Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Great Debate: Day 3

Words and photos by F LoBuono
At times like these, after an enormously important news event that involves so much personal emotion (like last night's Presidential Candidates Debate) it can be difficult to maintain one's journalistic integrity and impartiality. However, as you may recall, this is MY blog and was designed to be a forum for MY voice (as well as others). However, by keen observation one can put an intelligent and non-biased spin on what was witnessed. Then, you may form your own opinions.

Part of my responsibilities when working as a TV News technician, like last night's Trump-Clinton Debate, is to service correspondents from countries representing every corner of the globe. Even though I work in a technical capacity, I am not deaf, dumb, or blind. I watch. I listen. I learn. And, what I observed with those foreign reporters was shock and amazement that a man the caliber of Donald Trump has even made this far. However, it also reinforces the stereotype that many Europeans in particular have about us, i.e. The Ugly American. I heard one reporter from the BBC laugh while saying that The Game Show genre had reached new heights (or lows). And, he was not alone in that observation. I feel safe in saying that the MAJORITY of the considerable about of foreign reporters that I encountered had the same opinion - how could someone with the  temperament of Donald Trump reach for such a lofty goal? Then again, many shrugged and said, in many languages, that's American.


But, Donald Trump will NEVER represent my vision of America. Never.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Great Debate: Day 2

Words and photos by F LoBuono
A theme commonly heard during the political season is that America has lost its influence in the world. Well, people who believe that have never experienced the season the way that I have. As a cameraman/technician for CBS, part of my responsibilities include working with reporting crews here to cover the political events, including tonight's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And, there are HUNDREDS of them from virtually every corner of the globe. In addition to the multitude of local CBS affiliates that are also here for debate coverage, I have crews from Japan and all over Great Britain. In fact, the BBC (British Broadcasting Co.) has sent reporters from all over the British "Empire". I've personally counted over 20 from places as far away as India. Can you imagine American TV News crews covering the election in India or anywhere else with the same enthusiasm and dedication? I think not!

Certainly, the interest in this years election cycle has been particularly intense. The candidates are polarizing to say the least! Personally, in my fourth election cycle, I have not seen anything like it. It certainly makes for entertaining television (although I'm not sure they intended it to be that way).

It has been suggest that this first debate between the two will be record setting in terms of viewership.
In fact, pundits think that the number of people watching will rival that of a Super Bowl. Extraordinary. But, this whole political season has been so. Tonight should be more of the same.
And, of course, security will be equally intense.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Great Debate: Day 1

Words and photo by F LoBuono
In the immortal words of that famous wordsmith, Yogi Berra, it's deja vu all over again.

I'm working at Hofstra University on Long Island, preparing for the newscasts and reports on Monday's GREAT DEBATE pitting Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. Due to the contentious nature of the campaign between two mostly polarizing candidates, viewership of the debate broadcast is expected to be record setting. Interestingly, most pundits claim that despite this, the debate won't change many minds.

As an interesting aside, I covered the event four years ago when Mitt Romney debated Barack Obama on the same stage at Hofstra. However, this time, it was originally scheduled for another college. However, siting cost and security concerns, it backed out. Hofstra immediately stepped in to snatch up the debate. Hence, the feeling of deja vu.

On thing that has not changed is the intense preparation to bring the debate to air. An army of technicians from multiple disciplines work countless hours to bring the public a technically seamless broadcast. Electricians, carpenters, lighting designers, riggers, set designers, producers, photographers, and too many others to mention all lend their considerable talents to accomplish things that, when done properly, are hardly even noticed. A sense of accomplishment is only felt when a technically flawless broadcast has been achieved.

Here is a behind-the-scenes look photo essay -

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Today's MOZEN: A New York State of Mind

Words and photo by F LoBuono
Lewis and Clark, the great American explorers of the early 19th Century, experienced many wondrous things on their journey across what was a largely unknown continent. One of the more dangerous and yet humorous encounters involved Grizzly bears. Of course, the expedition included hunters who had taken their share of black bears in their time. But, THESE bears were quite different. They were huge and fearless. So, instead of hunting them they did their best to avoid them. In fact, an order was issued NOT to shoot at them. Instead of taking the Grizzly down, shooting them just pissed them off!

I believe that New Yorkers are much like the Grizzly bears encountered by Lewis and Clark.

Take the most recent attack on our City. Another misguided, misanthropic excuse for a human being attempted to do reek havoc and create as much damage as he could by placing pressure cooker bombs in a Chelsea neighborhood. One proved to be a dud but one did explode, injuring 30 and causing extensive damage to the area. Most cities would have been thrown into total chaos and terror. But, New York is not like other cities. In fact, New York is like no other place on the planet.

Instead of being terrified, New Yorkers, just like the Grizzly, were more pissed off than afraid! Most complained of the inconvenience caused by the attack rather than express any type of panic. In fact, we were downright angry about it! How dare someone interrupt our daily routine! How am I supposed to get to work tomorrow? The traffic is going to be horrible, etc., etc.

