Monthly Archives: May 2010

NeNe’s naysayers

I can understand why knees are jerking and tongues are clucking over WXIA’s announcement that it’s engaging the services of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” diva NeNe Leakes.  Perhaps like you, my initial reaction was visceral and negative.  She’s a person I barely know from television.  Yet I feel like I know enough:  She’s mouthy, somewhat obnoxious and has a hilariously high opinion of herself.    And that’s not a pejorative assessment.  That seems to be the persona she cultivates, to apparent great success, on the “Housewives” show.  I doubt she’d disagree.  Yet it helps explain the reaction.

Once I got past the shock, my assessment changed.  To wit:  It’s pretty f—ing brilliant.  (The expletive is a shout-out to the show, which is  rife with them.)

Leakes is showing up at WXIA to shoot a limited number of feature pieces that will appear this summer on “11 Alive Today,” the newscast that airs between 5 and 7am.  In so doing, she’ll have the backup of an experienced news photographer and a news producer. Leakes’ skills as a story producer are unknown and likely nonexistent.  She’ll have journalistic backing in the wings, off-camera.

If this gives you the willies — the “woe unto WXIA, for it’s sending a non-journalist to do a journalist’s job,” I would advise relaxation.  Especially if you’ve worked at, or are a fan of any TV news organization that has used a doctor as a medical reporter, or an athlete as a sports reporter, or a politician as a news anchor, or an actor as a weather forecaster.  Leakes is a socialite.  Her stories will be light and culturally-oriented.  She will not be covering the July primary elections.  Nor will she be taking the valuable salary space of a journalist.  Leakes will be an unpaid presence.

Is it a ratings gimmick?  Of course.  And a pretty brilliant one, as such stuff goes.  For some reason, my wife thinks Leakes is pretty awesome.  She’ll probably DVR WXIA’s morning show to see Leakes’ stuff.  Others will undoubtedly do the same.  Some will want to watch for the train wreck potential, including folks who aren’t necessarily “Housewives” fans but have nonetheless caught a whiff of Leakes’ notoriety.

I doubt I’d be able to pick George Strait or TI or Matt Ryan out of a lineup.  But I’d recognize Leakes.  This side of Monica Pearson, I’d opine she’s as well-recognized a TV personality as any in Atlanta.  You are free to disagree.  My opinion in that regard is quite meaningless.

There are also the questions raised about Leakes in Dana Fowle’s piece on WAGA two years ago. Fowle’s story stung Leakes; recently she reportedly bailed on an interview at New York’s Fox station because of a grudge she holds against the network, thanks to Fowle.

Leakes subsequently admitted to WXIA’s Karyn Greer that proverbial wolves at the door forced her family to move from the Sugarloaf mansion where they’d lived.  Fowle’s piece raised additional questions about husband Gregg Leakes’ business practices.

It’s worth noting that when I praised Fowle’s piece shortly after it aired, she and I were both roundly denounced by LAF readers.

I’ll have none of that now.

Vote for me

"A full dinner bucket!"

Some of my best and worst ideas come while running, which is something I do for exercise most mornings.  Typically the brainstorms come during mile four and five.  Many of the posts on this site are direct results of these moments, as well as moments parked alongside a glass of high-octane beer.

One materialized after I actually read a mass e-mail from NATAS. This is the organization best known for providing Emmys, and its spelled-backward acronym.  The e-mail suggested running for the board of Governors of this organization.  During mile four recently, a voice whispered:  Run.  You can “give back.”  Plus it might give you material for the blog.

Since I have no real clue what the Board of Governors does for NATAS, I was unsure.  I wrote an e-mail to the current president, who urged me to submit a 50 – 100 word narrative outlining my relevant experience.  (My word count on this post, so far, is 143.)

This week, I got an e-mail urging me to vote in the NATAS election.  Within it, there’s a list of ten nominees.  I’m one of them.

"Front Porch" Bill McKinley

So, apparently I’m running for the NATAS board of Governors.

In one blog post, here’s my campaign, a new-media version of William McKinley’s front porch campaign, minus the impending fatal brush with an anarchist in Buffalo hopefully.  I’m the proud owner of three McKinley buttons.  That’s one reason why you should vote for me.

Another is:  There are certain unsung behind-the-scenes folk in the Atlanta TV news biz who deserve consideration in this NATAS Silver Circle thing.  Because I may be asked to actually vote on such stuff, if elected, I won’t give up those names now.  I’m playing the Sotomayor / Kagan / Thomas / Frankfurter cards.  You’ll find out after it’s too late.  Vote for me.

