Westminster Allie and Owen

Ann and I took Friday off and visited a business in Massachusetts that will help her put the finishing touches on the recipes she has been developing over the past 10 years.  Salves, balms, creams and tinctures.  All organic and the best for a myriad of ailments and preventative care.  More on that soon.

D3T_2839From there, we drove to Wachusett Valley where Ann’s sister Maureen and young family live.  We watched her daughter Allie Asadoorian at softball practice.  I took photos of the players and coaches, including her father Derek who is the head coach.  It’s a travel team she plays for.  Allie is the smallest by far and one of the youngest in the league, but one of the top players from what I could see.  Allie and her brother Owen had run me ragged in the back yard prior to practice.  In their makeshift ball field, we played wiffleball and tossed the football around.  After practice, we got an ice cream as the sun set on one of the best days Ann and I have had in a long while.  Life is good.  They headed home and we zipped across the street to the package store and got some libation.  Headed back to our motel in Leominster.  It wasn’t so super.  Clean enough, but quite a rough clientele.  Ann was wiped and didn’t even crack a beer.  She slipped under the covers and watched a show on her iPad.  I enjoyed a few Wachusett Larry Imperial IPA’s and watched TV.  We don’t have cable at home, so I couldn’t let all these channels go to waste.  Two hours later Ann woke up and I was gone.  She wondered if I was in jail, the hospital or talking somebody’s ear off someplace.  She called and I told her I was enjoying a stack at Denny’s around the corner.  When I strolled back after midnight, it was quite interesting the characters I passed, and no less than a half-dozen questionable people sitting in front of their rooms.  Cars were coming and going quite frequently.  Didn’t take me too long to figure out what was going on.  I locked the door, pulled the curtains, kissed Ann and  put my headphones on and hoped I would see the sunrise.

Despite my paranoia and wild speculations from the previous night, the sun rose and we skulked out of the room, in short sleeves no less.  We sauntered over to Starbucks for a vacation like treat and enjoyed an overpriced, overrated cup of Joe.   Walked to a Market Basket and stocked up for lunch and snacks, checked out of the motel with a number of issues and drove to Westminster to visit the relatives at their home.  After a short visit, Derek and Allie left to meet a girl who wanted to try out for their travel team, Central Mass Voodoo.  Ann and Moe went for a walk.  In a foreshadowing of what was to come later in the day, Owen beat me in extra innings with his speed on the bases and putting dents in the wiffleball.  Maureen drove around to show us the quaint town, Wachusett Mountain where I once skied 25 years ago.  They would be leaving early for Owens game and some errands, so Ann and I took off and got me some much-needed shirts and pants and I splurged for a wicked nice pair of North Face hiking boots.  The treads on the ones I have been wearing are like drag racing slicks, so it was time.  That and the dog even walks away from them when they come off my feet at night.D3T_2526 D3T_2542 D3T_2638 D3T_2643 D3T_2706 D3T_2814

I was thoroughly impressed with the facilities, coaches, parents and spirit of the youth league Owen plays in.  Everyone was having fun, there was awesome coaching and mentoring, and sportsmanship was paramount.  It was only one game that I observed, but I could tell winning wasn’t everything like some of the leagues my kids have played in.  Youth sports at it’s finest.  Owen played great, and his team won in extra innings.  We said goodbye and headed home.  After a three hour drive, I was tired but wired.  So here I sit, pounding the keys while the bits and bytes download.  Click here to view more photos

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Lewiston fire highlights monumental day

fire teaserMy schedule was full before I walked into the newsroom today, but looked easy enough. But before the end of it, breaking news had me hustling, huffing, puffing and fearing for my life.  I thought I might have a heart attack as I jogged, walked and waddled up the crest of a hill on Pettingill Street in Lewiston to find out the house on fire was still a couple hundred yards away.  It’s three hours later and I am drained after the adrenaline rush of the fire and push to get photos from the fire, a track meet and lacrosse game out before deadline.

I came to work at 2 pm to meet with editors and designers about our Sunday feature for this weekend. The one we had been working on for several weeks had fallen through.  It happens.  The main subject got cold feet after several interviews and a compelling story on a hotbutton issue.  We decided to bump up our Memorial Day package, which included a piece on the new memorial stone being etched at Collette Monuments.  Bruce and I go way back and he had promised me a month ago that he would let me know when they would be etching the names on the monument.  It was set for 3:00 today.  I knew getting everything shot and back before deadline would be tight as I had a track meet in South Paris that started at 3:30.  No worries, but I had a lacrosse game back in Lewiston at 6, so I knew I had to shoot and scoot at the track meet.  So I called Bruce and asked if they were working on it yet to buy me a little more time.  He said to come on over.  I blew off the rest of the meeting with the editors picking entries for the Maine Press Association annual contest and headed to outer Sabattus Street and through the construction gauntlet on the way.

