I meant to post last night, then I noticed nobody had written a Wikipedia entry for Daniel Pearl. I had to jump on that one. We’re talking about a guy who wrote a feature story about Iranian pop music and got it published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, folks. Who gets those kinds of ideas? And then gets them published in a venue like that?
OK, OK, getting it published on the front page of the WSJ isn’t quite the accomplishment it first seems–the WSJ seeks out stories like that to put on its front page to break up its notorious monotony. Still, this is one of the holy grails of journalism.
He also wrote a story about a Stradivarius violin being found on a highway on-ramp. That’s not something you hear about very often. The best story I ever heard like that was about someone finding a working Micron laptop on a highway on-ramp. The reason those things ended up on the on-ramp was the same: both of them allegedly were placed on top of a car before the driver absentmindedly forgot and drove off.
In the case of the Stradivarius, it’s also highly possible the thing was just stolen. In the case of the Micron laptop, it’s the theory of my coworkers that the guy who did it just wanted a new one and wasn’t quite as thrilled as everyone else when the laptop was returned to him in perfect working order. But, as usual, I digress.
There was a lot of drama surrounding the Daniel Pearl story. He was a highly-regarded WSJ bureau chief, chasing the trail of shoe bomber Richard Reid. He was kidnapped because he was an American Jew in a Muslim country. (Never mind that there’s every indication that to Pearl, being Jewish was just a label and he had no particular hatred of Arabs or Mohammedanism, and that Pearl was known at the WSJ for being one of its most outspoken critics of the U.S. government.) His loving wife was pregnant with their first child. That child was born several months later without a father. His grisly death was highly publicized because it was videotaped and released.
It’s easy to forget in all of that that Daniel Pearl was a human being, with a sense of humor and the unusual quirks you find and enjoy in your best friends.
So I had to jump at writing his story.