Wednesday, February 20, 2008

PJ loses a friend

I've talked about it before, joked about it and held out hope from the inevitable... but today it has come.

This morning the staff of the Albuquerque Tribune heard the news, Saturday would be their last day and after 86-years the doors will closed one last time.

It wasn't the paper of my internship, but I'd grown to love the Tribune over my time here, even gotten to know many among the photo staff to the point I'd consider them friends.

The first time I'd walked over to say hello wasn't until late Dec. Their photo editor, Mark Holm, was sitting at a desk working an end of the year homicide infograpahic. When I said hello, he just looked up and said, "It's about time you made it over here."

That's how everyone over there was, always inviting, always willing to stop and have a chat. Always willing.

Erin Fredrichs invited me as her guest to a party for the same night that I'd met her for the first time, while we were shooting the same high school football game.

Steven St. John was the quite guy who was always focused during an assignment but willing to talk about anything in between the cracks. His was also the first photo column I saw, the weekly page 2 feature of the Trib that become a part of my Monday ritual at work.

Craig Fritz was shooting the crash site from my left and talked to me at the scene of a fatal balloon fiesta accident about how he's had to deal with death and balancing the job with everything else.

I finally met Michael Gallegos last week after spending nearly the entire six months hoping to run into him at the office. He'd graduated from San Jose State University many (many) years before me and had e-mailed me out of the blue to say hello. Finally we did meet, and it turned out to be a really great conversation. He'd extended me an offer to tag along on photo shoots if I was interested, that sounded like a great time out.

It's funny how the paper and I were both on the same tracks, announcing their plans for a sale within weeks of my arrival and now closing up shop about a week after I had done the same.

My roommates girlfriend worked there and let me know right away which side I had to be rooting for. During my first full week of work, she'd decided to take a dry erase marker to my car and had tagged my windshield and driver side window with the phrase, "Viva la Tribune!"

It's still there today, maybe I couldn't do it, wash it off. Or maybe I just never got around to wash the car in the last six months, whatever the reason, looking at that window now... yeah...

It's like we both knew an end was coming and were trying to do our best work, because who knew when we'd get to again.

I'll never forget all the times I've looked at their front pages and said, "Wow!" or "I wish I'd seen that," or more often than not, "How'd they get away with that?!"

For the short time I was able to read it, I was inspired, but I guess all good things must come to an end.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to watch, read and experience all the multimedia, photo columns and slideshows one last time before the website is taken down and another storied chapter comes to a close.

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