Sunday, January 6, 2013

And where is he now?

Just in case anyone is actually still reading this, here's a quick update on my whereabouts:

For three years, I pursued commercial work as an independent video producer-editor-graphics artist.

Since January 2012, I have been producing, reporting, shooting and editing for the special projects unit of KSL-TV.

Friday, June 18, 2010

In case anyone's looking for it, the original disappeared, due to the fact that the hosting service is MIA in Canada. I transferred the domain and consolidate the site at . Look for "links."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Mean People Actually Read This?

I originally posted this blog as an online writing sample. Part of a futile attempt to secure employment in another newsroom.

It came to my attention this week that people are actually reading this. So maybe I should write something.

How 'bout a Where-Is-He-Now.

I've spent the past two years as a freelance producer and editor. The bulk of my work has been for the VA, where I re-educated myself on the finer points of Avid's Media Composer.

Since the end of 2009, I've partnered with other downsized comrades, installed a Final Cut edit suite in our spare bedroom and started selling documentary-style marketing videos for companies and nonprofits. And we actually have some clients. (Go to Peter Rosen Productions LLC)

I'm a producer, writer, editor, graphics artist, and occasional music composer.

Feature reporting isn't what it used to be.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How Old Do You Feel?

Produced, edited and scored by Peter Rosen. Photographed by Matt Gephardt and various other photojournalists.

KUTV'S Man in Havana

I've never met Fidel Castro.

But I'm only one degree of separation away from him.

I’ve met Evelio, a translator and English teacher, who was once called upon to translate for the Cuban President.

"I peed in my pants," he said.

And at the Sundance Film Festival, I interviewed Oliver Stone, who spent some time with Castro while filming his documentary "Looking for Fidel."

Stone said Castro didn't impress him as a ruthless dictator, but "a very warm, very bright, very driven man, very moral man..."

The film was temporarily shelved after Cuba jailed dozens of dissidents in 2003.

I've been to Cuba twice. Once on a cultural exchange trip, once to go to music school.

And I never really felt like I was behind enemy lines.

Between music classes, I shot a short feature story for KUTV...and it was a clandestine operation.

I used an inconspicuous home video camera. I hid my tripod in a book bag. And when a security guard approached, I stopped tape and moved on.

Not because I thought I’d end up in a jail cell with the dissidents, but because I didn't have a journalist's visa or permission from the music conservatory bureaucracy and I was afraid someone might confiscate equipment or tape.

I didn’t really see much of Castro.

The late revolutionary Che Guevara was everywhere. On buildings, billboards, t-shirts.

At the Museum of the Revolution, in a glass case, I saw Che's socks.

But I never saw Castro’s socks.

I saw a picture of him in our music rehearsal room.

And in journalist Jorge Miyare's (another one degree connection) parent's house.
The same way many Utah homes feature images of the Salt Lake Temple, this one had Fidel and Che, framed, side by side.

And sightings of Castro, himself, people said, were rare. He shuffled between several residences, perhaps to avoid poisoned cigars and exploding mollusks, so no one could say where he was at any given time.

Evelio said Cuba had two problems.

The second was Castro's politics. That, he said, was bad. (He used a different word.)

The first problem was the economy.

Cuba didn't feel like a Forbidden Island.

It felt like a very poor one.

Where being called "fat," we were warned, was a complement. (Hint: Don't go to Cuba for the food.)

Where buildings were falling apart. One did, in fact, a few feet away from me. The cornice of a decrepit Old Havana high rise collapsed onto the street. Luckily, someone's parked car broke the fall.

A country where, by necessity, car owners drove crumbling American collectibles.

Where everyone seemed anxious to attach themselves to Americans and their money. After one double date, a fellow American got a marriage proposal from a Cuban Olympic silver medalist.

People didn’t seem to be as eager for an end to Castro’s rule, as they did for an end to the American embargo.

The last time I was in Cuba and saw Fidel Castro, he seemed in fine health.

That was in the Havana airport, waiting (hours) to pass through immigration. Castro was on the TV, lecturing to the people.

Also in line was a Californian who had a Cuban girlfriend and child and visited often.

This, he explained, was Castro's regular Friday night broadcast.

It was followed by the Friday night movie. Often an off-the-new release-shelf American VHS tape. Everyone, he said, tuned in. For a brief escape from reality.
Though sometimes, he said, Castro went on (as he had a reputation for doing) for so long, he preempted the movie.

And left an entire country crestfallen.

Cubans weren’t concerned about Castro.

They just wanted to watch a movie.