Don Collette was picking off letters from the template before sandblasting.  colletteMy stomach still hurts from the deep belly laughs from his jokes and sense of humor.  “It’s the glue.” he half-jokes.  It was nearly 3:30 by the time I picked up a cheap iced coffee at Cumby’s and headed to South Paris.  While shooting the meet, I talked to a few Lewiston athletes who went to the prom with my son Chris this past weekend and coach Paul Soracco about Isaish winning the 800 at this past weekend’s Big 10 championships.chris  I got a great shot that I thought would be awesome at the top of our front page.  Long and thin with some text in the sky.  Later I found out the meet did not have a story.  They don’t like to tease without to just a photo package without a story.  But I did have some other pretty good photos that got great play on the front of the sports sections, so I can’t complain too much.

Runners take off at the start of the 100 dash during Tuesday's track meet at Gouin Field Complex in South Paris.

Runners take off at the start of the 100 dash during Tuesday’s track meet at Gouin Field Complex in South Paris.

Lewiston's Billy Bedard flies to the air on his second jump that won the long jump during Tuesday's track meet at Gouin Field Complex in South Paris.

Leavitt’s Billy Bedard flies to the air on his second jump that won the long jump during Tuesday’s track meet at Gouin Field Complex in South Paris.

Lewiston's Taylor Chamberlain jumped to a first place finish during Tuesday's track meet at Gouin Field Complex in South Paris.

Lewiston’s Taylor Chamberlain jumped to a first place finish during Tuesday’s track meet at Gouin Field Complex in South Paris.

Edward Little's Lauren Berube clears launches over the bar during the pole vault event at Tuesday's track and field meet at Gouin Field Complex in South Paris.

Edward Little’s Lauren Berube clears launches over the bar during the pole vault event at Tuesday’s track and field meet at Gouin Field Complex in South Paris.

When I got to the lacrosse game at Lewiston High, it was nearing the end of the first quarter.  I wasn’t having luck getting any good action, except one of my former neighbor, Roman Dennis.  But in the back of my mind I could hear one of the mothers I know, who also has a son or two that plays say to me when we met walking our dogs; “Can you try to get a photo of somebody besides Roman.  He is in every time.”  I thought, no problem, I have plenty of time.

Lewiston's Roman Denis tries to get control of the ball as Brunswick's Jack Hladky puts the pressure on him during Tuesday afternoon's lacrosse game in Lewiston.

Lewiston’s Roman Denis tries to get control of the ball as Brunswick’s Jack Hladky puts the pressure on him during Tuesday afternoon’s lacrosse game in Lewiston.

Just then I heard sirens.  I know the sound of firetrucks, and they were going hard.  It’s someting I have honed over the years.  I did a 360 degree scan and noticed a big black plume of smoke.  I started running….jogging and walking fast as I had the weight of the big lens on my camera, plus the weight of my girth flabbing around.  I called the newsroom as I hustled to my car.  Pettingill Street in Lewiston I was told.

When I got to the scene, I noticed our web guy, Larry Gilbert Jr. with his phone.  “Periscoping?” I asked.  “Yep”  We had that covered, so I thought we were good, but he was at the front of the building and I could tell the fire was concentrated in the back.  I ducked behind a few buildings and found a neighbor hosing down the grass that had caught fire.  He had no shoes on. I thought that strange and fired off a few photos.  I then decided to go LIVE on Periscope as I knew I had better stuff than Larry, so I pulled out my cell phone and started recording.  I am sure the video was a little shaky as I was still panting from my near heart attack induced run to the scene.  It got a little wobbly when I started shooting still images for print as I was shooting video with my camera.  periscopeMulti-tasker am I!  After getting images, I thought about the next element.  Victims.  I have found through the years that many people are ok with talking about what happened.  Or they tell you to screw off, or worse.  It is usually pretty evident before I even identify myself and ask.  Often I see the hate in their eyes or realize they have lost a pet or loved one, or just overcome with emotion.  I back off.  But John Goddard looked like he wanted to talk.  I asked if he wouldn’t mind me recording his story.  He obliged and we streamed his recanting what happened.  I have much more to tell, but I am tired and promised Justin I would buy him a beer at the Goose.

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Drugs, guns and politics

Pick your poison.

I got a taste of all three last night and am craving more, fear the worst, but hope for the best.  My drug of choice for the last 35 years has been the high I get from the adrenaline pumping in my veins when the shit hits the fan.  Breaking news, technical difficulties, innovation and moments of enlightenment mix together in a physical and cerebral intoxication.  It’s why I still chase that high every day.

