Monthly Archives: September 2011

Millions  lose power as far south as Baja Mexico, north to Orange County, and east to Arizona, after Operation error. What do you do during a black out? In the age of technology I feel helpless. I don’t have the world at the tip of my fingers.  I was in the Southwestern College Sun News Room when it happened. Editing a paper. I don’t recall being really effected by a black out until now. The little information I got came from tweets from the newsroom and AM 600, NPR 8.95 didn’t work.

Our Journalistic instincts kick it as a couple of us find a story. Looking for immediate effects of the blackout. The library, the Ceazar E. Chavez building, and cafeteria were evacuated. A stroll around campus reveals people dealing with the blackout within the first hour.

At 7:49 I hear news of power back on in Laguna Miguel and also in eastern TJ and parts of Bonita.

The Sun News Editor and I go to a coffee cart on campus to see immediate effects. The register didn’t work. And the shop had a good amount of people beginning to form a line. I walk around school to see any developing stories. I got a chance to see the build up at the bus stops. There was a SWCPD cop car in front of the Caesar E Chavez Building.  There was a woman stuck in the elevator, the officers had just got her out. One of them had a bag of prying looking tools. They declined to give a statement. Members of the ASO began to put up “ No Class signs”

When I started making my way home I got my chance to listen to the radio. I was listening to AM 600 they were talking about how many people being effect. The highways were massively clogged full of drivers making their way home early. My Mom had to wait in Sorrento Valley for a few hours before she could get home. A mini panic seemed to be induced on the streets. There were several mini collisions at stoplights that didn’t work.

There was a sudden urge to get in contact with loved ones.  Stores were closing.

There were a massive amount of people at the bus stop at the intersection of H street and Broadway in Chula Vista. I seemed to get a taste of an apocalyptic situation. The blackouts happened so close to the anniversary of 9/11 people though of a terrorist attack.  This though never crossed my mind.

Luckily my family had a crank radio and a couple lanterns, we were set. Not knowing how long the power would be out we tried to prepare. My dad pulled out the shotgun and loaded it. This would be the time people could start trouble.

My neighborhood was a buzz, all the character from my hood where out. I walked down my street, AM 600 echoed throughout people trying to get the most up to dat news on the situation.  On my walk I witness two people talking from vehicle to vehicle one yells to the other, “ Be safe lock and load.”  San Diego is mildly tempered enough I wasn’t worried.

My power came on around 10:00 PM.  I enjoyed being reminded of how much we depend on electricity and it was a great experience to hear the story unfolding. Reporters reporting on breaking news, AWESOME.  Time to forget about the black out now. Props to SDG&E for getting the power back up.

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Tsuneo Goda, creator of Domo signs and doodles as autograph hunters present pictures and paper to him, outside the Omni Hotel in Downtown San Diego Comic Con weekend

When Comic Con is in town you can expect a few things, nerds, costumes, shwagg and the endless assortment of people from around the country and world. Along with the Con come celebrities promoting their new films and tv shows. Wherever they go they are followed.

Not everyone thinks of paparazzi and autograph hunters during those four days in July, but they are there in force, capturing images and getting signatures from the celebs.

There are varying degrees of this “celebrity media” we can call it. In this small community there are three main groups. There is the fan, the person that loves the show or movie and just wants a glimpse of their favorite actor, maybe snap a picture or get an autograph if they are lucky.

Then there are the Autograph Hunters or, “Graphers” as they are known. These people carry around headshots and screenshots of just about every actor in Hollywood if not that then at the least photo paper, they are always armed with a Sharpie.

These Graphers are trained in the art of talking to the celebs and getting them to sign as much of their stuff as possible. Some of them are a one-man band others work in teams, a couple of people getting 5 signatures each multiplies profit.

Outside of the Omni Hotel Downtown San Diego Tsuneo Goda creator of Domo, the stop motion mascot on Japan‘s NHK television station, walked out to be greeted by over ten Graphers with stacks of Domo shots to be autographed.

“Goda Please.”, “Right here Goda”, “One more Goda”. Faced with a wall of people and pictures of his own creation in his face Goda was very gracious and signed autographs and penned Domo caricatures for a good 15 minutes.

I got a chance to speak to one of the Grapher by the name of Rich, he started collecting autographs as a hobby in Hollywood and was angered by forgeries so he kept collecting and selling. He recalled his first signature, belonging to Sandy Duncan, on a playbill from her play. Among other high profile autographs he has got were Madonna, Oprah, and Clint Eastwood. When asked about this “Celebrity Media community” he said, “ It is a very backstabbing Community”, he didn’t elaborate and went on to say that the paparazzi ruin it for the Graphers.

The in your face attitude of some of the Paparazzi is whatt ruins it for the intimate signing moments of the grapher. They take stills and video, some of them are keeping it for their own sites and Youtube accounts, or are contracted or freelance for large celebrity photo firms.  During the commotion among the Graphers I spotted what looked to be a veteran paparazzi using his cameras as a lethal weapon, shooting Conan O’Brian with efficiency as he passed by the ball of people surrounding Goda and slipped in unnoticed into the Omni.

I quickly introduced myself and asked him a couple questions. He went by the alias of Tom Hardy and worked for Bauer and Griffin photo agency. He had two Canon DSLRs around his neck equipped with flashes one telephoto lens and the other a wide angle zoom. He didn’t jump at any miscellaneous celeb (there were a lot) the only ones he would bother taking a photo of were the ones, “That will make me more than 2 bucks in china.” he said. I could tell he has been doing this for a while. When I asked whose photos are selling at he highest rate the answer wasn’t clear, but Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart could fetch a fair price along with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.  Earlier that day he said he had gotten photos of the Twilight stars by jumping the barricade next to the panel rooms behind the Convention Center with no repercussions, not confirmed.

“Rob and Kristen dissed their fans, Most celebs are really cool they come out and greet their fans, give autographs and do photos,” Hardy said, “Rob and Kristen act like they hate it, the own people that support them, and the irony in this is it drives up the price of photos for paparazzi.”

It was a vicious profitable circle. Being a small community there had to be some sort of unspoken rules Hardy only had two he could think of, “Keep your distance if you can and always be respectful.” The paparazzi and celebrity have a unique relationship they are, in a sense co-worker, all the “papz” want are a nice photo of the celeb. If they cooperate the celeb get publicity and the “pap” gets paid. “The stuff you see in the magazines is bright happy smiling stuff and that’s what they want,” Hardy said, “if they are looking down all pissed off it’s not going to make you a ton of money.” And with that he disappeared into the massive crowd in Downtown, off to shoot some more celebs and get another paycheck.

Tom was a professional paparazzi, JC Playford based out of San Diego on the other hand is an independent citizen Journalist shooting video and crusading for our first amendment rights. JC was at the con because he free-lances for variety of organizations including his own Youtube account Newsnowsandiego and TMZ. Playford wasn’t your run of the mill paparazzi, a self proclaimed “old jarhead”, with long blonde hair and shirt with the body of a woman in an American flag Bikini (you know the ones), he isn’t scared to stir things up a bit with SDPD, with whom he is very familiar with, and was most definitely not afraid of the convention security. He has served his country as a Marine and deserves his rights. JC’s number one rule is “Go get it on film,” and he will do whatever it takes. He has been arrested many times and has had seven of his camera taken away by police by exercising his first amendment right. here you can see one of his arrests he filmed himself. “ The First Amendment doesn’t exist in San Diego,” Playford says, “If you don’t use it you lose it.”