The Cult of Little Marcy

Just about everyone who visits artist William Robbins' house is exposed -- I think that's the proper term -- to "Little Marcy."

Even though it undoubtedly makes Robbins' wife cringe, "I've introduced everyone to the Cult of Marcy."

"It's an acquired taste," he says.

Little Marcy is Marcy Tigner, an inspirational trombonist who wanted to sing the gospel. She went through three voice teachers before her husband suggested that, rather than try to change her very childlike voice, she
exploit it. With the assistance of Miss America 1965, she developed a Christian ventriloquism act.

Little Marcy, Tigner's inner wooden child, sings gospel favorites like, "When Mr. Satan Knocks at My Heart's Door."

And that makes Robbins smile.

"I can't explain it. As soon as I saw Marcy going through the thrift store, I smiled. I thought, this was great. It's almost genetic."

I can see the attraction. Because I've seen Robbins' work.

Last year we took a Fresh Look at a local drive-through art gallery where Robbins was exhibiting his art.

Like a fiberglass zombie minibar with illuminated brains.

An Andy Warhol Pez dispenser.

And a painting of a Metrosexual Frankenstein. (The monster with a really nice haircut.)

At home, his living room TV is filled with fish.

And a tree grows out of his son's bedroom dresser.

You get the idea.

That's why when Robbins, a vinylphile, leafs through musty stacks of thrift shop LPs, he snaps up treasures like "Music for Bachelors," "Archie and Meatheads Best Arguments," "Stop Smoking and Overeating with Ravine," the Bourbon Street chaplain and auto dealer duo, "Bob and Fred," and, a Cold War enthusiast's must-have, "The Coming War with Russia." *

(If you enjoy these musical and spoken word recordings, you might like to browse this blog.)

You can hear selections from Robbins' record collection on this Fresh Look on Life.

And then maybe you, too, will be indoctrinated into the Cult of Marcy.

*In 2001, Jack Van Impe, the televangelist who made this record, was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for astrophysics for the assertion that black holes fulfill the technical requirements to be the location of Hell.

Postscript: February 14, I phoned Robbins to tell him the airdate for this story. He told me that morning he and his wife had celebrated his son's birthday. And just 20 minutes before I called, his wife had given birth to a little girl. That's some Valentine's Day.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Holy Grail is in West Valley City

I thought it was just a big pile of dirt and garbage. And maybe a feature story. But I had no idea.

Several years ago, every day driving to and from work at the old KUTV studios in West Valley City, I passed a field of dreams. An empty weed-strewn lot. What remained of a 50-year-old garbage dump.

There they were every morning and every evening. And during some of the hottest days of the year. Armed with shovels and metal detectors. Treasure hunters prospecting for antique bottles.

Like Brandy. Blonde and 20-ish and covered with a thin veneer of dump dirt.

Photographer Adam Eakle and I decided to make a story out of our neighborhood dirt pile. And she was our interview subject.

Alongside a half-dozen other dirty souls, Brandy spent her days looking for old glass. Sorting marbles and bottles, she said, from false teeth and toilets.

"I've done it like like a job every day. I'm here at eight o'clock in the morning until sundown."

So dedicated a digger, she was, Brandy said she was out there with shovel and child when her water broke.

Brandy was more than willing to show us around the dump, but we could tell not everyone wanted the media exposing their hunting grounds.

"People are weird out here," she said, "They really get 'you jumped in my hole, you got that from my hole.' I mean it's seriously, it gets bad out here. It's like gold mining, it is. It gets bad."

She pointed out a worn, thin man. He was the best bottle digger of the dirt pile. At one point he walked over, look at us, kicked the dirt, and walked away.

Looking for other interviews, we approached a couple men screening dirt on the other side of the field. The more heavyset of the two, it turned out, was a preacher. A man of God and bottles.

He didn't want to be interviewed and tried to convince us not to air our story and share their garbage dump with the world.

He'd make a deal with us.

Hold the story a few months and he'd grant an interview and tell us what he was really digging for.


He leaned in, lowered his voice, and whispered with all apparent seriousness, "The Holy Grail."

I can't believe that he believed what he was telling me. But I think he believed that we believed it.

Brandy kept digging.

"My mom just looks at me and shakes her head. I come home all filthy. My nails are dirty, she's like where's my little girl," she said. "I need this dump over. I need to get a job."

A few weeks later the dump was over.

In preparation for development, the property owners fenced off the lot and the bottle diggers disappeared. Brandy among them.

But, even though Dan Brown's never said so, could the best treasure of all still be under the dirt?

You'll have to go ask the preacher.