We never missed a beat.

The next day saw the beginning of the Annual General Assembly meeting of world leaders at the United Nations. Traditionally, due to its nature and the need for intense security, it cripples traffic on the east side of Manhattan. Of course, with recent events, security was bound to be even more intense. Yet, the City never stopped - not for an hour, not for a minute, not for a second. Trying to negotiate the City streets were every bit as intense, frantic, and frenetic as they ALWAYS are. In many ways, it was even more so. It's the City's way of saying FUCK YOU to those who have the temerity to attack us.

When will the terrorists get it? New Yorkers, by their very essence, cannot be intimidated - EVER. It is known as a New York State of Mind. It is an air, almost of arrogance, that NOTHING can stop us. It is our destiny to keep moving forward, to keep building, to keep leading. Like the mighty Grizzly, trying to hurt us simply makes us angry.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

When You Think About It: A Matter of Conscience

Words and photo by F LoBuono
I'm only his father, not his conscience.
                                     Gary Cooper in "Friendly Persuasion". (1956)

Cooper plays the patriarch of a pacifist, Quaker family whose son makes the extremely difficult moral decision to fight in the Civil War. When the boy's mother protests to Cooper to stop their son, that is his reply.

Think about it, friends. You can love someone very much but you can't LIVE for them - even your children. We can only hope to teach them well. EVERYONE must find their individual path based on their own set of morals, principles, and scruples.

THIS is true freedom.

Monday, September 12, 2016

When You Think About It: Balance vs Objectivity

F LoBuono
As journalists, we are charged with "balancing" our stories, i.e. we must show both sides of any given situation. In this way we hope to achieve a level of trust with our audience that says what we are telling them is trustworthy AND accurate. And, therein lies the rub. The story should be told openly and with no hidden agenda. THAT'S the trustworthy part. But, equally important, if not more so, is that the information be CORRECT. When a journalist strives for balance without honoring accuracy, the effect can be devastating. We must be OBJECTIVE above all else.

This happens in virtually all news organizations. In an effort to be "fair", producers often look to unreliable sources to balance, i.e. offer more than one point of view, their reports. Although this can inevitably occur in mainstream news, it does so most often with outlets that have their own agendas, like Fox News. Fox News has so many axes to grind that they should be in the lumber business instead of the news! Their slogan is Fair and Balanced but, in reality, they are neither. In fact, they are usually so far off the mark that I have a more descriptive name for them - FAUX News.

Here's how it works (hypothetically): The National Institute of Health (NIH), a non-profit governmental agency with no known political agenda, completes a well-funded scientific study that says guns and violence have reached epidemic levels in our Country. Of course, the NRA is outraged and is quick to disagree. And, they want to be heard. So, since statistics show that most NRA member are also Faux News devotees, Faux News is eager to jump into the fray with the NRA's opposing point of view. They feel that will balance the report. The problem is that the NRA and Faux News sleep in the same bed. They have the same ax to grind - i.e. a conservative agenda. Because of their intimate relationship, it's easy. The NRA has PLENTY of spokespeople that Faux News are VERY familiar with. They book an interview with one of them and then conduct it with pointed questions that the NRA spokesperson is most eager to answer. The problem is that the information being disseminated is INACCURATE because it is not non-biased. Most often, the spokesperson attacks the organization (The NIH) that funded the study for bias without providing real facts to support their claims. It is simply conservative rhetoric. Therefore, the interview is NOT OBJECTIVE.. Faux News has simply played lip service to their motto. They may call that balance. I have another word for it - crap.

Faux News is a monster in every sense of the word. It dominated cable news so much so that it has actually become a political force in this Country. As appealing as that may sound to some, it's anathema (or, at least should be) in the news business. The news should NOT be in the business of creating policy but, rather, REPORTING it - honestly, accurately and OBJECTIVELY.

When people understand the difference, the truth will set us free.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Guest Blogger: Steve Korvec - "The Butterfly Message".

Words and photo by Steve Lorevec
People who are knowledgeable about these creatures tell me that this species can not be definitively identified. It seems that where this particular butterfly is found is in an overlap area between the breeding ranges of two distinct species.
These particular butterflies show identifiable characteristics from each species that would normally only be found on one and not the other when confined to their normal range areas.
It seems that the two species interbreed, and that explains the sharing of those characteristics.
So to one group of people this would be a case of evolution at work, while others will tell us something else. I have no wish to enter into that argument, I have my own opinion, and will respect that of those who don't share it.
What I do find interesting is that with this global event that has been scientifically proven, and many non-scientist's have trouble accepting, our planet is warming, and more species overlap is happening because of it.
So species that have never come together previously are doing so today, and to survive, they are adapting.
You can call it whatever you want, but that it's happening can not be denied.
Just my $0.02.

Steve Korevec

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Today's MOZEN: Nature's New York

Words and photos by F LoBuono
Being at the Center of the Known World has its advantages but it can also be a completely overwhelming experience. So, your perspective makes all the difference in your attitude. The City can make you mad and frustrated in, well, a New York minute. But, with the right frame of mind, it can reward you like few others.

