Ballad of a Viral Pumpkin

It all started with a trip to Cox’s Farm in Virginia. GM and his family wanted to get into the full spirit of the fall season last October and there’s not many places around here better suited to that task. And as you might imagine, GM and fam came home burdened with a bunch of gourds, including an unusual white pumpkin. Little did they realize that that pumpkin would soon make the national news.

The pumpkins, including the white one, were arrayed on GM’s stoop, as one does. But it wasn’t just two days later that he noticed that it was suddenly gone. Now, it’s not terribly surprising to lose a pumpkin or two (or three) over the course of October. Most of the time it’s just drunk college dudes stumbling home late at night, looking for a laugh by smashing them on the ground.

And that’s what GM assumed had happened. But then he remembered his new security cameras and realized he could actually see the culprit. He was not prepared for what he found.

No more than a half hour before GM realized the pumpkin was gone had it been stolen. And it was stolen by that fellow you see above in the tight black jeans. It wasn’t smashed (at least not immediately) it was just taken away, like a hostage being rescued by special forces.

The utter ridiculousness of the scene caused GM to laugh. But better, it provided him with easy content! He wrote up a quick article, hit “schedule” and called it a day.

An easy Monday morning article was about all he expected out the Case of the Tight Jeaned Pumpkin Thief. But so much more ensued.

The article attracted some local attention, with a handful of area journalists tweeting it out. GM even got interviewed by a local news station, and another one tried to interview him, didn’t connect, and did a piece about it anyway.

But the big bump came later that day when the popular nationwide sports blog Deadspin wrote it up. Now, Deadspin wasn’t writing about it simply because it was a funny scene. They were writing about it because the staff were engaged in a knock down-drag out fight with management over the later’s insistence that the site “stick to sports”. This was part of a misguided effort by a group of private equity morons who completely failed to understand that the readers adored Deadspin specifically because it didn’t stick only to sports. To protest this dictum, the writers (including Dan McQuade, who wrote up the pumpkin article) published a string of articles on non-sports topics, but written in a way to make them ostensibly about sports. So instead of an article about how silly the thief looks, it was an article about his “40 speed”.

Days later the entire Deadspin staff quit en masse. And that’s where GM’s pumpkin got an even more illustrative treatment. The New York Times wrote up the labor protest and included this description of the staff’s final day:

And so on Tuesday morning, Deadspin featured articles on subjects like a Washington pumpkin thief and the German actor who played a villain in “Ghostbusters II.”

GM’s odd little white pumpkin had made it into the pages of the Old Grey Lady. And as a supporter of the staff at Deadspin, GM was proud to have been able to play a part, albeit small, in their fight.

And that’s where the story ended for the pumpkin.

GM never did figure out what the guy wanted with it. Was he just too lazy to buy one himself? Was he intrigued by the color? How long did it take to get those jeans on? Truly Unsolved Mysteries.

But the pumpkin did pop up one more time. This summer the staff that quit Deadspin formed their own website, called the Defector, to carry on the work they were trying to do before the finance idiots burned Deadspin to the ground. And the New York Times wrote it up. And, wouldn’t you know it, the pumpkin got another shout out from one of the nation’s most esteemed daily newspapers:

Staff members pushed back against what they saw as management’s crossing a line by getting involved in the editorial process. After they published articles on a pumpkin thief and how to dress for a wedding, the top editor, Barry Petchesky, was fired. Within a week, the rest of the site’s reporters and editors had quit in protest.

The only time GM ever got mentioned by the New York Times was when he got married. Now his $15 pumpkin’s has lapped him in that department, with little chance that the gap will be narrowed.

So here’s to you, pumpkin. You were with us so briefly, but will live in our memories forever…

 

1 Comment

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One response to “Ballad of a Viral Pumpkin

  1. georgetowncitizen

    You know, your camera got a good shot (at a distance) of the rear of the pumpkin thief’s getaway car. If you were willing to get that video photography enlarged, you might well find the license plate number and could have the police apprehend the pumpkin thief and his “getaway” driver. That would make a very good follow-up story for the Georgetown Metropolitan…worth more than the albino pumpkin itself!

    Now, what would due punishment be for the pumpkin thief? Perhaps 80 hours of “hard labor” serving canapes at G’town parties 🙂

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