Apr 17, 2024

OJ Simpson’s Death Prompts Some Dubious Memories

Did that white Bronco need a tune-up?

By Ed Goldman

The death of O.J. Simpson last week unleashed a few snapchat-like memories for me. Those are the kind that last only a few seconds—and when you consider the content, even that can sometimes seem too long.

I remembered that on June 17, 1994, I caught a few minutes of the infamously “live” and torturously slow freeway pursuit of him in his white Bronco after he allegedly murdered his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman (no relation—but we’ll get back to that in a moment). 

Edgy Cartoon

Jeep thrills

At the time, I recall thinking that the “chase” might have been staged by the same TV producers who switched to slo-mo whenever “The Six-Million-Dollar Man” or “The Bionic Woman” were filmed running. The technique was meant to demonstrate that they were zipping along soooo fast that only by slowing down the action could we puny earthlings even hope to conceive of their staggering velocity. 

Of course, if you had a VCR at the time, you could flip your remote to fast-forward and see that the two actors were simply loping along at a normal pace, like neighborhood joggers who hadn’t taken a few extra moments to shed their work clothes.

The next afternoon I was working in my office—on the third floor of my home, in the back—when my “dogbell” rang. 

That’s how I sometimes referred to my little dog Camellia when she alerted me to visitors. My genuine doorbell had stopped functioning in the first three months I owned the home and I’d never seen fit to have it fixed— especially not when Camellia was there to keep me posted. So I started calling her my dogbell. (In the spirit of full disclosure, she also notified me if a leaf sailed into my front window while wafting downward from a front-yard tree. Since I live in a nationally recognized City of Trees, this made for some very noisy autumns.)

I went downstairs to see what the commotion was—Camellia would keep on barking until a visitor gave up, even if the visitor was a determined Jehovah’s Witness or whole-life insurance salesman—and opened my door to a young woman holding a microphone and a young guy holding a video camera on my front stoop. Glancing past her, I also saw the truck from one of the local news stations. I asked her what this was all about.

“Well, you know about Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman being allegedly murdered by O.J. Simpson?” 

I nodded. 

“Well,” she said, “someone at the station who knows you said your last name’s Goldman, too.” 

I re-nodded. 

“So was Ron Goldman a relative of yours?” she asked, excitedly. 

This time I shook my head no. The young reporter looked crestfallen. “Oh, that’s too bad,” she said as she signaled her camera guy it was time to leave.

I finally spoke. “You think it’s ‘too bad’ that a relative of mine wasn’t just murdered?” 

“Yeah,” she called back to me as she started to climb into the truck. “You’d have been on TV!”

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I also remember the day the jury acquitted Simpson. I was at a marketing committee meeting for the organization now known as Visit Sacramento, a longtime client of mine. One of the staff members came rushing in (at actual top speed) to tell us she’d just seen the news on the TV set she kept at her desk. Why anyone in the tourism game had a TV set at her desk was a question none of us sought to ask at the time, though I feel pretty certain it was discussed after our meeting by her and her boss.

In any event, it brought the meeting to a complete stop since no one seemed capable of spewing out more than a sentence or two about the public relations campaign we’d been planning, whose tagline was “Sacramento: The Adventure Capital.” Instead, everyone began issuing a variation of the rant, “Can you $%#@&!!ing believe this?!”

Since we were in a municipal facility, questions of how Simpson’s attorneys had played the fabled “race card” to make it seem as though he’d been set up by crooked white cops weren’t raised. At the time—as at many times since I’ve lived here—even if you innocently asked certain questions, they could be interpreted as bigoted. It could start a serious fracas. But at least you could have been on TV! 

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).