Saturday, January 29, 2005

I'm Gonna Die For This

Not So Sleeping Beauty Posted by Hello

Ok, she's gonna kill me for this, but I couldn't resist posting it. Apparantly, my wife fell asleep while the kids were awake and running around. I found this on our camera and I guess that my four year old, Joshua, took it.

Maybe I shouldn't have taught him how to use it. Heheheheheh

There WILL be hell to pay for this, if she finds out.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Caffeine and Satan

Again, here in northeast Ohio, it's cold. One degree above zero and I'm sick as a dog. This cold snap reminds me of one of the oddest things yelled at me as my career as a news videographer.

"You're drinking the devil's coffee!!!

It started out as a live shot at a newly opened strip club. It was located just outside the 1000 feet zoning limit for adult related retail stores near a school zone. Well, there obviously was opposition from many people. Especially the local churches. And the controversy warranted a live shot.

It was in January and it snowed about two inches that morning. Plus it was about seven degrees out. We parked in the parking lot of the strip club, with their permission, and did our first live of the evening. After our hit, the manager of the club came out and asked us if we'd like some coffee to warm up. The manager of the club was indeed a hottie herself and if you didn't notice her great legs, it could have been the full length mink coat she wore. She said she'd have some coffee sent out to us.

As we waited, we noticed that we were being videotaped by a church group protesting the club. I pointed this out and our crew waived at the camera. "Hey..put me on TV!! Hi Mom!! Send Money!!!", we yelled and laughed at the camera.

"Geez, that felt good!! I always wanted to do that!", I said to my reporter, as we both laughed. "Hello gentlemen, coffee??", we heard from behind us. As we all turned around, we were staring at four stripp..uh..exotic dancers holding trays of coffee and sandwiches. They were wearing coats, but it didn't look like they were dressed for the cold. The thigh high boots of one of the girls made that apparant.

We gladly took the coffee and food from the stripp...errr waitresses, and thanked them. "If you need anything else or just want to warm up, come on inside", one blonde said with a smile designed to pull ones from my..uh..your wallet.

As we at them walking back to the club, we hear a woman screaming at the top of her lungs, "YOU'RE DRINKING THE DEVIL'S COFFEE!!"

We looked at her and then each other. Then we laughed out loud. All that was missing was a spit take. Again, the woman yelled about beelzebub and his heinous java. The she added, "AND YOU'RE BEING VIDEOTAPED!! I'M SENDING THIS TO YOUR BOSS!"

I had to go talk to this woman. So, I walked up to her and she started to shove the camera in my face. "HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A SINNER AND ASSOCIATING WITH WHORES??", she spit at me. The smartass in me kicked in. Couldn't keep it in if I tried.

"Associating with whores?? Are you implying that any woman in my general vicinity is a whore, if I talk to her. If I'm near her?? Like I AM WITH YOU???"

That stunned her a little. Then I kicked in to a mode of thinking that she might understand. "Ok, so now that I've drank the devil's coffee, did you ever stop and think that THEY were doing something Christian by bringing something warm to drink and food to eat for people working outside in the elements on such a cold evening. Did you bring anything for people on such a cold night??"

I turned around and walked back to my live truck, leaving the lady and her camcorder at the curb. We never heard a peep from her the rest of the time we were there.

But the best part of the night, actually was seeing two 16-or 17 year old girls standing across from the church group lifitng up their shirts to traffic and the protesters.

Uh...I mean, that was totally deplorable and those girls should have been at bible study. Shame on them....

We cheered, actually.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Grace From Above..Plus A Kenworth

Covering news for the time that I have, I'd thought I'd seen most everything possible. This morning I found I was sorely wrong. I was called out for a "vehicle hanging over a guard rail." Standard stuff, right?? I thought so, until I got there.

I pull up to the area, but I can't actually get to the scene because the accident is on a ramp which connects with three other ramps. Plus the Cleveland police were being a little ornery tonight and wouldn't let me near it.

So, I found a side road about 50 feet away from the scene. I got out of my car and looked. Seemed to be just a run of the mill Semi on it's side. I clicked my camera on the tripod and zoomed in to focus. This is when I saw this.

