Tuesday, December 16, 2008
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 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.
Friday, November 28, 2008
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
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.
Monday, November 03, 2008
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
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
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'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
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
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?
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.
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.