GREENVILLE, S.C. — Television news is inherently a team sport. Reporters are nothing without their photographer partners, and the visual stories created in the field are nothing without the teams of producers who craft them into something larger — a newscast, a series, a documentary.
One of the most high-functioning and family-like teams on which I’ve played was in my early twenties, in South Carolina. It was on that team that I was first given a chance to cover politics with regularity. And South Carolina is a place that’s shaped my perspective in indescribable ways.
I moved away five years ago after a couple memory-packed years here, and hadn’t returned until yesterday.
My photographer pal Little Lost Robot, his wife and his baby came into Austin today to hang out and explore ye old city. A few years ago, Robot and I worked together in South Carolina as a reporter-photographer team, cruising around the city looking for news and angrily screaming things out the car window like WE’RE YOUR FRIEND FOUR! (Our call letters were W-Y-F-F).
The first day Robot and I worked together, he stood on the opposite side of an intersection from me and matter-of-factly said there was a dead cat next to him. Just when I was convinced he was joking, he picked up the cat body, clearly in deep stages of rigor mortis, and held onto it by its tail just to freak me out further.
We’ve since both wound up in Texas (he’s in Houston), so the shenanigans can continue. But being reunited reminded me of the wackiest (and perhaps awesomest) dude we met in our reporting adventures: RIPPIN’ RICHIE. Rippin’ Richie is a neo-conservative social-libertarian break dancing fool. He would take on PETA and other liberal groups by going to their rallies and challenging protesters with break dance-off’s. His method of political persuasion was so interesting we HAD TO do a story about him. I still have it on tape somewhere, but it’s not available anymore on the WYFF website. Robot put it this way, three years ago:
He lives here in Greenville, sells “how to pop-n-lock” DVDs online, and occasionally breakdances out his political views in front of PETA activists and anti-war protestors.
Today I learned Rippin Richie has since started an 80’s cover band that became one of the hippest acts in Greenville. I believe it is called RetroVertigo. Leave it to Rippin Richie to continue reinventing himself. He’s one of the smoothest dancers around.