Friday, October 31, 2008

I have Patty Hearst on my Voicemail

I have Patty Hearst on my voicemail. Most people can't say that. *

One of the perks of being a journalist is occasionally shaking hands with people who have been burned into my consciousness as larger-than-life characters.

I've talked to Mickey Rooney about the IRS and Jimmy Carter about his daughter's arrest record. I've discussed the Ethyl and Julius Rosenberg espionage case with their son and granddaughter. I've spoken with James Irwin about walking on the moon and looking for Noah's Ark.

Last year Patty Hearst flew into town to promote a small independent movie at the Sundance Film Festival. She's made an unmemorable acting career appearing in campy John Waters films. This was her foray into serious cinema.

What I do remember is her media metamorphosis from Hearst heiress to Symbionese Liberation Army kidnap victim to machine-gun toting bank robber. I was an oblivious 13 year old at the time, but even I couldn't forget that.

Hearst was not able make her scheduled interview with KUTV and called and left a message. And I didn't erase it.

Coincidentally, Hearst was also involuntarily appearing in another Sundance entry, Robert Stone's "Neverland," about the S.L.A. And she agreed to do publicity interviews for the documentary. She told us that, while the subject of a nationwide manhunt, her captors took her out to the movies.

It was slightly surreal talking to her about this 30 years after the fact.

And so, as a memento, I keep Patty Hearst on my voicemail.

*Recently, the Patty Hearst voicemail along with my job, vanished into the ether. It is a sad day.

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