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Old 08-22-2012, 09:39 AM   #1
douglasgraham OP
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Politics, Global Warming the Bus and My Bike

Dateline: All Over the Fucking Mid-Atlantic

By “moto” photojournalist Douglas Graham

I had a moment this summer when I pulled over on one of those really hot days and just hated my bike! I had put in a little over 500 miles by midday in 98-degree heat and I wanted AC. It’s the political crazy season and I’ve been living on my motorcycle since May and I’ve loaded thousands of miles on to the little Kawasaki’s odometer.





I’ve tried everything this summer to stay cool from packing my pockets with ice to soaking my clothes with cool water before hitting the road. I even put my helmet in one of those bag ice coolers while I had lunch at a roadside dinner! I’ve got some funny looks when I pulled my helmet out of there after lunch.



It’s been hard to stay focused on politics and my work with the travel being so difficult this summer but then I ran across an article that this has been the hottest year on record I felt a little better. I thought I might be getting soft in my old age.








It’s cooled down now and I’ve been on the Obama and the Romney campaign buses for a few weeks.









As always the cooler weather and being assigned to be one of the “boys on the bus” have put my foul riding mood into perspective. A little time away from the motorcycle is all it took. Of course being crammed onto the bus for 9 to 10 hour days with 15 or so really grumpy photographers will put things into perspective.










You spend a lot of time pushing, shoving and trying to get up front for a stupid podium photo or some event that is so scripted the only thing that’s lacking is a director and a movie camera. Planned spontaneity is the only way to describe it.








I’m back on my V and on the road now until the National Conventions and with Virginia being a huge player most of my work will be day trips close to home or over nights where I can camp.












I just returned from Floyd Virginia where former Governor Tim Kaine was stumping for his run for an open seat in the U.S. Senate. He was at the Floyd Country Store meeting and greeting potential voters and even got up on stage and played his harmonica for a packed house.






No script here just real life unfolding before my eyes.

Shangri-La.

I’ve got to get started on my new flotation device for the Versys as I pull out Tomorrow for Tampa and the GOP National Convention……also known as Hurricane Coverage! Stay tuned for a wild ride in the National Political secne and one huge ass storm.

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Old 08-22-2012, 11:27 AM   #2
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:07 PM   #3
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:03 PM   #4
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Tampa has not had a bad storm in over 80 years….I’m riding my motorcycle to Tampa to cover the GOP National Convention for my publication…….people are still trying to decide if and when it will hit or if it will hit Florida at all. Trust me it’s going to slam right into Tampa because Ill be there on my motorcycle.



"Forecasters Say Hurricane Isaac Could be Another Katrina in Tampa, Florida"



I’ve already got the phone calls from three friends. I’m smiling, as it’s always the same. “Are you crazy?” “You’re going where?” “Your not going on your bike are you?” “Do you know what’s going on in that country”, etc., etc. This time it’s the weather. It’s hard for them to get their head around a career that sends you to places when things are at there worst. I’ve done this a long time and this in not my first hurricane. It is my first national convention with a hurricane as one of the bigger guest stealing the headlines.

It’s late and I can’t sleep so I’m posting up here. I’m packed. Lots of shit on the bike this trip. But it’s all going to be gear Ill need. I’m going to be on the road for three weeks straight. Most of the big heavy stuff used to cover big venue events is already shipped. Long glass, mounting plates, cables etc., etc. but I have my camera kit in a waterproof case. Long zoom; short zoom two DSLR’s and a digital range finder with a few fixed lenses. Ill be covering a few events on the way down plus I’m going to document this trip as much as I can.



Adopting a common sense approach when deciding on the gear your baby will carry is the best approach. There are certain things you definitely need and a lot of things that could be considered “nice to have” on a long ride, the deciding factor more often then not being the space available. One way to do this if you’re not a seasoned pro is to get everything together that you would like to take and halving it. This might seem a little crazy but you will be amazed at how little you need to carry to survive in comfort. Take my Aerostich darien light suit. Ill-use that as my storm coverage gear instead of carrying extra Gore-Tex. Simple little things make a big difference.






It’s also imperative to buy the best gear you can afford. A guy once told me that it was no such thing as bad weather only bad gear. He is so right. Always spend your big bucks on the best helmet and protective riding gear.



Ill be in GA tomorrow and then push to FLA by Saturday. The convention starts Monday and the storm is projected to make landfall Tuesday. Ill post up if I can with photos.

