On the Trail of Hamby Epilogue: The Sunsfear Crisis

[Here we are at the end of this fantastic, fantabulous, spine-tingling true life adventure. After eighteen months, the law finally caught up to criminal mastermind Brian Hamby. After leaving a long trail of broken hearts and broken bathroom fixtures, Hamby was finally cornered and apprehended as the whole world watched and waited. Waiting, perhaps, for the coverage to be over so they could watch Oprah. Some think that he wanted to be caught because his capture was too easy for a man of his cunning. Many believe that Hamby was weary of life on the run and this was a cry for help. Others (and I have to agree with them) just think the whole thing was pretty stupid. Judge for yourself. The following is the incredible live coverage from NBC's Today show as it aired the morning of December 22, 2000. - Longmire]

Katie Couric: Welcome back to Today on this morning of Friday, December 22, 2000. Coming up: last minute Christmas gift ideas, how to filet and fry a reindeer Cajun style, Al Gore's post-election depression and subsequent alcohol addiction, Tipper Gore's arrival at a domestic abuse safe house, and how Elvis would be celebrating the holidays if he were still alive. But first, a rather bizarre event is taking place at this moment in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Matt Lauer: That's right, Katie. A deranged moron has barricaded himself atop something called "The Sunsphere," a tower structure that is a landmark, some may say eyesore, in that southeastern city. Our Today Show correspondents are live on location in Knoxville covering this developing situation, but first, let's check in with Al Roker and the weather. Al, what's the day looking like?

Al Roker: Well, Matt, a rare winter hurricane is fast approaching the eastern coast of Florida, which the National Weather Service has stated is payback to those "incompetent bastards" for totally screwing up the presidential election. In Hawaii, winds are calm at 10 mph, the barometric pressure is steady, and wealthy tourists are sitting on the beach soaking up the sun and double Mai Tai's. Unlike the heavy rains currently in Florida, the only way to get wet out there is to jump in the pool or ocean. There are also reports of a unusually high number of orgies taking place in Honolulu roller-skating rinks. Heh, heh, heh. Back to you, Matt and Katie.

Katie: Al, what should people in Florida do to avoid the hurricane's damaging winds?

Al: Katie, the best thing to do is live out west, like in Nevada or California. Other than that, just try to be courteous and nonthreatening to the hurricane when it arrives. Maybe greet it with a small gift or deli tray.

Katie: Are there any fatalities yet?

Al: Other than one guy trying to retrieve a Frisbee from the middle of the freeway in Jacksonville, there hasn't been any weather-related deaths in Florida yet, but we're keeping our fingers crossed.

Hey, can I come in now? It's awfully cold out here.

Katie: No, Al. We repeatedly told you no more breakfast burritos, so what did you this morning?... you ate five in a row and stunk up the studio. It made Matt faint.

Al: I'm sorry.

Katie: We now go live to our KLAC affiliate in Los Angeles. Flying over the city in the KLAC Action 8 Tele-Copter is correspondent Skip McDonald. Skip, can you tell us anything about the hurricane and what you're seeing now?

Skip McDonald: Well, no, not really Katie, since the hurricane is in Florida.. but there is a pileup on I-405 and I'm critically low on aviation fuel.

OK, thanks, Skip. Let's go now to Ann Curry at the news desk to bring us up to date with the Sunsfear situation in Knoxville.

Ann Curry:
Actually, it's called the "Sunsphere"... s-p-h-e-r-e, not s-f-e-a-r.

Katie (through clenched teeth): Never, ever, correct me again.

Ann (nervous): Um...uh...OK... An unknown individual has taken over the Sunsphere, a tall phallic-shaped tower adjacent to downtown Knoxville. A pale white male has been spotted on the very top of the globe-shaped structure and has blocked access to thwart any attempts by authorities to remove him. His intentions are not known at this time, but Knoxville police have surrounded the area and cordoned off nearby adjoining streets to keep the public a safe distance away from the area. Reports have come in that this disturbance actually originated at a Knoxville Waffle House 45 minutes earlier this morning before the individual took over the Sunsphere.

Reporting live from the Waffle House where this started is Claire Shipman. Claire?

Claire Shipman: Ann, I'm here in front of a Waffle House in Northwest Knoxville where a bizarre event occurred, even more bizarre than what usually happens daily at Waffle Houses. I have with me here two waitresses, Debbiejean Presley and Earlene Ledbetter, who confronted the Sunsphere suspect here earlier. Ladies, can you tell me what happened?

Debbiejean and Earlene (in unison): HELLLLLOOOO!!!!!