 Working an assignment, at the Ramada, where I have memories that span decades, I listened to our governor conduct one of his town hall meetings.  Say what you want about the guy, but you have to give him credit for speaking his mind, taking punches, punching back and standing up for what he believes.  He needs some upgrades on his verbal filter, and we don’t see eye to eye on many issues, but I do agree with him on a few things he brought up last night.  Especially when talking about the heroin crisis, and whatever the next drug du jour will be.  Everyone with children is afraid. Those who have lost good kids who battled drug addiction can relate.  It is a growing problem that won’t go away unless we take drastic measures.

LePage is against equipping law enforcement with life saving drugs for overdoses.  He cited an example of a Deering High School student that has overdosed three times, but was saved with the antidote.  The third time, he was able to go back to class.  From a high that nearly caused him to die, to being able to go back to class in a matter of minutes.  What lesson does that teach.  It is a reflection of our political and judicial climate. Drastic changes are in order.

LePage wants to bring back the death penalty.  I’m not so sure that is the answer, but am on the fence with this one.  However, he did touch on something that makes a lot of sense to me.  If somebody almost dies because of a drug overdose, they need serious help.  And there is not a substantive system in place to deal with this and so many other atrocities that are becoming prevalent in society today.  Habitual drunk drivers get off time after time until they get behind the wheel and kill somebody.  Spouses that abuse their mates with little fear of serious consequences.  Repeat offenders that time and again walk away with a slap on the wrist.  But a guy growing too much pot goes to jail for more time than a father that abuses his child? Isn’t this absurd?  There are so many layers of bureaucracy that our legal and justice system has become stagnant and ineffective.  Sweeping changes have to be made.  But how?

Photos from Wednesday night's town hall meeting in Lewiston.

One current example that was touched on last night seems simple to fix on the surface.  LePage vetoed equipping public safety with Narcan (Naxoline) because it gives users a safety net with few consequences.  He points out there is no current working system in place to treat and rehab addicts.  There are plans for a new facility, but it is a drop in the bucket.  Instead of wasting time on so many stupid bills that are sponsored each session, why don’t our elected officials work together drafting meaningful resolutions?  How about: if we equip law enforcement with Narcan with the caveat that when the situation is so dire that it must be administered to save somebody, the addict, no exceptions, is immediately whisked  away to a treatment facility.  Sure there will be complications, failures and lawsuits.  But, it is fare better than bringing them back from the throes of death and simply sent on their way to do it all over again.  Or just let them die? How can we deny a proven life saving tool because of politics.  It seems like a simple answer, but like always, lawyers, lobbyists, and civil rights groups will make it impossible to get anything meaningful enacted.  Our jails, hospitals and state run institutions are not currently equipped to handle treatment required at this time. And it would take forever to write bills, equip facilities and train staff.  So it is used as a political football and leverage on other issues with nothing resolved or enacted in a timely fashion.  I think the political quagmire is part of the reason so many Americans are rallying behind a presidential candidate that scares the crap out of the other sector.  A vast majority of Americans are fed up with the status quo and want drastic change at any cost.  It’s a scary situation no doubt.  There are solutions if our elected officials focus on the real issues and not concern themselves with self preservation and party politics.  Our founding fathers must be rolling in their graves.

I was putting together a gallery of photos from the town hall meeting back in the newsroom when a call came over the scanner that a pharmacy had been robbed by a white male wearing a ski mask with a skull or some type of skeleton on it.  I was having problems uploading the photos to the gallery.  I was looking for a workaround and troubleshooting, but nothing was working.  I used to get frustrated, angry and stressed.  Now I see it as a challenge and excited when I figure something out, but was ready to throw in the towel and go home.  If a technical glitch causes me to miss deadline or the print or online product goes without my photos…..so be it.  If it is FUBAR and not my fault, oh well.  Sometimes I screw up, like last night when I lost a memory card with an assignment on it. That one is on me. But life goes on and today is a new day, with new mountains to climb, or a swamp to wallow in.  It’s my choice.  Over the years it’s become a wicked easy decision.

Everyone in the newsroom was hearing the scanner traffic, but were not sure where the robbery was.  I had picked up enough to figure it was either CVS or Rite Aide on Sabattus Street.  It was raining and dark.  I was not worried, my new camera is awesome in low light, especially if nothing is moving.  The guy was long gone and the cops would be inside for a while interviewing staff and customers.  We were on deadline, so a scene setter from the parking lot would suffice.

Police interview customers and staff at the CVS store on Sabattus Street in Lewiston Wednesday night.

Police interview customers and staff at the CVS store on Sabattus Street in Lewiston Wednesday night.

