When I was at Fox, I covered everything. Immigration and border issues? Check. Crazy snipers who randomly shot at people on the streets of Phoenix? Check. Fake testicular implants for neutered dogs so they look like they still have their balls? Check. Firefighter caught having sex with his neighbor's goat? Check.
It was totally random and my stories ran the gamut. It was like reporter boot camp when it came to stories and live shots. If you could survive 3 years at Fox 10, you could deal with any other type of reporting situation. Our anchors were sharp, witty, and loved to ask questions during our live shots. Questions that I didn't always have the answers to at that given moment in the newscast. So I also learned how to tap dance and dodge what I didn't know, while supplying another tidbit that I did know. It doesn't happen so much in the Bay Area, because the news format here is more locked down and much less spontaneous. It's more, "Just the facts, ma'am." Not so much, "Hey, I'll give you 10 bucks if you take a bite of that jail food, Vic!" Which I did, and I'm still waiting for my 10 spot Kari Lake!!!
One of the stories I was assigned on a random day happened to be Shaq's visit to Tent City. It's a famous/infamous jail in Phoenix where inmates sleep outside in tents, without air conditioning, and eat green bologna sandwiches while wearing pink underwear. All designed to make them hate life even more.
Tent City is run by self declared "America's Toughest Sheriff" Joe Arpaio. The man has his own YouTube channel, is always game for an interview, and loved and loathed equally. This is exactly his type of event. Tons of media, free PR, and a side by side with Shaq. Triple double for Sheriff Joe.
So I get to Tent City, and it's hot, and dusty, and we are being herded like a herd. It was what we like to call a "cluster f—-" in media terms. Newspaper, radio, and TV reporters, plus our photographers, plus PR people, plus the Sheriff's people, all microstepping sideways and backwards, stumbling and jostling each other as Sheriff Joe and Shaq walk "naturally" through Tent City.
There's no press opportunity other than this hot mess of a walkabout. No Shaq at the stationary podium to talk directly with us. This is it. Shout your questions or forever hold your peace. So we jumble along and people are like, "Shaq, why do you want to be a cop?" and "Shaq, how does this compare to being a deputy in Florida?"
I wait for a pause, and yell "Shaq, what do you think of the pink underwear?"
He turns in my direction, scans the cluster, looks down from his 7 foot 1 inches and spots me. "I'd wear 'em. For you." Big Aristotle has spoken directly to me. Score! Plus, my photog Randy, a tall and burly dude, was rolling on it. Double score!
After all the elbows are thrown and all the microphones are put away and Shaq's getting ready to get back into his giant black SUV, we turn into semi-groupies. (I credit reporter Christopher Sign for giving me the nerve to ask Shaq for a picture. Christopher smartly carries a camera with him to all his stories. Just in case, oh, Shaquille O'Neal shows up.) You feel like an assclown at the time, but later on, you're totally like, "Yayers! I got a photo with Kazaam!"
And big thanks to Edward Karnafel, the photographer who was kind enough to take the photo, print it, and mail it to me. Because, like an assclown, I wanted a picture but had no camera with which to take it. (And Chris had already left.)
And yes, those are the pink underwear he may or may not have worn.