Another road weekend
with my partner Duncan Blitz, and we were still twenty miles shy of
Socorro. Eminem on the radio. Duncan's thirty, but I'm older and don't
nowadays it just seems
everybody only wants
to discuss me
so this must mean
but it's just me
im just obscene
but not as obscene as Rush, so we listened.
I had the wheel, Duncan had a book about movie directors. The secret
of motion pictures, he read out loud, is learning to listen. (I tried
to listen). Great actors and great directors are great listeners, he
continued. Right, I agreed. Like Sandra Bullock. Her movies are popular
because she's a really good listener!
In Socorro, Duncan
interviewed a woman named Margaret, for our series on chronic pain.
He asked about her dependence on Demerol, following eight back surgeries
that ended her career as a teacher's aide. "I don't want a high,"
she said. "I want to deal with every day life without hurting so
bad. I don't think my doctor listens to me," she despaired. Duncan
listened carefully. I wondered whether I should have used less fill
light, and listened to the wireless mic as sound bites rolled in.
Another two hours to Las Cruces, where we interviewed a neonatologist
for our series on Honest Death. We needed B-roll of the ICU. It didn't
look like much, just a bunch of incubators, you could barely make out
the babies, so tiny, surrounded by technology. I planted a mic by one
of the machines and lingered my wide shot. The machine sounded creepy,
and I hoped it would get the attention of our viewers. I figure half
of them have their heads in the refrig during our reports. We grab their
attention with great sound. If we make them turn around and listen with
their head, instead of their butt, maybe they'll watch for a minute
and ten secons.
Next we drove to a cemetery where we had permission to shoot Dunc's
standup. The wireless mic was noisy, so I changed frequencies. "Still
dirty," I told Duncan, "I'm getting crosstalk. Can I try your
unit?" Much better. We waited for Magic Light, beautiful soft illumination
that comes after 7:30PM as we approach summer solstice. Duncan delivered
his piece to camera, flawless, as usual, while I shot and listened.
Back in the car, I confided, "I don't know what the dead people
are saying, but I know what frequency they're on." We picked up
some cold drinks and I set up a sunset shot. The horizon edged over
the sun. Pink, violet, blue, scarlet sky.
We lapsed into silence.
I had Thursday off and watched the World Trade ceremony on TV. There
were bagpipes, and then it was quiet near ground zero. There was nothing
else to listen to.