Yohei had some visa issues and marriage would resolve them quickly and, most importantly, cheaply. The day they went to immigration to be interviewed for the visa was a memorable experience, Tara recalls. And the immigration officer was from Jamaica and had this Jamaican accent. To him, it was like a dog was talking. Have a good one! I wondered if their union ran into any friction from their families, but apparently the situation was quite the contrary.
So they came to New York shortly after and they met me and they liked me. And everybody at the wedding literally gasped. Mouth was open. OK, so they riding with me! Yes or no? Do you want coffee, yes or no? And that was a big hurdle for us early on. That really irked me.
And it made me realize that no matter how much you study Japanese culture, no matter how many books you read, how many anime movies you watch, nothing can prepare you for being married to and part of a traditional Japanese family. You know? The culture is to make everyone comfortable, and to be on the fence. And oh yeah, her gold medal tally could increase as this week progresses, so sorry about the hair. Not sorry. How could social media zero in on something as trivial, as pointless, as vapid as hair when Douglas, Biles and their teammates — the most racially diverse team in American history —- have flipped, charged, hurled and swung their way into the GOAT greatest of all time history books?
Here are the receipts: Biles and Douglas have been crushing the competition since their days on the junior circuit. Douglas, who was 16 at the time of the London Games, was the first black woman in Olympic history to be crowned the individual all-around champ.
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She was also the first U. Hello, she has a Barbie, people! Best hair in the business — everybody knows that. Her a signature move — a double-flip with a half-twist — is so difficult that other elite gymnasts refuse to add it to their competition routines. Last year, she became the first woman to win four consecutive world all-around titles, making her the most decorated American gymnast in the history of World Championships.
Is it even possible to win Olympic gold, break Olympic records and be the best of the best without hateful commentary or insulting insinuations such as …. One of their white or Hispanic teammates? But I knew how much it impacted him … I know his children meant more to him than any business deal, than any situation in life that could come up. I had asked Dad what the media tends to overlook when they cover this story.
I was just very confused and very lonely and I was calling American Airlines because they were logical people for me to speak to. They knew me. I knew them. I knew their names. I knew their lives. I knew that a husband and wife both worked at the Raleigh-Durham reservations office of American. So by calling the number, I was able to talk to somebody in my loneliness. I talk to Natalie, who was still at home with a front row seat to his grief while I was away at college. She tells me about the shame Dad felt when people in our community often pitied him after Josh died — and still do to this day — as if he were a broken man.
But the airport and American were where he was still treated like a full, whole man. I went into the ticket counter. I checked in my luggage for London. Turns out a letter had been drafted to notify Dad that they were concerned with his behavior and use of the pass. But they decided not to send it.
I was probably more shocked than anyone else. He called someone in the baggage department at Heathrow, who assisted. Aamil never made it to Sarajevo. In fact, that was one of the last times they ever spoke. Ultimately, Aamil disappeared from our lives. Dad went home. Told Mom. Got in bed. And slept for the rest of the weekend, and arguably — at least figuratively — for a really long time after that.
And I had no idea how I was going to live my life the way I lived it. His blood. It was his superpower. Dad was one of a few lifetime, unlimited AAirpass holders that American had been monitoring and claimed had breached their contracts. But now, after years of quiet and secret investigation, apparently Dad and others were costing American too much money.
Even though Dad had dealt with the reservations agents on an almost daily basis, it was the revenues department that got involved, interjected, and launched an investigation that brought the whole house down. The dollar amount was based on the value of the lifetime unlimited AAirpass the last time it was sold for public consumption — though American had stopped selling them in , a Neiman Marcus catalogue offered them for 3 million bucks.
A primary issue in the case was whether American properly terminated his AAirpass Agreement based on Section 12, which read:. According to Lorraine and the legal documents, a longtime American employee launched the investigation, looking into several other AAirpass holders, including Dad and Jacques Vroom, another lifetime unlimited customer, whose AAirpass termination also resulted in a lawsuit. I reached out to American Airlines for comment on this article. Truth is, AAirpass was — even in its earliest, earliest days — a failed program. As for the case, American anticipated a resolution without a trial; Dad anticipated a trial by jury.
