Having Dan Baum withdrawal? Never fear. The intrepid twitterer has returned with a vengeance.
Yes, the fired New Yorker writer has turned his sights away from David Remnick, and in the direction of NYT reporter Edmund Andrews -- yes, that Edmund Andrews, the reporter who so memorably confessed his financial ineptitude in last Sunday's NYT Magazine. He has just finished a three-part blog entry about an entire twelve hours he once spent with Andrews.
It seems that in 2004, right after the fall of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad, Baum got an assignment from the NYT Magazine that put him in Kuwait City with an itch to go to Iraq. As luck would have it, he ran into Andrews, also on his way to Baghdad -- and who was holding $30,000 in cash!
In retrospect, one can only imagine the temptation the over-extended Andrews must have felt to run off with that prodigious wad of capital.
Anyway Andrews offered to let Baum tag along. Baum recounts his realization that he was stupidly carrying only $300 in cash, and recalls that Andrews offered to lend him money rather than let him stop off at a bank before leaving town in a NYT-rented SUV.
They had a third NYT reporter with them -- Baum describes her as a "sharp-tongued dark-haired young woman whose name I wish I could remember." (Any guesses who that might be?)
The story (Baum coyly calls it "Mea Bardus," which The NYTPicker thinks might be Latin for "my bad") then takes a turn for the bizarre:
In Basra, I asked Andrews to lend me some cash. It was obvious $300 was going to go fast in the feverish post-war environment. He flew into a rage. “I can’t believe you were so stupid that you’d go to Baghdad with $300 in your pocket!” he shrieked. I pointed out that I’d realized my mistake in Kuwait and tried to stop to correct it, but that he’d preferred to lend me cash rather than stop. He was unmoved. We piled back into the SUV in a snit.
But wait -- it gets worse.
When Andrews, Baum and the sharp-tongued-dark-haired-reporter arrived in Baghdad, they connected with legendary NYT bureau chief John F. Burns. In Burns's hotel room, the three were told that they needed to go directly into the war zone.
That's where Baum's storytelling took on the odd, overly familiar tone that became the hallmark of his famously intimate Twittertale:
Some American soldiers had fired into a crowd that day in a particularly unsettled part of Baghdad, and Burns ordered Andrews to drop his gear, put on a helmet and a flak jacket, and head out there. “There’s a hard car waiting for you downstairs,” he said.
“What’s a ‘hard car,’?” I asked.
“Armored,” Burns said.
Andrews went white. I could practically hear his testicles retract. “Uh, I’m here to write stories about the economy,” he said. “I’ve been specifically instructed to avoid getting drawn into war reporting.”
“Yes, well, that’s all well and good,” Burns said. “But the fact is I need you to do this right now. So please. Put your bag down, pick up that helmet and jacket, and get going. There you go. Thank you.”
The door clicked shut behind Andrews.
Ever been alone in a room with Dan Baum? Beware. You could be next.