Monday, October 27, 2008

Making something of nothing - literally

"John K. Burkley II is marketing the idea of a tourist destination, including a Hollywood-themed slots complex, for developers of a 150-acre tract in Perryville. Marylanders could vote in November to legalize slots in five locations, including the area around Perryville."

Election day is drawing closer, and aside from voting for a the next president of the United States, residents in Maryland, including myself, have the chance to legalize slots.

This, much like the death penalty issue and whether or not to abolish it in Maryland, has been a hot debate topic which I followed this summer and fall.

The debate on slots has left many in Maryland with mixed feelings. Some fear the they would disrupt their way of life with increased traffic and crime, while others say the state needs the economic boost. As stated several Baltimore Sun articles, during these tough economic times, the financial benefits hold particular appeal for many.

Since June, I've covered both sides of the proposal. From those like John K. Burkley II (above) who is marketing the idea of a tourist destination in Cecil County, to the opponents and supporters who live directly behind other proposed locations like Pimlico Race Course.

Much like Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is pushing for voter approval of the slots plan, I have to agree to bring them to the state. I don't see the difference between Joe Random buying $100 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets and Jane Random pulling the lever on the slot machine. Not to mention the financial benefits would be helpful in these tougher times.

As for this assignment, I met the reporter and subject directly off of Interstate 95 in Cecil County. Where? On a service road next to a huge lot of empty land.

Knowing the story was about the proposed area for slots, I needed to make something of literally nothing. Just grass and dirt - and a human.

Instead of photographing an empty lot of land, I pitched the idea for the reporter to drive her SUV out into the middle of this field and conduct her interview. She went for it.

So we piled into her small SUV and trekked out into this lot. Little did we know this flat terrain was anything but smooth. As we trickled across the dry bed of dirt and tall grass, our heads continually hit the top of the headliner as we bumped across multiple ditches and pot holes.

At this point I wasn't nervous about getting shot, but scared that I'd be driving the reporter back to Baltimore after she either got a flat tire or ripped her oil pan off the bottom of her truck.

But without delay, we made it to the middle of pitch, after we decided not to try and make it to the small hill on the far side of the lot which over looked the water.

As the reporter and the subject talked, I tried my best to show the size of the land by standing on her truck door frames to get a higher angle.

In the end, we ran the above photo which I liked better. Nothing like a little bit of grass to help fill your frame.

And to those locals interested, and still unsure which way you will vote, follow The Baltimore Sun's coverage on the slots here.


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