“Umm, yeah, I’ll have a raspberry mocha frappuccino, please.”

I swear, I usually just drink plain old coffee or tea, and the baristas at my neighborhood Starbucks could confirm this. I know every one of them, although know no names.

“Don’t worry about it, man,” he said as I pulled out my wallet. He looked worn and weary, yet here he was trying his damnedest to be kind.

Last night I was driving home from work, passing through downtown, when I almost got in a terrible car accident. I was driving 30 mph through a light that had been green for at least 10 seconds. A SUV suddenly appeared to my left, zooming at 50mph+ through a red light. I jammed my foot on the brake, immediately turning the wheel very slightly toward the left and managed to NOT lock up my wheels and avoid the asshole by about a foot. I have no idea how I was that focused at 10:30pm at night.

Two completely different events, but both reminders of life good and bad.

Recent multimedia

Here is a multimedia project from Cornerstone Festival 2007 near Bushnell, Ill. that I finished several weeks ago. I spent the day out there shooting both stills and video, wandering around the Christian music festival that attracts 20,000 kids each year.

Download the high quality H.264 Quicktime version (45mb)
Alternative Flash version

I also produced a sound-slideshow on the John S. Rhodell Brewery down on the Peoria riverfront. The owner has a thick Scottish brogue, which made recording him all the more fun.

The John S. Rhodell Brewery


I groused about my the July 3rd festivities in Chicago… but the 4th single-handedly made the trip worthwhile. First stop? Lincoln Park and Lakeview with old college friends Bo and Wallis.

The guy between Bo and I actually snuck into the shot on purpose. As soon as the flash popped, the bike dude rode past and cackled “I’m in your picture!”

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Happy 3rd

Things improved the farther you went from Taste. Sure, millions are milling all around you. Perhaps the concert and fireworks show will be worth the hassle. I intended to meet up with a new friend, but that fell apart at the last minute. So I wandered alone, quickly realizing that I am THE LAST SINGLE MAN IN CHICAGO.

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My first Taste

And so God looked down on the throngs entering Grant Park and did NOT bless them. He instead thought them stupid. Allegedly, the Taste of Chicago allows people to sample dozens of types of cuisine. But when you’re inappropriately pressed into a man’s armpit while navigating between food booths, you start to lose your appetite. And could we move it to a month other than July, please?

SIDENOTE: Over one hundred Taste attendees grew sick afterwards, likely stemming from a hummus dish. Mmmm.

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Riding Amtrak

“Why can’t everyone just relax more?” asks the grandmotherly African-American woman seated next to me. “Don’t be so uptight… go with the flow.” This is said while several passengers in front of us complain loudly about train delays, the crowded train, and about their generally horrible lives.

I’ve never been to Chicago in the middle of summer; so why not now? I tell the lady that I’m going to see the fireworks and eat at the Taste of Chicago tonight. “My time has passed for that,” she murmurs. “I hung up my dancing shoes a long time ago.” After repeatedly telling me to be careful, I help her off the train and hand her the enormous suitcase she points at. I receive several hugs in return.

A Native-American man sits at my table in the observation car, with a worn set of headphones around his neck and a can of Pepsi in his hand. Conversation ensues, and by the time the observation car closes, I’ve learned that he’s in his 50s, is returning from San Antonio where he attended a wedding, and that he has a long history with alcohol. His head shakes as he tells me these things. There’s a lot to be learned if you aren’t too afraid of people.

On the train back to Peoria, there was even more excitement. I encounter complications again with making my train on-time (my fault) and missed several while waiting in line for ticket changes. As soon as I find a seat on the train, I hear yelling. “Fuck” is hurled like a projectile, with force and menace between two young men as they each escalate the tension higher and higher. Everyone else grows eerily silent, pretending that everything is okay. It lasts 60 seconds, but leaves most of the car a bit rattled.

A 20-year-old boy with a British accent starts to flirt with two overly-done girls behind him. He tells a story of his boyhood in Chicagoland, his move to England and the fact that he leads an “up and coming band.” The girls trip over themselves as they each attempt to impress, an escalation really not too different from the earlier altercation. “I need a whole orchestra at my disposal,” he says with resignation. “It’s frustrating when you can do it all yourself but you need other people.” The boy eventually makes himself inaccessible through this boasting and the girls settle on taking self-portraits the entire ride back.

I can’t remember having any of this happen on airline flights.

I’m kinda back.

So we’ve endured the unprecedented release of the “Jesus Phone” and now it’s Independence Day Eve. I entertained thoughts of staying in Peoria, relaxing and doing “not much” on my three-day weekend. But since I love torture, I’m now on a train bound for Chicago. In a few hours I’ll be thrust into the madness of Taste of Chicago, with their big fireworks show tonight.

Tell me how you’ll be spending the next few days.


I’ve been busy enough that I’m forgetting to eat enough meals each day, much less take time to do anything but work work WORK. Loads of multimedia projects in the works, and I should be back with you in a few days. Honest.

I’m crappin’ coffee. (update: no longer!)

The Ring of Truth

The Ring of TruthIn the lobby of our complex at One News Plaza, high above the Illinois River, a gigantic brass bell once hung from the wall to remind visitors to James S. Copley‘s principle to uphold great journalism by “ringing” a bell to inform and educate the public.

This credo was best represented in a yearly competition among the Copley papers, from the large San Diego Union-Tribune to the small Ohio dailies. Each submits a very select number of articles, photographs and designs to be judged, and the winners are awarded very nice monetary prizes. Even a mid-sized paper like the Journal Star doesn’t always win an award in each category every year. It’s a really great incentive, a rarity among newspaper chains.

One of mine actually won. A photograph of a couple in the twilight of their lives, dying together.

But now we’re no longer a Copley paper, and the suits back in San Diego have no interest in getting their bell back. The Journal Star has put it up for auction to any employee wishing to take it home.

Bidding is currently at $100, ending Friday. What better prize is there than a 300-pound brass bell?


The horrible smell of a burning house is unique.

A campfire has a singular smell, a pleasant aroma of burning timber. But a house, it has wood and much more. You could say that the foul smell of memories makes it different, but I’m sure that most experts would cite the combustion of plastics, paint and rubber that makes a house fire smell so terribly disturbing.

When waking at 3:30am to that smell, it’s hard to ignore. Someone’s house is burning, but is it yours? I walk around my house looking out of windows and see nothing. There’s a glow in the sky, but it seems to be that perpetual orange that cities throw into the night.

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Four Alarm Fire Near Bradley University (WEEK-TV)

I feel a bit derelict in duty, you might say. You know, especially since it was just a few blocks from my house. We at the Journal Star missed the entire thing, thanks to the lack of a uber-early morning shift. The first photog arrives at 7:30am, with the last leaving at 10pm. WEEK-TV has a 4am shift, fitting perfectly with this. Bah.


After nearly a month of being negligent with my Netflix subscription, I’m back! May was a difficult month, but I’m ready to start blowing through a queue full of great flicks. Suggestions?

And in case you never noticed, at the bottom of this page are quite a few links that change almost daily. These are the things I spent my time reading. And so should you.