Parting Glances: The cause, three alarm . . .

Charles Alexander
By | 2007-08-16T09:00:00-04:00 August 16th, 2007|Opinions|

The occasion, too good to resist. Media at the ready. TV channel cameras nearby. Reporters handy. Well, why not? Ready for my close up . . . Sunset Boulevard redux . . . 15 Minutes of Fame Dep’t.
“There, on the sixth floor!” I point out to a photographer as I sit watching on my 10-speed, secondhand Schwinn. (I’m doing my daily 15 mile loop-the-loop.) “That’s where my art history class met when I attended Cass Tech way back when. Memories. Memories.”
As smoke, water, and debris pour from just-shattered windows, a noonday dozen of spectators gathers below, watching the four-story blaze being fought by teams of energetic fire fighters. (Two suffer from smoke inhalation; no fatalities.)
“You’re a Cass grad?” asks the attractive photographer busy snapping pictures with her expensive digital camera and voracious photo lens. “Indeed. 50 years ago. This building was my home away from home. I’m Charles. I write for Between The Lines.”
She blinks like a shutter. “Let my assistant get a shot of you on your bike. Wait here. You should talk to our reporter. I’m Mandi. Tell BTL’s Jan and Susan hi.” Small world . . .
“Lotsa old vibes, huh?” says a mild-mannered, middle-aged Clark Kent lookalike. My answer takes minutes to unspool. [What a SWELL school Cass Tech was in ’55. An art folio got you into ANY art school in the country. My homeroom teacher designed the bridge between Cass and Commerce High — long gone, torn down for an expressway. LILY TOMLIN graduated right after me. Our MAYOR . . .] “Great!” says Clark.
I wholeheartedly agree.
Waiting a judicious minute or two, I move in on Channel 4. Realizing my presence dovetails neatly with the action, the camera man lets his camera roll. I repeat my spiel, embellishing a tad. [I’m sure Cass Tech’s tradition of EXCELLENCE is being GLORIOUSLY carried on at the new $125 million school next door. More than likely old CT will have to be RAZED.] “Cut! Thanks, Pops! Watch News at six.”
It’s obvious to me I’m making a GRAND impression as a personage of historical, educational, theatrical acumen (or, even as a plain old neighborhood crank on a bike) as the Channel 2 Fox News cameraman eyes me for my third impromptu cinematic subset. I go all out. Full profile. Charisma to spare.
I’m also tempted to tell the cameraman I’m buddy-buddy with TV2 anchor Charles Pugh [who I just saw last weekend biking about Comerica Stadium with an attractive, youthfully agile, pace-keeping recycling companion]. As Charles no doubt will be seeing clips of me — “Hey! I know that . . . er, guy!” I refrain — decorously, as a fellow recycler — from blatant name dropping.
As the fire seems now under control, and I’ve performed what I feel is memorable civic duty for posterity, I bike on, replaying in my head 15 minutes x 3 = BIG D FAME! and imagining what “celebrity” coverage I’ll get.
The envelope, please . . .
For those tempted to woo-woo the media — from motivation of misguided bravura or sincere stupidity — I report: 1) one awestruck telephone call (collect) from an acquaintance doing time for unpaid traffic tickets; 2) ten seconds on Channel 4, with sound byte, “Looks like the building will have to be RAZED,” 3) five seconds on Channel 2 — are you counting? — “LILY TOMLIN graduated after me”; 4) scattered next-day applause from porch sitters as I bike by, and 5) a FANTASTIC Free Press patriarchal shot of me looking surprisingly BUTCH and ATHLETIC, my name spelled correctly. Quote: “It’s a sad, sad occasion.”
Understatement of the year.

About the Author:

Charles Alexander