So it seems that Gary "No, Seriously, I'm Fine, It's Just A Hole In My Lung" Stevens was frustrated because word wasn't getting out on what happened to him during a recent spill, a fall that earned him a fractured vertebra and a collapsed lung. You know who he called from his hospital bed? Not his spokesman. Not a journalist. Not Entertainment Tonight.

A writer.

A nonfiction writer.

Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit, got the scoop. She got the good stuff-- not which horse fell into who and how many lengths were lost, but the "WHAT WAS WERE HIS FEELINGS?!!?" crap that we creative nonfictionistas eat up with a slotted spoon.

She got the scoop because she is Gary Stevens' friend, and because she is an honest historical writer. Stevens told her he was afraid he was having a heart attack as he was rushed to the hospital, that the hoof of one of the oncoming horses had grazed his ear, barely missing him, and that he'd experienced the worst pain of his life as his lung was reinflated.

He told her he couldn't breathe after the fall. That he was scared.

She told the story.

This is why I left journalism-- to write. I never gave one damn about scoops, about being the first with the story. I give many damns, however, about being the one with the whole story, that I might be able to help a friend hurting in the hospital who knows that the public-- and, therefore, history-- isn't getting the truth. Gary Stevens had something like four agents, a spokesman, a track representative, and eight million different kinds of sportswriters milling around various parts of the country, and not a single one of them managed to get the story straight. I can't tell you how many blatant untruths concerning the Seabiscuit story I've found in the media since the movie was released-- one newspaper piece, for instance, ripped the historical Red Pollard for frequenting brothels when Seabiscuit states he most likely did not.

This shouldn't have surprised me; after we lost Columbia, one of my co-workers at KSC found fifty-three errors in one newspaper article.

This type of famous person-writer thing needs to happen to me. I'd be sitting there staring angrily at a pile of incomprehensible engineering crap and the phone would ring, and there would be Cristiano Ronaldo, having actually injured himself upon the pitch: "My dear girl, precious artist," he would say-- voice weak with the effort, but he has to talk to me, he just has to-- "tell my story."

Then I, with God-touched humility, would solemnly agree: "My words shall bear your will, my brave, brave knight." And then we'd both cry.

August 22, 2003

Two of my coworkers, Dan and Anamaria, invited me to dinner and a free modern art show. I enjoy art, but I resisted, as this would interrupt my normal productive schedule of driving home, not eating dinner, and assuming the fetal position until it was time to get up and go back to work.

"Dinner" for people in our income bracket pretty much consists of ice water and a bad sandwich. So the highlight was when I spotted free food, but not just any free food: A cheese tray.

I tried what looked like a slice of cheddar, which tasted like peanut butter, and then I tried a slice of what looked like Swiss, which tasted like ass. I spit everything into a napkin, which I discreetly stuffed behind a sculpture of four demons pointing laser beam eyes at one another. And that, children, is how I lost my trust in art cheese.

Things picked up, however, as we ventured into the studios where the artists work. We passed the room of an artist displaying approximately eight million different pictures of dogs wearing hats, posed in relation to one another in various and sundry non-Catholic positions. A sign near the doorway read: "Natural II Classes Now Underway! Models needed!"

Anamaria and I fled, as politely as possible, directly into a bar.

It was truly Art.

August 22, 2003

Actual, real-life jockey Gary Stevens, who plays dead jockey George Woolf in Seabiscuit, had a spill over the weekend. He was racing at Arlington in Chicago-- winningly, might I add-- and his mount, Storming Home, shied right at the wire. He slammed to the turf and was clipped by a horse or two. The stewards hit the inquiry light, and disqualified the win since Storming Home (who I'd like to nominate into the Ironically Named Equine Hall of Fame), in the act of spooking, interfered with the rest of the field.

I may be the only person in America who has yet to see the footage of this, and frankly I prefer to keep it that way. The stills alone were horrible enough. I was sitting there in front of the computer with my hand over my mouth when I saw Stevens laying on the turf, all those hooves flying overhead. At that point in the race, everybody's pouring these horses down the stretch at a good thirty-five, forty miles an hour. It is not a good place to be thrown. And here's the Powerball kicker: Stevens is lying there with a collapsed lung and a broken vertebra, barely able to breathe, and-- he wants to know what's going on with the inquiry.

That's a jockey.

August 19, 2003

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Mary Beth is an introvert.

She is eager to communicate but prefers doing so via email, a giant stage, or intense conversation about Important Things.

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