw each other a dozen times growing up, but I never met her until she walked into the newsroom almost three years ago.

I thought to myself, "Wow, she's tall! And really hot!" She was and she was. I wrote her off as another cool co-worker who happened to be smokin' hot and that's pretty much what every other guy in the newsroom did, too. I honestly never thought I'd get a chance to have a beer with her, or go out with her. Who the hell knew I'd end up marrying the girl at work who was both hot and cool? I didn't, but a few friends helped convince me I at least had a shot. You know who you are, and thanks for giving me the extra cajones I needed to make something happen. All of you are a big part of this marriage.

The wedding was great. I don't think anything went wrong. We went out with friends from out of town the night before, I drove her home and then spent the night at my parents where I proceeded to sleep terribly. I don't think it was nerves because I had very few nervous moments the last few weeks. But, I slept very little and woke up early. Mom and Dad whipped up a big assed breakfast and sister Anna came over for a final family meal for me as a single man. I was tired, but excited. I went home, took Carmen to the vet and took my final single shower. I was really scared I'd cut myself shaving but made it through my entire face without a scratch.

I dressed, met your friendly neighborhood police officer Tim and his girl, friendly neighborhood police officer Melissa and we headed to the church where I spent the longest hour of my life chatting with people and standing in a room half the size of your typical photog room waiting to walk into the church. My dear friend Debbi from The Urban Ministry Center married us in a traditional Presbyterian(even though we were both raised Methodist) ceremony after we recited vows we wrote ourselves. I wasn't down with that at first, but I'm glad Jennifer convinced me it was the right thing to do. It was my favorite part of the ceremony.

I glanced into the congregation a few times to see who all was there. I remember noticing a few people who I didn't get to speak to, and a few people who I'd never seen before which I suppose is typical at a wedding. I eventually figured out who they were. After we made it official we hopped in a limo for a ride around town while we waited for the reception to start. We rode with Jennifer's matron of honor, Erika and her husband Mike who bought a five dollar bottle of champagne for the occasion. Good call!

Once we arrived at the reception, Big Jim Slade made the announcements for the thankfully small wedding party. Once we walked in, waved and pretended it wasn't completely awkward, we had our first dance. I thought we'd get to drink a beer first, but we had to get right into the program. Once everybody kept staring at the newlyweds, I was actually able to visit with people at the reception. By the way, I think the first dance should be private between the bride and groom. That's a pretty special moment and it was weird knowing everyone was staring.

Regardless, it was still a special moment and so was the dance with my mom, despite everyone staring. We tried our best to go from table to table to table visiting with people, some of whom we haven't seen in months or had never seen before! And this was with only 105 people! I'm glad we kept it small. It sucked horribly to not invite some people. That was by far the worst part of wedding planning for me(and I did very little planning.) But the small number did allow us time to visit more with those who were there.

The food was great, the beer was cold and I heard the liquor was good, too. Yes, there was indeed a keg of Smithwick's and assorted domestics and no we didn't kill that keg. It was the only regret I had that day. We left nearly half of the beer in the keg and I don't know what happened to the rest. I hope someone drank it.

By the way, you're an asshole if you don't fly in Larry Davidson from Tallahassee to shoot your wedding. He is absolutely freakin' amazing. These are only ten of the 1,400, yes that's one thousand, four hundred pictures he took. None of them suck, they are all freakin' awesome and so is Larry!
We left the reception, checked into the hotel and went straight to the Gin Mill where we were greeted by probably 25 friends and family who had taken over part of the bar. The greeting there and the time spent with them there was probably my second favorite part of the day. I'm still not sure what my expectations for the day were, but it was terrific. Most importantly, I married Jennifer, the girl whom is both cool and hot and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with.

Monday, November 03, 2008

TBMOMNS Voting Guide 2008!

