Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Adventures of G. Lee

A Thousand True Stories Ogling the Contraband...

The Body and the Beauty Queen She was gorgeous til she puked.

G Lee Goes to Court And runs down one wicked dentist.

Perfecting the Improbable G. Lee loses his shit while arranging a hit.

This Ain't Baseball (1 2 3) Drunks, news bunnies - what's not to love?

Pop Quiz, Hot Shot Hauling ass to a school bus ax.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Very Best of Viewfinder BLUES

Viewfinder BLUES Home Office

Through a Lens, Darkly Some shots never fade.

A Photog Turns 40 Roll your eyes as I wax pathetic

Jasmine at the Tragic Factory
Her real name was Ariel.

She Were Soldiers Cookies and tea with a Saint .

Hurricane Stew
Whadaya know? Fancy-cams don't float!

Journey of Hope When a feel-good kicker goes bad.

Bovine Castaways God thins the herd.

Dr. Tom and the Chili Peppers More than a record review.

Tears for Fears War IS Hell for some families.

Why I Ditched the LogoWear It's itchy?


Birth of a Photog Animal Lives!

The Roy Park School of Broadcasting Where I earned my Doctorate.

Adventures in Radio Over cologned and mostly sober.

The AppleBee's Incident The stand-off that started it all.

Baptized by Glass The First White-Balance.

Of Floaters and Feelings My initial victims.

Confessions of a Commercial Hack Life as a nimrod.

Early TV: The Stupid Years In all its ugliness.

Making the MarVan I see it in my dreams.

Seven Feet of Hell The cheesiest contest of alL.

The Legend of Vance Speight Williams is a pansy.

New Car Smell And the flashback it triggers.


Operation: Idol Clay Aiken? WHO'S Clay Aiken?

Fear & Loathing at Fantasia-Land Run for you lives!

Supplicants to Fame Bring on the Body Glitter.

Introducing Chris Daughtry This bald dude can wail.

Caged Birds, Singing AI audition up close

So Nice, that Bo Bice And polite, too!

The Final 24 American Idol hopefuls in L.A.

Last Day at the Cheese Factory I think Paula likes me.

Life After Idol Hangin' with our pal Bucky Covington

Remnants of Hipness Chris Daughtry comes home.


Fire on Vine Captain Lynch is lookin' for ya.

Once More Up the Widow's Porch A Trip I Know Well.

Hillbilly HoeDown Morning Jam Starts light, ends dark.

The Scrum and The Numb Doing Time at Va. Tech.

Up the River with Ed I can still smell it.

Looking for Lost Boys And then finding them.

The One Word That can make me vanish.

Confessions of a Video Vulture Yeah I got feelings...somewhere.

Bruised Fruit of the Pursuit
Hey, that rhymes!


Ten Things I'd Teach TV Reporters
IF I thought they'd listen.

Thrift Store Reconnaissance Ewing and I go deep.

Shotgun with the Man WhatchaGonnaDoWhenTheyComeForYou?

Granny Crackpipe and Cousin Spit Back and to the left.

Anatomy of a Live Shot Breaking down the Set-up

Things Isabel Taught Me In a Convenient List.

Furniture Inferno Is there ever a good time for spot news?

Headset Perry The Peter Principle in Action.

The Lost VoSot Patrol Never leave a man behind.

Lords of the Underpass And the women who love them.

A Day in the Strife Life as I know it.


Skate-Ray and Tall Dad Go on vacation, already.

O Brother Where Art Thou? Big Ups to Richard.

Faro's Broken Arrow The disaster that almost was.

Remembering Richard Pryor I was born a poor black child.

My Life With Motley Crue Shout at the devil.

Crazy on a Ship of Tools Haze Gray Underway.

Rebel in the Wind Killing my very first car.

Rocks in His Pocket A geezer kicks it.

Flirtin' With Disaster On the road in The Rebel.

Room to Write A peek at my inner sanctum.

The Pot Shack You're in the jungle, baby.


MoonRock Madness Dumber than Fiction

Snowblind on the Overpass Don't try this at home.

The Stupid and the Doomed They're often interchangeable.

Into the Wild Spot News Urination Epic.

County Commission Theater Morons in Motion.

The Coolest Thing I can think of right now.

The Reno Epiphany The day my junkie died.

Prison Yard Litmus Test I hate wardens.

Running Down Dubya Look-alike, Schmook-alike.


Tomorrow Doesn't Exist Or does it?

Birth of the Personal Journalist The Gurus loved this one.

And the Winner Ain't... The print guys with the lens cap on..

Perils of E.N.G. Eulogy for fallen comrades.

The Social Fabric of Firefighting Got smoke?

Pixelator's Twitch I didn't sleep at all last night.

Ribbon Cuttings, Ride-Alongs and Rage Three of my favorite things.