I couldn't believe that there was a car under the semi. The car, a Honda Accord, was flattened for the most part. I thought that this HAS to be a fatal ax. No doubt about it.

Then I look at the fire and police units. They're all standing around laughing and chatting. No tarps are being brought out. No jaws of life or generators being hauled up to the Honda. Wow, this must not be a fatal afterall.

Ok, that mystery was solved. But what about the semi?? How did the accident happen?? Well, I notice the cops now looking up to the freeway about. This particular section has I-71 passing about 15 feet overhead and Rt.176 below it. Imagine a double decker freeway system. The accident is on 176.

A cop car pulls up and stops on I-71 and an officer gets out. He starts looking around up on I-71 and then it hit me!!


Turns out, that is what happened: Icy overpass, semi going too fast, loses control, and goes up and over the barrier, then down for a little swan dive.

But the best part of this is, there were two people in the Honda. Both got out safely with hardly a scratch. How?? Luck?? Right timing?? Grace of God??

It HAD to be Divine Intervention. Why?? One of the passengers in the Honda is a 22 year old woman. Oh by the way, she happens to be 5 months pregnant.

The driver of semi is doing just fine as well.

Video link here.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Apathy and Murder

This early morning, I was sent to a homicide. The location wasn't in one of the nicer places in the city but, with the cops there, it makes it a little easier to get what you need. As soon, as I pulled out the camera from my Explorer, the heads started popping out of the windows like Punxatawny Phil on February 2nd.

"Hey newsman...what happened??", "Someone get shot??", "Who died??", and my favorite, "Where's your hot reporter??"

Well, turns out, it was a homicide. Male shot dead in the upstairs of a duplex house. As a neighbor poked her head out and asked what happened, I told her my standard line so as not to get into a longer conversation than necessary. "I don't know. Came over as a man shot. I don't know any more than that."

The neighbor starts to lay on me all the stuff that's been goin on in the house recently. "They have a pit bull. The have dog fights there. They have people visiting at all and night. There's been gunshots there before."

I asked the neighbor, "Did you call the police anytime when these things happened??" "Oh NO", she said, "I'd never want to get involved." Ok. You know their business but you don't want to get involved??

Well, maybe if she or anyone would have called and reported this, a man might not have lost his life. He might be alive right now. Maybe in jail, but alive.

But then again, the realist side of me says, "If you live the life that's dangerous, you might wind up dead."

Then, there's times I usually don't really give a rats ass. Another drug dealer off the streets.

That's about my mood right now.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

It Was Suicide I Tell You

This morning, while driving eastbound on interstate 90 near the E.55 exit ramp here in Cleveland., I was subject to an attack. Ok, it actually wasn't an attack. It was more akin to what I'd like to imagine what the Japanese soldiers did on a banzai run during WWII.

On I-90 near the E.55th exit, there is a powerplant. Their water outlet is a haven for fish and fowl alike, especially during cold days as we've been having lately. The outlet, lets out into Lake Erie which I-90 borders.

As I said, fish like this outlet. So do the birds. Especially seagulls. This becomes a factor because of what happened to me today.

As I was driving eastbound on I-90, near the powerplant, I caught a quick glimpse of a whitish/grey rocket heading from right to left across the interstate about eye-level with my live truck. Yes. I said live truck.

I hear a WHUMP and then an explosion of feathers engulfs my vision. POOF. Instant pillow stuffing abounded in the air. Sorta like when Randy Johnson offed that bird from the pitching mound in spring training a few years back.

POOF. And the seagull was history. He came in low. And I mean LOW. Right across the grill of my live truck doing 60 m.p.h..

I swear the seagull was suicidal. Officer, I swear. He had a death wish.

Right after that, I had a semi and a van pull up next to me, honk their horns and give me a thumbs up.

One down...millions to go. I've already stenciled a seagull profile on my driver side door.

Four more and I'm an ace.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I Hate the Cold

Living here in Cleveland, it can get cold. Mind you, not as cold as those poor people in Embarass, MN that hit a minus 54 degrees yesterday, but cold nonetheless.