Plus, if it’s interesting enough, I’ll blog about it.  Given my history, the “interesting” threshold is pretty low.  If the board has a pulse, I’ll probably write about it.  This could be instructive, for NATAS and for LAF readers.  I can’t say with certainly which of those groups would actually benefit, however, from such exposure.  If any.  Vote for me.

The NATAS Board allows members to vote for as many as eight “hard-working talented and accomplished individuals willing to dedicate time and energy to the success of the Southeast Chapter.”  If you’re a member, you got a link and a password in an e-mail this week.  You may select as few as one.  These are the nominees.

Felix "The Cat" Frankfurter

  • Lee Brown
  • Karyn Greer
  • Ray Goodrich
  • Myrna Moore
  • Thom Murrell
  • Lisa Rayam
  • Doug Richards
  • Laurel Ripley
  • Tom Regan
  • Bill Sykes

For your convenience, I’ve entered in bold type the names of nominees with whom I feel an effective coalition government could be formed.  Or a cabal.  Or a junta.  We’ll see which, if any, apply.  Vote for us.

My risk, of course, is this:  I’ll wage this one-post campaign, then end up ranking number nine or ten in the vote total.  This would be a crushing, devastating embarrassment.

If the results never get posted in this spot, you may surmise the worst.  Vote for me.  Thank you.

Use the children

The YouTubes are rife with images of hapless TV reporters appearing on camera while people act a fool behind them.  If these encounters take place during live shots, there’s not a doggone thing you can do about it.  Your best hope:  React in a way that retains dignity while somebody clotheslines the reporter or moons the camera.

But children are different.  As a dad, I’ve spent a much of my life bending the will of children to suit me.

You’re in a child-rich environment.  You’re conducting an interview or shooting a standup.  There are children nearby, probably old enough to realize what you’re doing and sufficiently headstrong to try to get in your shot.  You don’t want them to sully what you’re doing.  You have choices.

Bad idea: Adopt a combative, parental-type tone.  Admonish them to go away, or there’ll be trouble.

They know you aren’t their parent.  You’re probably on their turf, where they’re comfortable and you probably are looking increasingly uncomfortable.  You’ve only emboldened them.

Good idea: “Hey, you guys want to be on TV?”  They answer excitedly and affirmatively.

“OK.  Here’s the deal.  I’m going to walk around and talk out loud to the camera.  You stand here.  You’ll be in the background.  Look cool.  Look at the camera if you want.  Just don’t wave your hands or do stupid stuff.  We can only use it if you look smart.”

In the instance seen below, the children leaned or sat on the hood of a car and did exactly as instructed.  One of them was an eleven year old boy named Antonio (dark shirt), whom I’d met earlier in the week.  Their presence lent a touch of needed flavor to a background that otherwise consisted solely of real estate.

Cautionary note: Make sure the photog is in on the scheme.  I once had a gaggle of kids pose in the background of a standup.  Afterward, the photog snickered and said, triumphantly “Ha!  I kept ‘em out of the frame!”

Ugh.  No.

Winne watch 5.13.10

Mark Winne, WSB

“…Before one of three robbers posing as police gunned down Donnie Glass, one of them stole his big platinum ring with diamonds.  And now (the detective) hopes a description of the fake cops rings true with someone who calls in a tip.”

WSB’s Mark Winne, in a piece about the unsolved murder of a man killed by men posing as cops.

During his live intro, Winne sprinted through a door, then crouched behind it where the victim took the fatal shot.  Drama points:  √√√√√ (out of five possible).

Secret Squirrel

It appears a cluster of irony (and God knows what else) -fueled middle-aged women has created a Facebook page called Mark Winne Is a Badass Crime Reporter.

The creator is blogger Grayson Daughters, who spends much of her time online clobbering mainstream media.  The “irony” clue is that the group lists a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.

At this writing, there are five members.

Attribution

I was in an apartment complex, talking in my outdoor voice in the direction of a TV camera.  I’d somewhat memorized the remarks, which would be placed within the body of a TV story in a format known as a “standup.”

As I finished, I heard a voice:  “How do you know what you said is really true?”

Riley Freeman

It was not the typical question posed by stray bystanders watching men talking out loud, committing acts of television.

