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2004: A Series of Unfortunate Events 

Our recap of the year gone by

We had so many memorable moments in 2004: Patty Weiss being told to go to bed earlier; the end of the Grant Road suicide lane; magistrate Jay Cranshaw ordering Diana Ross to serve time in a Tucson jail for DUI; Bill O'Reilly's curious sexual fantasies; and, of course, that whole race for the White House thing.

To recap the year, we've scoured the world of news, ranging from our local dailies and the Wall Street Journal's opinionjournal.com to the Drudge Report, celebrating the stupendous stupidity of so many stooges and stumblebums. We've also picked out a few headlines that were worth re-living.

Here, with a tip of the hat to the big boys at Esquire magazine for inspiration, is our own year-end celebration of the Year of Our Lord 2004. May God have mercy on us all.


LANE VIOLATION

UA basketball player Isaiah Fox was suspended from the team for the second year in a row. Last year, the doofy giant shoplifted from a convenience store on campus, and this year, he was cited for driving without insurance and registration, although he claims the suspension was unrelated to the driving problems.


THE PIPE FOR THE GOOD OLD USA

A Davis-Monthan pilot on a training drill accidentally tear-gassed the Rita Ranch neighborhood. Almost 30 residents reported breathing problems, including choking and gasping in what some thought was a terrorist attack.

Even though it took the military six months to explain what happened, some Rita Ranch residents expressed undying support for the Air Force.

"You can gas me anytime you want," said Mary Ann Ulichny.


THEY WERE GOING TO USE A GUILLOTINE, BUT IT WAS TOO DARN CLUNKY TO LUG AROUND

A South Tucson cop used a Taser stun gun to subdue a handcuffed 9-year-old girl who ran away from a psychiatric center. An officer had put the girl into the back of a patrol car where she was screaming, flailing and attempting to kick out the car window. After warning her to calm down, Sgt. Armando Teyechea applied the Taser's 50,000 volts to her thigh.


YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO OUR PATTY, YOU RATS! ... WE'RE DONE WITH KVOA ... WE'LL WATCH WB-58 IF WE HAVE TO

KVOA-TV General Manager Gary Nielson told news anchor Patty Weiss that he was removing her from the coveted 10 p.m. time slot after a 29-year run. The sweet-faced local legend reacted emotionally to her demotion, prompting community outrage.


NOW WE KNOW WHAT WE'LL BE USING FOR CURRENCY IN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S FAITH-BASED ECONOMY

Florida resident Diana Duyser sold a 10-year-old grilled-cheese sandwich--that she said bore an image of the Virgin Mary--to an online casino for $28,000.


WHITE PEOPLE REALLY SUCK, DON'T THEY?

In a so-called celebration of campus diversity, the UA Diversity Coalition and school vice president Edith Auslander encouraged employees and students to record their experiences in dealing with prejudice on white cinder blocks.

The blocks were then used to build a wall, which everyone tore down in an effort to symbolize the walls of oppression coming down.


MADE THE DEAN'S LIST AGAIN

A 16-year-old Marana High School student broke into a school database and changed his grades, and those of some other students. After determining the teacher's user name, Michael T. Campbell guessed the password.

"He was very quick and successful," said police spokesman Tim Brunenkant. "It was something personal the kid guessed."


DUMB ASH

Kenzo Butler, a 23-year-old Pima Community College student, pleaded guilty to lying to the feds and smoking illegally on Mount Lemmon, which might have ignited the Aspen fire. The blaze destroyed about 85,000 acres and 300 buildings.


BOOBS

Nearly 200 women applying to work at a West Covina, Calif., Hooters were secretly videotaped in a trailer while they undressed to put on a Hooters outfit.


IT'S ALL THOSE WINTER VISITORS SWIPING DIAPERS FROM WALGREENS

For the second year in a row, Tucson had the highest property crime rate in the nation. Property crimes include burglary, theft and auto theft. Tucson's rate was 17 percent higher than that of Memphis, Tenn., the second-place city.


WACKY DRIVER

A UA cop gave up his peace officer's certification following allegations of public indecency, including driving around a midtown Target parking lot with his pants below his waist. According to the Star, Gary Bluemke admitted that he occasionally masturbated inside his truck at an eastside grocery store, but said he didn't do it at the Target.


IT ALSO HAS AN ESCAPE TUNNEL AND EXPLODING TOILETS

The midtown home of dead crime boss Joe Bonanno went up for sale on eBay for $495,000. The house features a 425-square-foot swimming pool, a bocce court, several built-in safes and a concrete bomb shelter in the basement holding Bonanno's former office and a secret room.


