Giles Harrison puts over 2,000 miles a month on his Cadillac Escalade chasing celebrities down and snapping their photos.
But then again, Giles Harrison drives an Escalade.
We had a lot more questions for him. Here are some of the answers that kind of blow our mind(s):
What do you do if you see a celebrity?
“Let’s say I see Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas jogging through the streets of Santa Monica. I’ll take pictures for as long as I can. If she doesn’t see me, I’ll try and follow her and see what she does post-workout. Maybe she goes to Starbucks and gets herself a smoothie. I try to get something to either add to the value of the story or break up the set -- because then I can be like, 'She works out, she gets coffee, she does this, she does that.' I’ll follow her around until she goes home. You’ve got to stick on them all day because, as mean as this sounds, the moment you leave her she could be out and get hit by a bus. And then you wouldn’t be there to witness that and get what you need.”
You take pictures because people will buy them. You've said 'the consumer is to blame.' Care to get more specific?
“What I tell people -- and I will stand by this until the day they bury me in the ground -- people in 'normal places' don’t care. People in New York don’t care. People in L.A. don’t care. It’s that Middle America demographic of people who don’t get to experience these celebrities.”
How do you make it as a paparazzi photographer?
“People who do well in this business are news photographers, because they know how to spot a story, and they know how to make a story out of a set of pictures. I had a colleague once who got just a simple picture of Madonna getting out of a car. Not a great photo. I think he may have gotten four frames. But once we looked closely at the photos we noticed she had an engagement ring on. That’s when she was engaged to Guy Ritchie before she married him and then that became the story. Those were the first pictures of Madonna wearing an engagement ring.”
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to get a shot?
“I’ve hung out of a helicopter to get aerial shots of a wedding. I mean, literally, hung out of a helicopter. I wasn’t strapped in. I had some guy holding my feet so I wouldn’t fall out. It was for Brooke Shields and Andre Agassi’s nuptials. I’ve been chased across the Gulf of Mexico in gunboats by Federales trying to get pictures of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston on their first away trip together.”
What’s the most famous photo you’ve ever snapped?
“When Michael Jackson got Debbie Rowe pregnant, I remember being sent by my picture desk and them saying, ‘Hey, we need pictures of this lady.’ And I said, ‘Who is she?’ [They said] 'Some pregnant nurse.' I took some pictures of her, took some videos of her. I said, 'This woman is popular, why?' [They said,] 'She’s having Michael Jackson’s baby.' I said, 'Bull$&%#. There’s no way this is true.' A week later it was confirmed by Michael Jackson’s people. Our pictures, our video went everywhere.”
Do you ever feel bad about what you do?
“The worst day I had morally was when I first started...This was post 9/11, so what we used to do on boring rainy days was go hang out at the airport and cover all the flights coming from New York, Miami and DC. One day Muhammad Ali was at the airport and I shot some video of him. This was before his Parkinson’s had gotten as advanced as it has, but he was sitting on his briefcase and shaking so bad. He looked so sad and so much like a shadow of his former self that I felt so bad even shooting that video. I thought 'Why am I shooting this?' 'Why is this newsworthy?' I felt really bad on that day...But that was early on in my career. After a while you kind of get hardened to the necessities of what you have to do.”
Is it feast or famine out there?
“Every little bit counts. You get a little bit here and a little bit there, but I treat every photo like it could potentially be a big story. I average about a set a day. I will shoot pretty much anything and everything. Last week I was at a newsstand reading a newspaper and Glenn Frey of The Eagles came up and he picked up the L.A. Times and then he also picked up four editions of the latest porno mags. I got pictures of it. I didn’t think it would go far. I didn’t think it would go anywhere. Those photos went everywhere. And when was the last time he did something interesting?"
Whether it's your Netflix streaming or something more important like transferring medical records from one place to another, chances are you've heard the promise of gigabit internet. It's supposedly way faster than the broadband access in most cities around the country. Google is starting lay the infrastructure for gigabit internet in a growing number of cities around the US. Kansas City was the first. Up next? Austin, Texas.