I was reporting on an incident where police applied repeated Taser bursts to a carjacking suspect.  According to the police report, the suspect followed the second burst by exclaiming “fuck y’all motherfuckers,” then lost consciousness.  She died a short time later.  I sidestepped the “final words” part of the story.

The voice belonged to a boy, about age 11.  He was standing with a friend who was holding a young box turtle he’d  found.  They’d just exited a school bus.  They were wearing khaki pants and blue polo shirts, the uniforms of their public school.  The 11 year old kinda looked like Riley from the Boondocks.

Hoping this young man had asked the question I thought I’d heard, I walked toward them, introduced myself and asked them to repeat the question.

“How do you know what you just said is really true?”

This kid was casually questioning the very essence of journalism.  I was impressed.  He deserved a complete answer.

“I can only interpret what I’ve seen with my own eyes, or what I’ve been told, or what I’ve seen in records.  Since I wasn’t here when this happened, I have to rely on what I’ve read in a police report.  I’ve also spoken with people who were here when it happened.  Based on all that information, I have to come up with a narrative that’s as truthful as I can make it.  Are you familiar with the word ‘attribution?'”  He shook his head.

“Attribution’ is when you tell people the source of your information.  Honestly, I can’t say with 100% certainty that I’m giving a truthful account of what happened.  But I’m giving the best information I’ve got, based on what I’ve learned.  It’s why attribution is so important when you’re covering news.”  I was starting to lose him.  “Why do you ask?”

“Because that’s not what happened,'” he said politely.

Well, what happened?

“I saw it.  The police were all around her.   They were putting her in an ambulance, pushing on her chest and stuff.”

Did you see what happened before that?  “No,” he said.

He was a resident of a ghastly, sprawling multi-family complex that almost defies description.  Many units were boarded up, apparently uninhabitable.  We stood near an entire eight-unit building that had been gutted by fire weeks or months earlier.  Yet the complex teemed with life.

I explained that there was more to the story, which is why it was newsworthy and why I was there.

I urged the boy holding the turtle to wash his hands thoroughly.  “You guys are going to college, right?”

“Oh yes,” they answered in unison.  “What’s that college called where I’m going?” said the 11 year old, smiling at his friend with the turtle.  “Oh yeah.  Harvard.”

Check it out

Perhaps you missed Sunday night’s debut of “Check It out! With Dr. Steve Brule.”  It appears on the Adult Swim division of Cartoon Network.  Odds are, you aren’t part of the demographic they’re trying to reach.  I know I’m not.

Dr. Steve Brule is that guy on the local news who does interaction more than reporting.  In the real world, that guy / gal appears on morning news shows, and has the natural performing talent of a radio DJ or TV talk show host.   WAGA’s Stacey Elgin and Karen Graham do this sort of stuff admirably.  I can’t do it, which is why my TV appearances tend toward the deadpan.  Were I to try to morph into a “personality,” I’d end up like Steve Brule.  Which may be why I’m drawn to him.  Watching him is like glimpsing a funhouse mirror.

Played by John C. Reilly, Dr. Steve Brule is a spoof.  But spoof and reality merged of late when a guy who calls himself “K-Strass” has appeared on local TV proffering himself as a master of the yo-yo.  When you are booking guests for morning shows in outback burgs like St. Joseph MO, folks like K-Strass are welcome time-killers.  But when they actually show up, the result is bewilderment.  K-Strass videos are now all over Youtube.  Dr. Steve Brule needs to book this guy.

Sweeping performance

“Your mind is totally controlled.  It has been stuffed into my mold.  And you will do as you are told, until the rights to you are sold.” - Frank Zappa, “I’m the Slime”

There are three reasons to watch local TV news.  One:  The content.  Two:  Your friend or family member is on TV.  Three:  The spectacle.  Let’s address the spectacle at one Atlanta TV station.

On the move: Portia Bruner, WAGA

The spectacle is especially rich during the sweeps months of February, May and November.  During these months, WAGA treats its viewers to special reports.  It takes the I-Team out of hiding during sweeps.  But just as importantly — the reporters and photographers are beseeched to perform.

Woe to the WAGA reporter or photographer who delivers a live shot merely framing a nicely-lit reporter with a static backdrop.  A casual look at WAGA this month indicates the issuance and re-issuance of orders heard regularly during my tenure at this TV station:  Don’t just stand there.  Do something.  Show us something.  Move someplace.  “Produce” the live shot.

