My first week of self-imposed Capitol Punishment is in the books. It’s been more than seven years since I’ve covered an entire session, and this week has been a re-education. I say “re-education” because nothing within Huey’s concrete erection ever changes. We at turdpolishertv feel it our duty to
warn, alert, scare the shit out of anyone contemplating similar acts of stupidity.
1) No matter how plush the carpet, the committee room floor is hard. While the gasbags behind the dais recline in leather-covered comfort, and visiting school kids cram into cushioned stadium seats, the guys working like dogs get to sit with the dogs. It’s a knee-popping, ass-numbing seat from which every angle offers only a profile, but then again, the guys you’re going to be shooting don’t have a good side, so you got that going for you.
2) Whatever you do, don’t stand up! See that guy in the maroon blazer? They call him Sarge. That’s short for Sergeant At Arms. He’s the capitol equivalent of your high school disciplinarian, and he’s a good guy to have on your side. A stickler for the rules, Sarge will tell you where you can put your tripod, when you can put it there, how high you can set it, what frequency to set your wireless on, where you may shoot interviews, and when it’s time to go. But be nice to him. He also holds the keys to the media bathroom. (That’s a joke. Everyone knows the media must use the bush next to the smoker’s tree out back.)
3) Time is relative. What’s that? The committee on committees meets at 10? Save the One-Eyed Jacks are rallying on the steps at 11? The stacker wants a noon live shot? Debate on the Healthcare for Hamsters bill at 1? And the Desk is bitching because that lunch break you’re missing is gonna blow the overtime budget? Never fear. The dudes at the dais will fit it all in because at the capitol, it ain’t 10:00 until the guy with the crochet mallet says it’s 10:00.
4) Bring a jacket. They may talk a good game about global warming, but truth be told, the folks who release the most hot air over a fraction of a degree like their air cold. I don’t know whether it’s to combat affects of all those gasbags in one place or to keep the folks on media row awake, but whatever the reason, if you’re not growing a snotcicle during the first few seconds of debate, consider yourself lucky. And don’t let Sarge see you. He’s sure to take that as his cue to drop the thermostat a couple of degrees.
5) Beware the swampass. You thought you had it all figured out. You thought that ensconcing yourself inside a meat locker for the duration of summer would ward off swampass. Not so. You’ve got a stacker back home who can’t get enough of the capitol lawn. So three times a day, you’ll schlep you shit outside for a live look. Combine the summer sun with all that white, reflective concrete and the slacks that propriety dictates you wear inside the phallus palace, and you’ve got a breeding ground for a case of the flaming redass like you’ve never seen. So powder up the tender vegetation before heading out. Big Jim and the Twins will thank you for it.
There you have it, five things every photog should know about covering the capitol. Five things I should have remembered before sentencing myself to this Hell again. Five things I have now etched into the digital ethos to look back upon next year when I think covering the capitol might be anything less than punishment.