Wednesday, January 14, 2009

He's No D. B. Cooper

I was able to include the following in a story I filed recently: "Only last week, Marcus Schrenker was just an obscure Indiana financial industry businessman up to his eyeballs in legal trouble. Now his 15 minutes of fame have arrived after he allegedly did a variation on the D. B. Cooper maneuver by parachuting out of an airplane in a vain attempt to fake his own death..."

It's the first time in all the thousands of articles I've written (counting five-graph shorts) that I ever remember referring to D. B. Cooper. It was a bit of a stretch, comparing Mr. Schrenker's efforts to the one and only D. B. Cooper. About all they had in common was a willingness to parachute out of an airplane in order to disappear. I guess Schrenker expected the plane to crash into the Gulf of Mexico, which might have avoided the embarrassment of having the authorities find empty wreckage. That would pretty much give the whole thing away, and in fact did.

D.B. Cooper, on the other hand, is still on the lam after nearly 40 years, provided he's still alive. Even if he's not, he belongs in the Vanished Without a Trace Hall of Fame, members of which include Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa and Judge Crater. It's certainly one way to be famous, if you do it right. How many other noted pre-WW II aviatrix, crooked '50s labor bosses or minor New York state judges in office nearly 80 years ago immediately come to mind?

(Wiki notes that even the least known of those three -- Judge Crater -- still gets pop-culture references: In the episode of The Sopranos entitled "House Arrest," the doorbell rings at Uncle Junior's house. When Bobby asks who it could be, Junior responds, "Judge Crater. How should I know?" A puzzled Bobby asks, "The one who ordered the house arrest?")

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