Here Morse Diggs and his photog execute the simple zoom-in.  The mise-en-scene behind him was a bit of a stretch — his story was about take-home vehicles driven by city employees; he delivered the live shot in front of gas pumps.

But the tag afterward is exemplary:  Diggs waves paper, but intentionally blocks it with his hand because he can’t show it on TV. This is solid evidence that Diggs got the message, repeated by supervisors during his work day:  Make that live shot sing, even if it’s a bit off-key.

Below, Patty Pan’s photog zooms into the school building behind her.  Since the story is about the school all-but closing, it makes a measure of sense to see the building.  Pan delivered on the mandate ably, albeit minimally.

Within our random sampling of video from WAGA’s web site, Portia Bruner wins the LAF “produce the live shot!” prize.  She’s standing in front of a government building (as were Pan and Diggs).  She’s static at the start, which worries us.  But then she produces a piece of paper, which lends excitement.  And then — she walks toward the door, mimicking the steps of the subject of her story.

Because we were so spellbound by the performance, we didn’t absorb the content of her remarks.  But that’s OK — if the audience is spellbound, it’s not switching channels or leaving the room to fix supper.  Bruner’s supervisors viewed it with approval.  Her job is safe for another day.

Of course, there’s all that other stuff:  Reporting the story accurately, writing it clearly, developing new information from sources, shooting  and editing video that meaningfully tells the story.  These aren’t afterthoughts.  But that’s not what WAGA’s reporters are hearing about when they walk out the door during sweeps.

Produce the live shot.”

Who wins?  Perhaps the puzzled viewer, who wonders why these TV folks are being all hyper on th’ TV.  Certainly WAGA’s reporters and photogs, who have learned to handle sweeps edicts the way H.R. Haldeman endured the psychotic rants of Nixon.

But the biggest winner is that damned lawyer who sponsors WAGA’s embedded video.  By the way, did you notice how that guy moved?

FrenEmmys

Mark Bullock, WSFA

Noteworthy, overlooked and undervalued observations from the 2010 Southeast Regional Emmy nominations, announced Friday:

Stephanie Maxwell, WAPT

The region’s “best” news anchor may work in Montgomery, Albany GA, Jackson Miss. or Asheville.   Mark Bullock, the Montgomery anchor (and UGA grad) who won an Emmy last year for “On-Camera Talent – Anchor – News,” is nominated again this year.  Ben Roberts of WALB, Larry Blunt of WLOS and Stephanie Maxwell of WAPT are also nominated.  Brenda Wood of WXIA is the only Atlanta anchor nominated in this category.

By the numbers: WXIA got the most news nominations, edging WSB.  WLOS of Asheville got more nominations than WGCL.   Here’s the LAF count, strictly unofficial (and, undoubtedly flawed since I ran out of fingers and toes):

  • WXIA,  24 nominations
  • WSB, 21
  • WAGA, 12
  • WLOS, 9
  • WGCL, 8
  • WYFF, 6

WGCL even somehow got excluded from the “station excellence” category.  That category included WXIA, WSB and WAGA, plus WYFF in Greenville.

Wendy Saltzman, WGCL

Investigative reporting rules. Wendy Saltzman’s name appears in five of WGCL’s eight nominations.  Dale Russell got nominated for his outstanding coverage of the fall of Glenn Richardson on WAGA.  Shawn Hoder and Ross McLaughlin got an investigative reporting nod at WXIA.

Jaye Watson, WXIA

“Interactivity” is a relatively new category.  WXIA got the only Atlanta news nomination.  Via the web, the station connected a soldier serving in Iraq with the high school graduation of his triplets.  Fox Sports South got the only other nomination in this category for an SEC football show.

Michelle Marsh, WGCL

“News Excellence” is a vague category which appears geared for head-to-head competition among news directors.  There are only two nominees:  WXIA news director Ellen Crooke, and WYFF news director Justin Antoniotti.

Jeff Dore, WSB

The General Assignment Reporter category is packed with worthy nominees:  Jaye Watson and Duffie Dixon of WXIA; Jeff Dore of WSB; and Michelle Marsh of WGCL.  Marsh is a nights-and-weekends 2009 newcomer to Atlanta.   The others are solid veterans.  It’s too bad they can’t all win this category.