Happy Trails I’m out.
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Old 08-23-2012, 07:15 PM   #5
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Made it to Ogeechee River in Georgia about 3 hours ago. Had dinner and a little whisky and just enjoying the nice weather and the perfect ride down today. Just beautiful back roads and a little super slab thrown in to make time.







Looks like that old storm is just getting bigger and bigger and predictions are all pointing at Tampa getting the crap kicked out it.

O boy.

I talked with one of my photo colleges today and he says the house we rented in Tampa has a 2nd floor so no evacuation for the photo staff even if officials say to leave. My storm kit has two bottles of whisky, four big garbage bags a roll of duct tape and a Nikon Pro Service umbrella so I’m ready! Bring it on, Id rather cover the storm then the dam politico’s anyway, I’ve had a belly full of their hot air all year long.

I’ve got a small block and tackle and we can pull the Versys up to the 2nd floor if need be. I’m in my full Hunter S. Thompson mode and ready to be a photojournalist. I spend so much time with the Washington press crops that the real day in day out news coverage is a thing of the past. A paper cut is big drama for those guys.



At 50 years old and with the print industry dying faster then I can count my birthdays to retirement I know this is one of the last big stories of my career. There was a day when all I thought was OK covered that…what’s next? Ill be lucky to be employed as a fulltime staff photographer for 24 months. Really lucky and that’s after 32 years of climbing the ladder to get to the top and find out people don’t read anymore! WTF.

Fucking Fox News, Daily Show, Michael Moore, etc., etc., and other forms of entertainment is killing real journalism. Hell it’s dead. When was the last time you saw a combat photo that made you say, “dam” or a Life Magazine. 2000 dead GI’s in Afghanistan and 1000 of those in the past year and a half. Where’s all the coverage? O yea we are all headed to the National Conventions to cover a non-event and then wait for Fox News and Jon Stewart to spin it into entertainment.

I love it when I hear somebody talk about the liberal media. Its code for I’ve watched the news on TV but I don’t read to good. I used to ask the question if you subscribe to your local paper or even a major daily but it got to depressing and I don’t need to ask anymore, I already know. He does not have a subscription to a newspaper. Gets all his news from entertainers and only wants to hear the news with his preferred right or left slant.

About an hour into North Carolina today my gas light started to blink so I pulled into a little road side BBQ joint for fuel and a bite to eat and they where already talking about the storm inside. Cool little café where everyone turns and looks at you when you walk in. If you’re not local they continue to stare until they have sized you up and deem you OK. The dude cooking looked to be around 90 years old and had a cigar hanging out of his mouth with a two-inch ash on it. Do I really want the BBQ?

About that time a lady that looked a lot like Phyllis Diller (RIP)walked up and said, “wat ya want honey? We got BBQ and hamburgers.” OK Ill have the BBQ and a cold beer. “Where the hell are you going with that motocicle? It’s loaded down like your running from something?” I smiled and said, “I’m headed for Tampa.” She took a step back, looked at me turned and looked at the two old dudes at the bar, looked back at me and said, "hell your crazy, Ill go ahead and bring the large beer."

Ill be in Florida tomorrow and going to a cigar factory for a feature story as they will be the sole supplier to the convention. Stay tuned.


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Old 08-24-2012, 02:39 PM   #6
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Woke up this morning in one of those panics and thought I had snoozed past my alarm, which I had but only by a half an hour of so. I had 480 some odd miles to cover to get to PadrÛn Cigars in the Little Havana section of Miami. I had wanted to hit the road before sunup but that’s life.

I had everything packed and coffee brewed in under 30 minutes and was on the road. It had rained so hard last night everything was soaked and the tent leaked a little so there was a lot of water being packed on a already overloaded bike.






Dam no room for the dead possum that was next to my front wheel stinking the joint up. I was thinking I could pack him to a local café and have him fried up with some grits! I never even saw the little guy when I pulled in last night and boy was he ripe!



You know you’re in Georgia when your making possum jokes and when you order breakfast they bring grits without even asking. Got to love that. The café I had breakfast at was having a gun party later in the month……I don’t even want to know what the hell that is and I did not ask. Sorry to leave Georgia, somehow I always have a good time there. Maybe its because I spend to much time in D.C where nobody is real.




