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[00:00:04]

Hey, guys, it's Mike Rowe, and this is the way I heard it, the only podcast for The Curious Mind with a short attention span. It's episode number 168.

[00:00:13]

It's called a hooker you can trust, a hooker you can trust. The title is self-explanatory, as is the story you're about to hear. Another true tale for the curious mind with a short attention span. Is your mind still curious? Is your attention span still short here in the dog days of August? Why do they call them the dog days?

[00:00:34]

Do you know perhaps it has something to do with the fact that dogs go on strike when it gets this hot here in Northern California? Anyway, Freddy's just quit. He just looks at me now. He shakes his head, his tongue hangs out, he walks over, he finds the shady plops down and he just looks out upon the world with a massage that can only be described as disappointed. I'm disappointed, he seems to say, and I don't blame him is ninety nine degrees here yesterday.

[00:01:04]

Ninety nine degrees in Northern California. Now, I know it's hotter in certain parts of the country, but here, thanks to a real estate agent that had no problem with duplicity and mendacity, I live in a house without air conditioning.

[00:01:20]

Why would I buy a house without air conditioning?

[00:01:22]

Well, it was four or five years ago when the real estate agent looked me square in the face and said, nobody has air conditioning out here.

[00:01:29]

You're Northern California, you're you're on the water. The cool breeze off the bay will keep you comfortable year round. Mm hmm.

[00:01:37]

Well, that's what they call a lie. A lie on par with menus in diners and restaurants across the country.

[00:01:45]

The talk about Maryland crab cakes. When you're not in Maryland, that's another biggie. Another whopper. Anyway, it's super hot here. Eighty five degrees inside, we got the fans gone. The dog is on strike. But the story you're about to hear is true. And I look forward to sharing it with you. After I tell you about my friend Gretchen Hebner, who I have never met. I call her my friend because Gretchen went to zip recruiter Dotcom Legro and solved a vexing problem.

[00:02:15]

She works for a company called Coachable, and her true story is right here in front of me, along with a stack of other true stories Gretchen Hebner was looking for. Was she looking for, oh, a game artist, of all things. What does a game artist you might say?

[00:02:34]

I don't know. But Gretchen Hebner has this education tech company, and she needed a game artist and she became frustrated because she couldn't find one in the traditional way. You need some help out there if you're looking to recruit. And you can go to Zipp. Recruiter Dotcom Legro, just like Gretchen Hebner did, post a job for free and the odds are you'll find a quality candidate.

[00:02:57]

Within 24 hours, Gretchen said, and I'm quoting, I was honestly surprised to find qualified applicants so quickly, she wound up hiring a new game artist, whatever that is, in less than two weeks.

[00:03:10]

And now she's happy. And now Gretchen Hebner is here and my stack of satisfied customers. Would you like to be on my stack, then go to Zipp recruiter Dotcom Magro and post your job for free. You will find a quality candidate, statistically speaking, within the first day. Give it a try. I've used to myself, they really do work. I swear. They really are the smartest way to hire. You could say they're a company you could trust.

[00:03:37]

I trust them. This, on the other hand, as a hooker you can trust. And it is the way I heard it.

[00:03:51]

Ed had no reason to lie. None whatsoever, and yet he did time and time again. Ed stretched the truth even when his far fetched fabrications serve no purpose.

[00:04:05]

A horseback encounter with a bear during a summer job evolved into a series of harrowing adventures.

[00:04:12]

There were knife fights and railroad yards. There were tent mates killed by falling trees. There were terrifying rides through Indian country.

[00:04:20]

But there were no witnesses to support any of this during World War Two.

[00:04:25]

Ed claimed that O.S.S. director Wild Bill Donovan wanted him on a secret mission to parachute into occupied France as the leader of a seven man team of assassins.

[00:04:38]

Ed also claimed that Hitler sent a boat to kill him. Wild Bill Donovan confirmed none of this when he applied to the University of Chicago.

[00:04:50]

Ed claimed to have been practicing law in Kentucky when in fact he'd been teaching high school and coaching basketball, a pointless prevarication that very nearly ruined his career.

[00:05:03]

But the tall tale he told in 1925 topped them all. A strange story of an unearthly encounter on a remote hilltop in Los Angeles. What exactly did Ed see on that fateful night in the hills?

[00:05:19]

Was it a ghost, a Bigfoot, a UFO? No, it was something else, something truly unbelievable.

[00:05:29]

And this time there was a witness on hand to corroborate Ed's incredible story, a witness who just happened to be a hooker.

[00:05:40]

One thing with respect to hookers, you might not immediately associate their testimony with that of a reliable witness, and that's understandable.