Duffie Dixon, WXIA

No photographers were necessary, apparently, for WAGA’s “breaking news” nomination.  The station’s nod for flood coverage gives sole credit to two anchors and an executive producer.

Andrew Young, the former mayor / UN Ambassador turned TV documentarian, got more nominations than WSB anchor / diva Monica Pearson.  Jovita Moore, Pearson’s WSB heir-apparent, also got more nominations than Pearson.

The bloviating blogger who chews through untold bandwidth MBps bashing dimwitted “breaking news” gets a nomination at WXIA — in “spot news.”  Figures.

The belcher

Only once in my long and illustrated career have I ever belched in a TV news package.  It was a defining moment.  Herein lie the details:

This child is 20 years old now.

“You wouldn’t believe what they’re doing over there.”

The speaker was Rebecca Paul, the first president of the Georgia Lottery Corp.  The year was 1996.  Her office window overlooked a spot of land south of the under-c0nstruction Centennial Olympic Park.

“Coca Cola is building a theme park that’s entirely a tribute to its own product!”  OK, the quotes are based solely on my memory 14 years removed — close enough, and good enough for historians, but as verbatim quotes go, they’re suspect.

I was in Paul’s office on a story I can no longer remember (unlike the quotes!).  The Olympics were just days away from starting in Atlanta.  Somehow, WAGA was allowing me to continue a self-assigned feature segment called Closer Look.  Paul’s idea sank in and triggered a dim light bulb somewhere within the “story idea” quadrant near my brainpan.

Dressed to belch

Photog Rodney Hall and I arranged to spend all day at the place called Coca Cola Olympic City.  It had entertainment and such.  But mostly, it had Coca Cola — sold in machines for two bucks a pop.  At that time, the price was appalling to me.  As was the entire joint.

I never said that, of course, in the body of the piece — which to this day, remains one of my all-time career faves (thanks in no small part to Hall’s video and the editing genius of Andi Larner).

Allow me to point out some moments, which will not include the hairstyles or absurdly youthful appearance of the talent:

;53  The reporter casually attempts to buy a Coke from a machine, and discovers they cost two bucks

1:20  “the garbage can is sending out subliminal messages.”

1:40  The Coke machine spits out the reporter’s dollar bill.

1:42  “You would not call this crassly commercial?”  “Oh, no.  Not at all.”

1:52  “But if you were thirsty, you’d know what to do.”

2:40 “$165 in memorabilia.  We just came out for a hamburger.”

3:00 The belch.

You have to listen closely for the belch, which Larner was understandably disinclined to use.  The belch was naturally delivered after consuming a bottle of the prevalent product.  I made sure the Beta SP tape was rolling in Hall’s camera when it erupted.

Fueling up

The belch comes at the conclusion of a song sung by an insufferably cute group of youths, with the lyrics “we’re the Coca-Cola family.”  There are four beats punctuating the song following the line.  The belch is deftly but unmistakably mixed into the last of the four beats.  Go ahead and listen.  It’s a beautiful sound, as belches go.  More than anything else, it provided a sound that definitively symbolized the excess of the facility and its namesake product.

But except for Larner, Hall and a few people to whom I pointed it out, not a single person ever noticed.  Though I expected the question, nobody asked:  Did you belch loudly in that story, just before the outcue?

Why, yes.  Yes I did.

Well, that’s just gross.

H/T to Mitch Leff of Mitch’s Media Match for recently fishing this from a tape he’d kept in a drawer somewhere for lo these many years.  Thanks, Mitch.

Champagne and Billy Beer

In 1980, I asked Billy Carter to autograph a can of Billy Beer.  He obliged.  I still have it.  I’ve never asked another celebrity for an autograph.

Mr. Brinkley

In 1984, I approached David Brinkley in the lobby of the Savery Hotel in Des Moines IA and made him shake my hand.  Brinkley was nothing but gracious.   The trouble started when I began to speak:  “Hi Mr. Brinkley.   I just wanted you to know how much I admire you and blah blah blah…”   Because I realized I had nothing interesting to say to this broadcasting legend, I felt like an idiot.  The feeling lasted for a lifetime.

It also begat a personal rule:  Stay the hell away from celebrities, unless you have good reason to approach them.  If you’re interviewing them, that’s a good reason.  But avoid “hangin’ with celebs” -type photos, and skip the autographs.  I’ve never understood autograph collecting anyway, except as a source of revenue, or as a way to give children a connection to sports figures.

