Almost Famous

A skater kid grapples with his sudden rise to worldwide renown.
Almost Famous
THE DUDE ABIDES: Jacob Isom, unintentional YouTube celebrity, in downtown Amarillo on October 18, 2010.
Photograph by Wyatt McSpadden

Sometime in the middle of the night of September 11, while Jacob Isom slept, the 23-year-old Amarillo skateboarder began a rapid, unintentional ascent to worldwide fame. Earlier in the day, he had been a face in the crowd, one of a hundred-some people who had gathered at Amarillo’s Sam Houston Park to protest a proposed Quran burning by David Grisham, the leader of a radical Christian group called Repent Amarillo. Grisham hadn’t come up with the idea himself. A Florida pastor named Terry Jones had already made international headlines for planning to do the same thing to approximately two hundred copies of the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States.

As it turned out, neither conflagration came to pass. On September 9, Jones suspended his provocation, under somewhat murky circumstances. But Grisham was undone in a more cinematic fashion. Protesters sang, waved signs, and shouted; a few of them placed their hands next to Grisham’s lighter-fluid-doused Quran on a park grill, daring him to set them on fire as well. Amid this drama, Isom, disguised as a member of Repent Amarillo, sneaked up, swiped Grisham’s Quran, and ran away while the crowd clapped and whistled. Minutes later, he gave an interview to a crew from local CBS

More Texas Monthly

Loading, please wait...