I took the newsroom laptop and boogied out the door.  LaFlamme was on the way I was told. I won’t embarrass him by telling you he went to the wrong location, but when he finally arrived shortly after me, he ducked out of the rain and into my front seat.  He was impressed that I had created a bucket for the story and photos, and was ready to push the photo and his yet to be written story online.  “How are you connecting to the internet, their WiFi?” asked my intrepid colleague.  He was flabbergasted that my phone hat a built in hot spot that I used to connect to the internet.  We cobbled together what we knew and sent the link to the copydesk for them to check over and publish.

I got home in time to watch the  TV news and log on to my computer to see if our stories of the govenah or robbery had generated any social media traffic.  I opened Facebook and did a quick scroll to catch up on what people were blithering on about.  I de-friended a dear friend that I just could not stand seeing any more photos of what she was cooking for dinner ever night.  Had a laugh at another who posted they were going home because a plane circling downtown frightened him.  But was horrified by the scenario that went through my mind when I read a couple of comments on the pharmacy robbery.  Two guys were boasting about being prepared for just such a thing by always having their gun with them.  I wondered what they would do if they were there.  Would they pull it out only if the robber started shooting, but do nothing if there was no imminent danger.  Or would they try to be a hero and accidentally kill an innocent patron?  The what iff’s started.

My son carries a gun.  I have in the past, but choose not to now.  I believe, and am comforted that there are many out there that are trained, of the right mindset, and able to make rational judgement calls that have and will no doubt save lives and stop crime in the future.  It makes many criminals think twice about pulling out a gun.  However, I am just as afraid to be shot by some knucklehead who thinks he is Dirty Harry or Walker, Texas Ranger.  Can of worms for sure.

 

 

 

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Busted trees, criminals and synchronized practices

040716JAR-106After a freelance job shooting photos at a gigantic, legal, medical marijuana growing operation in Gorham first thing in the morning, I got back to LA just in time to start my 1-9 shift at the newspaper. With no assignments for a while, I cruised for a mystery photo as I was running low.  I checked out the daily news budget on my phone and it looked like we were in good shape for tomorrow’s section front photos.  Found a mystery pix quickly and headed into the office to do some research on mounting my GoPro on a RC boat to photograph a cool body of water nearby for an upcoming story.  Stay tuned for more on that one, it should be fun.D3T_8313

As the light was fading into late afternoon, rain coming down hard, my boss appears at my desk and said: “The story we had budgeted for the local section front isn’t coming, so we’ll need a feature photo to anchor the page.  How about a wet weather feature, we are supposed to get heavy rain and high winds later, but the worst wind isn’t supposed to pick up until dark.”   Oh joy I thought to myself.

Off I went and quickly found a girl on her way home from track practice, skirting a big puddle.

Hawa Dakae has to run into the street to avoid a gigantic puddle on the sidewalk on Brich Street in Lewiston Thursday afternoon on her way back from track practice.

Hawa Dakae has to run into the street to avoid a gigantic puddle on the sidewalk on Brich Street in Lewiston Thursday afternoon on her way back from track practice.

As I get back in the car I heard a call for Poland Fire to respond to a tree and power line down on Hackett Mills Road.  I got there just before the Sheriff blocked off the road, but that was the end of my good luck.  It was just a power line across the road.  Nothing good to photograph.  Took something just to CYA.

Poland Deputy Fire Chief Tom Printup listens to his radio for more calls of downed trees and wires across the road as he keeps vehicles from driving over a downed line on the Harris Hill Road late Thursday afternoon.

Poland Deputy Fire Chief Tom Printup listens to his radio for more calls of downed trees and wires across the road as he keeps vehicles from driving over a downed line on the Harris Hill Road late Thursday afternoon.

On the way back to town, the night side editor calls to tell me that there are lots of power lines and trees down around town.  Where I ask.  “I was out of my car and didn’t hear anything.  Where are they?”  “Not sure, I didn’t catch any of the locations, just lots of activity.”   As if on cue, I hear LFD and AFD clearing from two scenes as I near the top of Goff Hill.  I never get tired of coming around the corner and seeing the cityscapes at the top of that hill.  But I was distracted, out of focus, stewing and steaming about the editor not getting locations.

Once again, my change of mindset paid immediate dividends.  I thought that it didn’t matter as I would most likely have  been too late to any of those scenes.  I know how confusing and difficult it is to keep tuned in on the numerous calls coming over the scanner simultaneously.  And I am sure she was doing 4 other things at the same time.  Totally understand and all is forgiven.  As I crest the top of Goff Hill it dawned on me that I just passed a freshly snapped tree a ways back and it might have just been from the storm.  It wasn’t until I got to the bottom of the hill until I realized I should turn around and check it out.

Randy Burgess looks up at the damage to trees, including a prize black walnut, that were damaged when this pine came crashing down next to his house at the top of Goff Hill in Auburn Thursday. His mother Virgina planted the tree over 40 years ago. Burgess and his mom were watching TV when they heard the crack and crash. When they looked out, the noticed that it missed his new vehicle by inches as it came down parallel to the driveway at 467 Court Street.

