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.
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?
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.
Al, what should people in Florida do to avoid the hurricane's
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.
Are there any fatalities yet?
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.
I come in now? It's awfully cold out here.
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.
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?
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.
Katie: OK, thanks, Skip. Let's go now to Ann Curry at
the news desk to bring us up to date with the Sunsfear situation
Ann Curry: Actually, it's called the "Sunsphere"...
s-p-h-e-r-e, not s-f-e-a-r.
(through clenched teeth): Never, ever,
correct me again.
(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
live from the Waffle House where this started is Claire Shipman.
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?
and Earlene (in unison): HELLLLLOOOO!!!!!
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.
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?
What? Where? Order up?
No, dummy... I nudged you and said 'looky there.'
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.
Shipman: And that made you suspicious?
Hell yes... we never clean our grills.
Shipman: And then what happened?
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.
Shipman: Earlene, you mentioned earlier to me that certain
items were missing from the restaurant?
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.
Shipman: Amazing. Debbiejean, do you have anything to add?
That grill left a bigass welt on my foot. You wanna see it?
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.
You sure you don't wanna see my foot?
Shipman: No, that's quite all right.
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.
Thanks, Ann. Is there word on any fatalities yet? Any sign of
the plane wreckage or body parts?
No, Katie, no. Nothing yet, Sorry.
Dammit. OK, we're going to David Gregory who is now at the scene
of the Sunsfear. David, what's the current situation there?
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
Oh my god!
Gregory: Yes, it's...uh... quite..er... something, isn't it?
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.
Can you hear what Hamby is saying?
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.
Gregory: That's right Katie... empty doughnut boxes.
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...
How many people have been killed so far and what are the condition
of the bodies?
Gregory: Like I said, there has not been any injuries let
Are you telling me that no one has had their head blown
Gregory: That's right, Katie, but it sure is hot here
and I have seen some people perspiring...
Gregory: No, Katie, perspiring... as in sweating.
(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?
Matt: Thanks, Katie. Joining us is Mark Longmire, who
is from Knoxville, the East Tennessee city where this morning's
events are taking place.
Good morning, Matt. Nice to be here.
Mr. Longmire, what is your relationship to Brian Hamby and this
situation at the Sunsphere?
Geez, what is that smell...?
It's Al Roker. Now, getting back to my question... what is your
involvement with Hamby?
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.
Longmire: 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...
Sounds pretty lame to me.
Uh... well... some people seem to like...
Mr. Longmire, what can you tell us about the personal history
of Brian Hamby?
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
And how did that chance you took on him turn out?
Well, Matt, he's on top of the Sunsphere and won't come down.
Point taken. In your opinion, what is his mental state at this
He's on top of the Sunsphere and won't come down.
Matt: Do you think I'm pretty?
Longmire: Do I... what?
Do you think I'm attractive and would you like to date me?
No, I don't think so, Matt...
Longmire: Quit looking at me like that, Matt.
OK... well... if your viewers would like more information
on Brian, the web address of my site is www. worldof...
Thank you, Mark Longmire. THANKS A LOT. Can you stick around with
us as this drama unfolds?
Well, I guess I can for a little while... I'm gettin' kind of
hungry... is there an IHOP around here nearby?
You can hop over here into my lap, bitch.
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????
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?
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.
come in now?
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.
the Trail of Hamby - The Capture
continued on page 2