What I can't fathom is the reasoning to tell people HEY DUMBASSES...IT'S COLD OUT HERE. Or, better yet, HEY YOU MORONS!! IT'S SNOWING HERE IN CLEVELAND. Yes, it's the dreaded weather live shot.

For the past two days, I've fallen victim to the worthless weather liveshot.'s cold. Hey.. It's snowing. Really?? WOW!! I'd have never guessed it got cold and snowed in Northeastern Ohio in the wintertime. I guess it really is time to alert the media. Oh wait...that's me. I'm the one creating mass panic to some at home. " might snow 2 inches overnight..." WHOA. Better call out the National Guard to plow the roads and help the elderly.

Hey Maude, feller on the tee vee sez it's gonna snow two whole inches. I'd better put the chains on the Yugo.

Pardon my sarcastic and wise-ass ways. Can't help it. Why?? Because I'm stuck doing worthless liveshots.

And it's damn cold.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

There's a HUGE Fire...No, Really..There IS!

Well, since I'm on a rant abut the news desk, I'll add this gem. This is my absolute favorite story about life as heard from the desk.

I was heading into work one night two years ago. My regular guy on the desk, Russ, was on vacation. I was handed a new girl, Amy. She was hired to work weekend nights but I felt secure in the fact that she knew what she was doing. As I was driving to my station, I get a call on the radio.:

"Newshutr, where are you right now?

I'm headng West on 480 near the Valley View Bridge.

"Great!! Independence has a fire. Sounds huge. They're evacuating a part of a block, and calling for mutual assistance."

Ok, well I'm on the bridge looking towards Independence and I don't see anything from up here. No smoke plume or lots of flashing lights or anything.

"Well, they definitely have a fire there. They're staging at the high school."

Ok, I'll head there.

Well, yours truly heads to Independence High School. And, you've guessed it. No fire trucks.

Hey Amy, there's not one fire truck here. Place is all quiet. Sure it's Independence??

"Yes, I'm sure. The scanner is showing Independence FD. I've called them, but they're denying they have a fire."

Ok. I'll head by city hall see if the trucks are out.

Well, I get there and the trucks are all berthed for the night. Nothing happening here. A police officer sees me driving by slowly and pulls me over. I hear him run my plate and when it comes back belonging to my station, he tells his disptch that he'll handle it. No backup needed.. He gets out and comes over to me. He asks what I'm doing.

I'm looking for a big fire here in Independence, somewhere.

"Well, it's not here. It's been quiet all night. Try Seven Hills or Walton Hills or even Bedford. Good luck!!",he wished me, getting into his car and driving away.

Amy, I just talked to the PD here and it's all quiet.

She says back, "Well, it's NOT quiet there. They're calling in foam trucks and planning to evacuate two blocks around the fire." And the scanner is still showing Independence."

Well, the cop suggested I try Seven Hills, Walton Hills or Bedford. I'll start heading to those places.

Fast forward an hour later with no sign of a fire in any of those suburbs...

Amy, I'm coming up with nothing. It's not around here. Are you sure it's Independence?

"Well, they're calling in Leamington's aerial ladder trucks. Is that nearby??", she asked.

I had to pull over. I couldn't believe what I just heard. Leamington.

Umm, Amy. Do this for me. Pull up Google and search for Leamington.

"Ok..hold on..OH MY GOD!! It's in CANADA!!"

Yes, it's in Canada. Near Windsor. The tomato capital of Ontatio.
(Actually, it's very pretty there

"Then why am I hearing it?? It keeps coming over under Independence's fire department??

Because it's called a skip. You're hearing them because they're close to Lake Erie. There's a lot of traffic, and they share the same frequency. The scanner is just programmed to show Independence for that signal.

"I never knew that. Think there's video available of the fire??"

Well, first, I'd call Leamington's FD and find out what's burning. Then call CTV or CBC or anyone up there close to Leamington and ask them about it.

Well, Amy made some calls. Turns out there was a plastics factory that went up in flames, so they had to evacuate some small homes around the factory. But when she called the CBC, they had no idea it was happening. They thanked us for the heads up. I guess they called a local bureau because I saw it on CNN's feed the next night.

