The Train Kept a Rollin'

10:20 AM, Jan 7, 2011   |    comments
  • I have a Nikon camera.
  • Looking like a military man.
  • New pad on a historic desk.
  • I'll just take your glasses.
  • Pack up you babies.
  • Simply red.
  • Photographing the Jackal.
  • A new uniform for a new job.
  • Digital memories on a big day.
  • Grandmother will worry about the budget.
  • A photo studio in a hearing room.
  • Every picture tells a story.
  • More light for Room 15.
  • Digital memories on House floor.
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The opening day of the legislative session found this Hartbeat blogger pulling my camera and tripod around the Minnesota Capitol looking for different angles on a story that is repeated yearly.

On the ground floor, I captured a young man posing beside the official portrait of Governor Jesse Ventura. As one of the original media Jackals, I believe I can say that Jesse would like the attention.

To the right of what to me is the best allegorical painting of any governor (those Art History courses did make an impression) is the entrance to Room 15. A busy Senate committee hearing room during the session, famous for its huge horseshoe shaped table, Room 15 had been transformed into a photo studio. As the light from the flashing strobes spilled into the hallway, I thought of the fashion photo scene from the second Austin Powers movie. This scene is based on the 1966 swinging London movie, "Blow Up." A fashion shoot at the Capitol on opening day? Yeah, baby! Now that could be the new angle to an old story that I was seeking. I had to go in and investigate.

I have a Nikon camera

A blue velvet background with the United States and Minnesota flags was set up in the middle of the room directly under the glass star of the north skylight which is the centerpiece of the Capitol rotunda one floor above. Strobes with umbrellas were arranged around the room and a photographer was taking digital images of Senators, their families and judges who would re-enact taking the oath of office.

There were several great television images to be harvested in this otherwise dull committee room. More important, that elusive element of television news stories, natural sound, abounded. Sounds of the photographer coaching the subjects, a baby crying consoled by a grandmother (who is also a Senator) yielded a camera bag full of possibilities.

Newly elected Senator and former St. Paul Police Chief, John Harrington, arrived with his family having traded in his police uniform for a suit and sporting a beard. Newly elected and veterans arrived and stood around the State of Minnesota Seal on the carpet in Room 15, an island of calm in the swirling sea that is the first day of the session.

Since the Minnesota Senators do not individually take the oath of office, but rather as a group, the pictures of the Senators, a judge, Bible and a raised right hand were only for a digital memory not a reflection of how events really transpired. The studio environment also provided a great opportunity to have a family picture taken as well. It wasn't high fashion, but it was a quiet place in the noisy halls of architect Cass Gilbert's homage to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The flashes of the strobes reminded me of the flashes of bi-partisan cooperation rhetoric heard often in the early days of the session as lawmakers pan for gold in the revenue streams of this budget session.

From the window up above

In contrast to the Room 15 studio, the image hunters and gatherers were tightly packed together in the galleries of the House and Senate. I've included some stills from the videotape that I recorded of the opening day of the legislative session.

The Hartbeat goes on...

The Musical Notes

Besides giving the rest of the world a taste of the 60s mod, swinging London Scene, the film "Blow Up" also featured some good music. The Yardbirds, showcasing twin guitar leads by Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, perform a song titled "Stroll Along" which is really "The Train Kept a Rollin" with a slight change in lyrics to avoid copyright issues. "The Train Kept a Rollin" was recorded and released by Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio in 1956. "Train Kept a Rollin" was the first song that Led Zeppelin played in public in 1968 and the audience response was so positive they decided to keep playing as a group. They rolled with the song through their final tour of Europe in 1980.

Any reference to cameras and songs has to include a line from Paul Simon's 1973 hit, "Kodachrome." Since the last roll of Kodacrome film was processed recently in Kansas, ending a photographic era, the lyric fits in well with a blog that focuses on photography.

Whenever I am in the gallery of the Minnesota House of Representatives looking down on the rows of Representatives, I am reminded of the 1960 song written and recorded by country legend, George Jones "Window Up Above." For my money, this is a really good example of a song that has a beginning, middle and end, like any successful story or legislative session.

The Hartbeat goes on...

What's Cooking on the Hartbeat Grill?

In a strange twist of digital fate, I recently checked out a Kindle from a local library. Preloaded on the digital device were two biographies. I chose to read: "Life" by Keith Richards. I only got to read 40 percent of the e-book, before I had to bring it back--no renewals on a Kindle. As luck would have it, the conventional book that I had been on the waiting list for months at the library arrived just after I returned the digital book. I am now reading it, though a 500-page book is a lot heavier to hold than a Kindle.

Keith Richards tells an interesting story of his youth in post war England, his attraction to the guitar, meeting Mick Jagger, forming the band, wanting to be a black bluesman, discovering opening tuning and, of course, the many experiences he had with drugs. Richards claims to remember it all and who are we to doubt him. We weren't there and have only the music helps us understand what was really going on with the master of the five string guitar. "Life" is a good read for anyone who wants to know about a member of the world's greatest rock and roll band, a man who has lived past all of the predictions of his early demise.

I may have to read some other books before I tackle, "I Am Ozzy." I was lent Ozzy Osbourne's biography by a political pundit who I have interviewed often over the years. We both share musical interests and wonder how Keith and Ozzy survived all of the rocky curves of their musical journeys. I hope Ozzy writes more about the music than the destructive lifestyle he participated in as a heavy metal standard bearer. Who am I kidding? Maybe I should just learn to play "Ironman" on my guitar and then read the book. I could also try tuning to a G chord to understand Keith, but I have enough trouble with regular guitar tuning.

I will let you know how both of these reading tasks and my searching for chords that sound like I am on the right strings progress in future Hartbeats as well as how the lawmakers tune the budget in St. Paul.

The Photo Notes

The images in this Hartbeat are from DVCAM digital videotape.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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