[00:05:49]

But this hooker had a camera, a fact that any number of other men could easily confirm men like Charlie Chaplin, Harpo Marx, Aldous Huxley and William Randolph Hearst, all of whom paid multiple visits to the hilltop in question.

[00:06:09]

Also interesting, General George Patton's grandfather provided this hooker with a home, and Andrew Carnegie spent a small fortune making sure that the home was well taken care of. Point being, this was a very popular hooker, a hooker you could trust.

[00:06:31]

Anyway, on the night in question, Ed approached the hookers home, as he always did, filled with a mix of passion and anticipation. Inside, he was greeted in the usual fashion and directed upstairs. It was a clear night, but cold.

[00:06:49]

It was always cold up here, thought Ed, but once they got down to business, he knew his enthusiasm would keep him warm. Ed greeted the hooker with a smile and got right to it. There was no need for words.

[00:07:05]

They had done this dance many times before. But on this particular night, somewhere in the midst of their pairing, Ed opened his eyes and glanced up.

[00:07:17]

And that's when he saw it, not a ghost, not a Bigfoot, not a UFO, but something truly unbelievable. One more thing before we discuss the details of what Ed observed on that fateful evening, it should be noted that Ed's wife knew all about Ed's obsession with the hooker on the hill.

[00:07:40]

Grace understood his inclinations and she passed no judgments. In fact, Grace sometimes accompanied Ed on his evening visits, later writing that she enjoyed watching him doing what he loved.

[00:07:58]

I point this out only to reinforce the curious nature of their 30 year marriage and Ed's predilection for fantasy and excitement.

[00:08:10]

For instance, after returning from a trip to Oxford, Ed began wearing knickers and capes and using phrases such as Splendid Fellow and ripping, leaving friends and colleagues deeply confused.

[00:08:25]

Grace, however, found it endearing.

[00:08:28]

On the other hand, Ed never allowed his wife to meet any of his relatives, not one.

[00:08:35]

And when he died in 1953, Grace burned all of his personal notes and buried his body in a secret location.

[00:08:45]

In other words, Ed had many secrets, but his relationship with the hooker was not among them.

[00:08:55]

Which brings us back to the evening in question and Ed's remarkable observation. If not a ghost or a Bigfoot or a UFO, what inexplicable thing did Ed witness from the hooker's house high on a remote hilltop in Los Angeles?

[00:09:10]

The answer was a tiny twinkle of light deep in the night sky. At first, Ed paid it no mind, this wasn't the first time the hooker had made him see stars and God willing, it wouldn't be the last.

[00:09:26]

But this star was not a nova, as Ed initially assumed, nor was it a quasar or a neutron or a blue giant or a red dwarf or a protostar.

[00:09:39]

This was a Seaford variable, a very unusual star that turned out to be much farther away from Earth than any astronomer believed possible.

[00:09:53]

It took some time to process the enormity of what he was witnessing, but once satisfied, he used the hooker's camera to capture the image.

[00:10:03]

Then he told the world a truly incredible story, the story of how the Milky Way was not, in fact, the only galaxy in the universe. Ed believed there were others, maybe lots of others.

[00:10:20]

He then surmised to the shock of scientists the world over that every single thing in our observable universe was at one point in time, one point in space, a truly mind boggling concept that would have surely been dismissed as pure fantasy if not for a photo taken from the roof of a hooker's home high on a remote hilltop in Los Angeles, a hilltop named for General George Patton's grandfather, Benjamin Wilson, who forged a trail to the pinnacle way back in 1864, the same hilltop where a man named Andrew Carnegie later built an observatory for a powerful new telescope, a telescope armed with a camera and named for the man who paid for it, John D.

[00:11:17]

Hooker.

[00:11:19]

It was the hooker telescope that provided Ed with the first observable proof that we live in an expanding universe, a photo that captured the most important discovery in modern astronomy taken by a raconteur with a reputation for stretching the truth, a brilliant but complicated scientist whose insatiable appetite for answers eventually led to the construction of another telescope a bit more advanced than the one he used atop Mount Wilson way back in 1925.

[00:11:59]

A telescope that recently confirmed the presence of no less than two trillion separate galaxies, all of which appear to be moving away from each other at incomprehensible speed, precisely as they have been doing ever since our universe exploded into existence thirteen point seven billion years ago.

[00:12:22]

A space telescope named for a teller of tall tales whose long nights with a famous hooker finally paid off with a really big bang and made him the most important astronomer in modern times. Edwin Hubble. Anyway, that's the way I heard.