The thing that gets me about that night, is that I spent about two hours, chasing down a fire THAT WAS IN CANADA.


You Want Me to Go Where??

Working overnights as I do (Hey, I VOLUNTEERED to work this shift), I've become an adrenaline junkie. If there was a 12-Step program for us, I'd be up there saying, "Hello. I'm newshutr and I have a problem." I get a lot of spot news. Quite frankly, I enjoy it. It's fun and it never really gets too old for me.

However, there are certain things that can drive you just completely, over the top nutso. Like trying to break in a new overnight desk person. You know what is going to make the air and what isn't. You know what is important, and what isn't (for the most part). Well, if you get a new overnight desk person, educate them. They probably are fresh out of college and eager to make an impression and "get that big story". They need to have their hand held. And the training they get from the morning and evening people is not adequate.

For example, the MVA that I've been sent out on, is not that big of a deal. How do I know?? Because I'm here, checking it out. The victim is outside the car talking to the police. There is a slight dent in the right front panel of the bumper. No blood. No bodies. No ambulance. In fact, the cops are pissed that I showed up. They think I'm spying on them. No story here.

What..?? You want it shot?? Why??? Because you told me to?? Ok...we'll chat later.

Things like that really drive me bananas. I mean ape shit crazy. Look, trust me, I'm a pro. I've been doing this for 15 years. For the most part, I know what a scene looks like and what isn't a scene. I'm your eyes in the field, missy. TRUST ME

One of my favorite overnight desk stories is from a few years ago. We had a new girl on the desk. 23 I think she was. Jamilea was her name. Nice girl. Go getter. Anxious to make it in the business. They all are.

My radio beeps and I get the call, "I have a fire somewhere. It's a big fire. But, I can't find it. Can you start to drive and look for it??"

Ummm...sssuuure. It's in Cleveland, somewhere??

"Yeah..I think so.", she said.

Should I head east, west or south???

"Ummm..hold on...well, can you see it from where you're at?"

No..I'm in my car, outside the station. And since I don't know where the fire is, I can't head in that direction

"Shh..hold on.. OK..wait..It's in Parma County!! But they're not saying where in Parma County. Can you drive around the county and see if you can find it?"

Ohhh..yeah..Parma County..sure...I'll head that way and see if I see it.

(NOTE TO THE READER:Here in Northeastern Ohio, Parma is a city. It's the 6th largest city in Ohio and is the fabled home of Drew Carey. It's a big suburban city.)

Five minutes later, Jamelia is on the radio, "Did you find it??"

Nope...Parma County is a big area. Plus it's not that close. It'll take me a while to get there and then find it.(NOTE AGAIN: Parma is about 5 minutes away from Cleveland)

"Ok..well, let me know when you get there."

Ok. Hey, for what it's worth, why don't you try calling Parma and ask them if they have a fire somewhere in the county.

Two minutes later, as I'm crossing the border into Parma, I get, " Hey..did you know Parma is a city??", over the radio.

I couldn't respond to her. I was laughing so hard. I was literally in tears.

Oh, I found the fire. I actually drove up on it. The big fire was a grease fire. The FD put it out with an extinguisher.

Like I said, I love my job...or didn't I say that before?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Curiosity and the Cat

One past story that I was sent on had a very tragic ending. I was sent south of Cleveland to the quiet town of Bath, OH. My reporter and I were trying to get sound about a murder that had taken place there overnight. We found a neighbor to the murder victim and asked if we could interview him. The neighbor sadly said yes.

As I was setting up for the interview, we noticed the man was restoring a 1958 Cadillac. Currently, he was working on the engine and degreasing the parts. We all got into a conversation about the car. Cost, finding parts, miles, etc. I wondered what he was using to take the grime and grease off the parts. The man told me, he was using a gasoline mix to get the gunk off.

As we looked down to the container holding the mixture, one of his cats was casually drinking the gas concoction. A loud gasp came from all of us. The man yelled "Hey!!" and the cat took off like a bat out of hell. But it was too late.

The cat went about 20 feet away and stopped. Then it started shaking uncontrolably. The cat coughed a few times and then took off like a rocket towards the back of the house.

