I went to a Redskins game with Mom, and a press photographer sat down in the seat right next to us, which was annoying enough, and started taking pictures, lots of them, which I later discovered were entirely of my face. Glossy eight-by-ten black-and-white pictures, maybe twenty or thirty of them, all of my face looking as un-photogenic as [somebody fill in this blank, please!]

I know now, and probably knew then, that you’re supposed to pretend the camera isn’t there. I can’t do that! Andy Rooney doesn’t do that, but what he does do is similar, and he gets paid a fortune for it. He apparently looks at a camera and pretends he’s talking to “you”.

I had a brother-in-law point a videocam right at me and he didn’t see what my problem was. “Pretend it isn’t there”, he said. What kind of pretender does he think I am? I gazed off aimlessly to the left; ditto to the right. I lowered my gaze. Nothing worked. I bet he still has that video.

Imagine sitting down at your desk, somebody comes along with a little lavalier mike (more on that later) and hides it within a foot of your mouth, and you (Andy Rooney) pretend. It’s actually your real office, which is unrealistic enough, because it should be a set in a studio. You have sound people, light people, directors, one camera man (imagine: only one!), and so on, all around you, and somehow the final product comes out, not only all right, but suitable for viewing on primetime TV, and it’s good. That’s amazing.

Andy Rooney appears on “60 Minutes”, which is visible on CBS. Everybody knows that. But the remarkable thing is that it’s still visible after all those years. You know exactly when the commercial breaks occur and exactly when they’re over, and you can actually see the show.

It’s like “Morning Edition”. You can turn on the radio at 6:10, 6:21, and 6:40, and hear nine minutes of interesting stuff each time, assuming it’s interesting. Set your alarm watch.

Eventually, the producers will manipulate things to the point where Andy will no longer be visible, but they haven’t succeeded yet. “Morning Edition” will be audible at exactly ten minutes after the next hour, and eleven minutes past that, but they repeat every two hours, so there’s only six audible segments per day. The rest of the time, find something else to do.

Why did I say “little lavalier mike”, when all lavalier mikes are small, by definition? You can hire purchasing agents, marketing researchers, private eyes, and so on, and unless one of them runs across a very clever con man, you won’t get a big one. What you will get is a big something else, probably expensive.  I said “little lavalier mike” because I wanted to express the idea, that’s why. Who do you think I am? Ask a gramatist!


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