The Impending Schism Thoughts on the Horizon.

The Media and the Miner's Plight
Thoughts on Sago.


Inside Ophelia Multi-Part Saga of marquee'd rainmaker.

PayBack on the Interstate Some things take awhile.

Dr.UnDead's Fright Fest Behind the scenes of a no-budget slasher.

Vistas of Demolition
Can I keep the hardhat?

Food Court Theatrics Excuse me, miss...

The Art of of the Grab Crashing a live shot.

Crew-Call at Camp Ophelia Me and the boys slum by the shore.

Fumes at Eleven Low, low, low on petrol.

Walkdowns, Round Ups, Ride-Alongs
Three roads to exhaustion.

Fear and Loathing at Final Approach Alert 2! Alert 2!

The Amazing Pace Minus the million.


It's What I Do Drudgery in 3 easy steps.

Mad Skills of a Master Photog Do you have what it takes?

Careful What You Wish For
You just might get it.

Ways to Improve Hurricane Remotes Funny before Katrina.

Stressing the Edit It's why my hair's so thin.

Chances Are You're a Photog... A safe and easy test.

Truisms of Newsgathering This I know.

Signs Your Presser Isn't Going Well You're all alone.

No Business Being a Photog Doing Foxworthy proud.

Trust Your Gut Look where it got me.

The Right to Play Dumb And when to exercise it..


One March Morning A toy gun changed my life.

Sometimes They Die Early morning death spectacle.

My Favorite Mistake There's alot more where this came from.

When Soundbites Echo Earworms from the ghetto.

The Handcuffed Hippie
A robber goes down.

Have Mullet, Will Travel
Check out the wrestler hair.

My Time on the Dark Side How it almost robbed my soul.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys Life in the age of COPS.

Logos in the Wind
Whadaya mean I can't speed, occifer?


G. Lee Goes to Court And lives to tell about it.

The Body and the Beauty Queen
Take your prick.

Perfecting the Improbable Seen from afar.

This Ain't Baseball G. Lee works a nightshift.


Asleep at the Wheel Dreaming of C-Span glory

Doppelgangers in Motion Is that me comin' through the door?

Mojo Denied It was right here in my fannypack.

Photog Feng Shui That doesn't go there.

More Than Caddies My crew gets props.

Rethinking Jesse Jackson Still an asshole.

Bones of Calamity School bus wreck epistle.

From Crisis to Commodity In less than twenty minutes.

Street Corner Specter Spooky interlude in the 'hood

Pavlov's Cell Phone Is that my spleen ringing?

Fishing for Sound And getting pulled in.

"I'll Log in the Car..."
You drive like a fireman.

Dull Day Dissected More exciting than it sounds.

Strung Out on the Access But burned out by the rub.

The Places I've Been Eat your heart out, Johnny Cash.

Life on the Risers Wiggle this platform at your own peril.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

With Great Dread

Ken Corn, on responding to spot news that hits home...

You never know what to expect when you're a photographer working the night shift on a Saturday night in a city as large as Charlotte. I've pointed my lens at riots erupting in uptown after a New Year's Eve countdown. I've witnessed the aftermath of a shoot out between two rival gangs at a neighborhood block party. I've seen more twisted metal and broken glass piled high in city streets than your average tow truck driver. Yeah, you just never know what kind of images you will record when covering the news on a Saturday night.

Reporter Frances Kuo and I had just wrapped up an eleven o'clock live shot at a DWI checkpoint when my cell phone started ringing. Our work shift usually ends after the eleven o'clock show. But more often than not, we have to visit another crime scene or two before we can turn in the live truck keys for the night. Knowing the ringing box on my hip probably meant there was a scene somewhere waiting for us, I hesitated to unclip it from my belt.

I did not expect the words that flowed out of the electronic speaker pressed to my ear.

"We have a cop shot, up off of Milton Rd."

News photographer auto pilot kicked in when my brain registered the magnitude of the sentence I just heard. I handed the phone over to Frances so she could write down the details while I looked for the next exit off of the beltline. I could feel adrenalin seeping into my blood stream making my foot heavy on the gas petal. My mind started running scenarios of what we should do when we arrived on scene. We needed to find witnesses to interview. I needed to capture officers and other emergency workers rushing to the scene with my lens. Frances needed to find the public information officer to confirm the information our assignment editor had heard over the scanner. We needed to be on the scene right now instead of twenty minutes away.

The feeling that we were missing the best visuals and the best sound to tell the story caused time to stretch into unbearable lengths. Sitting at a stop light became physically painful. I would drum the steering wheel and bounce my foot rapidly against the break petal to bleed off excess energy produced by the adrenalin. I felt like a thoroughbred pressing up against the starting gate waiting for it to swing open so I could leap out onto the track and run.