Randy Burgess looks up at the damage to trees, including a prize black walnut, that were damaged when this pine came crashing down next to his house at the top of Goff Hill in Auburn Thursday. His mother Virgina planted the tree over 40 years ago. Burgess and his mom were watching TV when they heard the crack and crash. When they looked out, the noticed that it missed his new vehicle by inches as it came down parallel to the driveway at 467 Court Street.

Back to the office and process the photos before heading to a feature on a synchronized swimming instructor that we will be doing a feature on in the coming weeks.   Most of the time I am thinking about how I might approach shooting an assignment before I arrive.  While driving there, I have a vision of the instructor in the foreground and the swimmers legs sticking up out of the water in the background.  As I approach the pool, I see Nancy working with one student, they were kids, I expected adults.  The girl goes under the water, in the shallow end. and pushes off the bottom and pops up, spreading her arms and splashing water.  My idea of legs sticking out gets tweaked.  I shoot at a slow shutter speed to augment the splashing and blur the kids so the focus is on the subject we are writing about.

RRD_8031As I am heading to St. Dom’s for a girls lacrosse feature that will also run in the future, I hear LPD chasing somebody a couple blocks away.  I head to where they have him detained and shoot a photo of them frisking the guy.  OMG I say to myself.  What a fantastic background if I move over to the side.  A guy getting busted with the spires of the basilica in the background and sneakers hanging from the power lines.  Oh, the irony.  The best part was when one of the cops pulled a baggie out of his pocket and a Ben Franklin.  As soon as he put them on the trunk of the cruiser the perp was bent over, a gust of wind blew them off and down the street.  I squealed with laughter as cops went running after the evidence.  Wish I was rolling video at the time.  I was incredibly impressed with my new-ish camera.  It was nearly dark and I just cranked the ISO up to 12800 and it was dialed in like I couldn’t believe.

 

Lewiston police officers arrest a Alamine Mahamat, 20, of 119 Horton St. for violating conditions of release and refusal to submit to arrest at the corner of Howe and Ash Streets Thursday at 7:20 pm. According to a police officer on scene, when a patrolman tried to stop the Mahamat, he took off running. When searched, police found a bag of what appeared to be drugs, in his pocket.

Lewiston police officers arrest a Alamine Mahamat, 20, of 119 Horton St. for violating conditions of release and refusal to submit to arrest at the corner of Howe and Ash Streets Thursday at 7:20 pm. According to a police officer on scene, when a patrolman tried to stop the Mahamat, he took off running. When searched, police found a bag of what appeared to be drugs, in his pocket.

I love technology.  I could never have recorded that scene, and done all that I did today shooting film.  Crazy changes have come about since the days of souping film.

Headed to St. Dom’s for lax practice and discovered the coach is the wife of my old tennis pal, Paul Gastonguay.  Small world.  Still have to edit those, but am running out of steam as I am going on 15 hours straight, so you will have to buy the SJ next week to see what I shot there.  A long day for sure, but it was interesting and at times, exciting and enlightening.  My only regret is that I didn’t get up earlier and take my girlfriend for a walk.  If the rain and wind have died down, I might just  head out for a midnight walk around Bates with my girl.

 

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I could not pull the trigger

Today I passed up potentially prize-winning photos.  I was in position and ready to pull the trigger.  As I watched one  dramatic moment after another unfolded,  I could not bring my camera up to my eye.

Am I going soft?  Not doing my job? Should I be reprimanded?

I am sure there will be arguments on both sides.  But my conscience will be clear when I go to bed tonight and I will only hope that everything will work out.

suicide attempt

Wednesday afternoon I was at my desk processing photos from previous assignments when my antenna went up as a call come over the scanner.  Signal 1000 on Beech Street.  (Signal 1000 tells police on duty who are not on this particular call to not use the radio as a priority situation is unfolding).  Lewiston or Auburn I wondered since all calls from Lewiston, Auburn and other municipalities’ police and fire communication all come through one speaker mounted in the photo department.  I quickly deciphered it as a possible suicide attempt on the foot trestle between Simard Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston and Bonney Park in Auburn.

It is a sad fact, but we hear this more often than you think.  We generally won’t publish a photo in the newspaper from a suicide attempt unless it is something that causes a major public scene and creates serious disruption or public spectacle.  At some point it is deemed “newsworthy.”   It is one of dozens of judgement calls we make individually and often collectively every day when it comes to what we choose to cover.

I have been on dozens of these calls over the years and we have varied on how we handle them.  Often we publish a brief to let readers know what is going on, and if there is a generic photo of all the emergency crews blocking the area, we might run that as well.  But most of the time we just don’t go.

