63 minutes after his appointed time (bravo, radio producers!), Harvey Updyke, the Auburn Tree Poisoner What Could, speaks his first words on the Paul Finebaum radio show since his ill-fated "Al from Dadeville" call on January 27 clued authorities in to the poisoning of Auburn's hallowed Toomer's Corner oak trees and Updyke's identity. Below are highlights from his 45 minutes of airtime and our concurrent stare into the abyss of the Iron Bowl rivalry; should you harbor a sick desire to read the entire encounter, SB Nation Atlanta has a more complete transcript.
Harvey wants us to know, first off, that, "I did not want to go on the radio. I don't want any more publicity." He then proceeds to apologize to the people he's hurt, which include his kids, the University of Alabama, and his high school football coach. You will note that Auburn University is not mentioned.
"Every time you tell a story, it changes. But I'm fixin' to tell you what happened." Here follows five minutes of conversation revolving around the crucial plot point that Harvey stopped for gas before his attack yesterday (should that be in scare quotes? We still cannot decide) to get a bottle of green tea. Prop bets fly off the board everywhere.
And who attacked you, Harvey? "I'm not saying it was an Auburn fan." Yes, by all means, let's open up speculation that you were attacked by eco-terrorist Crimson Tide partisans, because you haven't done enough for your chosen fanbase already.
And where you hurtin', Harvey? "Both of my eyebrows are bruised," along with a small gash between the eyes. Is there a police report? Are there checkboxes for things like eyebrow bruises? We want to know.
And why are there no witnesses to your attack in what you characterize as a crowded gas station, Harvey? "There was a lot of people there. Why somebody didn't see it, I don't know."
And how has your life changed since January, Harvey? "I really think they're gonna put me in prison." His rent's gone up, his bond was so high. Harvey sounds hilariously plaintive, like he poisoned these trees by accident. Did you trip over something, Harvey?
And what do you think of the reaction since, Harvey? (Finebaum here invokes Charlie Sheen, because we are not irritated enough.) "There's probably a third of the people sitting back and laughing at this train wreck." Only a third? You wound us, sir.
And what of the circumstances that led to you poisoning trees on your rival's campus in the first place? "One of the biggest mistakes I've made in my life." Well, we would hope this is up there. "All my adult life my wives said I'm kind of a crap-stirrer." Now there's a quote that'll play on the message boards!
And this is where Finebaum strikes the gold he was so surely after by inviting him on in the first place: Harvey describes how he works his day around the Paul Finebaum radio show, which will set somebody, somewhere off to blaming the Paul Finebaum radio show, which will allow Paul Finebaum to again defend himself on air against charges that do not precisely exist and come off as a martyr in all this, which is how Paul Finebaum is happiest. It's nice to have hobbies.
Harvey's lawyer, Glennon Threatt, interjects here, with some breathless words that amount to, "Everyone please understand that HARVEY YOU ARE NOT CONFESSING HERE ON THE PAUL FINEBAUM SHOW," and Harvey proceeds to confess: "I am Al from Dadeville." The original call is replayed: "Is that against he law to poison a tree?" "You think I care?"
Which brings us to Harvey Updyke's Alabama superfan monologue. We are reminded that he named his children Bear Bryant and Crimson Tyde, and that his wife forbade him from naming the third Ally Bama. (Harvey quotes his wife here: "You roont the other two, you're not ruinin' this one.") "I love the University of Alabama. I can't help it. ... Am I a fanatic? Yeah, I probably am."
This is about where Threatt puts on a frankly discomfiting soothing tone and attempts to steer the conversation back to the attack and his own martyrdom. "Harvey, are you feeling better now? Physically?" Harvey has a headache. "People have accused me of setting this up, Harvey." Well, why would they think that? No matter, however: Threatt has "been doing this for a long time," which is why he let his client confess to a crime he has yet to be tried for on national radio.
"Let me talk about the human element of this, Harvey." And that's about where we tune out. Bring us home, Grim Treeper:
"I don't want my legacy to be known as the Auburn tree-poisoner. I never wanted this mess. But I guess it's too late now." Well, Harvey, MAYBE YOU SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THAT BEFORE YOU POISONED STATE UNIVERSITY LANDMARKS AND THEN BRAGGED ABOUT IT ON THE RADIO.
"I don't want to go to my grave Harvey the Tree Poisoner." Sorry about that, Harvey the Tree Poisoner.
"I guess I brought it on myself." Lord, at least he's not claiming Bama's plush mascot put him up to the task, although at this point that would surprise no one.
"I kinda fail to see the humor, Paul." No worries, big fella. We've got you covered.
Harvey Updyke's last words of the afternoon, still without apology to Auburn, which on some reptilian cortex level, you almost have to admire: "ROLL DAMN TIDE."