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|| News Item: Posted 2009-01-25

Leading Off: Early Morning Assignments
Robert Hanashiro woke up early for some very worthwhile assignments.

By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Chuck Martin, 69 of Pico Rivera was the first person in line at 5:15am at the Bridge Cinema De Lux movie complex in West Los Angeles where Barack Obama's inauguration was shown live.
I am not a Morning Person.

Usually I'm up and reading the morning paper by 6:30 or 7. But getting up at 4 AM is not something I usually look forward to.

Not assigned to cover the actual Inaugural festivities in Washington D.C. last week, I was left to try to find a local feature photo to tell the story. I wanted something that was distinctly L.A. Something that said So Cal. Hollywood. The movies. And what better way to do that than photograph people gathered at upscale movie complex to watch a live broadcast of the Inauguration? The thing was, I had to get up at 4 AM so I could be out of the house by 5.

Driving south on the deserted 405 freeway in the dark I thought to myself that I just wanted to make "one good photograph" and then take a nap in my car in the parking lot...

Though the crowd wasn't as large as expected (1,200 RSVPs The Bridge theater complex's P.R. person had said) and not early arriving as I had thought, the experience was personal, inspiring and yes, well worth getting up at 4 AM for.

When I pulled into the parking lot of The Bridge, located in West LA, my good buddy LA Times videographer Myung Chun was getting out of his car. "I think this will be pretty good," I told him, "It had better be to get up this early!"

When we got to the top of the stairs and up to the movie complex, there was just one person standing in front of the box office, lit only by the neon of the theater.

Like Myung and me, he had gotten up at 4 AM and was at the theater by 5:15.

"This is history," said Chuck Martin, 69 and recently retired, "It's better watching it here (in a theater) than watching it on TV."

We chatted with him for several minutes as the early morning darkness gave way to sunrise and the traffic noise from the adjacent freeway started to become a constant drone. He talked about the pride and the excitement he was feeling.

About 20 minutes later a young couple came dragging up the stairs to the box office, the sleepy-eyed woman wrapped in a big blanket and wearing a Barack Obama t-shirt.

"We had everything booked for a trip to D.C. Hotel, plane tickets, the works but we couldn't afford to take a week off from work because of the bad economy," said Eric Stein as he huddled next to Melanie McQueen, "I felt like I wanted to be with people. If we had gone to the Inauguration we would be on the Mall with millions. At least in the theater we will be with hundreds."

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

People raise their arms and cheer as Barack Obama finishes taking the oath of office during a live broadcast of the inauguration at The Bridge Cinema Du Lux theater complex in West Los Angeles.
Slowly more and more people climbed the stairs to wait for the theater to open its doors at 7.

Delois Burdette with her sister Annie Heath and friend Cathy Wright all came to The Bridge wearing shirts with Obama's picture on them. "We wanted to be in the moment," Burdette told me. "Seeing Barack sworn in as President live, in this theater is the next best thing to being there," Wright chimed in, "It's a part of history."

More and more people showed up as 7 AM approached … most wearing Obama t-shirts, some carrying large photographs of the new President or signs. And all of them came to The Bridge with a look of excitement, the same look I see often strolling through stadiums and arenas before a big sports event.

So when the lights went out in the theater as the big moment arrived, I looked for Chuck or Delois and her group and found them sitting in the front row of one of the sections.

As Obama began taking the oath of office they stood like everyone else in the theater and I lucked out and a TV crew turned on a small video light, so I had some illumination for my photograph.

The crowd stood and began to applaud and cheer. I made some frames. Tears began streaming down Wright's cheek.

Were these photos "contest winners?" Certainly not. But they were worth waking up at 4 AM to make and watching some real people witness their bit of history.

* * *

I had another brush with the new President the week before, working on story on Craig Robinson, the new head basketball coach at Oregon State University ... and Barack Obama's brother-in-law.

Much has been made of the OSU Beaver's "celebrity coach" and the stories on how after playing a pick up game of basketball with the then community organizer said it was OK for his little sister Michelle to date the man who would later become an Illinois senator and then the 44th President of the United States.

But when all of the hoopla (I know, bad pun) quiets over whether the new President or First Lady will take in an Oregon State game or if Robinson gains some points with recruits because of his relation to the White House ... it all comes down to basketball.

Another early morning gig, I attended a 6 AM practice Robinson conducted with his team before a game against Washington State. If you haven't been to Corvallis to watch a game in Gill Coliseum, it's one of those old gyms that is some say is out of date but to me is sorely missed in sports. The place was right out of the film "Hoosiers". Creaky. Peeling paint. Stairways that echo, Bench seats everywhere. And old banners hanging from the rafters with punch-flash photos of Gary Payton, AC Green and Mel Counts. Classic.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Barack Obama's brother-in-law and Oregon State's head men's basketball coach Craig Robinson during his teams 61-57 overtime loss to Washington State at Gill Coliseum.
But after spending three days with Robinson and seeing him run practice, mingle with fans, students and community leaders, sit down for a 45-minute interview with USA TODAY, lose an overtime game to Washington State ... OSU selected a coach that gives them hope. Just like his brother-in-law is doing for the country.

(Thanks member Ryan Gardner for the info and advice about OSU and Corvallis. McMenamins was great! A short video I shot on new OSU coach Craig Robinson: .)

* * *

This issue of the Sports Shooter Newsletter features two different looks at the recent Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President. The Chicago Tribune's Scott Strazzante writes a personal account of covering the events in Washington D.C. last week. McClatchy-Tribune Photo Service's George Bridges gives us the details on one of the most unique angles at the swearing in ceremony.

If you've ever seen Sports Illustrated's John McDonough cover a basketball game, then you have SEROUS "gear-envy". Jordan Murph, John's assistant, writes this month's In The Bag about all of the equipment they use to cover the NBA and college hoops.

Myung Chun produced a cool video of the "Ringflash Shootout" I did with Dave Honl at his studio with beach volleyball player Angie Akers.

Think Tank Photo's Doug Murdoch's regular "Travel Smart" column focuses on perception when it comes to bringing aboard that large carry-on bag.

Robert Caplin writes a very informative article on finally making the jump to shooting video ... with his talented singer/songwriter sister as his first subject.

* * *

While working on the Craig Robinson story in Corvallis, OR, I was turned onto Lee Child's Jack Reacher character while roaming through a downtown used bookstore. So on the nightstand this month are Jack Reacher books Persuader, Echo Burning and One Shot.

Heavy iTunes playlist for the month is Patricia Ahn's debut album A Good Day. (

The DVD pick of the month is Appaloosa a film directed and starring Ed Harris (IMDB:; trailer: Also in this wonderful treatment of the Robert Parker novel are Viggo Mortensen and Renée Zellweger. Link to a cool interview with Harris:


As always, thanks to Special Advisors & Contributors: Deanna & Emma Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Rod Mar, Trent Nelson, Jason Burfield, Grover Sanschagrin, Joe Gosen, Paul Myers, Myung J. Chun, Jared Dort and Bob Deutsch.

Thanks this month to: Scott Strazzante, George Bridges, Jordan Murph, John McDonough, Dave Honl, Angie Akers, Robert Caplin and Doug Murdoch.

I welcome any comments, corrections, suggestions and contributions. Please e-mail me at

The Sports Shooter Archives as well as tons of cool resources and information can be accessed through the Internet at

Contents copyright 2019, Do not republish without permission.
Which SS member is most likely to be found with yellow fuzz in his pockets? Hmmm ::..