Claire Shipman: Uh... yes... Earlene, you seem to be the slightly smarter one... let's start with you. Please tell us what went on here earlier.

Earlene: Well, I was ringing up a bacon, egg and cheese omelet combo when Debbiejean poked me and said...uh...what was it you said, Debbiejean?

Debbiejean: Looky there.

Earlene: What? Where? Order up?

Debbiejean: No, dummy... I nudged you and said 'looky there.'

Earlene: Oh yeah... well, then I looked behind the counter and seen an odd-looking feller wearing a blue uniform with 'Acme Grill Cleaners' written on the shirt pocket with a black Marks-A-Lot. He was also wearing sunglasses and a weird-lookin' but strangely seductive bandana. Debbiejean and me approached this guy... he was in the process of carrying out our main egg grill. I asked him just where in the stinkin' hell he thought he was goin' with official Waffle House property. He said he was taking it back to the main office to clean it.

Claire Shipman: And that made you suspicious?

Earlene: Hell yes... we never clean our grills.

Claire Shipman: And then what happened?

Earlene: I hollered out to the manager, who was in the bathroom at the time. The weird guy dropped the grill on Debbiejean's foot and yelled out "There's a sailor in the shanty!" and then dropped this pink thing on the floor that blowed up on me and Debbiejean and blinded us. When the smoke cleared, he was gone. We did find this ID badge on the floor, though.

Claire Shipman: Earlene, you mentioned earlier to me that certain items were missing from the restaurant?

Earlene: Oh yeah... we took a count and found that this guy had taken 17 ceiling tiles, a hand dryer from the men's restroom, 7 menus, one wall outlet, coat hooks, 3 bottles of hot sauce, some bar stools, the milk shake machine, and one of the F's off the sign outside. Let's see, what else.... oh yeah... Mr. Jenkins, one of our longtime customers, is missing... but he has Alzheimer's, so he could be anywhere.

Claire Shipman: Amazing. Debbiejean, do you have anything to add?

Debbiejean: That grill left a bigass welt on my foot. You wanna see it?

Claire Shipman: No thanks... Ann, authorities now confirm that this "Brain" is the same person illegally occupying the Sunsphere in downtown Knoxville. A rather bizarre story from two equally bizarre women. This is Claire Shipman reporting live from Knoxville. Back to you, Ann.

Debbiejean: You sure you don't wanna see my foot?

Claire Shipman: No, that's quite all right.

Debbiejean: Well, sheeeyutt...

Ann: Thanks for that report, Claire. The suspect previously known only as "Brain" has now been identified by the FBI as Brian Hamby, an escaped small-time criminal and advice columnist who has eluded law enforcement authorities for 18 months. Hamby escaped from the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in the District of Columbia where he was being held pending a court appearance for defacing a public monument... charged with using a magic marker to add his name to the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington. In June of this year, Hamby made a surprise appearance on the popular show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, resulting in severely injuring Regis Philbin with an exploding device...officials have termed it a "pink panty bomb"... the same type weapon used in the Waffle House incident. Hamby is a third level master of Tai Chi and he is considered "not so much dangerous as he is just really annoying." Back to you, Katie.

Katie: Thanks, Ann. Is there word on any fatalities yet? Any sign of the plane wreckage or body parts?

Ann: No, Katie, no. Nothing yet, Sorry.

Katie: Dammit. OK, we're going to David Gregory who is now at the scene of the Sunsfear. David, what's the current situation there?

David Gregory: Katie, it's a very strange day here in Knoxville as the temperature is an extremely unseasonable and sweltering 93 degrees, which is unheard of in this region in late December. Authorities speculate that these conditions may be contributing to the incredible event unfolding here. Behind me you can see the base of the "Sunsphere," a leftover icon from the World's Fair held in Knoxville in 1982. Let's pan out and get a full view of this thing...

OK, there it is.

Katie: Oh my god!

David Gregory: Yes, it's...uh... quite..er... something, isn't it?


Katie, the person commandeering this tower, Brian Hamby, has been taunting police and federal agents for the past 20 minutes with a steady stream of obscenities. And no, Katie, there are no fatalities or bloated bodies up to this point.

Katie: Can you hear what Hamby is saying?

David Gregory: The speech is somewhat slurred, but I can make out that he is screaming and ranting about such things as cream cheese, sailors in shanties, Ecuador, coupons, that damned liar Longmire, Jive Talkin,' and someone named Tonya. Plus, Katie, for the last few minutes he's been hurling several objects down at police officers such as empty doughnut boxes, cinderblocks, whiskey bottles, metal pipes, and balloons filled with urine.