The ride down was all super slab because of my over sleeping so no reports on I-95 but to say that its fucking terrifying and Ill never do that again.




It was way worth the trip and I had a blast at the PadrÛn Cigars. I had been to Cuba on assignment ten years ago or so and I felt like I was back there when I pulled in today. The only thing “Little Havana” lacks is some 1950’s America automobiles and it could be Havana. My tour guide was Osmani Calero and if you could stereotype a Cubin it would be Osmani. He spoke about as much English as I spoke Spanish but we made due and I got some great photos. I even scored some high quality cigars. We wont talk about what type of cigars or if they had tariffs paid on them.





Miami’s Little Havana has much to offer in the way of local color/ people watching and I had a really great lunch with some sort of ice-cold rum drink. Pretty much a prefect afternoon.









Its late so I’m going to hang here in “Little Havana” for the evening and soak up a little more culture, smoke a cigar and drink some more rum. Ill be off to Tampa in the morning in time to settle into my digs for the next week. I hear the storm is now predicted to miss Tampa and hit over on the mainland.......yea right!!! It’s about 250 miles to Tampa or so and I’m going to noodle up there after todays iron butt high-speed push. Ill be there in time for dinner and another cigar.


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Old 08-24-2012, 02:47 PM   #7
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Great pictures as always. Us inmates get the inside scoop.

Take care. I only dodged a from tornados last summer and they are not as big.

I don't have to subscribe. It's a Favorite....
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Old 08-24-2012, 03:55 PM   #8
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Hey man, I was thinking about you all day today, thought maybe I should email or call you.I know the politicos are running you ragged.
Terrific and story line pictures as usual, you always make me feel like I am bitch riding on the seat with you.I'll keep an eye on this thread.
Call me if you need anything.Stop by on your way home if you can, even if only for fifteen minutes. You know you want to take 522 home.......
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Old 08-24-2012, 04:49 PM   #9
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Yo Will long time no see. We really need to do a trip together soon. Hope your riding that bike a little more these days. Yes, bitch on the back indeedas long as she looks like your icon photo and she likes old fat guys that cuss, drink and fart to much.

I'm on my 4th rum drink and I'm pretty sure this is the highlight of the GOP convention. I so hope we get that storm. Photos of flying politico's would be a nice cap in my career portfolio.
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:17 PM   #10
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Yeah, I have been riding the SM a lot (comparatively) this summer. Most of my gut and thigh pain went away (finally) in July. I have been able to ride a couple hours a day now, not much compared to you but for me, it is a milestone. I have ridden enough to wear out a Pilot Power and will have to reskin in a month or so. All in all, monumental for me.

I have a strong suspicion you'd be slammin' the dark rum for a day or so. I wish I was there to hang in the frat house, must be like college days.
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:23 PM   #11
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The rum is not nearly as dark as the sky but it is smooth and cheap. The man is paying for all of it. Im watching the radar and it looks like outbands of the storm are here tomorrow so a rain ride up to Tampa. Yes on the college age of the other staffers Im the oldest by far.......one other guy turning 50 this year the rest are babies. I feel bad we hired a bunch of combat photographers from the Army Times a year ago and now it looks pretty bad for the young guys. They are top flight shooter too. We have a hell of a crew right now and won some major awards last year in WHNPA contest. Fucking newspapers, it was such a good idea for a career in the 70's and 80's
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:37 PM   #12
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Great pictures and insight!
Keep it up.
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:47 PM   #13
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I made it in time for dinner, more rum and cigars. The big news flash for the GOP convention planners was this. "Republican National Convention officials decided late Saturday that it was too risky to start the event on Monday as planned." So events in the convention hall will start Tuesday provided the hall is not under water! With the amount of rain this area has had over the past few weeks the ground is already soaked and even if this bad boy passes Tampa by 80 to 100 miles out in the Gulf we are going to get a butt load of rain and storm surge. Storm coverage baby that's what I'm here forIll post up some more photos tomorrow.
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Old 08-25-2012, 06:28 PM   #14
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Should We look for you on the weather channel leaning against the wind?
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Old 08-25-2012, 07:16 PM   #15
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Really fun thread. Great photos, of course. Subscribed.

I commeserate with your viewpoint of the loss of newspaper journalism as the main source of news. I blame USA Today. Then came the Internet and snack-well news coverage. Sigh.

Enjoy the rum, take good photos, stay safe and keep riding that Versys!
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