Uh oh! It's almost election day! The guide is up next, but first.......
Jennifer and I married last weekend. The wedding was great, the reception was wonderful and so was the honeymoon. Much, much, much more on that later this week. On to the voting guide!!! Woooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

The Senate race has been pretty close and heated here in the Old North State. You can vote for Kay Hagan who seems like a nice lady. You could also vote for Elizabeth Dole who is a nice lady and always leans past a reporter to shake this photographer's hand before an interview. Dole also hasn't lived in North Carolina for the last 300 years. She's from Kansas for God's sake and probably only voted against the bank bailout bill because she's up for reelection. Dole blows, but is a nice lady. Hagan has spent some in the state legislature and supported an ENORMOUS incentive bill to bring Dell to the triad. Chris Cole has run for office seven times and hasn't' won, but damn he's full of great ideas. Ideas like it's cool for people of the same sex to marry and government sponsored 1st degree murder(you may know it as the death penalty) isn't cool. When you vote, look for the 'L' and vote for Chris. Oh, and he's actually from North Carolina, too.
Many of you know I'm no fan of socialism and feel we'd all be much better off if we would rely on ourselves instead of the government. Unfortunately, both Barack Obama and John McCain feel much differently. I admire McCain's service in the Senate, but he had some shady years with the FCC and I think we all know how most broadcast professionals feel about the FCC. McCain also rewarded banks for failing by voting for the bailout bill. Not my kinda guy. I have a ton of respect for what Obama has done with Americans during his campaign. Nobody has mobilized and energized people who normally don't give a damn about politics like Obama has. I just got back from covering a rally where more than ten thousand people waited in the rain just to hear him speak for a few minutes. He's a rock star and I hope he turns out to be an ok president. I'm a bit skeered of socialism. Hey! Bob Barr isn't a socialist. He's a big time conservative from Atlanta who realizes there's not much difference between the views of Obama and McCain. Barr has brought Libertarian pole numbers higher than they've ever been. It's common sense, vote for Bob Barr. You won't be sorry, unless you're a socialist.

Ya'll know I love mayor Pat, but I love Mike Freakin' Munger even more. McCrory has been a great mayor who wasn't afraid to spend a ton of public money on things despite painting himself a conservative. There's a reason he's been a 'republican' mayor in this blue city for so long. He ain't that conservative, but it may be that kind of 'republican' that has to run to make it to Raleigh. For the last two decades, the governor has only cared about Raleigh and points east. With Bev Perdue, that won't change. Plus, her answer to every question is, 'I'll be a serious, strong leader who understands the needs of Wall Street and Main Street." It's so awful and I'm damned skeered she'll be the next governor. Mike Munger is a badass. He's educated, so much so he's the head of the political science department at Duke. He has debated the other candidates with class and common sense and look at that smile. Have you ever seen a mug that screamed, "I should be governor!" more than Mike Munger's? I haven't either, that's why I will and you should vote for Mike Munger, a real American badass.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm Amazed at How Much This Blog Sucks

I'm sorry. I've been doing a lot of stuff the last few weeks and have completely neglected this blog. I will likely continue to do so until Jennifer and I get back from our honeymoon which starts in less than two weeks.

Less than two weeks? Holy Shit! If the honeymoon starts in less than two weeks that must mean we marry before that! Yep, Jennifer and I marry in eleven days. That seems awfully soon, but I'm glad it is. We are ready to marry, have a party, go to a football game and leave the country for a week. We look forward to marriage, our wedding and spending the day with friends and family. We also look forward to never planning a wedding again. And by we I mean Jennifer, who of course did the majority of the planning. This morning we headed over to the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds Office to apply for a marriage license. It only costs 50 bucks to marry in this county! What a deal! The county gets 25 bucks of the fee. Evidently our property taxes aren't enough. According to a sign in the office, the other half goes to "Domestic Violence." I assume this means some form of assistance to domestic violence victims or maybe domestic violence education. Perhaps the 25 bucks goes to promote domestic violence. The sign didn't say, but in order to marry, the effing government says we have to give them 50 dollars. We spent some time filling out a form online, then plastered our right hands to a King James bible while professing everything we typed on the computer was indeed the truth. One debit card transaction later, we exited the old courthouse with a license to wed.