When I heard the fire dispatcher call for the rescue boat and cutting equipment, that tipped the scales on the response threshold.  When I got to the area there were dozens of police, fire, rescue and ambulance on both sides of the river.  The young man was near the middle, on the outside of the bridge standing on a big pipe with a rope around his neck.  When a woman came running from the parking lot crying and screaming, the drama intensified.  The responders holding her back, dropping to her knees and crying, lights, cops…..the bridge looming in the background.  You could not have scripted it much better to get a genuinely dramatic moment. If I worked myself around, I might have been able to line it all up and get the guy in the background with her in the foreground.  Sure prize winner.   I could have argued back at the newspaper that it was a public spectacle and we owe it to the public to show what was going on.  I am pretty sure I could have “sold it.”  Others might have argued against, but I do carry some weight……hey, no fat jokes please.

How many photojournalists would have “shot everything  and let the editors decide.”  Use the excuse that it’s their job to be there and capture what is going on.  I made a conscious choice to not do my job and show a little compassion.  I tried to be discrete and did shoot some photos in case the worst happened, but for the most part, I put the camera on my hip so neither the woman or the despondent man would have the added stress of knowing they will be splashed all over the news. What if he noticed me and that was the final straw that caused him to jump.  Another opportunity for prize-winning photos.   There are some things that trump my journalistic responsibilities and this was one of those scenario’s.  It was my decision.  When I was young and green I probably would have pushed the situation.   Being a father with many more life experiences has changed my perspective on many things.

I am glad I work for a newspaper that shares my compassion and won’t question the judgment call I made today.

Having said all that, my portfolio contains dozens of photos of people who are in compromising situations.  Accidents, fires, disputes and other situations where I have made the choice to pull the trigger and record the moment.  Am I hypocritical?  Perhaps.  Cynical.  Certainly.  Do I pick and choose which situations I shoot and when to stand down.  Yep.  Do I always make the proper decision.  Nope.  Every situation is different.  Some decisions are harder than others.  Sometimes we make the wrong decision to publish or not publish something.  We often get criticized and praised for our reporting.  The left calls us right, the right calls us left.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t most of the time.  It’s part of the reason I love what I do.  Interesting, intriguing, exciting and the ability to impact people’s lives.  Every day is different and every day we start with a clean slate.  Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

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Unified week ends with dreamy weekend

Deborah Riguette calls for her cat Sarah outside her burnt out home on Hackett Mills Road in Poland Monday afternoon.  The indoor cat escaped, but a dog perished in the Sunday afternoon fire.  The scared cat would come and allow Riguette to pick her up, but when she tried to take her away from the house, the cat would scratch and jump out of her hands.  Riguette and her daughter Lisa Sotorer began to search for a box to try to put her in.  "The cat carrier is in the house." said Ringuette.

Deborah Riguette calls for her cat Sarah outside her burnt out home on Hackett Mills Road in Poland Monday afternoon. The indoor cat escaped, but a dog perished in the Sunday afternoon fire. The scared cat would come and allow Riguette to pick her up, but when she tried to take her away from the house, the cat would scratch and jump out of her hands. Riguette and her daughter Lisa Sotorer began to search for a box to try to put her in. “The cat carrier is in the house.” said Ringuette.

The past week was a real corker.  Nursing a back that won’t get better, I took but one camera with me on most assignments, and made my most memorable ones with my cell phone.  Monday started out with me heading to Poland to follow-up on a fire that we missed on Sunday.  When I arrived, with no background on the particulars, I found the woman who lost her home with her daughter looking for her indoor cat that had escaped, but had not been found.  I arrived just in time to capture the capture.  I hope.  Every time they tried to catch her, she would bolt before they could get her to the car.  I had to get back to town for kids putting rubber bands around a watermelon, so I don’t know if they ever got her in the car.  I hope so.  I was not excited to be photographing  the next assignment “recreating” the scene where kids imploded a watermelon for a story about a video that ran on America’s Funniest Videos the night before.   A video of a “recreation” didn’t sit well.

A land fight with a pile of rocks threatening to close a parking lot led off Tuesday, in a steady rain.  Tom was a little leery about having his photo taken by the pile, especially because it was on the disputed land and technically he was trespassing.  He was a sport and went for it without hesitation.

Tom Kendall, the head of the Auburn School Committee, stands on a pile of rocks that have appeared recently next to the East Auburn Community School where a neighbor has threatened to block off a portion of the parking area that the school has used for the past 15 years.

