Friday, October 12, 2007

Journalism 028

On Wednesday, October 10, I went to the Velvet Lounge for a night of music in honor of Danny Pearl. The venue was such that there were maybe 40 people there, but it felt as though you were in a packed "living room", to quote one of the other guests. And adding to the intimate feel, was the fact that aside from recognizing a few people from the L.A. Times D.C. bureau, I didn't know anyone there, but most knew each other, whether from the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times, the L.A. Times or the Washington Post, which granted me that fly-on-the-wall position. Sort of a glimpse into 20 years from now, the insiders club that I'll perhaps be fortunate enough to be a part of.

The bands were so-so, with one exception, which was really why everyone seemed to have shown up: Bryan Gruley who worked with Danny at the WSJ.

A pregnant friend of Danny's was overdue and getting pretty worried about her soon-to-be born son's health. So, Danny wrote a song called, "The World's Not Such a Bad Place," which was Danny's (who played the fiddle) way of saying, don't worry, come on out, it's going to be alright.

So, Gruley wrote a song for Danny's son, Adam, who was still in Mariane's belly when Danny was killed. Gruley precluded the song, "For a Son", with the meditation: would Danny still feel the same about the world?

In between songs, Gruley shared stories of his relationship with Danny. The following brought tears to my eyes:

It was 1995. Gruley had just gotten hired by the WSJ in Chicago, where Danny worked. So, Danny, being the gentle-hearted soul that he was, took the time to show him the ropes and get him more comfortable with his surrounding. And then about two weeks into his new job, Gruley gets the most coveted thing a reporter can get: a scoop. And it's a good scoop too, a really good one, about an unexpected, unannounced merger. And as it turns out Danny and a New York-based reporter were working on separate stories that tied right in with Gruley's. So Danny told Gruley to write up seven or eight paragraphs and then send it over to him, which he did, and then Danny wrote his and the NY reporter contributed his.

And the next morning, Gruley goes out front and picks up the paper, opens it up, and looks at their article...the byline read: Bryan Gruley. That's it. Danny had conferred with the NY reporter and told him that this first big byline for Gruley meant more for him who was just starting out, then it ever could for either of them.

That's who Danny is.

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