They spent the summer of debating — back and forth — over the fraud clause, and whether it was ambiguous or clear. Then, American counterclaimed, saying Dad broke the contract by improperly using the companion feature. In April , an American employee had approached Dad and asked him to stop, as security measures around flying had clearly started to shift after September So he stopped.
Seven third-party witnesses connected to Dad — family members, friends and business associates — were interviewed during discovery.
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Rarely could anyone else do that, even if they gave their word. Only Dad knew how to drop everything and fly. That was his superpower. He had wings. Yet American Airlines agents condoned it for decades. They had won. As mentioned, the judge issued a summary judgment. Then, the Court of Appeals affirmed. Dad had lost. The appeal stayed until American exited bankruptcy in December And the final chunks of paperwork were filed in early But it never really quieted. That my mother, two uncles and an aunt all went in for depositions, or that hundreds of legal hours and thousands of dollars and documents unfolded.
This spring, after gaining access to the court documents, and reading over 80 documents in full, I call Dad as I leave my writing space at p. I say this is clear: What American did to interpret fraud was out of line. During the same time period, he booked 2, flight segments for travel companions, and 2, were either canceled or a no-show. I tell him I need to maintain my journalistic balance and integrity. Under those terms I bought the extra seat. Anyone I wanted.
He wanted to be alone, just as had always been his booking practice on many airlines, even well before the AAirpass days. He liked his space. He liked access to bringing extra carry-on bags. He liked some privacy. The airplane was his home. He was at home. People buy extra and empty seats all the time.
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A permanent extra seat for life — whether another human was in it or not. Here is why. I was up and [alone] in my home office and bored. So I would call the number for the AAirpass desk and talk to the agent about the news or the weather or about Paris or little London. Then, after an hour of nothing they had to hang up. So I would make a reservation and ask them to fax it to me. Then the next day I would take the fax and cancel the reservation. I needed someone to talk to at midnight. The number was open. His understanding was that fraudulent behavior was limited to giving the AAirpass to someone else — which he never did.
I still have never ever ever booked any reservation online. I always use the phone. So their own agents never stopped me from anything. Real depression. On his iPad, he FaceTimes me from his hotel room. It took away my hobby. I thought that I could go to Sweden for the weekend in July and pick up flowers when I was They stole the very thing that caused me to give them a half a million dollars in the first place.
And a half a million dollars is probably like 5 million dollars today. And they did it maliciously. So maybe someplace in between. Or maybe my mind goes back and forth. Of course, racial and class privilege, body ability, access to health care and support, and other privileges obviously play a massive role. But the inside spectacle of pain is traumatic across the board.
So it was a huge loss, and it was shitty timing because it gave our family an opportunity to still travel, to find the joy in travel. Hong Kong. New York. We inherit things from our kin. As an internationally touring poet, performer and educator, when I am on tour, I am alive. I know how to operate an airport or bus terminal or Amtrak station or a rental car.
Natalie does too. People have come to me about their hatred or fear of flying. A certain amount of time in the sky that belongs only to you. Regardless of your seat. Of course, I recognize that because I was socialized to fly in first class, my feelings about travel are biased. Even though I fly economy now, even though my eyes can tell the difference, somehow my body does not. I am in the air. I am free above the world.
My best friend, Chloe, recently asked me what my favorite airline is, given all the travel I do. I feel nostalgia. Fargo is on my bucket list! I am yelping at this point. Literally hitting my leg and chair audibly. Suddenly, I feel like Dad must have felt talking to her — laughing, joking, dreaming up trips. Some people inherit money. Or trauma. A host of other things. I thank her and wish her a beautiful day. From a near-death experience that shook a family to its core to a shocking proposition in a therapist's office, Believable explores how our stories define who we are.
