These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

reporter behavior

i was at a meeting earlier this week covering a story. i found myself in a roomful of people, which ws unexpected. i arrived late and, like church empty church pews, found a few seats available upfront near the board members.

one part of the meeting became heated and between seven and 10 people decided to speak out about an issue involving a former employee.

when a decision was reached, a majority of the people left because they were there for one issue. i immediately walked to the back to try to get somereaction, maybe try and find the man they the board was discussing.

up until that part of the meeting i had seen no other reporter. but i did see a photographer, so i figured a reporter was hidden among the people.

as i stepped to the back of the audience area, i saw the reporter. it was anunexpected one, since this one usually doesn't cover this particular meeting.

we both found the man we were looking for and we walked off to the side to talk to him quietly, since a large crowd had gathered.

i knew this reporter from other meetings and events and she's, well, not so nice. she tries to intimidate and usualyl puts down the newspaper.

but what she has about her is a way of schmoozing with people she's interviewing. it's like she's talking to a friend or something. she puts on the sympathetic face and her voice drops a little.she starts talking to people around her during any situation like she's taking a side.

you can feel sympathy toward someone, empathy, even. if it's sad, you can really let them know how bad you feel, like when i do an obit story or if i'm at a crash or fire scene and someone's house is burning down. but i remove myself from the person or situation. i let them know i care because as a reporter i do care about them and the situation. i just can't be biased towards what's going on.

i feel this reporter is biased at times. it's a shame.

maybe reporters allhave their own methods of getting what they want. i'm sure some are hard-asses and others use their wares to get what they want from people.

i just don't think you should do anymore than being nice to people when you're interviewing them. full of shit? maybe. either way, i just like to notice other reporters when we're ina group.

i guess it takes all kinds to make the world go round.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

world trade center

i stayed up late last night and watched oliver stone's "world trade center." i had no intention of watching it all (i went to bed at 4 a.m.),but once i started i kept on going and subsequently paid for it this morning when i worke up feeling like crap.

anyway, i had low expectations for the movie. i'm not one to watch films based on true events, since many times the event is glorified or people seem like super heroes in real life situatons. so i rented the film with trepidation and only on mark's recommendation.

i was pleasantly surprised by it. it's not a great film and not one of stone's best work as director, but i sat and watched it, as i said all the way to 4 a.m. there are few glimpses of the airplanes hitting the towers -- only shadows, and only snipets of the towers collapsing. there was little of stone's usual over-the-topness in the film. even the two men (port authority police officers) on whhich the movie was based arond, turned out to be regular guys in pain while they lay trapped in a colapsed concourse.

the only issue i had was with the jesus figure one of the men saw. i told dawn it was a little dramatic. but after watching the commentary with one of the men trapped in the concourse, he said he saw that image of jesus and it wasn't something stone created for the film.

even though the men survive, there is no happy ending for the film. i found myself cursing bin laden and hoped those assholes flying the jets found nothing but black after they died for what they committed on people who did nothing to them.

it's a strange feeling to h ave. i guess i have to separate it from what happened last night with president bush saying he is sending 20,000 more troops to iraq. that is something that angers me, sending troops to a situation that is chaotic.

so i think i am allowed to feel angry about both the 9/11 attacks and the iraqi war, although they are two kinds of anger and they are aimed at different people, opposites infact.

back to the 9/11 attacks, briefly. it was such a haze for me. i was at work, it was early. no tv in the office, maybe a radio. i knew something was up, people were out of sorts. dawn called me on my cell and i couldn't tell her anything, probalby because deep inside i knew something bad had happened and shock was settling in. at first i tried denying it, since i heard trade center and plane hitting it. silly enough, i thought a plane had simply crashed into the trade center in corpus christi, which is what i said, a trade center, although only one story. but taht was at the beginning, before people started really getting scared. then that silly thought went away.

the rest of the day is a lost memory to me. i only remember being at home. dawn came over and we watched some of it. she was crying because she was scared for some of her friends who live near d.c. it was a tough day emotionally.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

high school classmate

i received an e-mail last night that one of my high school classmates was dead. my first reaction was a car accident or an illness of some kind.

i was wrong.

upon further reading, it turns outhe was shot and killed in my home town. it was both shocking and not so surprising at the same time. it was shocking because you just don't think those things will happen to someone you knew years ago. but, at the same time, my home town has more of it's fair share of crime in recent years.

i got on the phone and called another classmate to give methe skinny on jose g. she toldme some things but she was unsure of their validity. she was speculative about the circumstances behind the shooting.

she did tell me that he was home with his two kids and there was a knock at the door. a woman was there. suddenly two men popped out from the sides and shot him five times, killing him, with his kids (both under 10 years old) in the house.

i was not close to jose g. but being from a small town and school, you know everyone by face or name. and so i knew him that way.

my first membory of him goes back to fourth grade when i recall him telling us that he'd found some bird eggs and brought them home. i won't tell the rest of this story becasue it's bizarre and i'm not sure if it's real or me wanting to connect two logical things that didn't happen.

in junior high in seventh grade, he and i didn't go to some pep rally or something. i'd just been introduced to the stupid card game of pick up 52 and asked him if he wanted to play. he said yes. so i threw the cards on the floor and told him to pick them up. the next thing i know this asshole tries to get my head and bash it into his knee.i recall taht he sort of succeeded. i ran after him but didn't catch him.

in high school one of my friends who played football with him said they used to call him kazoo, after the small-faced, big-helmeted cartoon character in "the flintstones." they called him that for the description i just provided of kazoo.they even drew a picture of him.

this same friend told me that jose g. wasnt' too bright. after football practice and subsequent swimming in the pool, his eyes were red. they told him to put vick's in his eyes and that would take care of it. according to my friend, jose g. did and everyone laughed and had a good time over that.

he'd also been with the same woman he'd been with since he was in high school. i remember he going out with her. she was two years younger than him i believe.

anyway, it's really trippy to hear news like that, something you'd expect to hear happened in houston or new york, chicago, you know, big cities where shit like that does happen.

but as of late, there's been a lot of bad shit going down in my home town (this is begining to sound like a bad bruce springsteen song), but it's true. even 20 years ago when i was in high school, i don't recall stuff like this really happening. now, though, it's going on with too much frequency.

i could get into it here as to why i think bad shit's happening in san diego, but i ain't going to turn this into a preachy entry.

i hope you found what you were looking for,pepe.