While sitting at one red light close to the scene, two patrol cars came speeding up behind us with their lights flashing and sirens wailing. They swerved out left of the center line and passed our van in a blur. Before they disappeared on the other side of the intersection, three more cruisers sped into the same junction from the opposite direction. They passed each other like jet planes flying maneuvers during an air show. I wanted to jam the gear shift into park and grab the camera to capture this high speed ballet on tape. But I knew I could never get the camera out of the back quick enough to get the shot.

"I'm missing all the best video," I said as Frances continued to talk on the phone and write down notes.

Keeping my foot from smashing a hole through the floor of the live van became an increasingly harder task as we got closer to our destination. With every screaming police cruiser sailing by our lumbering beast, the impulse to hammer the gas grew. Just when I thought I couldn't hold back anymore I saw the roadblock ahead. Several white and blue Crown Victorias dammed up the intersection diverting traffic flow away from the road I wanted to take. Knowing it would be a waste of breath and time to ask if I could gain access to wide open space just beyond the dam, I scanned the area for an entrance to a parking lot. In this part of Charlotte, strip malls with endless parking lots line the streets. In most cases, I can get much closer to a scene by navigating the maze of blacktops between businesses. Tonight, I was able to slide passed a few drug stores and fast food joints before being stopped by a patch of undeveloped land. Time to let the thoroughbred out of the gate.

As I jump out of the truck, I'm formulating a plan in my head as to how I'm going to do two jobs at the same time. The station wants us live as soon as possible but I also need to gather video of what is happening at the scene. Which should I do first? With a quick glance at my surroundings I see the roadblock with a half dozen officers directing traffic. I know these officers will be performing their assigned tasks for several hours and there will be plenty of opportunities to get video of them later after a live shot. I start raising the mast to tune in a live shot signal.

While the mast slowly grows out of the top of the van, I hear a siren getting louder and louder. I let go of the switch that raises the mast and grab the camera. I run out into the street just in time to capture an ambulance thundering through the roadblock on its way toward the scene down the empty road. When the speeding truck disappears into the apartment complex where the shooting happened, I go back to setting up the live shot. This routine happened several more times as more and more police cars and emergency vehicles converge onto the scene. It takes me longer to set up the van for a live shot but knowing this is a story we will cover for the next several days I must capture images that show the immediacy of the scene right now. I'm in the middle of an intense juggling act.

The blaring sirens keep coming as I work on getting the shot ready. Fortunately there is enough time between zooming cars and trucks to get set up. Frances had squeezed a few details out of the police department's public information officer and we are ready to break into programming to tell Charlotte that two police officers were shot responding to a disturbance call. While we are live on the air, several more police cruisers zip past the roadblock we are using as the back drop of our shot. I instinctively push the lens off of Frances to fill my viewfinder and televisions screens across the city with an image of a speeding police car. Frances describes the situation as I show the scene to the public.

We perform this task several more times during the next couple of hours. After our last shot of the night the public information officer offers to give a brief statement about the situation. By this time all the other news organizations have arrived and are eager to get any reaction from the police department on record. We gather in a huddle around officer Fey as he shares with us the few facts he knows. Close to the end of the makeshift press conference, I throw out a question I'd been thinking of while officer Fey confirmed the facts we already knew. Police departments function like a large extended family. When one officer gets hurt in the line of duty, they all feel grief and pain just as if a blood relative were hurt. Basically, officer Fey was a member of a family who was suffering at the moment. So I asked him how he felt about the tragedy playing out just down the street.

"It's heartbreaking," Fey said. "Hearing your dispatcher say those words, `we have two officers shot from the North Tryon Division,' makes your heart skip a beat."

I had similar feelings when the same call came from our assignment editor earlier in the evening. A close personal friend of mine also wears the dark blue uniform and beehive shaped badge of the Charlotte Police department. He works the overnight shift every Saturday night. The shooting happened on the side of town he patrols. Now that the adrenalin rush of covering the story has subsided, my mind starts to let emotions surface.

I remembered that my friend works in the Independence division next door to the North Tryon Division. This eases my mind for the time being, but later as I hear the rumors that one of officers has died, I start thinking of the officer's family. My friend who wears the same uniform lives on our street. We go to the same church. His kids come over to our house to play with my children. I see or talk to someone from his family nearly everyday. I don't want to think about what if...

My shift is over and I have the next few days off from work. But the tragedy of a scene I witnessed Saturday night still plays over and over in my mind as if I'm still working on this story. I feel sorrow for the Police Department as well as for the loved ones of our fallen heroes. I feel anger when I see the video of the suspect on television. I wished crime and violence would cease to exist putting me and my friend out of a job.

Thank you, officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton, for giving your lives to protect us so that we may live in peace.