I n each episode of Believable , we dive into a personal, eye-opening story where narratives conflict, and different perspectives about the truth collide. These are complex and suspenseful audio stories that expand to say something larger about the role of narrative and identity in our lives. Episode 1 of Believable , which is now live, is about a woman who bounced around state institutions and foster homes as a child, always wishing for the family she never had. Until one day she finally gets what she asked for — and then some.
How a brilliant scientist went from discovering a mother lode of treasure at the bottom of the sea to fleeing from authorities with suitcases full of cash. Thompson had long insisted that he suffers from neurological problems and chronic fatigue syndrome, which impairs his memory, and that his meandering explanations were a symptom of the distress foisted upon him.
Thompson was genuinely sickened and overwhelmed, however, and he found it extremely frustrating that nobody seemed to take his condition seriously.
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In the 30 years since, the weight of the find had upended partnerships, ended his marriage, and set loose the specter of greed. What began as a valiant mission of science turned into something else entirely. O n September 11, , about 7, feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, a set of glowing orbs moved smoothly through the darkness and illuminated the mysterious world below. That far down there are few currents, the water is close to freezing, and it is almost pitch black. The only light typically comes from the bioluminescent creatures that float by like ghosts, but in this case the lights were from a six-ton, unmanned vessel.
The Nemo , looking like an industrial freezer with two robotic arms, made a small adjustment to its thrusters and hovered above the scattered remains of a sunken ship. Video of the wreckage was relayed to a vessel bobbing above, giving the crew — and the world — the first look at a ship whose location had stymied treasure hunters for generations. It was the SS Central America , a massive side-wheel steamship that sank in a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina in Illustration of the S.
Central America before its sinking. Photo courtesy Library of Congress. The find was remarkable for many reasons. The artifacts eventually recovered from the ship were a window into a bygone era and gave voice to the hundreds of people who were pulled into the abyss. But the discovery was also a spectacular victory for pocketbooks — the ship was carrying gold when it sank, and lots of it: coins, bars and nuggets of every size surrounded the wreck and covered its decks and rotting masts.
And that was only what the crew could see — somewhere in the remains were said to be between 3 and 21 tons of gold, a haul some experts valued at close to half a billion dollars. For Thompson, the Edisonian genius who masterminded the expedition, the discovery was the first salvo of what looked to be a long, impressive career. He became an American hero, a mix of brains and daring in the tradition of the scientist-adventurers of yore. But Thompson was subjected to a legal hell storm as soon as he set foot on shore. Numerous people and companies were vying for their share of the gold, and the unending litigation was compounded by the lawsuits filed by investors who claimed Thompson had ripped them off.
In , long after the litigation had sidetracked his calling, Thompson went underground, allegedly taking with him suitcases full of cash and gold. Months later, Thompson was staying under an assumed name at a hotel in Boca Raton, Florida, trying to keep his faculties in check. He was unkempt, unwell and barely left his hotel room, as he had been on the run from federal authorities for the past two and a half years.
From the witness stand in Columbus, Thompson disclosed startling information in a story already laden with tragedy and fortunes lost — and shed light on the mystery of millions in still-missing gold. The pressure 8, feet below the sea is times greater than on the surface, and Tommy Thompson was squeezed by something even more intense for the better part of 30 years. He grew up in Defiance, Ohio, a small city in the northwestern corner of the state. He was always drawn to the water, and he enjoyed challenging friends to breath-holding contests.
When he was a teenager, he bought and fixed up an amphibious car, and he loved pranking his friends by driving unsuspecting passengers into a lake. Rife with lore, the hunters spoke of ships sunken somewhere out in the ocean with more gold than could ever be spent.
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However, nobody knew quite where to start looking, nor could they afford the technology necessary to undertake the search. Following his graduation from The Ohio State University with a degree in ocean engineering, Thompson went to work for the Battelle Memorial Institute, a prominent research lab in Columbus that has developed everything from kitchen appliances to nuclear weapons.