Dr. Lowery

But when I re-entered the news biz last year, I re-thought my approach to certain celebs.  In November, I began a collection of photos with civil rights figures.  When I explain to them that my wife is an admirer, they seem almost too happy to pose with my handmade sign.  In John Lewis and Joe Lowery’s cases, the photos followed interviews.  In Jesse Jackson’s case, he was prowling the WXIA newsroom following a talkback with MSNBC.

Rev. Jackson

But last week, I broke the rule that had protected me from the “look – I’m an idiot!” feeling when I spotted a low-grade yet very important Rock Star at Hartsfield – Jackson airport.

I was eating at Paschal’s with three WXIA coworkers.  They heard me say “holy shit!” when I spotted Bradford Cox.  “Who?” they asked.  “He’s the leader of Deerhunter.” I whispered.  “Deerhunter is amazing!”

“What?  He was in The Deerhunter?” one of them answered, too loudly, referring to the 1978 movie (that I’ve somehow managed to never see).   A tall, gaunt man with a bowl haircut, Cox was wandering nearby with a tray of chow, looking for a place to sit.  I was rapidly becoming self-conscious at my own shameless hero worship, and my coworkers deduced that I was on the brink of exhibiting foolhardy behavior.  They egged me on, of course.

Mr. Cox

I called the wife, who’d gone with me to see Deerhunter twice this year.  Though she lacks my obsession with the band, she appreciates Deerhunter’s music.

“Go talk to him,” she said as I watched Cox wedge himself onto a counter seat between two women.

“No.  I can’t.  I don’t talk to celebs unless I’ve got a reason.  I have no reason.”

“This is different.  He’s not a big rock star.  He’d probably be amused — having a buttoned-down old guy walk up to him in an airport.”

She convinced me.  So did the heckling I was getting from my colleagues, which was increasing in volume and frequency.  Though he had his back to us, we were close enough that Cox could have overheard it.  I had to make a move.  “Here I go,” I said.  “I’m going to say hi, then get a cup of coffee.”

He was wolfing down some collard greens.  “Hi Bradford.  Sorry to interrupt.  I’m Doug Richards.  I’m a huge admirer of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound (his side project),” I began.  Cox is all of 27 years old.  He looked up, beamed and stuck out his hand.  The two middle-aged women on either side of him did double-takes as I gave their awkward, lanky neighbor the star treatment.

“Anyway – I enjoyed the show you played with Spoon at the Tabernacle this month.  I saw you at 529 with the Black Lips earlier this year.  Great shows.” He nodded at the mention of each show.  “So nice to meet you,” he said, more graciously than I deserved, considering I’d interrupted his lunch.

It was time to retreat, and I moved into more familiar territory.  I pulled a WXIA business card:  “If you ever hear any news, please give me a call.”   Though he’s from Cobb County, I don’t think Cox recognized me as a local TV news goon.  I’d given him the card mostly as a joke, and as an exit strategy.  He looked at the card and nodded emphatically.  “I will.  Thanks for stopping by.”  He grinned and stuck out his hand  again.  I shook it and departed.

Given the potential for trouble, I felt pretty good about it.  In hindsight, I wish I’d told him that I’ve actually paid cash money for all but one of his albums.  Musicians usually like hearing that.

Mr. Gibson

I don’t expect to make a habit of such behavior.  My best celeb encounter took place in Omaha in 1999 or so, while there for a reunion of KMTV alums.  I was in a bar in the Old Market when one of them pointed out Bob Gibson sitting at the bar, alone, drinking a flute of champagne.  An Omaha native, Gibson is my all-time favorite athlete.

“Go talk to him!” they said.  “No!” I said, sticking to my rule and knowing Gibson’s reputation as a man who didn’t suffer fools gladly.  Once, when catcher Tim McCarver went to the mound to talk to Gibson during a rough inning, Gibson waved him off, growling “the only thing you know about pitching is you can’t hit it.”

Gibson got up and walked to the cashier, which was right in front of us.  On impulse, I jumped up, stood next to the cashier and said “I’d like to pay Mr. Gibson’s bar tab, please.”  He looked at me warily.  “I’m a fan,” I said, tempted to say much, much more about how awesome he is and blah blah blah.

“Well, if I’d know somebody else was buying, I’d have had a few more,” Gibson said affably.  He thanked me, shook my hand and left.  The tab was less than fifteen dollars.

It was a good investment in my own dignity.