Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just Waiting Around

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In February, graduate art student Matthew Keeney unveiled his latest piece of performance art, called “The Waiting Project.” The performance consists of Keeney standing on streets in Syracuse, N.Y., waiting for someone to ask him about “The Waiting Project.” In previous pieces, Keeney watched ice sculptures melt and held a “Super Bowl party for one” on a park bench. He also walked from the Capitol steps in Washington, D.C., to the Lincoln Memorial by stopping each time he heard a car horn and then starting again when he heard another.

Police Blotter
Latest Police Chases: (1) In Ocala, Fla., in March, Bret Wass, 28, tried to escape from police who were investigating a sexual battery. Wass hopped in his tow truck and drove away, even though the truck had a car hooked onto it. During the chase, he hit a patrol car and ultimately ran into a cluster of trees. He was captured on foot nearby. (2) Police in Osaka, Japan, mobilized in January to apprehend fugitive Hirofumi Fukuda, 27, who was wanted for assaulting an officer. Such an assault tends to draw the attention of fellow officers, and by the end of the two-hour episode, a helicopter, 460 patrol cars and 2,240 law-enforcement officers were on the case.

What Goes Around, Comes Around
Thirty years ago, before Wal-Mart became an international giant, the corporation made a “handshake” deal to allow a small video company, Flagler Productions, to shoot promotional footage of the firm’s executives. The production company was given free reign within the company and made about 15,000 tapes, including many that inevitably showed Wal-Mart leaders in awkward situations. In 2006, an incoming Wal-Mart executive decided to end the relationship, which devastated Flagler Productions’ bottom line. To make up for the monetary loss, Flagler offered to research its video library for historians and, more notably, litigants suing Wal- Mart on product safety, employment and union-busting issues. According to an April Wall Street Journal report, a treasure trove of embarrassing moments is available.

People Different From Us
Even though 20 states forbid residents from keeping monkeys as pets, the Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are 15,000 privately owned primates. According to an April Orlando Sentinel report, at least 200 Floridians are licensed to own pet capuchin monkeys. Many experts warn that the animals will bite and scratch, and can become very aggressive when agitated, prompting the Sentinel to ask why people would want to keep them as pets.

According to the editor of Monkey Matters Magazine, it’s because of the monkeys’ human-like features and the owners’ desires to dress them up. “Believe me,” said the editor, “if people could get their cats (into) outfits, a lot of those cats would be wearing outfits.”

Least Competent Criminals
In three separate incidents in March and April, robbers were arrested in the act after police were tipped off in advance. The sources of each tip were store employees who had been notified by the brazen perps to expect a robbery. Daniel Glen, 40, was arrested in Windsor, Ontario, after calling ahead to make sure there was enough money in the convenience store’s cash register. An 18-year-old man was arrested in Chicago after giving his phone number to a Mufflers For Less employee and instructing him to call when the manager, who had access to the safe, arrived at work. And two men were arrested near Traverse City, Mich., two hours after they described to a gas station employee exactly how they would rob the gas station.

Recurring Themes
Earnest residents continue to accidentally destroy their homes: (1) A house in Galveston, Texas, had its roof blown off on Jan. 21 when the resident set out six bug foggers but neglected to turn off the gas stove’s pilot light; (2) A Jacksonville, Fla., woman who smelled something unusual in her home on Nov. 15 decided to light the fireplace to clear the air, and a gas leak created a fire that destroyed the home; (3) An apartment building in Sioux Falls, S.D., was wiped out on Feb. 21 when a resident tried to thaw frozen pipes with a blowtorch.

News That Sounds Like a Joke
(1) Bernard Fincher Jr., 25, was arrested in Buffalo, N.Y., in March for possession of cocaine. Police quickly found a stash of the drug, which Fincher had allegedly tried to hide in a doughnut box. (2) Cody Young, 13, decided to browse through a Goodwill Industries store in Salem, Ore. But, according to Young, when he parked his expensive BMX bicycle inside the front door in January, an employee mistakenly sold the bike to a customer for $6.99.

2008 Chuck Shepherd