According to Marketplace Tech host, Ben Johnson, gigabit internet means more business for cities that make it available.
"Since it rolled out in Kansas City, gigabit internet does seem to be attracting startups and new companies. It could bring more tech industry to Austin. The city's best known local tech company employers are probably Dell and Intel. But there could be a lot more here if it was easier for companies to do their business online at higher speeds."
Johnson adds that in terms of widespread use of super high speed internet, the U.S. is far behind countries like South Korea. Still, cities like Austin can boast advanced internet technology like the Stampede Supercomputer (pictured above), which has a ten gigabit line out. The downside of these giant supercomputers are the sheer size and noise...but man, are they fast.
Congress planned to shave $8.6 billion from the food stamps program by closing a loophole, cutting benefits to 850,000 households. But it left states an out to avoid the cuts, and many are taking it.
The nation's infrastructure has taken a beating this season. Fixing what the heavy snows and bitter cold have wrecked is long overdue — and the cost will be hefty.
In an open letter, the Facebook co-founder said the U.S. should be "a champion for the internet, not a threat."
McDonald’s faces lawsuits in three states this week from workers who allege the fast-food giant violated labor laws by failing to pay overtime, making them work off the clock, failing to give them breaks, and making them pay for uniforms or uniform cleaning. The suits, seeking class-action status, were filed in New York, Michigan, and California, and could ultimately represent 30,000 or more workers, the plaintiff lawyers said in a press conference. The event was organized by labor-union-backed advocates, who are also pushing for a $15 per-hour wage industry-wide.
A novel aspect of the lawsuits is that they try to tie McDonald’s—and its valuable brand—to alleged wage and hour violations at franchise restaurants that the company neither owns nor directly operates. Lawyer Michael Rubin at Altshuler Berzon in San Francisco is representing a group of McDonald’s workers in California, and has pursued similar class-action cases against Walmart on behalf of temporary workers at its contracted warehouses near Los Angeles.
“The McDonald’s corporate entity was sued as well,” Rubin said, “as a joint employer, and as a principal agent, co-conspirator, negligent franchisor.”
Evidence that will be presented in the case includes software McDonald’s provides to franchises to reduce labor costs.
The company issued a statement saying: “McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants. We are currently reviewing the allegations in the lawsuits.”
In a recent 10k filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, McDonald’s cited the risk to its business and forward guidance posed by “the impact of campaigns by labor organizations and activists, including through the use of social media and other mobile communications and applications, to promote adverse perceptions of the quick-service category of the IEO (informal eating out) segment or our brand..." The filing also cited upward pressure on wages in many markets around the world, "which may intensify with increasing public focus on matters of income inequality.”
Mary Chapman at food-industry research firm Technomic, which has done work for McDonald’s in the past, said she hasn’t yet seen any impact on fast-food companies’ profitability from activist campaigns. But she said the issue is on the industry’s radar.
“Consumers want to do business with people who feel the way that they do about issues, including social issues,” she said. “For some consumers, employment practices are very important. But for many more consumers, it’s more about price, convenience, and quality.”
Chapman pointed out that the employment narrative has changed over decades—not in the industry’s favor.
“In the past, the fast food employment story was a good one,” said Chapman. “The industry hired young people, and provided so many of today’s leaders with their first job.” But that story has shifted, with more middle-aged workers trying to earn a family wage from fast-food and other low-skilled service work.
Mark Brandau of Nation’s Restaurant News, who covers McDonald’s, said he has never before seen so much attention paid to the labor issues around fast-food. He said companies have to focus on it now. “I’m sure that they would like to see these issues being settled in the political arena,” said Brandau, “not in their dining rooms.”
A Texas company seeking permission for an injection well in the heart of the Everglades is finding stiff opposition from environmental groups and some locals.