There, he was able to work on deep-sea engineering projects, at one point developing technology that allowed the U. Thompson wanted to work exclusively in deep water but was routinely warned that such jobs were hard to come by. So he began looking for other ways to pursue this heady scientific passion. It was actually the means to an end.
One of the first orders of business was to find the perfect wreck to hunt. Thompson worked with Bob Evans, an equivalently intelligent polymath and professional geologist, to winnow down the list of candidate ships. The Central America ferried passengers to and from California at the height of the Gold Rush in the mid 19th century.
Six hundred people, and up to 21 tons of gold coming from California, were aboard the Central America when it disembarked to New York from a stopover in Cuba on September 3, Five days later, the ship found herself floundering in the middle of a terrifying hurricane. Passengers attempted a hour nonstop bucket brigade to keep the ship afloat, but the engines flooded and the storm ripped apart masts and sails. The ship was doomed. The vessel let out a final tortured groan as it sank on the evening of September 12, sucking souls down in a horrifying vortex.
The loss in gold was so profound that it was one of the factors precipitating the Great Panic financial crisis of Finding the Central America would be no easy matter — proportionally it would be like finding a single grain of sand in the floor plan of a four-bedroom house. The key, Thompson knew, was to undertake a logical and hyper-organized search.
Bob Evans used every known detail about the fateful voyage, including passenger and crew accounts of the weather as the ship sank, and worked with a search theory expert to determine that the wreck was likely somewhere in a 1,square-mile grid miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, in part of the ocean that was nearly a mile and a half deep.
Each square on the grid was assigned a number based on the likelihood that the ship had ended up there, and the idea was to trawl a sonar apparatus up and down the grid and take in-depth readings of the most promising results. Obsessed with his work, Thompson was said to be indifferent to food and sleep, dressed in a thrift store suit and hair afrizz. As a result, the high-powered investors waiting in their upper-floor offices and elegant conference rooms were often skeptical of his bewildering presence.
But time after time, Thompson would speak to them reasonably, thoroughly and intelligently. He was realistic about the low probability of success, outlined various contingencies, and emphasized that the mission offered the chance for the investors to participate in a journey of good old American discovery.
Investors soon found themselves chuckling in delight at the audacious fun of the project and the inspiring confidence they felt in Thompson. Wayne Ashby told the Columbus Dispatch in Thompson was the head of both. Under the aegis of these companies, Thompson outfitted a search vessel, put together a crew, and developed a seven-ton remotely operated vehicle capable of withstanding deep-ocean conditions. They also conducted various other experiments useful to the recovery, such as purposely giving Evans the bends.
As Gary Kinder writes in Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, the deepest an unmanned submersible had gone previous to this was 6, feet. That vehicle had been difficult to control, with only one arm that could perform rudimentary functions. The technology Thompson and his crew developed in secret streamlined and refined the submersible so that it was much easier to control and could perform the delicate tasks needed for the recovery of the ship.
It was one of their secret weapons, and the mission to find the Central America was officially launched in June The mission was subject to numerous difficulties: seasickness, short tempers, errant weather, malfunctioning equipment, little sleep, and a stretch of time when the only food served was fried chicken. Investors groused about the delays, but Thompson always managed to assuage their fears.
In late summer , the crew sent the submersible robot down to check out an overlooked blip on the search grid. The control room aboard the ship, with its walls of monitors and technology that made it look like an alien craft from an old movie, exploded with profoundly human joy. Gold and artifacts were brought to the surface starting in fall , the beginnings of a haul that would grow to include gold ingots, 7, gold coins, and, at 80 pounds, one of the largest single pieces of gold ever discovered and at the time the most valuable piece of currency in the world.