We stood in a state of shock, not believing our eyes. In a way, it was a little funny. Seeing this cat running like it's ass was on fire. But, bittersweet as well, because we knew the cat was in a bad state.

Suddenly, we hear a loud howl from the back yard. We all craned our necks to see what happened. And then here comes the cat running for all it's worth from the back. It heads around the side of the house to the driveway. Unexplicably then it starts to run in circles, as if it was chasing it's tail.

As the three of us are watching this, wondering what is happening to the poor cat, said cat comes out of his whirling dervish and heads full speed up the driveway.

Straight at us....

As we're preparing to jump out of the way, the cat comes to a quick and sudden stop...and just starts shaking and coughing again...

Then this poor creature stands stiff as a board and falls over on his side.....

The poor cat had run out of gas.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Real Football

Living and working in Cleveland, OH has been the best experience of my life. I love the area, the people are fantastic, the scenery reminds me of home. Home is Pittsburgh, PA. When I was growing up, it was the era of the Steel Curtain. "Mean" Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Franco, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Lambert, Ham, Blount, Russell, etc.. Really good football. Now, I live in the Black hole of the N.F.L's proverbial Calcutta.

Yes, I'm a transplant to the hated home of the Steeler's dreaded rivals. I came to Cleveland in the Spring of '95, and saw great baseball. Then came the fall..and Browns football. And then the fall of Browns football. When Art Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore, I was overjoyed. Never had I been so happy to see the literal heart of a city ripped from it's still beating chest and shown to them.

Then I had no one to hate. Zip. Nada. Nothing. The Browns weren't there anymore. I could just hate them in memory. Hating the Ravens or Cincinatti wasn't the same.

Then the Browns came back. I had them to hate again. And every year, it grows stronger and stronger. Oh, I'll admit, I do hope that they do well, except for when they play my Steelers. But, since the rise of Ben Roethlisberger and a 15-1 record going into the playoffs, I've really come to enjoy the way real football is played again.

Real football is something I can't get here in Cleveland. Real football is 96 miles away to the east from me and I can only see it sporadically on TV.

Well, now I get to overdose on Playoff football. And I am sure that I'll see my Steelers go to and win the Super Bowl this year.

Real football, I'm glad you're back!

Friday, January 07, 2005

It's A Small World After All

This morning, I was sent to go shoot an interview with a local tsunami survivor. Turns out the survivor, Dwayne, grew up in the small town I live in. He went to the High School that my wife and brother-in-law did. In fact, he was on the baseball team with my brother-in-law.

The one thing that I noticed about him was that his eyes showed a "hollowness" that comes only with a great tragedy. You can tell he lived through some major happenings. Listening to his survival story is chilling. He's still in shock, and I can't really say that he might never get over it. (All apologies to Dr. Freud) I think a lot of survivors will be diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Motorcycle + Wet Road

This morning, around 2:00a.m., I was sent out to a possible fatal M.V.A.. Listening to the police and firemen on the scanners, I noticed they were talking about a motorcycle. My mind imagined the carnage that this scene will hold for me.

Lately, the past few days, we've had a build up of warm temperatures and melting snow. A constant rain helped melt the snow and yesterday it hit 60 degrees here in Northeast Ohio (very nice for wintertime) and I'm sure more than a few people were tempted to haul out the crotch-rockets.

Well let me give these "rocket scientists" some advice. If you're going to get out your bike, don't rev it so loud the neighbors complain and call the cops. Don't speed off when the nice police officer asks you to pull into a parking lot. Don't get into a 60 m.p.h. + chase on wet roads...

And lastly, don't lose control on said wet roads and hit a huge rock that someone has in their treelawn as a decoration. It can really ruin your cause you to fly abut 30' in the air and land...HARD.

Oh, I guess God does look after fools and drunks. This guy who was seemingly "Dead" just might recover....

Saturday, January 01, 2005

John Kerry Syndrome??

