Saturday, February 16, 2008

Speaking of Valentine's Day

I took this photo on Valentine’s Day 1996. It’s my daughter Chloe’s birthday. It reminded me that I experienced the entire world through a viewfinder for almost 10 years. In fact, I cut both of my kids’ umbilical cords peering through a lens. When my son Dylan was born, I was so excited with the tape that I showed it to everyone. Kim was still in the hospital. When I told her she said, “I better not be in that video!” I assured her she wasn’t. When I took another look I discovered she was definitely the star of the show. I had such tunnel vision with the birth of my son that I didn’t see her in the tape at all. It’s no wonder she eventually left me.

I was a legal videographer. I taped depositions for lawyers. I had to watch autopsies, tape children that were dying from AIDS or sexually molested by their parents.

I crawled into a bed with a man suffering from mesothelioma until his hospice nurse told us he had to rest. We came back the next morning to find that he had died. All the attorney could say was, “Damn, now we can’t finish the depo.”

I once flew from Bethalto, IL to West Virginia in a chartered plane through a violent storm. The depo was canceled because a commercial flight from Chicago one of the attorney’s had booked was grounded. On our way back at about 30,000 feet the court reporter I was traveling with pointed out the window at a wing. She wanted to know if it was supposed to ice up like that. I was so scared I couldn’t drink the booze the lawyers had provided. It’s strange but if you're convinced you’re about to die you want to be totally lucid.

I taped a lot of high profile cases. I played the tapes the public didn’t get to see of the 4th of July fireworks barge that exploded in Alton, IL. 2 people died and I believe the display was canceled that year. I also video taped the depositions of the fireworks manufacturers. I learned a lot about computer synchronization of fireworks with music.

Probably the strangest case I was part of was the Russell Bliss trial. Bliss was the man that single handedly wiped the town of Times Beach, MO from the map. He had 2 businesses. One was waste disposal and the other was spraying dirt roads with oil to keep the dust down. He would spray the roads with used oil. Instead of disposing of the hazardous waste properly he would mix it into his oil. Bliss mixed dioxin in with oil and sprayed all the roads in Times Beach. He did this on Hall Street in North St. Louis too but no one ever talks about it. He had 3 grades of oil and would determine their grade by taste. Not surprisingly, he died from cancer. The EPA built a big incinerator where the town used to be and burned all the soil. It’s supposed to be clean now and I bet you could buy land there cheap.


tonpatti said...

If I ever get cancer I'll blame Times Beach. I remember hanging out with Biker friends of Don Belk's there. I'll never understand why bikers were always so gentle and kind to me.

Once I remember vividly a trip to Times Beach with Tracy and Patrick and a few others. When Don Belk got there some biker handed him a pill before he even said hello and Don popped it in his mouth without even looking at it.

I saw him do it and thought nothing of it, but Tracy was most impressed and told the story over and over. He loved Don Belk.

Doggie said...

Don would call us unexpectedly and it would put the fear of God into us. He was crazy at times and probably did time. His brother Jeff did. He was nostalgic and overly sentimental at times and he was an important part of my childhood. He is why I got my first guitar. If I get the nerve I'll tell about our run in with the law when we were in 6th grade. I'll bet you didn't know I was on probation until I was 18!

Doggie said...

Our band played at someone's house down there on the river. A friend of Don's took a bunch of TVs we bought at a Vet's Village and turned them into oscilloscopes that were plugged into our amps. The patterns responded to our individual parts. These people weren't dummies. We were also using strobe lights and smoke machines.

Doggie said...

Not to mention flash paper and a flash powder bomb. I think we were already doing Ronald Reagan blowing up the world.

rico said...

david you and don stole bikes! haha i remember being in times beach with don and pat and linda freeland(mcdirty) and we lit a volkswagon on fire and pushed it off a cliff, probably tripping