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Wayne Ashby told the Dispatch when the discovery was announced. When asked by a reporter to estimate the value of the haul, Thompson demurred. The first haul of gold was taken from the ship straight into armored cars by guards carrying machine guns amidst cheering investors, well wishers, and descendants of the survivors of the Central America wreck. But as it would turn out, that brief glimpse was the closest any investor would ever get to the treasure found at the bottom of the sea.
I n , the Columbus-America Discovery Group had secured its right in admiralty court to excavate the Central America site and retain possession of whatever they discovered beneath the sea.
But this ruling was challenged almost as soon as Thompson set foot back on the shore. Thompson and his companies were sued by no less than separate entities, including 39 insurance companies that had insured the cargo on the original Central America voyage.
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Things got even more complex when an order of Capuchin monks sued Thompson, alleging he had copped the intel given to them by a professor from Columbia University whom they had commissioned to do a sonar search of the same area. The estimated location of the S. Central America. Illustration by Yunuen Bonaparte. Recovery operations were suspended in because of the lawsuits, leaving the fate of the gold brought to the surface in legal limbo — and tons of gold still on the wreck at the bottom of the sea. The back-and-forth continued until and in the process established case law in admiralty court when Thompson and his companies were finally awarded Coupled with a significant devaluing of the rare coin market, a few investors wondered about the future of their investment.
The pressure mounted as Thompson attempted to balance his obligations to his crew, his companies, and his investors while being a dad to his three kids. He was right there, every time there was a hearing. He read every page of every brief, and a lot of times he was helping with the writing, too. Army, but this later proved to be a myth. Meetings with investors became less frequent, they said, as did updates and newsletters. Once lauded for his openness, Thompson appeared to go into a shell. Thompson said that his silence was necessary to protect trade secrets.
By , some of the investors were fed up with the way Recovery Limited Partnership was being run and made moves to establish another company, this time with the investors in charge. The companies were restructured, with the reworked Columbus Exploration as a partner company to Recovery Limited Partnership.
Thompson was again the head of both entities, though it was stipulated that he would draw a salary only from the former and not the latter. Much of it was sold to gold and coin dealers, and some of the treasure was displayed in a lavish traveling exhibit across the country, with Thompson sometimes making an appearance alongside his discovery. Photos courtesy Donn Pearlman. Thompson then allegedly told investors that they would not be seeing any of the proceeds, as all the money went to pay off the loans and legal fees that had accrued since the mission began.
Thompson took the coins without approval from the board, though his attorney Keith Golden maintains there was nothing clandestine about it. Nonetheless, in , two former investors filed lawsuits against Thompson for breach of contract and fiduciary duty: Donald Fanta, president of an investment firm, the Fanta Group, and the Dispatch Printing Company, owned by the family that ran The Columbus Dispatch.
Dispatch scion John W. However, he died and his cousin John F. Convinced that Thompson was ripping him off, the cousin pushed the lawsuit ahead. Thompson was next sued by a group of nine sonar techs from the original mission who claimed they had been duped out of 2 percent of the profits from the gold, plus interest. The two cases were combined with a third into a mega-lawsuit in federal court, creating a labyrinthine legal situation with a rotating cast of attorneys and thousands of motions and maneuvers that bewildered even seasoned courtroom players.
Missions to the Central America were once again put on hold as Thompson put his mind to work filing legal briefs and appeals. Once having bragged of being the subject of more than 3, articles, Thompson had long since stopped talking to the press, and now spent half the year living in a Florida mansion rented under another name. Thompson began to show symptoms of the gilded affliction.
In he was arrested in Jacksonville after a sheriff observed him hiding something under the seat following a routine traffic stop. In July , U. Organ had never actually met Thompson and claimed that he was out to sea. But Judge Sargus shook his head and declared bullshit. The two were presumed to be together and, some of the investors speculated, in possession of millions of dollars in cash and the gold coins. On top of the civil suits against him, Thompson was charged with criminal contempt of court, and U.