Well, it's a new year. The election of 2004 has been over here in the us for over a month now, and STILL, people are just in a regular frenzy of recounts and denials. Here in the United States, the election process while a little flawed, is miles above what is goin on in the Ukraine. Imagine if we pulled some of the antics that go on over there. Over there, they poison the opposition, so I guess John Kerry got away scott free.

Speaking of Kerry, it seems like some of his political advisors are plying their wares to the incumbent who stole the election the first time. And now, while the incumbent has conceded the election, he still won't give up..

Read on...the article from

*****Yanukovych Vows to Keep Up Election Fight
Saturday, January 01, 2005

KIEV, Ukraine — Viktor Yanukovych (search) vowed to fight on for Ukraine's presidency, despite handing the opposition of this ex-Soviet Republic a begrudging victory by announcing his resignation as prime minister.

His opponent, Western-leaning opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko (search), soundly won last weekend's court-ordered presidential revote, but Yanukovych has refused to concede, vowing to challenge the results in the Supreme Court. Under Ukrainian election law, Yushchenko cannot be declared president until all appeals against the voting are exhausted.

The pro-Russian Yanukovych announced his resignation as prime minister on Friday in a televised address, his first significant concession since losing Sunday's vote, but said he will maintain his claim to the presidency.

"I have made the decision to submit my formal resignation," Yanukovych told the nation.

"We are still fighting, but I don't have much hope," he said. "I will act as an independent politician, as the rightful winner of the legitimate Nov. 21 election."

Yanukovych was named the victor in that vote, but hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flooded Kiev's streets to protest what they said was their stolen votes. After weeks of protests, dubbed the "Orange Revolution" after Yushchenko's campaign color, the Supreme Court ruled that the election had been corrupted by mass fraud, annulled Yanukovych's victory and ordered Sunday's revote.

Later Friday, outgoing President Leonid Kuchma told the nation in a separate televised address that "in 2005, there will be a new president. Every region and every citizen of Ukraine must accept this democratic choice as their own because this person will need your support."

Kuchma didn't mention Yanukovych's resignation in his speech.

Yanukovych, appointed prime minister in 2002, has seen much of his support fall away, losing the backing of Kuchma as well as many of his top advisers. Parliament passed a vote of no-confidence in his government Dec. 1, but he called it illegal.

When he returned this week after taking a leave from office to campaign, the opposition blockaded Yanukovych's government headquarters, refusing to let him convene a Cabinet session. The meeting went ahead in another building without him.

"I believe it is impossible to have any position in a state that is ruled by such officials," he said, in an apparent reference to Kuchma.

His resignation triggers the immediate resignation of the 20-member Cabinet. According to the constitution, Kuchma must accept Yanukovych's resignation and appoint a new government within 60 days — though he is likely to appoint a caretaker until the new president is inaugurated.

Yuriy Kliuchkovskiy, a lawmaker and Yushchenko ally, called Yanukovych's decision an acknowledgment that his position is "hopeless."

"There is his pride. He didn't want to submit his resignation documents to newly elected President Yushchenko, he decided to submit them to President Kuchma," he said.

Meanwhile, Yushchenko and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili welcomed the New Year side by side on Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of mass protests that overturned the political order in this nation of 48 million.

Saakashvili catapulted to power last year in a bloodless revolution that inspired the Ukrainian opposition. The joint appearance of two post-Soviet politicians who have openly and actively courted the West is certain to further irk the Kremlin, which had strongly supported Yanukovych.

"I couldn't support you as an official during your revolution, but I was with you and I feel myself again a resident of Kiev," Saakashvili, who studied international law in the Ukrainian capital, told the crowd in Ukrainian.

Saakashvili later joined Yushchenko on Independence Square, telling tens of thousands that "on this square, the future of Europe is being resolved."

The bitterly fought presidential race in Ukraine increased tensions between the West and Russia, which has accused foreign states of meddling in Ukrainian affairs.

Some Russian politicians also have accused the United States of being behind the U.S.-educated Saakashvili's rise to power. The Kremlin's relationship with Tbilisi has worsened under Saakashvili, who has aimed to boost Georgia's ties with the European Union and the United States.

Yushchenko has pledged to nudge Ukraine closer to the West, making it a priority to pursue a future EU membership.