Richard Saucier points to the window he was sitting in at the corner of Ash and Bartlett Streets in Lewiston Tuesday afternoon when he heard an accident and looked out to see the black SUV, foreground, rolling back toward his building.  When he and neighbor Steve Hunt, left, they noticed the male driver take off running. They pursued him up Bartlett Street where he ran up the outside steps to a third floor balcony and hid.  When police arrived, the two, plus a crowd that had gathered, pointed out where the driver was hiding and police arrested him without incident.

Richard Saucier points to the window he was sitting in at the corner of Ash and Bartlett Streets in Lewiston Tuesday afternoon when he heard an accident and looked out to see the black SUV, foreground, rolling back toward his building. When he and neighbor Steve Hunt, left, they noticed the male driver take off running. They pursued him up Bartlett Street where he ran up the outside steps to a third floor balcony and hid. When police arrived, the two, plus a crowd that had gathered, pointed out where the driver was hiding and police arrested him without incident.

Hearing over the scanner that there was a hit and run just up the street, I could not go after hearing witnesses were chasing the guy up Bartlett Street.  A quick trip back to the office to get that posted to the web and I was off for my first ever Unified basketball game. I couldn’t believe the energy, excitement and good-natured fun that was.  Watching two Lisbon student coaches who I coached as kids at the Y was cool.  Getting the reaction of the bench was easy.  The reaction photo ran the entire width of the front page of the sports section.  I milked the bench reaction twice more in the coming week.

Lisbon Unified Basketball team student athlete coaches Jonah Sautter, right and his sister Breeann, second from right, cheer a 3 point play during Tuesday's game against Deering/Portland.

Lisbon Unified Basketball team student athlete coaches Jonah Sautter, right and his sister Breeann, second from right, cheer a 3 point play during Tuesday’s game against Deering/Portland.

The bench and fans react as a Lisbon Unified Basketball team player scores a basket during Tuesday night's Regional Championship game against Deering/Portland in Lisbon.

The bench and fans react as a Lisbon Unified Basketball team player scores a basket during Tuesday night’s Regional Championship game against Deering/Portland in Lisbon.

Lisbon Unified basketball team coach Jonah Sautter and the bench players react as a shot just misses going in during Thursday's state championship game against Hampden Academy.

Lisbon Unified basketball team coach Jonah Sautter and the bench players react as a shot just misses going in during Thursday’s state championship game against Hampden Academy.

While packing up to leave for the day, as happens way too often, one of the editors came over with an assignment that  “is going on right now.”  Nobody else was around, so I was volunteered.  Lucky for me it was for an advance story that would run later and not need processing right away.  Older people training in a boxing gym.  Not to box, but just the workout.  Ah…..the smell of the Gamache Gym in the bowels of the Armory.  The smell of hard work and grit and determination.  Now smelly old feet?

Ken Chutchian throws punches at trainer Dan Escobar during a recent training session.

Ken Chutchian throws punches at trainer Dan Escobar during a recent training session.

Wednesday was an afternoon of catching up.  Processing numerous advanced assignments, emails from people wanting this photo and that.  Can you cover my event? Speak to my group? Find an old photo for somebody writing a book and record all the mystery photo entries.  Every Sunday I publish a mystery photo, nearly 500 so far.   Some of the phone calls I get are a real hoot.  Especially a couple of the old regulars who call every week with their h’accents.  Many go on and on about the photo.  I should record them and put them online.

After getting my fill of computer and phone work, I went to the middle school to shoot a speaker on autism.  His story was compelling and I found myself staying too long to listen.  I needed to get back to the office to process the photo for that night’s paper before heading to the armory to shoot the Fallen Angels roller derby team practice that we will be doing a story on in the future.

Thursday afternoons mundane busy work at the computer was offset by the electricity in the air at the Lisbon gymnasium for the state championship Unified basketball game between Lisbon and Hampden Academy.  There are so many heartwarming stories, moments, and inspiring photos that came from that game.  My favorite is when the ball went off a Hampden player, but the referee called it Hampden ball.  To see the astonished, perplexed and confused look on the Hampden players face was priceless.  He ran right over to the ref and told him, convincingly, that “no, no, no…..the ball went off me.”  The ref shook his head, smiled, blew his whistle and shouted. “Lisbon ball.”  And the game went on.  Hampden scored more points that night, but everyone left the gym a winner. Especially cynical old photojournalists who may have had trouble holding back a tear or two during the game.

Water and slush fly into the air after crashing onto rocks on the shore of Lake Auburn Friday afternoon.  With only a little ice crunching around the shore by the Route 4 turnout, the majority of the lake is ice free, leading to the earliest declaration of "ice out." on record.

Water and slush fly into the air after crashing onto rocks on the shore of Lake Auburn Friday afternoon. With only a little ice crunching around the shore by the Route 4 turnout, the majority of the lake is ice-free, leading to the earliest declaration of “ice out.” on record.