Marshals were tasked with tracking down him down. Marshal Brad Fleming told the Associated Press in the midst of the pursuit. Once the most successful treasure hunter in the world, Tommy Thompson was now the one being hunted. I n late summer , a handyman named James Kennedy walked up to the porch of Gracewood, a large home in Vero Beach, Florida.
Kennedy took out his cell phone and pretended to call the landlord. I picked up my cell phone and I said it real loud. He had been a handyman for decades, but even he was taken aback by what he found inside. Thompson had been renting Gracewood since , a home away from the hassles in Columbus, and the mansion had become their home base when they fled Ohio two months earlier. As renters, Thompson and Antekeier had always been friendly but maintained their distance, Brinkerhoff said.
He searched for Thompson on the internet and learned that the tenants were wanted by U. Kennedy himself had once found a mammoth bone and was similarly besieged with people trying to take advantage of his find. The U. Marshals erected a wanted billboard as they worked to track down Tommy Thompson and Alison Antekeier. Photo courtesy U. Marshals Service.
So he called the Marshals. But by that point, Thompson and Antekeier had long since fled Gracewood, and law enforcement was once again unable to determine where they went. Marshal Brad Fleming said in an interview. Based on material found in the Pennwood cabin, the Marshals were alerted to the Hilton Boca Raton Suites, a banal upscale setting where the pair of fugitives had remained hidden since May 30, Marshals prepared to descend on the hotel.
Thompson was a brilliant mind and incredible strategist, but he was not suited for life on the run. One of the last times anyone had seen him, it was a worrisome sight: Thompson was in the backyard of a house he was renting, yelling into his phone in his underwear. Think more along the lines of Dilbert in charge of the operation. But what had to be one of the most intense disappointments in the saga, for Thompson, was the fact that the excavation of the Central America would carry on without him.
Kane in turn contracted a company called Odyssey Marine Exploration to finish the recovery of the Central America. The goal was to bring the rest of the gold to the surface and ensure that the investors got paid. Thompson has significant holdings in the U. If there are dollars that he is hiding, I want every penny of it. The renewed excavation launched in April , with U. Marshals putting a wanted poster of Thompson aboard the ship in case he attempted to rejoin the mission.
The operation was quite successful, bringing up more than 45 gold bars, 15, coins, and hundreds of artifacts over the course of numerous dives, including a pair of glasses, a pistol, and a safe filled with packages. The sale of the gold was once again undertaken by the California Gold Marketing Group. O n January 27, , Thompson, then 62, was pale and sickly as he sat in his room in the Hilton Suites in Boca Raton, his body racked with the paranoid tics of a man on the run.
She took almost comically cinematic precautions when appearing in public, wearing big floppy hats and taking a succession of buses and taxis to lose anyone who might be on her tail. The hunt was led by an intimidating and extremely direct U. Marshal named Mike Stroh. He had been involved in manhunts all over the country, but the mission to find Thompson had special resonance with him as a professional person-finder.
After seven hours of following her, Marshals crashed their way into the hotel and surprised the two, screaming at them not to move. The Marshals would ultimately cart away 75 boxes of evidence from the room, but they came up empty-handed in one aspect of their quest. Investigators found boxes in the Gracewood mansion that looked a lot like those that had held the restrike coins, but the gold itself was nowhere to be found.
Thompson tried to fight the extradition. Marshal Brad Fleming said Thompson was chatty as they made the journey back, perhaps relieved that he no longer had to hide. Both pleaded guilty to criminal contempt. T he capture of Tommy Thompson made for a fairly pedestrian end to a story that had captivated Columbus for years.
Other associates were wistful about the turn of events. But the notion that not even a brilliant mind could resist running off with gold was too salacious not to report, and the allegations of thievery became the dominant narrative. It was an unfortunate bookend to the legacy of someone who had long maintained that the historical and scientific aspects of the recovery were the most important point of the mission.
Gold ingots, pokes, dust and nuggets, all part of the exhibition showing the recovered treasure from the S.