I'll get back on the blogging saddle right before election day with a new feature on thisblogmayormaynotsuck.com. It'll be the TBMOMNS Election Guide. You can probably already guess who I'm voting for, but do you know why? I bet you can't wait to find out!

Until then, I'll be busy. Well, except for that week in Jamaica.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Team America!

This was my weekend. I woke up Friday morning around 10 and sat on the couch until 2 when I had to go to work. Saturday morning I woke up at 11 sat on the couch until 7:30. Sunday it was from noon until 6. I was feeding on a steady diet of Ryder Cup Golf. Other than Panthers football and Mad Men, I've never watched something so intently. I cussed the Sony Bravia at every missed putt the Americans threw at the cup. I've always loved America and I've always loved golf, but for some reason this year was different for me. When the days matches were over, it's all I thought about. When the Panthers were playing Sunday afternoon and Jennifer and I were watching, I was thinking about the Ryder Cup and whipping Europe's ass. Jennifer spent Saturday cleaning house, doing chores and running errands. I continued to sit on the couch. I got up to pee, eat and occasionally let Carmen in our out the back door six feet away from my sofa position.
I did sneak out of the house Saturday night to play with the Loose Lugnuts. I played a handful of gigs with Brian and Mark's band a few years ago. They were missing some members Saturday night so I filled in on rhythm guitar and Campbell filled in on bass. After touring with a hard rock band in the 80's for several years, I think it was the first time Campbell ever played classic country music and he whipped ass. It was probably the second time I picked up a guitar in six months and I had the finger pain to prove it Sunday morning. I'm out of guitar shape. Good thing Brian and Mark were in shape and carried the load. The Lugnuts continued to not suck despite the shortcomings of their substitutes. We played at a White Trash Prom party which featured a pig pickin', Boone's farm, spam and Mad Dog Prom Punch. Oh, and at least one drag queen which was great when the cops showed up after neighbor complaints. Have you ever seen a drag queen tell a police officer they'll keep the noise down? I have and the memory will never get old.Back to the couch I went Sunday afternoon when the singles matches begain with the Americans ahead by two points. We got off to a good start and wrapped up the victory around 5:30. It was exciting. Europe whipped our ass for the last two cups. I mean, they really whipped our ass. We were underdogs this year and destroyed them. I yelled really loudly and I'm pretty sure the neighbors out in their yard heard the yell. I didn't care. Once the handshakes began and the champagne sprayed, we had the cup again and I was ready to celebrate!
And what better way is there to celebrate an American victory than a meal at a Mexican restaurant? I was excited so Jennifer and I headed to Azteca where we lucked out. It was mariachi night! The band made it's way from table to table and asked for a request when they got to ours. I asked if they knew any Johnny Rodriguez. They didn't seem to understand but played Johnny Cash instead. They whipped ass and so did this weekend.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I think it was in 2000. Pal and then co-worker Brian Wilson made me roll to the Double Door for a rock show one Tuesday night. Ironically Travers and Mark Campbell were there, too. Brian told me two great bands were playing so I figured I should probably go. Slobberbone and the Drive-By Truckers were co-headlining their tour that summer. Slobberbone got up on the small stage and whipped everyone's ass. Unfortunately they broke up a few years later, but still remain one of my favorite bands. After Slobberbone got done, the Drive-By Truckers got up and blew the roof off the Double Door. It was so effing awesome. I was 20 years old and thanks to some great friends I was finally understanding why everyone loved live music so much. I loved it. The lead singer crooned lyrics I understood and could relate to. Songs about growing up in the South and how most outside the South assumed we were all rednecks who hated Yankees and black people. Most importantly, they had three guitars turned up to eleven and were LOUD! For the first time in my life, a band's music spoke to me. From then on, I claimed the Drive-By Truckers my favorite band.
I've seen DBT at venues in Charlotte, Winston Salem, Raleigh, Asheville, Chapel Hill, Atlanta Richmond and even Baltimore. I loved every song. I knew every word to every song, even the songs I thought were just ok. I made most of those trips with Brian, Mark, pal Sherrie and sometimes a few others. All of them were great trips with wonderful memories. Well, except the Atlanta trip. That's a whole other blog post. There may have been 75 people at the Double Door that night enjoying the rock show and $1 Natural ice cans. When they visited Amos' Thursday night, there were more than 1,000. The Truckers have gotten bigger every year. More people hear them every day and more people like them. They aren't the same band they were in 2000. They've been through two bass players, three guitarists and added a steel guitar. They don't necessarily suck, I just don't enjoy them like I used to. Maybe it's because there was literally more than 10 times the crowed than there was eight years ago.
Maybe it's because they aren't as good as they used to be. Now they did play five or six songs that really did whip ass including a Van Halen and Neil Young cover and they closed with a song from one of their early albums aptly titled Buttholeville. After a pretty weak first half of the show that had me wondering why I loved the band, they came around with some old stuff.

