Tag: news shooter
Cue The Camels: Ancient Spores and Kim Kardishian
I slid my right boot then my left boot into the hole leading to the tomb’s tunnel. There was the soft, muffed sound of my pants sliding against the rough stone as my feet fell into the tomb. My knees passed and my thighs followed – which was as far as I got. I was stuck between two worlds. My companions started laughing before cheering me on. “Push! Push, Dave”. There was a scraping noise as my 34 waist and belt buckle tried to shimmy. I’ve been told in the past, during romantic endeavors, that I have ‘a booty like a black man’ – something I’ve always thought of as an attractive asset, but which, in this instance, was a real liability. ‘I think I’m too big, guys,’ I told my audience, ‘I’m wedged in!’ as giggles grew louder and escaped from the darkness of the tomb. I too began to chuckle, which was uncomfortable considering the added pressure of stone against my waist.
When I returned to the States and the Tonight Show, I shared my big ass adventure with one of the comedy writers for the show, Larry Jacobson. We both had a good chuckle when Larry added. “You know Dave, if you were Kim Kardashian you’d still be stuck in that tomb.
Life in the City of Angels: Bob from Yugoslavia
Bob had the kind of face that would compel you to volunteer any loose change your pocket held without him ever asking for a handout. His home consisted of a metal shopping cart supported by well-worn wheels, two paper bags, an old plastic container of water and a rolled up gray blanket. The corner of Central Boulevard and Windsor Road in Glendale, California was where he called home. This move was a sage-like decision on Bob’s part since the Salvation Army was positioned across the street which provided food, clothing and care and half a block to his east was the Windsor Al-Anon club that furnished free coffee, occasional shelter and most importantly, some welcomed comradeship with fellow tribe members.
It was up to you to get Bob talking since he was never known to initiate a conversation. His english was laced with a thick Yugoslavian accent and it was because of this that he was christened with the street name “Bob from Yugoslavia”. In his youth, he was trained as a pianist but as the years passed by his hands grew to be swollen and arthritic which made tying his shoes or buttoning his coat as painful as a Beethoven sonata. Bob’s private moments took place in a utility alley behind the Armenian market where he would seek refuge by smoking discarded cigarettes and watching reality slip away.
We had a very short history in our acquaintance but Bob from Yugoslavia became my navigational marker that signaled my return home from overseas. As strange as it may sound, it was comforting to see him sleeping under the tree, his tree, at the corner of Central and Windsor. One day, I noticed that the only thing holding his threadbare jeans together was the grim beneath him. I managed to sneak a pair of new levis and socks into one of his paper bags while he was napping under his tree. I couldn’t help but watch from a distance to witness Bob’s reaction to his good fortune; he proudly held the trousers up to the sky with a toothless smile and turned to look around as if he would find a magical garment fairy. The following day I expected to see him wearing the new pants but to my surprise he was wearing the same grubby jeans. Bob had traded the jeans and socks for two packs of Marlboro cigarettes to a local gardener.
I asked Bob one day, “If you were to write a letter to God and be guaranteed that God would read your letter, what would be your the first sentence?” He looked up and spoke as expressively with his eyes as with his words, “God keep me warm and never let me get cold again”
We continued our brief interludes over the years until one day conspicuously absent from the corner was Bob and his shopping cart. A member of the Al-Anon club told me that Bob had peacefully passed away underneath his tree while napping. I can only hope it was on a warm sunny California day.
Life in the City of Angels: Utterance
I believe that I am trapped in the thoughts of a writer with no say or way out, I’m terrified that at the end of the last chapter I will no longer exist. I can only hope that the author has a strong vocabulary and a bigger imagination to let me have a happy ending. This is my sentence, where I live life on the pages of white. The author writes words without risk as I am forced to walk his narrative day in and day out, but I forgive the author. I’m not sure if my story is being revealed to him or even if he has the final say. I can only hope that maybe, just maybe the author will let me know my fate. Am I fiction or non-fiction, I just don’t know.
“Which of us has not felt that the character we are reading in the printed page is more real than the person standing beside us?”
