Forced To Look In Strange Places

Journalism, Video Journalism, Video Editing, Video Production, Emmy, Award, Winning, Top 10, Best, World Famous, Videography, Cinema, Betacam, Avid, Final Cut Pro, FCP, Non-linear editing, Chris Gulfman, WYFF-TVIt’s a day that’s vague in my memory but one I’ll never forget; vague enough that I couldn’t remember exactly where I was standing until I saw the purple beacon.

My face became flush and I wanted leave.

But I couldn’t. Besides, the windows were down and Jerry was singing loudly.

Look for a while at the china cat sunflower,
Proud walking jingle in the midnight sun.
Copperdome bodhi drip a silver kimono,
Like a crazy quilt stargown through a dream night wind.

It’s a morbid thought if you really think about it. On the anniversary of a death that continues to cause more sadness than is necessary, and certainly more than he would want, I stood speaking to a piece of marble with gilded lettering. Below that stone lies the shell of a man who I consider a brother.

The small corvette and the golden fighter jet caused a visceral reaction as I thought about the accent and diction of my friend as he sat playing in his youth. When his friends called to play, did he invite them to come over with an offer of about n-n-n-n-nine marbles and a new pack of Oreos? I truly wonder if he knew back then that college was expensive and fatty foods were bad for you?

I think about Chris frequently. I think about the purpose of his death, or maybe I should say the purpose of his life. It’s really the same, isn’t it? And I wonder if he knows the profound affect that his death had on my life. Once in a while you can get shown the light in the strangest places if you look at it right.

More information about Chris Gulfman can be found here and here and here

My personal tribute to the Gman can be found at WhimsWeb. (link is now working again)

 

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Cootie Stark: The King of Piedmont Blues

When I read about Mr. Johnny Miller in a local Greenville, S.C. newspaper, I had to go meet him. I was really into playing the blues guitar during that time, and I had no idea that a Piedmont Blues legend lived no more than a mile from my home.

The projects where Johnny lived weren’t far from city condemnation at that time. I pulled up in unit four, my WYFF-TV news vehicle, during a lunch break and knocked on the door. A humble yet cigar-thick voice greeted my call with hello as he opened the door.

There he was, Cootie Stark, right in front of me. Cootie was his stage name.

He invited me in before I could finish explaining my purpose.

The dark four room dwelling had painted concrete block for walls and no decoration. I guess it made sense; he’s a guy and he’s blind. I probably wouldn’t decorate, either.

Cootie started telling me the story of his life and included things like growing up in Laurens, S.C. and pickin’ peas as a child. He spoke of traveling all the way to Greenville (about 20 miles) during the summer, and how he came to play guitar. He made mention of his relationships with Baby Tate, the Rev. Gary Davis and several other Piedmont Blues legends living in the area around the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

He also talked a lot about the Music Maker Relief Foundation, and the MMRF president, Tim Duffy. He called him Timmy. He told me how the organization has helped him survive, travel the world and feel as though he again had purpose. The stories captivated me.

My lunch hour almost gone, I asked if I could come back some time and shoot a story about his life. He agreed, and I stood to leave.

“Hey, uh, I seem to be havin’ a bit of trouble with my CD player,” Cootie said. “You any good at that kinda stuff? Could you look at it for me?”

I was honored with the thought of helping such a such a legend. I reached over and picked up the CD player. My keen sense of electronictechnogeek kicked in quickly and I determined without a doubt that the CD was in upside down. Yes, I know. My brilliance continually amazes me, too.

I flipped it and hit play. Out comes this great Piedmont Blues. “This is great,” I said. “Who is it?”

“That’s me,” he said in his polite southern gruff.

I shook his hand, set up a time to do a feature story* and departed to the nearest music story to pick up a copy of Sugar Man. I was late getting back.

I had a few more conversations with Mr. Miller before he died in April 2005. I again honored one evening at the Handlebar when I was able to thank him for helping me achieve my goal of winning an Emmy. I was also able to thank him for allowing me to preserve a dying form of true Americana.

I shook his hand and gave him a copy of the story.

“Thank you young man, you gonna to do just fine with your life,” was that last thing he said to me.

Listen to Cootie Stark:

* Kudos to my reporter and friend, Kimbery Lohman, for an doing such an excellent job on this story.

 

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Cows Escape Truck, Town Rallies City Police, Cowboys, & Mop-Toting Grandma

Cops, EMS, Firefighters, Lasso-toting Cowboys, Children and a Grandma rallied to track down a heard of cattle that escaped their captivity.

The assignment was to investigate a report of a hand grenade found by children in the a backyard. The hand grenade report turned out to be bogus, but serendipity of that moment led me to a much better – and much more fun – spot news story.

Cowgone is one of several in a series of stories that allowed me to win an Emmy for best TV News Photography.

 

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Attacked Reporter Speaks About Her Experience

Hear from Charmayne Brown, a black female reporter in South Carolina who was standing on a street covering a murder investigation when she was attacked by a white family yelling racial slurs. Get the Background & Watch the Entire Attack Video.

Are You a Racist? What Should Happen to the Attackers? Does SC Need a Hate Crimes Law? Leave a comment and let the whole world know.

Charmayne Brown Interview on WORD Radio

A look into Race Relations in South Carolina

 

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Reporter Attacked On Camera by Three Women

A reporter for WSPA in Spartanburg, S.C. was attacked while covering a murder investigation.

According the the WSPA Websitereporter Charmayne Brown and was standing on public property when a group surrounded her and started punching. Brown says she was across the street from the victim’s house when family members began yelling at her to leave.

Brown says the group was also yelling racial slurs at her and her photographer. She says one of the women in the group then rushed at her, punched her and dragged her to the ground. She says at that point it’s hard for her to recall what was going on, but WPSA’s satellite truck operator Ray Daubenspeck says he also saw the woman punching her. He called 911, picked up a camera and began recording video. Charmayne says at least two other people joined in on the attack as her photographer tried to pull them off of her. Source: WYFF & WSPA

 

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