I considered not going to the show Thursday. It cost 25 freakin dollars and it was a weeknight, but there was a rock show, cold beer, good friends and I didn't wear my Dick Trickle t-shirt for nothing. The Drive-By Truckers didn't suck, but it sounded a lot better if I closed my eyes and pretended I was at The Double Door.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I've been all over the place since I got back from Minnesota. Here are a few random musings.
Above you can see the inside of Live Buggy 3. You can see a camera, microphone, battery and....................uh......................... Where's the tripod? How can a professional news photographer like myself expect to shoot steady video without the assistance of his Cartoni? I was headed to a bank robbery so I couldn't use a hotel table. Dammit!! I had to rely on the rock some people know as my right shoulder. It rests four inches lower than my left and makes my chiropractor cringe every time he looks at it. Unfortunately when zoomed in from a hundred yards away my shoulder doesn't really resemble a rock. It's more like a pile of mud. The Banco de Gente didn't look much like a bank. It looked more like a sign in an earthquake. I made sure I had sticks the next day.
It's football season! Before focusing their sights on Merrill Lynch, Bank of America torched the cap of the corporate headquarters in Panther blue. Some seasons they keep it blue for a while. It's a nice change for uptown Charlotte, USA. It also gives me something to think about that doesn't suck before entering the government center for a city council meeting.
Speaking of football season, the Panthers had their home opener Sunday against the Bears. Jennifer was in Wilmington for her bachelorette party so that left me with a wide open Sunday morning to do nothing but tailgate. I awoke at 7:45 and had the truck parked by 9:10. I was joined by the usual suspects and new for 2008, Jennifer's folks and their pals joined us, too. Their tailgating spot is now condos. We had a good time, especially after we whipped the Bears' asses.
The walk down the ramp from the upper level is always better after a win. Hell, even Larry McReynolds was whooping it up. Instead of watching Robby Gordon rip up Loudon, Dale's former crew chief was taking in some NFL action in one of the luxury suites. Actually, I don't know that he was in a suite, but he was dressed in all black and it was damned hot in the bowl Sunday afternoon. Larry's a good dude and didn't mind stopping for a picture.
I haven't covered much state politics this election season but I did cover Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue earlier this week. She was in town visiting a business that received a grant she said she created. This wasn't a campaign stop, though. Nope, this was definitely not a campaign stop. In fact, it wasn't a campaign stop at all. After taking a jet from Raleigh(evidently three hours chauffeured by a State Trooper is too far a ride for Mrs. Perdue,) she arrived, listened to a presentation, asked the employees questions and took a tour of the facility with a scribbler, radio reporter and two television cameras in tow. In case we and the Lt. Gov. couldn't handle this ourselves, one of her employees(well, a state employed assistant to Mrs. Perdue,) drove from Raleigh to help all four members of the media that flocked to the event. This wasn't a campaign stop, though. Just official Lt. Gov. business. Once again, it was not a campaign stop and her flying to Charlotte for this event had nothing to do with her current run at the Governor's mansion. God Bless America!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Final Day

