Dubious Achievements '98
With Apologies To "Esquire" Magazine, It's Our Annual Round-Up Of Idiots And Charlatans.
By Leo W. Banks
JANUARY 4, 1999:
The roof of the World's Smallest Museum, located in Superior, near Globe, is made entirely of beer cans. "It took 1,800 empties to finish the job," said proprietor Dan Wight. "But my selection committee did themselves real proud. They furnished 3,600 cans, twice as many as we needed. Some of them are still recovering."
The Oro Valley Town Council waited until Mayor Cheryl Skalsky was out of town to call a special meeting to fire her. "They're a bunch of wusses," said Saklsky.
A robber fleeing police burst into Larry Lance's mobile home in Apache Junction, eventually killing himself there. Lance, who slept through the incident, waking up only after fugitive Wayne Faron shot himself in the head, was startled when he saw the mess of blood and brains in his living room. "I thought a person had gone out drinking, ate at Denny's, came here, sat in the chair and threw up all over the floor," said Lance, a 44-year-old electrician. As for sleeping through the police siege, he said, "I thank my lucky stars I got plowed last night."
George Post, a letter writer to The Arizona Daily Star, chastised KVOA-TV weatherman Jimmy Stewart for not standing on the right side of the screen while delivering the weather. "His rotund physique covers up the entire western U.S., the part of the country in which we are most interested," Post wrote.
Bisbee resident Mikael Patrick Lundin roams the streets of the old mining town greeting tourists dressed in a Buffalo Bill costume and acting like the famous frontiersman. "Since 1970, I have never walked into a building that's younger than I am," said Lundin. "I also refuse to live in a town that delivers mail or has a traffic signal."
TUSD board member Gloria Copeland, denied another term in the November election, threatened to sue the Tucson Citizen when the paper asked her to prove she graduated from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. The school's admissions office has no record of her graduating. "I do have the certificate, which I could give to you," Copeland said. Asked to provide it, she said, "I shouldn't have even said this much."
Teshome Abate died at St. Mary's Hospital after refusing to eat for five months after the Department of Corrections denied his request for a special diet based on his Ethiopian Orthodox Christian beliefs. Abate's cousin, Sab Assa, demanded an investigation. "He kept saying the treatment is not right," Assa said. "He doesn't get his letters properly, he doesn't get his food. Plus, they put him in with very criminal guys." Abate was a convicted murderer.
Classes at the new and improved University of Arizona include Underwater Basketweaving, the Sociology of Sexuality, and Rock and American Popular Music. In the latter course, students learn how Elvis' pelvic thrusts change the music industry.
Tucson teacher Patrick Coco invented and is selling for $20 the Lute Lid, a wig in the style of UA basketball coach Lute Olson. "We came up with a slogan while watching the game--you ain't cute unless you look like Lute."
In spite of vigorous protests, the UA signed a multi-million deal with Nike for the company to provide shoes, workout clothes, uniforms and some equipment to the school's athletic teams. The deal was opposed because Nike's overseas factories are said to be sweatshops that abuse workers and pay them little. One report found that 77 percent of Nike workers in a Vietnam factory suffered health problems.
Casey Cuny, executive vice president of the UA's student government, was declared a fugitive from justice for failing to appear in court on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge stemming from a raucous party at his home. Asked if the incident reflected on his ability to perform in office, Cuny said, "It shows my great organizational ability because it was such a great party."
At the end of his on-air appearance with former player and Oakland-based talk show host Tom Tolbert, UA basketball coach Lute Olson signed off by saying, "Thanks for having me. Say hi to Lori (Tolbert's wife), and I'm just so thrilled that the kids look like her. All your former teammates and coaches were worried about that."
In response to fellow City Councilman Jerry Anderson's effort to explore limiting the number of dogs residents can own, José Ibarra said, "I don t think it's our position to be saying how many animals little Juanito can have. I think that there's other, more vital issues that we need to address."
A tribal cop at the Gila River Indian Community checked a child molester out of jail to have him play the role of McGruff the Crime Dog at a local school because the officer who normally plays him was unavailable. Those in attendance said that Alfred Thurman, who started getting touchy feely with the children, was recognized by several horrified kids when he pulled off his head gear.
A Delta Chi member who left his fraternity house to await a pizza delivery was shocked to find, upon his return, a dead javelina with a piece of paper stuck in its bloody mouth on a table near the front door.
An ad put out by the Arizona Historical Society was honored by three national trade publications. It showed a photo of former governor Rose Mofford above a headline that read: If she were dead, we'd have her hair.
An unnamed robbery suspect held up two southside Burger Kings before being arrested when his speeding van got stuck in traffic near Craycroft and Broadway. The suspect had his 5-year-old son in tow.
