Feb 17, 2009

The Brandon File: July 1966...

It was a typical summer day in Brandon. It was 90 in the shade and the mosquitos were nibbling at exposed ankles like starving vampires. All the neighborhood kids were out and about; some on their bikes popping wheelies and showing off; the rest playing pick-up baseball in the park. The games went on perpetually and were played with World Series concentration: "You're out! The hell you say, I beat beat it and you know it!" Three kids were crossing the field with fishing rods heading for the mill pond. "If the cats ain't a-bitin', maybe the brim will be", said one of the boys. "We gonna need some more tadpoles", said another.

A passing afternoon thunderstorm rattled village windows and temporarily sent the all the kids scurrying for home; but as soon as the rain stopped and the thunder became distant, the convergence began again and the park area teamed with kids carrying bats and gloves, spitting Day's Work and arguing about who was at bat when the rain came: "I was up. Bullshit, Carlton was up and he had two strikes! You full of crap, I ain't even took a pitch!" The boys going fishing returned from their house just across the park and waved to a chubby kid splashing around in a freshly filled mud puddle. The gate leading to the pond was locked, but that rarely stopped a kid with dreams of reeling in one of the pond's big catfsh. The boy with the bait bucket yelled at his buddies, already over the fence, "hey idiots, hold on to this bucket whilest I crawl over"!

Twenty minutes later a millyard watchman quickly removed the chain that locked the gate just outside the pond. A woman crying hysterically ran from the house just across the park ignoring the shallow creek and the briars that grew along the banks. Within minutes, an ambulance appeared and slowed in search of the gate that lead to the pond. The watchman who had just opened it frantically gestured for the driver. Spotting him, the driver sprayed gravel as he gunned it for the mill yard.

The boy had fallen in attempting to catch more tadpoles. Unable to swim he had struggled momentarily before sinking to the murky bottom. One of the boys with him had called to a nearby watchman for help who summoned the ambulance and sent word to the boy's mother. Two mill hands, still in their overalls, dove continuously for ten minutes until one of them came up with the boy's lifeless, bloated body. The ambulance driver and his assistant pulled the boy from the diver's arms and immediately began to try to save him. The frantic attempts went on for twenty minutes. At last, the activity stopped and a quiet dejection settled over the crowd that had gathered. All that could be heard was the stiffled sobs of the boy's mother.

In the park, the game had stopped. The chubby kid splashing in the mud puddle was now standing beside his mother who wiped tears and said fervent prayers. As the ambulance carrying the boy's body made it's way from the mill yard everyone stopped and watched it as it disappeared from sight. By and by, the game restarted, but without the chatter. That evening, neighbors descended on the little house across the park with food, drink and somber condolences. The flashes of far away lightening promised another thunderstorm - which hit with ferocious intensity in the middle of the night.

Feb 9, 2009

They came, we saw, we conquered

The team of Ridgeway/Wilder received a brutal beating on Saturday afternoon. The estimable team of Reid/Durham delivered said brutal beating 3 games to zip. All the players involved survived the pelting of sweet gum balls and thoroughly enjoyed the 70 degree temps. The croquet Gods are smiling and the world once again spins in greased grooves.
In the photo, notice the downward cast mallets of the vanquished...heh heh.

Next up: Ridgeway/Wilder ponder the meaning of life after such a thrashing.

