Newscaster's memoir boosted by his whale of a story.Byline: Paul Denison The Register-Guard
The Exploding Whale Exploding whales have been documented on two notable occasions, as well as several lesser-known ones. The most famous explosion occurred in the United States at Florence, Oregon, in 1970, when a dead sperm whale (originally reported as a gray whale) was blown up by the Oregon and Other Remarkable Stories from the Evening News
By Paul Linnman Paul Linnman (born 1947) is a radio personality on KEX 1190 AM radio in Portland, Oregon. He worked for nearly 30 years as a television news reporter and anchor for KATU and KGW. (WestWinds Press, 224 pages, $16.95)
Paul Linnman, a "market specific" Oregon television journalist, had his 15 minutes of nationwide fame. To his delight, and his chagrin, it has lasted more than three decades.
In 1970, a Portland station sent Linnman and cameraman Doug Brazil to Florence to cover the event that gave this book its title: the state highway division's attempt to demolish a dead whale with dynamite.
Still learning his trade, Linnman incorrectly identified the whale as gray instead of sperm and failed to interview excited onlookers before the blast. Then he and Brazil ran for their lives in a downpour of blood and blubber when the highway engineers pushed the plunger. They even went back to Portland without their main canister of film, left behind in a borrowed car.
But their story made it onto the air and was picked up by the national network. It has fascinated and amused people since, a bit of urban folklore that happened to be true.
Syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry For the English musician, see .
David Barry, Jr. (born July 3, 1947) is a bestselling American author and Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist who wrote a nationally syndicated column for the The Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005. , who first wrote about it in 1990, later explained to Linnman why he considered the exploding whale film the single funniest thing he's ever seen.
`` `Hey, Paul,' he shouted, as if trying to get my attention. `It was a whale! There's just something about blowing up a whale. It's just an odd decision to make, and in the end, it's sort of wonderfully harmless. Nothing really terrible happened at anyone's expense.' ''
In this memoir, Linnman tells all you'd ever want to know about that strange event and its long afterlife, and a little more than you'd want to know about his early days in TV news. But starting with the sixth chapter, "And Now Some Other Amazing Mammals," Linnman also shares the kind of human interest stories in which he has long specialized, about ``ordinary people doing extraordinary things.''
He starts with Ron Post, the businessman who started Northwest Medical Teams. Linnman says "this guy who was propelled from his easy chair by the evening news" is the single most important individual he has ever covered.
"Because of him," Linnman writes, "none of us can look at the seemingly unsolvable problems in our world, from starvation to war, and say, `Hey, I'm just one person - there's nothing I can do.' ''
Among the more interesting profiles are two guys named Arthur: Art Pease pease
n. pl. pease or peas·en Archaic
[Middle English; see pea. , who went to Portland to run in a five-mile event and ended up running a full marathon by mistake, and Arthur Lee Arthur Lee has been the name of several notable men:
Alternating such stories with his exploding whale narrative, Linnman pulls us along through a career memoir that otherwise might not draw much attention, sharing his heart-warming heart·warm·ing or heart-warm·ing
1. Causing gladness and pleasure.
2. Eliciting sympathy and tender feelings: a heartwarming tale. stories about people whose lives have had more impact than a whale that fell from the sky.
Paul Linnman broadcasts near the dead whale on the beach near Florence in 1970.