Katie: Oh my!

David Gregory: That's right Katie... empty doughnut boxes.

It's quiet at the moment but that could change at any second with this unpredictable character. He seems to be out of sight of our cameras at this...

Katie: How many people have been killed so far and what are the condition of the bodies?

David Gregory: Like I said, there has not been any injuries let alone fatali...

Katie: Are you telling me that no one has had their head blown off yet?

David Gregory: That's right, Katie, but it sure is hot here and I have seen some people perspiring...

Katie (excited): Expiring?

David Gregory: No, Katie, perspiring... as in sweating.

Katie: (sigh) All right, David, we'll return to you in a few moments. Matt Lauer has a Mark somebody here in our New York studio who has a connection to the Sunsfear terrorist. Matt?

Thanks, Katie. Joining us is Mark Longmire, who is from Knoxville, the East Tennessee city where this morning's events are taking place.

Longmire: Good morning, Matt. Nice to be here.

Matt: Good morning. Mr. Longmire, what is your relationship to Brian Hamby and this situation at the Sunsphere?

Longmire: Geez, what is that smell...?

Matt: It's Al Roker. Now, getting back to my question... what is your involvement with Hamby?

Longmire: Well, Matt, I have a website called "The Wonderful World of Longmire" that featured Mr. Hamby as an advice columnist for the troubled and lovelorn. I say "featured" since Brian has been missing since June of last year. The premise of the column, "Dear Brian," is simply that people write in questions for Brian and he more or less answers them.


Well, that's pretty much it. Of course, there's much more on the website than that, like a satirical community event calendar for Knoxville, a Planet of the Apes parody, funny bumper stickers and quotes, the E-mail Extravaganza, my weblog called "The almost Daily...

Matt: Sounds pretty lame to me.

Longmire: Uh... well... some people seem to like...

Matt: Mr. Longmire, what can you tell us about the personal history of Brian Hamby?

Longmire: I first "met" Brian one Saturday morning about two years ago as I was walking out to the mailbox to get my mail. He was wet and naked and sleeping in the bushes in my front yard. At first, I thought he was a space alien as I have had trouble with aliens in my yard before. Anyway, as the police took him away, I kind of felt sorry for him. I later found out that he had a troubled past so I offered him the job of advice columnist thinking that he could draw on his own experiences, incredible failures as a human being, and past mistakes to help guide others to solve their problems and lead rich and fulfilling lives. I thought it would be a good therapeutic experience for him and aid in his rehabilitation.

Matt: And how did that chance you took on him turn out?

Longmire: Well, Matt, he's on top of the Sunsphere and won't come down.

Matt: Point taken. In your opinion, what is his mental state at this moment?

Longmire: He's on top of the Sunsphere and won't come down.




Do you think I'm pretty?

: Do I... what?

Matt: Do you think I'm attractive and would you like to date me?

Longmire: No, I don't think so, Matt...


(long silence)



Quit looking at me like that, Matt.





Longmire: OK... well... if your viewers would like more information on Brian, the web address of my site is www. worldof...

Matt: Thank you, Mark Longmire. THANKS A LOT. Can you stick around with us as this drama unfolds?

Longmire: Well, I guess I can for a little while... I'm gettin' kind of hungry... is there an IHOP around here nearby?

Matt: You can hop over here into my lap, bitch.




Longmire: All righty then... Matt, I think I'll just hang out with Ann and Katie and some female security guards in the studio for a while if you don't mind. Katie??? KATIE????

Katie: Thanks, Matt. We're going back to David Gregory live at the Sunsfear in a moment, but first let's check back with Al Roker and that hurricane in South Dakota. Al?

Al: Ha, ha, ha. Actually, the hurricane is in Florida, Katie, and it's just about to make landfall. Winds have been registered at 70 mph and torrential rains are starting to batter the coastal towns of southeast Florida. Waves have been reported to be as high as 15 feet so far and some flooding of low-lying inland areas is occurring. The National Guard has been called into the Miami/Dade County area and are hastily constructing makeshift seawalls consisting of stacks of uncounted presidential ballots. I'm sure that Floridians would surely like to trade weather with Knoxville right now but will settle for a hurricane rather than a crazy white boy on top of a big gold ball. Back to you Katie.

Can I come in now?

Katie: Thanks, Al.

We'll keep you updated on the earthquake in Florida and the Sunsfear situation in Knoxville, each complete with total body count statistics and a clever little title graphic, right after these messages.

(cut to commercial)

On the Trail of Hamby - The Capture
continued on page 2


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