Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mannywood stops in Albuquerque

It was kind of a surreal thing seeing the most prolific and entertaining baseball slugger come to Albuquerque on a rehab assignment. The slugger plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers and more than a couple months ago he tested positive for a banned substance on the Major League Baseball performance enhancing drug list. It wasn't exactly steroids but the drug has been used to mask the drug after coming off a cycle. Anyways, it created quite the buzz in the Duke City for his appearance. The Dodgers wanted him to only play 4 innings in his first game and increase it over the three games.

He entered the field with a quiet demeanor not answering any questions from reporters. He took batting practice and went back into the clubhouse.

Soon, Isotopes Park buzzed with excitement for his entrance. Albuquerque has a weird set up having players enter from the side of the dugout making it beneficial for fans and media to get a close look to the players.

Manny came out in rock star style except he was carrying bats and not a guitar. The 15,000 plus went wild. It was much like the Twilight Zone with the biggest name to be caught with PED's in his system to be celebrated. I have seen Barry Bonds become the most hated dude in baseball for not even having a positive test, only allegations but Manny was forgiven by the crowd chanting his name: MANNY, MANNY, MANNY!

He did some outfield stretching and people keep yelling his name and asking for an autograph in Spanish and English. He just ran straight to the fans to sign autographs and it became a mob of autograph seekers and media trying to get a shot of the star.

Alot of the fans had the dreadlocks wig with the LA Dodger bandanna but I liked what this kid did. His dad shaved the number 99 in the side of his head. He was one of the little leaguers that gets to go on the field with the players prior to the start of the game.
"The Manny Show" was here for 3 days and it was nice to see him take batting practice. He sure has a pretty swing. But there wasn't much drama or moon shot HRs during his stay. But he did have security provided by APD and stadium officials. It was weird seeing a slugger have two guys packing heat. I could just see an over aggressive fan getting tazed and yelling the famous lines: "Don't taze me bro!"
It wasn't hard to follow Manny but there was some hurry up and wait moments. You had to be on your toes and the only restriction is he didn't want photogs or reporters at the batting cage when he took BP and he cleared the clubhouse prior to a game.

Manny set one record in Albuquerque. He brought 15,321 fans to the first game and the other two he was there had close to the same results. Albuquerque has seen its big baseball things come to the town, all-star games, future all-star players and major league teams. But this was the creme de la creme of baseball stars.

Manny was going to play one final game for Albuquerque. He was expected to play 7 innings which could lead to exciting at bats with the thin air. There was an hour rain delay and the anticipation built. It was like the famous scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off when Ben Stein says in a monotone voice, "Bueller, Buellar."

You could tell fans were getting restless but they had hope the rock star was going to show up fashionably late.

I staked out a position to show a different entrance to the stadium. During the rain delay I saw the security officials talking. I had a feeling he was not going to play. Then more uniformed police officers showed up to do crowd control. I left the stadium to the side entrance of the locker room to see if he was going to leave. Sure enough team officials were preparing for the star's exit from the clubhouse.

The day he left the stadium news broke the doctor that prescribed the female hormone to Ramirez was being investigated by the feds. He said "No gracias."
It was like a chessy Lifetime movie with press watching him get into a Nissan Altima and drive off with some team officials and a "tio." The sun provided the studio light. ROLL CREDITS.

(ANNOUNCER VOICE) Meanwhile back in Isotopes Park fans had no idea he ducked out during the rain delay. (End voice) I walked back into the stadium with a slough of other media. Fans had the panicked look oh no he left but we neither confirmed nor denied. We weren't going to be the spoiler.

Once the police and security were in place an announcement came over the PA system saying Elvis errr Manny left the building. Boos could be heard all over the stadium. It was the only negative reaction I heard from his 3 day stay in Albuquerque.

The funny thing is Manny Ramirez was a celebrated for being here and what he has done for baseball. I found a couple fans who think he has disgraced the game but the majority seem to forgiven him. Its weird how a players personality determine how the public will accept him or boo him out the building. He didn't get the public outcry like Bonds or some other high profile atheletes who have been caught or allegedly been caught. Ramirez is a very likeable guy and easy going with teammates, fans and sometimes the media. Sometimes it shows you nice guys finish first.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A child that was wanted by so many

I have lived in Albuquerque for most of my life and some of the news that comes from the city leaves you scratching your head. There are some weird, tragic and wow kind of stories.

A story that recently came to the news was all three. Police were called out to a park to investigate a little boy's shoe sticking out of the sand. They found a 3 to 5 year old boy who had been buried underneath a playground at Alvarado Park. Police said he had been dead for more than 48 hours. There was outrage from the community on why someone would just leave a boy buried at the park. But that outrage turned into compassion for the little boy. Police were having a hard time IDing the boy because of his youth not having medical records.