Life in The City of Angels: Doppelgänger, Michael and Edward
La Musica in B&W
Music is a safe kind of high -Jimi Hendrix
It is my favorite assignment, photographing musicians while in rehearsal or in a recording studios. It is the moment that the musicians delve deeply into the musical notes on a sheet of paper and give birth to a sound that becomes airborne with an arsenal of emotions. Like a still image, music can act as a synthetic acid which enhances flashbacks to a moment in time that has been joyful or painful and never forgotten. Music is the needle and thread that sews our humanity together and in spite of being in metal boxes on Golden State 5 you can witness the joy of Angelenos as they boogie, jive and groove to their own soundtrack, it is a collective consciousness of moving forward to the beat of their own music.
Life in the City of Angels: Hollywood
Beirut L.A. Graphic Novel and Preview Trailer
So, I’m gong to write a graphic novel, I’ve never written one before but the idea has been brewing in the back of my mind for years. I own several graphic novel’s, Sin City by Frank Miller, Cairo by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by M.K. Perker and DMZ written and artwork by Brain Wood and Riccardo Burchielli. Being a child of the 60’s I collected comics books as most kids did and we would barter and trade the comics like baseball cards. At that time comic books weren’t without their critics, conservative and religious parents called them “the ten-cent plague”, it was so bad that some of my friends would leave their comics at my house in a separate box with their name written in crayon. My collection ranged from Amazing Adventures, SilverSurfer and even Uncle Scrooge. The artwork of these comics kept me in engaged as I dealt with the reading disability of dyslexia and attention deficit disorder (ADD). While thumbing through colored pages of eye candy, my ADD would settle and eventually I would scan the panels of narration and the dialogue balloons of the characters and read. In many ways the comics became my visual aid to keep me reading – even if they weren’t the leather-bound classics, I was reading.
In 1966 the social fabric of American culture changed with civil rights, anti-war demonstrations and the Beatles. I left my beloved comics in a cardboard box on the floor of my closet as I grew into adolescents and started watching TV. My attention and imagination was capture by an NBC television show called Star Trek. In an interview with Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, he is quoted as saying, “I have no belief that STAR TREK depicts the actual future, it depicts us, now, things we need to understand about that”. Real issues of Racism, Sexism, Militarism and Peace were disguised in his science fiction teleplay and broadcasted to the American public – which I can only now appreciate Gene’s boldness and forward thinking. As my hair grew to shoulder length wearing puka beards and flashing the peace sign from my Volkswagen bus, I joined the counter-culture and gave financial support in buying R Crumb’s comics at the local head-shop. My favorites are Zap Comix’s, Keep on Trucking’ and Mr. Natural. Crumb’s comics were filled with wonderful countercultural values of gratuitous sex, drugs, and violence.
So, as I start this project I bring with me a more mature attitude, experiences and a growing sense of awareness of how our world is changing. As Gene would say and I’m paraphrasing here, “not to depicting the actual future, but depicts us now and things we need to understand”.
Beirut L.A. Journal Entry, July 14, 2025,
After 17 years in the Middle East covering the war in Israel and North Africa, I have come home to an America that I know longer recognize. Ever since the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court back in 2010, a shadow government by Multi-National Corporations now controls America and all media outlets. The First Amendment no longer protects journalists and I can be arrested for having a camera in public – all as a result of the Patriot Act. The take over was insidious as the public was distracted with non-news, pop culture and celebrity gossip. There are riots, refugees, vigilantes, a serious water shortages, genetic food that is making people sick and private armies protecting pockets of wealthy communities from the rest of society — none of which is being reported. I have come home to Beirut L. A. – Vito De La Luca
The Lazarus Report is Vito’s public moniker and news service. Much like a graffiti artist, Vito uses any means to get his reporting out to the public. Needless to say, Vito’s life depends on his anonymity. As a result of leaking real news to the public by bloggers, journalists and photojournalists, Corporate America a.k.a. SG (Shadow Government) is out to censure Vito and others like him permanently. Empowered by the Patriot Act and the Clear and Present Danger doctrine, SG’s private security detail is the US Enforcement Bureau, a.k.a. Black Fly. The street name comes from the use of drones, quadcopters, stealth helicopters and close circuit camera. Beyond Black Fly perks and pay rate, handsome bonuses are given to those who find dissidents and eliminate them and the truth.
Beirut L.A. Trailer Beirut L.A coming in 2015. Stay Tune !
Cue The Camels Book Signing at Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, California
Dave Banks discusses and signs Cue the Camels
Jay Leno says, “Within these pages Dave has written gung-ho, self-deprecating, wildly engaging accounts of his exploits, with all the behind-the-scene high-jinks that go into shooting news and documentaries across the world.” In Cue the Camels, Dave shares his misadventures in a comedic style that is sure to entertain.
