LA journalist and author Michael Krikorian has posted a nice piece on encountering an interesting fellow in the gas pumps at the 76 station on Arlington Avenue just above the Santa Monica Freeway in more-or-less Mid City. The man, who wanted to wash Mike's windows, said during casual conversation that he had once hijacked a plane to Cuba and done time in prison. Actually, it went like this.
"I broke out of Chino and went to LAX and I hijacked a plane to Cuba." He said it like he was describing going on a Sunday drive to Ojai.
Oh, boy, Here we go. I got a real nut on my hands. By now, I'm at about 10 in the tank. Still, I'm enjoying the tale and so I encourage him.
"Yeah, I got to Cuba and met up with Eldridge Cleaver and he helped me out."
"Good," I said, thinking I hadn't heard mention of the Black Panther leader for eons.
He goes on. "Then I went to the Middle East and met Yasser Arafat. You remember him?"
"'Course, I do."
"I was with the PLO and, after awhile, I got shot. In the ass. Those Israelis don't play. But, I got away. Made it to Algeria. Then I went to Nigeria. But, the FBI finally caught up with me and brought me back and send me to Lompoc [Federal prison]."
Krikorian didn't really believe him, and a quick Google search turned up nothing. Still, he decided to try a couple of other search terms. As Krikorian puts it, "Crack! 'High fly ball into right field. She is........gone!'"
A 2001 LA Times story by Josh Meyer turned up, and in Krikorian's account so does the name of LAT copy editor Saji Mathai. The hijacker's name is Byron Booth. Mosey over to KrikorianWrites.com to follow the tale of the hijacker at pump 4.