Because of the frenetic pace of living with the New York Megalopolis its easy to get sucked up into the vortex and forget that nature's beauty surrounds you - still!

Just the other night, on my way to work, just twenty miles north of the neon jungle that is Times Square, I spotted a magnificent 14 point buck grazing by the side of the road. I have observed eagles osprey, and falcons as well as water fowl of all kind. And, the late summer sky has been simply breathtaking! This morning dawned with a fiery red blaze in the distant eastern sky battling its way through a phalanx of thick storm clouds that were a harbinger of the nasty weather that was it's way. In the final battle for sky supremacy, the dark forces of the storm clouds overwhelmed the burgeoning rays of the sun. But, not before the fiery glow had its say, if only for a brief moment.

Then, as I crossed the George Washington Bridge, high above the Hudson, the entire, magnificent city, framed by an angry sky and bordered by the molten quicksilver-like water of the river lay ahead of me. As I turned off the bridge on down onto the West Side Highway I could not help but think, "I've experienced this view thousands of times, and each time, every time, it still takes by breath away."

Finally, as I was approaching my exit at W56th St., I watched the tugboats maneuver a huge ocean liner into its berth at the West Side piers as if someone were parking a Volkswagon.

All in a day in and around New York City. It's here for everyone. But, you have to have the awareness to notice.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Today's MOZEN: Buck Fever

F LoBuono
People often ask me, what exactly does MOZEN mean? Well, it's acronym for Moment of Zen i.e. a distinct period of time that defines an enlightening moment. Comedian John Stewart popularized the phrase during his days as host of The Daily Show. I consolidated it to use for my own purposes.

Frequently, I use the term to to express rather esoteric, complex concepts. However, from time to time, it most simply is what it is, i.e. one, brief moment when everything seems to come together perfectly.

Tonight was a classic example.

I left my apartment just before 11 pm to make it in for my midnight shift. The first part of the trip involves traveling on Rte. 9W, still a rather rural road that runs along the Palisades, high above the Hudson. It remains one of my favorite paths. However, one of the things that makes is so appealing can also make it treacherous. Because it maintains its rural character, it is frequently transversed by deer. It is not unusual to see them, especially during the night hours, browsing along the side of the road. Unfortunately, from time to time, it is also possible to see one, or what's left of the unfortunate soul, splattered ON it. So, I use extra caution when driving there at night.

I was traveling the normal speed, about 45 mph, when I caught him out of the corner of my eye. He was on the right side, standing on a slight incline just off the highway. My headlights illuminated him clearly and what I say took my breath away! It was a full-grown buck at the height of his powers. He was close enough and illuminated sufficiently so that I could see his magnificent antlers. He had to be a 14 pointer. His rack was hardened and sharpened in preparation for the battles the fall rut would bring. I could see the muscles bulging from his massive neck and shoulders. THIS was an alpha male!

It couldn't have been more than 10 or 15 seconds from the time I first glimpsed him until I had sped by. But, it was enough for me to admire what a specimen he was. And, as crazy as it might sound, he seemed to be watching me, too. As my car got closer, he looked at me for a brief second, turned and jumped away from the road. Obviously, he had been around long enough to grow to that magnificent state. And, that means learning to avoid cars.

And, you can't get more MOZEN than that.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Today's MOZEN: A Fine Line

Words and photo by F LoBuono

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

This is what San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick told an NFL Media crew in a post-game interview as his reason for not standing with his teammates for the playing of the traditional pre-game National Anthem.

The public outcry in its aftermath has been swift, visceral, and, mostly vicious. His action has caused a firestorm, literally, as thousands have set his team jersey to the torch. Most people are incensed by their perception of the hypocrisy of a million dollar athlete who has reaped the riches of American culture while condemning it at the same time.

They have a point.

But, I would like to take this conversation in a different direction.

There is not only hypocrisy in such an endeavor, there is irony, as well. Like burning the Flag or any other desecration of it, not standing for our National Anthem brings out the very paradox of what it means to be an American. We prize freedom above all else. Time and again we have proven our metal by our willingness to die for it as a concept. We are willing to fight to keep that freedom. And, the Flag and Anthem represent that concept AND sacrifice. Now, here's the irony: The very ideal for which billions have given all, protects the freedom of his RIGHT to act his conscience. We, as a free society, don't get to choose someone else's sense of duty. Yes, even if that means the perception to millions of being an arrogant asshole. THIS is the irony and the CHALLANGE of American Democracy. It has always been there and always will be.

We, as a society, also have a right to our expression. If the people are outraged, then so be it. And, Mr. Kaepernick will have to understand that part of being in a democracy is acceptance of the responsibility for one's actions. Let's see if he will reap the whirl wind.

In the meantime, call him a fool, or selfish, or a hypocrite. But, also acknowledge the irony of his actions; they are not un-American. In fact, in many ways, they were ultra-American. It's what the sacrifice is all about. Those who know, know.