Friday, June 10, 2005


Sometimes celebrities are edgy about their fame because they have not yet learned to deal with all the attendant attention. Others have had trying experiences with unprovoked intrusions into their personal lives. Still others, like many ordinary people, are just edgy by nature. But Patty Hearst, now there’s a woman who has all the reason in the world to be edgy. And that is exactly what was going through my brother’s mind when he took a seat on the train next to her on the way into Manhattan.

If you’re not a fan of Orson Wells or media Moguls of yore, you may not know who Patty is. She’s the billionaire heiress to a fortune amassed by the man who sculpted the news over half a century. Her Daddy’s mere pocket money built castles and shrines to himself that would weaken the knees of Egyptian kings. As the only child of the doting “Citizen Kane”, a man who immortalized himself in Xanadu, Americas most extravagant mausoleum, no earthly sum would be spared in satisfying her every whim. Yet poise and etiquette were equally imparted, so that by her early teens she was quite the debutante-to-be.

Just one year later, though, the world would gaze on another cherished symbol of Ms. Hearst’s personal brand of aristocracy: a photograph of her holding a loaded fully automatic assault weapon to the head of a bank guard as The Symbianeese Liberation Army made off with the loot. Somehow it seems that after the radical group snatched her up for ransom, she caught the Stockholm Syndrome ball and carried it deep into the end zone. It must have been a transformation which astonished even her captives.

Anyway, Dad somehow managed to extract her from all that glamour and reconditioned her brain, but of course he had to have most of her new friends assassinated in the process. And needless to say they were a pretty nasty and vindictive bunch. So yet again Patty knew she was destined to spend the rest of her life in the company of men who carry large caliber automatic weapons. Only this time they were body guards. So the guy in dark shades sitting one seat back and one over was probably fresh from the jungles of El Salvador or Peru.

Several times during the train ride my brother turned halfway towards her, placing his fingertips upon his chin in an inquisitive manner. Intermittently he would crinkle his brow and raise a finger, only to surrender his point. Patty visibly squirmed as he appeared to spend the hour summoning the notion of where he knew her from.

As the train pulled into Grand Central Station my brother just turned and asked, in the most casual of ways, “so, does that mean that Xanadu will be the last stop for you too”?

Apparently she laughed. Very hard. Because my brother never told me this story. Years later he just handed me a folded over copy of Interview where it was recounted, and said “you know this guy”.

1 comment:

golfwidow said...

That? Is awesome.