Vroman’s Bookstore Link: http://www.vromansbookstore.com/local629
Cue The Camels available at: www.cuethecamels.com, www.oodlebooks.com, Also available at: Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California www.vromansbookstore.com/book/9780957438385, , Book Soup in Hollywood, California, booksoup.com/book/9780957438385 , Amazon Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Cue-Camels-three-time-award-winning-film-maker-ebook/dp/B00IA10Z88/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403461103&sr=1-1&keywords=cue+the+camels
Life in the City of Angels: L.A. Riots 1992 Tour
April 17, 1993, Saturday, 2:30 a.m. I am fully clothed and laying in bed watching Sting in the science fiction movie “Dune,” while eating Girl Scout peanut butter cookies and drinking coffee. I am in a hotel room at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Commerce, California along with off-duty San Jose detectives and ex-Navy Seals, all of who have been hired as freelance and assigned to me as bodyguards, and all of who are armed to the teeth. A Seal will drive our bulletproof Crown Victoria that is being rented by the production company for a thousands bucks a day, and one of the detectives will ride “shotgun.” Our team has been issued flak jackets, Kevlar helmets, pepper spray and Israeli gas masks. Ironically, the instructions for the gas masks are in Hebrew and none of us can reads Hebrew. Unlike the first intifada – the L.A. Riots of 1992 – I now have an official backstage pass to the “L.A Riots Part 2-1993 Tour.” I’m embedded with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcements Bureau, in a platoon made up of thirty-six Sheriffs Deputies traveling in sixteen marked patrol cars and one “armored hostage rescue vehicle.”
3:15 a.m. The call comes in to prep the gear, check out and travel to a new location. Crap! Dune is not over and I will miss the best part where giant sandworms appear out of the desert floor and destroy the Harvesters that mine for the Spice on the planet Arrakis. In the hotel lobby I am informed that the production company has had second thoughts and now feels the thousand-dollar-a-day bulletproof car is too expensive. They do not want to be held responsible for any damage to it. Looks like I will be riding in a Deputy Sheriff’s patrol car.
8:25 a.m. We have rendezvous with several other platoons of uniformed deputies in what appears to be an abandoned hotel parking lot. Some deputies are relaxing in their vehicles, others are outside, pacing nervously. It is here that I hear the verdict and sentencing of the defendants in the second Rodney King trial as I’m searching for a place to get some coffee. Several of the patrol cars have their trunks open with portable radios tuned to the KFWB all-news station. The newscaster’s flat voice echoes across the parking lot along with news of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a nuclear accident in Russia, a fire fight with the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas and a nifty review of Billy Crystal hosting the 65th Academy Awards and the shows ratings.
9:20 a.m. The platoon relocates to a substation located at the City Hall Complex in Lynwood.
Falling Down For A Meal……
11:25 a.m.This is our first sit-down meal since Thursday night the 15th of April. “Today is Saturday the 17th of April” I think. I’m sitting in a chair at a table where both have been bolted to the floor. This is Angelo’s Burgers on Atlantic Boulevard in Lynwood. I am getting ready to eat a breakfast burrito, in the company of fifty deputy sheriffs in this small burger joint. After the meal we talk with the deputies and drink coffee when I notice a homemade sign made of cardboard and a magic marker on the counter where you place your order. “The Movie ‘Falling Down’ with Michael Douglas was filmed here on May 12th, 1992.” It was here at Angelo’s that the famous scene where Michael Douglas’ beleaguered character is trying to order breakfast from a fast-food chain called “Whammy Burgers” was filmed. The menu has changed from breakfast to lunch and Michael wants breakfast not lunch. In short, the movie is about a man in L. A. who goes bonkers. It’s ironic that we are sitting here at Angelo’s with deputy sheriffs having breakfast waiting for a city to go bonkers.
Saturday 2:15 p.m. It is not the result of the announcement of the court’s verdict that sends us racing at top speed from Lynwood to an amusement park north of Los Angeles. Apparently a scheduled rap concert has been oversold by a thousand tickets or so. As expected, some of the fans were upset, and out of frustration windows were broken at restaurants across the street from the entrance to the amusement park.