Feb 8, 2009

Look at all the pretty beer

We arrived at the Convention Center at a little after noon, dropping our gear and talent off at the door and then I was off to play the Columbia, SC hell game of finding a parking spot - never mind a good one - any spot will do. After lucking out (and flirting with a tow), I walked the short block back to the Convention Center and gathered gear and talent. Giovanna had already made some contact with the hosts and secured our press passes and we zoomed in to the big hall.
The layout of the place was cool as two entire floors were filled to the brim with brewers, food vendors, more brewers, beer-rights advocates, and brewers as far as the eye could see. And these brewers all stood at their booths, anxious to ply you with two ounces of the finest beer known to man. And to a beer lover, every single one of them were the best beer in town. There were pilsners and stouts, wheat beers and berry beers, beer that energized you, beer that relaxed you, beer that cured all sorts of disease and plagues, and beer that didn't do anything special, it just tasted good going down.
We decided to dive right into the interviews before people got too, shall we say, involved with the tasting. We'd shoot the opens/closes and interstitials later.
Gio always carries the handheld microphone which is tethered to me via the camera, so I am constantly being led around like a dog. After being led to the center of the lower hall, Gio, Tony and I posted ourselves front and center and awaited our first interview. Our initial fear was that we'd have to beg interviews. We couldn't have been more wrong. Within minutes of entering the hall, we not only had our first interview but had a line of eager interviewees awaiting their turns as well. After the first interview, we had another line of people just wanting a picture or phone-video of Gio saying "I'm Giovanna and I'll see you on the street". Next thing I know, I'm taping Gio in a true fanfest...she's surrounded by people of all ages chatting about the show, telling her that their moms, or brothers, or boyfriends, or name your relatives just love her and the show. They mentioned parlor games that revolve around the show - how many times will she high five this episode, or do they know the answers that Gio's posing, or make up their own "On The Street" trivia games. I was, needless to say, almost floored by the recognition and adoration Gio was receiving and, since I was almost floored anyway, I decided to go ahead and slip off from the lovefest and try a couple of sips of beer. I disconnected the Gio lifeline (mic cable), allowing her to float free in the limited space of her fandom while I started downing 2 ounce shots of amber beer, wheat beer, wheat and berry beer and Amber Bock. Realizing that I had just downed eight quick ounces of beer with a higher than normal alcohol content, I decided to return to the job at hand.
We shot continuous interviews for close to three hours. Before we knew what was happening, a flock of Columbia's finest started clearing the hall. Everyone must go (and this included us). Shit! We hadn't shot an inch of b roll, interstitials or a decent close.

We rushed around the hall taping our questions, some b-roll and an open before the police politely demanded that we clear the hall. Gio, Tony and I looked at each other like "what to do now?" It was then decided that we would come back for the evening session and complete our task. After a great dinner with Tony and Libby, I headed back to Irmo to meet Gio and her husband Micheal, leaving Tony to head to his job.

The evening session was wild. A packed house provided us with more of the same, half-drunk guys leering at Gio and stepping into our shots, partially-inebriated women whispering naughty things in my ear as I struggled to maintain my shot, one girl even grabbed my ass just as the interview was ending. I spun around to see who groped me and saw a blonde chick leering suspiciously at me. When she saw that she had been busted, she approached me and offered to "take care of me" for the evening, if you catch my drift. At one point, some idiots got behind Gio and her interviewee and flipped me off. Micheal, along with a volunteer that he'd been talking with, actually kicked the guy and his friends out of the convention center. When Micheal told me about it, I thanked him and asked how he was able to accomplish this without the authority - "Authority is in the mind of the beholder", he said. "Because the guy thought that I had the authority to remove him, his perception gave me the authority".
Wow. Go Micheal!
I must, at this point, give credit where credit is due. The organizers, planners, implementers and volunteers for the World Beer Festival were magnificent! Not a detail was overlooked (from my perspective, through a 1.5 inch b&w viewfinder).
The event was professionally staged and well-run. Another tip of the hat to All About Beer magazine for giving us this interesting opportunity. Soon, another edition of On the Street will be dropped in the can. And a special bow from Tony D and Micheal for their valuable assistance as line directors. Good friends go to work with you!
The evening finally came to an end, just as it had begun - with a crowd around Giovanna. We were truly ecstatic in the knowledge that our little cable show was such a hit...at least with beer afficionados.
Now, the editing will begin! Poor Andy.
See the OTS Beerfest edition here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of4ddS_g4nU&list=PL42FAAAA368E6AF5C

Feb 2, 2009

Wating on the heating & air guy to come:

I've gone back and watched the entire On The Street archives and I must say it was enjoyable. Giovanna is quite lovely, and the fact hat her husband is a west Greenville boy shows that she has impeccable taste and that he is one lucky cat. My hat is off to our esteemed compatriot for a job well done.
In this blooper video of the show we learn the proper signal for a right hand turn. My cautious driving technique evokes this signal from my fellow travelers with some regularity.
Now I return to shivering and cursing.