A county judge dismissed Tucson cop David Azuelo's lawsuit alleging damages when a local Taco Bell served him a bloody burrito. Azuelo found a large quantity of blood inside the burrito's wrapper as he prepared to eat. The cop said that as he spoke to the manager about the problem, the worker who prepared the food came out of the back room, looked him in the eye and smiled. Then the worker tossed shredded cheese into a food canister with a big grin on his face.
In another Taco Bell story, a jury denied a Tucson woman's claim of $30,000 in damages for biting into a bean burrito she claimed contained a cockroach leg. Patsy Cruce lost her case after a bug expert testified that it wasn't a bug leg, but plant material.
Monkey-nappers cut the cage of a squirrel monkey at the Phoenix Zoo, making off with the two-pound creature valued at $200. Tucson Citizen writer Corky Simpson described the scene at Little Devil's cage: "Jasmine and Mimi, each weighing about a pound, were locked in a tender embrace, worried and confused and appearing to be comforting each other. Grandma was in a corner, alone, frightened and pathetic. Squeeks, Stinky, Stash and Monster were uneasy, pacing, looking side to side, yelling and pacing some more. Students and church groups weren't laughing or calling to their furry little friends as they normally do."
A clerk's paperwork error resulted in the freeing of the wrong inmate from the Pima County Jail. Michael A. Head, 26, was freed instead of William Head, who was spending weekends at the jail for drunk driving. Michael Head turned himself in after several hours.
Tucson personal injury lawyer Richard Grand bought the signed final-episode script of Seinfeld for $6,000 at a San Francisco auction. "It ended up in a bidding war between myself and a lady," said Grand, who is very successful in his practice. "I was willing to pay a little bit more."
Radio Pantera, a Spanish-language radio station, airs a program that glamorizes the drug traffic in Mexico in song and story. The background sounds in some of the songs played by host Luis Aguilar include automatic weapons firing and police shouting into bullhorns. If you don't listen, one promotion warned, there will be a settling of accounts.
The City of Tucson gave transient Alan Mason $5,000 to settle a lawsuit over an alleged policy that he claimed forced homeless people out of downtown.
KOLD-TV, Channel 13's helicopter landed on a road near Vail, blocking for two minutes an ambulance that was attempting to leave the scene of a school bus accident. "Our concerns were that if this were a more serious collision, with more serious injuries, it could have been a serious situation," said Pima County Sheriff's Capt. George Heaney.
Green Valley residents were outraged at new regulation issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requiring seatbelts and other safety features on new golf carts that could boost the price by $1,000. Twenty-year resident Katherine Frame said, "A seatbelt wouldn't make any difference. I've heard of about maybe three accidents, and they came from people not paying attention."
Carl Sinclair filed suit against Arizona Capacitor Co. alleging that harassment by female co-workers created intolerable conditions. They made a lewd doll of him, and a female supervisor waved a dildo in his face. Douglas Clark, Jr., lawyer for the company, said he believes Sinclair is trying to milk a situation for money.
A Colorado man was arrested when, after hearing of Linda McCartney's death, he jumped the fence around Paul and Linda's ranch near Redington Pass and spent 30 minutes videotaping the property. Police also alleged that John Cowie stole several rubber rats set out to deter rodents.
Christopher C. Eddy told police he had no idea how the door from a torched UA fraternity house wound up in his mid-town home. The 19-year-old, who was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega house when it was ordered closed by the national organization, admitted that some of the brothers joked about burning the place down. "But it was bullshit," he explained. "Nobody was going to cause any damage...We re a frat. We drink."
A jury convicted Robert J. Benge of four counts of fraud for faking falls at several Arizona businesses, and bilking insurance companies of a total of more than $10,000. Investigators believe that Benge and his sidekick--his sainted mother--pulled the same scam 70 times in various states.
Brandy Walker, 19, a beginning reporter at the Arizona Summer Wildcat newspaper, resigned after she was caught making up quotes in four stories. Said Walker, "I don't think anyone who acts that way should work for the Wildcat or any newspaper because things like that can affect such a wide audience." She said she plans to become a TV writer.
In what he thought would be a good way to introduce kids to the legislative process, Republican state Sen. John Huppenthal suggested that Arizona name an official state dinosaur. But the proposal became bogged down when interests from the northern and southern parts of the state bickered over what dinosaur to name. The matter was settled when the parties agreed to name two state dinosaurs.
In its morning-after election news coverage, the ever-reliable Arizona Daily Star identified California Senator Barbara Boxer as a Republican in a front-page box. She is one of the most liberal Democrats in the U.S. Senate.
Former UA basketball star Brian Williams, now with the Detroit Pistons of the NBA, announced he was changing his name to Bison Dele.
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