I love Scottish Food……
4:35 p.m. The deputies, our crew and assorted bodyguards are in a holding pattern at the upper entrance to the park. Everyone is hungry. With my supply of Atomic Fireball jawbreakers, Balance Bars and gum gone, the production company finally breaks down and decides to get McDonald’s quarter pounders for everyone. Half way through the order, McDonald’s runs out of quarter pounders and we end up with Happy Meals for most of the crew and seventy plus deputies.
7:46p.m. The sun has set. I tag along with a squad of seven deputies, taking in the sights and sounds of the park. I wonder if we can stop long enough to get a corndog. Occasionally families and kids looking for a way out of the park stop us and ask for directions. None of our group are familiar enough with the park and we are not much help in answering their questions. We have not been in the park longer than fifteen or twenty minutes at the most when there is an atmospheric change in the night.
There is now a lull in the sounds. The normal sounds of a carnival atmosphere where laughter and excited screams of kids on a wild rides are mixed in the night air have diminished. There is something different happening here. There is a different kind of screaming now. A disconcerted screaming that builds and continues until all laughter has been swallowed by the night. A swelling of emotions rises from my stomach and settles into my chest and heart. My instincts are telling me something that I don’t yet consciously perceive. It is at this point that time becomes a series of different scenarios in slow motion and other craziness in “quick time”.
Like locusts swarming upon a field of grain, kids and families are pouring out of nowhere, surrounding us. The deputies react by creating a circle in the middle of a concrete walkway. If you were to look down from overhead, you would see a circle of tan helmets surrounded by a sea of bodies. A sergeant is in the middle trying to hear the two-way radio above the human sounds. My eye is glued in the Nikon’s viewfinder, and the cameras motor drive whines with click-click-click-click-click. The framed faces are growing with expressions of dread, concern, and confusion as the volume of pandemonium rises to a higher decibel.
Somewhere in the park ahead of us panic strikes like lightning and like the delay of thunder, so is my reaction and that of the seven deputies. We catch the first swell of the crowd seeking safety. It is a stampede of hundreds of people coming right at us, and we are a mere wall of eight people. The noise level of crying, shouting and screaming rise again to a decibel level higher then an AC/DC concert. I hear a deputy shouting ” Was that gunfire ? Was that gunfire?”
The mob recedes and confusion fills the void. Again gunshots or firecrackers are set off somewhere in the park ahead of us and a larger tidal wave of families in sheer panic descend upon us. Unlike the 1992 riots I covered nearly a year ago to the day- this had the element of the vulnerability of families caught in the middle of a total breakdown of civil order. They have become a captive audience for Mad Hatter’s Wild Ride and Freak Show. A group of teenage boys and girls run up to us screaming that a park security guy is getting beat up behind us. We turn but can’t see anything but a wall of humanity one hundred yards deep.
More deputies arrive out of nowhere and we make our way across a sea of glass shards, white plastic coat hangers, price tags and paper images of cartoon characters. A helicopter flies overhead with its powerful spotlight shining down on the throngs. The beam creates a massive shadow from the tree limbs and scaffolding which slowly crawls over the entire area like a black web.
A Table, Chair and a Chef……
Passing by a restaurant I notice that the doors are cracked I peer into the darkness and silhouetted in the foreground are chairs, tables and serving trays stacked on top of each other. Beyond the barrier, a young man dressed in his chef’s whites stares at me with a dazed and anxious look. I can only assume that he has chosen to stand sentry with fire extinguisher in hand as the world outside goes for a roller coaster ride into a momentary lapse of sanity.
The park is now quieter as the deputies contain and prod the visitors to the main entrance. I pass a long line of kids at a pay phone trying to call their parents to come and get them while near by is a marble statue of a rabbit riding a horse waving goodbye to his guests.
April 19, 1993, Morning Coffee and the Times….
This morning I read in the L A Times, “The park reopened Sunday to an enthusiastic spring break crowd as law enforcement officials, park managers and a music promoter tried to pinpoint blame for two melees that damaged both the park and its reputation as a place for family entertainment. An all-night repair job replaced broken windows and looted merchandise in time for Sunday’s 10 a.m. opening”
I later learned that the “melees” cost the park an estimated 2 million dollars in damages, 40 people were emergency evacuated and that it took 450 deputies to move 40,000 people out of the park. Urban legend has it that a body was found underneath a roller coaster ride four days after the riot. In ShowBiz news, there is big buzz about the release of Steven Spielberg’s film “Jurassic Park” It’s about a team of genetic engineers creating an amusement park full of cloned dinosaurs – then all hell breaks out.