Big news on Friday.  Stop the presses.  Ice was out on Lake Auburn.  Holy Moly!  The earliest on record. Had to go shoot a photo of course.  I really wanted to take some video when I got there.  The tinkling of the remaining ice smashing together as wind drove the last remnants of it onto the rocks would have made a cool video.  But I still had to get to CMCC to cover an unveiling of a mural for their 50th anniversary.   Boogy back to the office to process those two assignments and then off to Portland to cover a Red Claws game.  There was nobody sitting in the seat at court side directly under the basket, so I scoffed it.  Holding the camera down low and shooting up got me a cool angle.  All I had to do was wait for the right moment.  Had to fend off a few balls that came flying my way, but how cool was that. Getting paid to sit in the highest priced seat in place.  Don’t tell anybody I have the best job in the world.  Slave wages, but great working environment.

Maine Red Claws' Malcolm Miller finds a seam between Iowa's Terry Whisnant, left, Mardracus Wade, center, and D.J. Stephens , and flies to the basket during the first period of Friday night's game in Portland.

Maine Red Claws’ Malcolm Miller finds a seam between Iowa’s Terry Whisnant, left, Mardracus Wade, center, and D.J. Stephens , and flies to the basket during the first period of Friday night’s game in Portland.

Saturday we slept late, had a splendid stroll with my 4 legged lady and after lunch, headed to Freeport with the love of my life.  We cruised to Freeport and walked through Mast Landing Sanctuary and then as the sun was setting, found the coolest spot at Wolf Neck campground that leads to the beach where it was protected from the wind and in full sun.  Our new favorite spot.  For now, that is.  When the nearly 400 campsites are overflowing with people, we won’t be there.  But to have the place to ourselves, on this day.  Priceless and a memory worthy of a few photos. 031916 Wolf Neck24 031916 Wolf Neck23 031916 Wolf Neck22 031916 Wolf Neck21 031916 Wolf Neck2 031916 Wolf Neck  Looking forward to another glorious week.

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Record Breaking, Back Breaking, Pig Squealing, Sappy Week

Children squealed YES and NO in unison when Joe Gray asked if they wanted to hear his pigs squeal.  The annual Farmers Market at the Auburn Public Library featured  jams, jellies, creams, crafters, sweets and guitar playing librarian, not veggies and earth stuff like at a regular farmers market.  Little piggies running around on a blue tarp spread out in the Grand Reading Room, I was in heaven.  I was happy as a pig in shi….mud.  Cute little kids and pigs, can’t miss.   The funky chicken was a little disturbing.  Ugly as ugly gets.

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Anna Bartlett, right, 2, patiently waits with her mother Lina, to pet a 2 month old pig that Joe Gray of Valley View Farm in Auburn is holding. It was the first pig Anna had ever seen and was getting up the courage to pet her like Nevaeh Howes, 3, of Lewiston, center. The petting farm was part of Friday night’s Farmers Market at the Auburn Public Library. For more photos from the farmers market, visit sunjournal.com

I gingerly leaned over the 2 foot fence on my hands and knees.  My fancy new camera has a tilting viewfinder, so I can see what I’m shooting as I am angling the camera up from a low angle.  Andree Kehn suggested I buy this camera, and it has worked out like a charm. D750.

Earlier this week she brought me ski poles. I sent her home with her poles, but headed all the advice about helping my back get better.  You see, last Sunday I played pickle ball like a champ with some of my old friends.  I was no more sore than usual after, but when as I was walking my dog a couple hours later, I stepped off a curb just wrong and herniated a disc.  Right in front of my house.  I have been on the mend since, so when I came back to the office after the library shoot Friday night, I was greeted by an ergonomically thoughtful gesture by my cohorts at work.  All that was missing was duct tape.  Holding up my mouse pad is a vintage case containing the pool 300mm lens that mostly collects dust as the wicked sharp 400 is the cats meow and long lens of choice.RRD_3797

My wife has magical hands and is helping work out the last of the knots in my lower back.  She showed me a few new stretches and I am feeling tons better. Screenshot_2016-02-27-13-10-42

Took Allie for a long walk and recorded it with one of those new fangled apps that shows me just where I went and how long it took.  We lollygag quite a bit.  Lots to sniff you know, and a couple dogs barking in a window.20160227_114122

And lots to photograph.

When I got back home this afternoon, I checked on the results of the Big 10 Championships that my son of a different mother…and father….was competing in.  After helping his relay team win yesterday, and qualifying as the top seed in the 800, the stage was set.  Isaiah Harris blew away the field on his way to a facility, Penn State and Big 10 record performance.  He opened some eyes today! How sweet it is.  Ann cried…..of course. Sky is the limit for him.  I hope to be BACK on track myself next week.  Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 1.29.39 AM

 

 

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February 28, 2016 · 1:44 am