So the community decided to hold candlelight vigil's at 9pm each night until the boys identity was found. Neighbors took up
donations for the boys funeral and one local mortuary took to the story of the community trying to help and donated the whole funeral. Different names for the boy came about one was Baby Justice the other was Baby Angel. Eventually the media and community members used Baby Angel. This set of images is from the first night.

I was amazed on how many people came out for this boy's vigil. Complete strangers that would just take the time to pay their respect and pray for justice. Some would leave candles others would leave toys. Tears were shed for this unknown boy. I heard majority of the people saying they would of taken the boy home if the parents didn't want them.

The vigil on the first night had more than 80 people coming for this child.

The steady crowd seemed to stop around 9:20 or so
and a few people just stayed as long as they could.

On Thursday May 21, 2009 police found a suspect and brought her in for questioning. It was the mother and she told police she suffocated the boy and buried him at the playground. The ID of the boy was released as Tyrus Toribio. The mother is currently in jail on an open count of murder charge among child abuse charges.

If only the mother knew how much this boy was wanted and loved by so many.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Warriors being sent off

Today, I went to the Santa Ana Event Center to document the sendoff and yellow ribbon ceremony of more then 240 Army National Guard members from the 720th Transportation Company. They will be deployed to Iraq and be attached to a Oregon unit for a year. First they will go to training for a month and ship out. This is one of the largest deployments for a guard unit from New Mexico.

This ceremony was to pray for the safety for the troops and have the families spend time together. These are always tough to photograph because you don't want to intrude on people's lives but you want to show people the struggles of deploying service members.

I have the most respect for our service men and women who put up their lives on hold and go over to a foreign or domestic mission for our country. They give the most for our country and seldom get the pay they deserve.

Its always tough seeing children with their dads or moms holding on to them before they are sent to war. I can't imagine not seeing my kids for a whole year. There is so much that will happen in that year. Its a tough time for both sides. The soldier who has to fight and the support at home who has to raise the kids.

This last picture sums up all the things that go with fighting a war is saying goodbye to loved ones. The troops get to spend 24 hours before they have to report for duty so the families do get to spend a day with them before they leave. If you get a chance to thank a service member please do they do sacrifice alot for this country.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tomé Hill

Wow! Two blog posts in a week. I can't believe this. Have I gone crazy?! No I just have been shooting more.

So this is kindof out of order but I went up to Tomé Hill on Good Friday this year. I wasn't going to go but my friend Richard Joyner wanted to go and so I took him. We got their at 5:30 AM. It was still dark and we couldn't find the path up the hill but roughed it in some rough terrain. We got to the top and as usual there were a few pilgrims just reflecting on the day. But this year the sunrise was a painting made from God.

I tell people if they want to expierence photojournalism take time to go up on Good Friday to this hill. People are so friendly. Its like when you go camping and everyone waves to each other in the woods. I met this man on the hill he has been doing the walk for 60 plus years with his family. His hat and face caught my eye. He was very nice.

After a while Richard and I decided to pack it up and go back down because the clouds were covering the great morning light and there weren't many people. There are only so many photos you can take of someone praying or holding rosary beads. Then the light broke and we went back up the hill. I am glad we went back up I got a couple more good shots before going home.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Woman who lost their lives in a horrible way

Sorry guys and gals its been a long time since posting. I promise to get more regular with the photo updates.
Albuquerque has had its stream of crazy stories in its history. Mostly bizarre but funny crime stories. But this last month there has been a real serious story developing. On the Westside of Albuquerque there is a mass grave site where 11 women's remains have been found along with an unborn child. Six of the women have been identified. "America's Most Wanted" came to town to film a segment on the crime scene. Its being deemed as the biggest crime scene in U.S. history. I live a couple miles away from the crime scene so I decided to go over and check it out.
The area is filled with emotion. Many people have left mementos of the women and others stop by to look at the flowers and pictures left.

I didn't know if these people knew the victims or what but found out they were from the neighborhood.

Police have secured the crime scene so you can't just walk in the area. The area is blocked off by cinder blocks and NO TRESPASSING signs. I shot from behind these areas and the Albuquerque Police had its mobile crime lab out. On the back bumper were plastic bags. I began to shoot some photos then zoomed in. I realized they were bones. They were animal bones that police deemed not human but some looked human. At that moment it set in of how precious human life really is. No one should have their remains hauled off in a plastic bag by a crime lab.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The oath heard round the world

I wanted to go to D.C. for the historic day but just couldn't get the funds going for the trip. I decided to go to the University of New Mexico and photograph a watch party. The trick of trying to make images was a 1.5 and 2.5 year old tagging along. It was tough because I didn't get to move around the room. I am glad I got to take my kids to witness history with a theater full of people. As President Obama finished "... so help me God," the crowd stood up and cheered. Here is my one historic frame. Its not a portfolio keeper or a contest winner its just a photo that tells history.