As promised, I did take a trip to the arena to see John McCain's speech with my own eyes for about ten seconds, just so I can tell our children I saw him give the speech. The final day of the convention was pretty anti climactic after the Sarah Palin Festival the day before. Either way, the Republicans seemed to enjoy it.
I didn't know it actually existed, but what male television news professional hasn't joked about how awesome it would be to work at a Channel 69? Turns out, there really is one! WFMZ in Allentown, PA was covering the convention. I never got the balls to ask if I could take a picture with one of the photographers who had enormous 69 logos on their cameras, but I did sneak this shot of one of their cpu's during McCain's speech. Who knew we should all strive to work in Allentown?
After it was all over we made our final walk from the convention center to the parking ramp. Parking ramp is Minnesotan for a parking deck or parking garage. MSNBC had their outdoor set on this little plaza in downtown Saint Paul. It looked like Christmas every night the way they had it all lighted. It felt like Christmas, too thanks to the cool temperatures. Saint Paul's a beautiful place.
Not everyone has heard of Herb Brooks, but if you're from Minnesota, he's one of your favorite native sons. He and Bob Dylan. Herb Brooks was the coach of the USA hockey team when we whipped Russia's ass en route to the gold medal at the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid. Herb engineered the miracle with awful plaid suits that seemed to give us good luck throughout the games. Brooks coached several colleges, a couple of NHL teams and even gave the USA team one more go in 2002. He unfortunately died in a car accident a few years ago but his statue is pretty sweet. Charles Schultz is also from Saint Paul. In fact, every Snoopy character is somewhere downtown in the form of these big assed brass characters. I tried to get Shawn to pose with Linus who sits on a bench nearby, but he sprinted to Charlie Brown with Snoopy on his lap and I couldn't pull him away.
We predictably ended our night back at Bullwinkle's for five dollar pitchers of Grain Belt's Premium Light. It was a pretty big crowd for a Thursday but our new friends behind the bar found us a place to sit and pitchers to pour beer into.
Every time I visit the Midwest, I meet people who are welcoming, hospitable and genuinely nice. Sure, we have the famous Southern Hospitality here at home, but I think it may be hyped too much, and maybe even overrated. Folks like Tom and Jenny poured us pitchers and treated us like regulars. The hotel staff was accommodating with whatever we needed. Every server in every restaurant was polite and proud of their home. Minneapolis and Saint Paul are beautiful places with good people. My kinda towns.

Cleaning Out the Cell Phone RNC Edition

We flew into Charlotte, USA Friday afternoon. I took a nap, shot football and promptly took the weekend off. Well, except for painting, yard work and Panthers football. Now that I'm back at work I've got time for my final two RNC posts. It's weird covering a press conference with two hundred people in a room, all of whom are credentialed media. It's really weird when you're covering that press conference in a room in a city you've never been to. A city you landed in four hours earlier. A room that has enough riser space for 20 cameras when there's 65 in the room(I counted.) Shawn and I got to our workspace, got the Streambox running, shot a standup and got word there was a press conference upstairs in ten minutes regarding the Republicans changing their entire convention schedule courtesy of Hurricane Gustav. I hurried up there, found a spot on the floor where only three or four scribblers were blocking my shot, plugged in my XLR cable, walked back to my camera and was about four feet short. After a call to Shawn, he brought another cable in and we got all of the press conference except for the first three minutes. It even looked pretty good, too. Those kinds of things are a great rush, but I'm glad I'm not covering national politics where those things happen every day.
Lynn Swann was there. That's really awesome if you're a Steelers fan. It's just another football player if you're not a Steelers fan even though he is a first ballot hall of famer. He was everywhere last week. I suppose he's a Republican. I didn't ask him.

Everywhere you turn at one of these conventions, there's a face you recognize. It may be a network news anchor you've been watching your entire life. It may be someone you worked with seven years ago. It may be the Washington Post scribbler you've seen on Meet the Press every other Sunday for the last five years. It may even be Jon Voight! Coach Kilmer was working the XCel Engergy Center all week talking to damn near anyone who'd talk to him. He also had three or four syringes filled with cortizone on his person at all times. I'm not sure why, but he seemed to have a lock on the limping Lynn Swann's whereabouts. Weird.