THE LINE FORMS OUTSIDE CATHOLIC HEADQUARTERS IN DOWNTOWN TUCSON, CURLS UP THROUGH THE WESTERN UNITED STATES TO ALASKA, CROSSES THE BERING STRAIGHT AND SIBERIA, CLIMBS THE KHYBER PASS BETWEEN PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN, CIRCLES THE HORN OF AFRICA, THEN COMES NORTH THROUGH MOROCCO, SPAIN, FRANCE AND INTO THE BRITISH ISLES AND ACROSS THE POND TO THE EASTERN UNITED STATES; BE SURE TO TAKE A TICKET AND PACK A LUNCH

Tucson's Catholic diocese has launched an advertising campaign to search for victims abused by its priests and other employees. The ads will run in 53 publications in California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Northern Mexico, and will inform victims that they must file a claim by April 15 or lose their right to seek compensation.


THIS IS ONE CASE THAT MAKES US FEEL JUST GIGGLY-HAPPY ALL OVER ABOUT OUR CITY GOVERNMENT

City parking cops clamped a boot onto Tucson architect Eduardo J. Ornelas's 1998 Jaguar XJ6, forcing him to pay fines of about $10,000. He had 123 citations, going back as far as 1999.


IT'S CALLED THE SHARON-OSIS BRONSON-ITIS

E. Lendell Cockrun, a retired UA professor, earned the distinction of having a tiny and previously unknown species of desert shrew named for him.


LIGHTEN UP, DUDE. IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME AT THE WEEKLY

At the FBR Open golf tournament in Scottsdale, tipsy fans heckled and booed pro Chris DeMarco as he stood over his shots on the 16th hole. Demarco didn't like it and said, "I'd love to go get a six-pack of beer, find out where these guys work, go in their office, sit on my chair and go yell at them while they're making sales calls."


THE DIVA DIARIES

The Diana Ross drunk-driving case drew letters from fans around the world, pleading with Tucson Judge T. Jay Cranshaw to show the former Motown singing star leniency. Ross, arrested Dec. 30, 2002, for driving on the wrong side of the road near Sabino Canyon and Tanque Verde roads, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.20. The legal limit is 0.08.

A woman from the Netherlands wrote, "She is sunlight in dark times, and for this time I just tried to be her sunlight."


SEE, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON'T PLAN AHEAD

A 23-year-old Hartland, Maine, man tried to commit suicide by nailing himself to a cross. The AP reported that the man placed the cross on the floor, then nailed one of his hands to it using a 14-penny nail and a hammer.

But when he realized he couldn't nail the other hand to the board, he called 911.


THE WHOLE AFFAIR IS A PRETTY GOOD METAPHOR FOR THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Two Tucson men were arrested after they attempted to hit conservative author Ann Coulter with a pie during an appearance at Centennial Hall. Coulter sidestepped the pie, which merely nicked her shoulder.


AND WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE WHAT HE DOES WITH CHICKEN SHWARMA

Fox News talk-show host Bill O'Reilly was hit with a sexual-harassment suit from a producer who said that he often told her sexual fantasies over the telephone.

In one shower-related scenario, O'Reilly allegedly told Andrea Mackris, "... and then I'd take my other hand with the falafel thing and I'd put it on your pussy, but you'd have to do it really light, just kind of a tease business."


BUT HOW DO WE GET HIM TO STAY AWAY?

Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe led Congress in overseas travel, making nine trips over 43 days to 23 countries.


LET'S GO TO SUBWAY, EVERYBODY! MY TREAT!

A police investigation revealed that the theft of more than $4,300 in cash water bill payments, which disappeared from the city council office of José Ibarra, was abetted by lousy security, poor record-keeping and the use of untrained staffers to collect the payments.

Some of Ibarra'a staffers even borrowed money for lunch and personal expenses from the cash box where the payments were kept.


HOW TO TURN A $4,300 SCANDAL INTO A MILLION-DOLLAR LAWSUIT

After City Councilman José Ibarra blamed former staffer Cara Reid for the theft of the water-bill payments, Reid filed a $2.5 million claim against the city for defamation of character.


WE'VE RESERVED A PERMANENT SPACE IN OUR ANNUAL ROUNDUP FOR OUR GUY, THIS FUN-LOVING, MADCAP, MAGICAL POL WHO MAKES MONEY DISAPPEAR

City Councilman José Ibarra returned $11,118 to the city after officials determined the money was spent in violation of campaign-finance laws. Officials say no candidate in the history of the city's campaign-finance laws has returned such a large amount of money.

Expenditures included $4,000 allegedly spent on a post-election party for volunteers in November 2003.


THE MONEY SHOT

"When I was in my routine training for the Israeli army as a teenager, they discovered completely by chance that I was a lethal sniper. I could hit the target smack in the center further away than anyone could believe. Not just that, even though I was tiny and not even much of an athlete, I was incredibly accurate throwing hand grenades, too. Even today I can load a Sten automatic rifle in a single minute, blindfolded." --Sex Expert Dr. Ruth Westheimer


WE ALL DODGED A BULLET THERE

In a column arguing that advancing age and her lack of blond hair led to anchor Patti Weiss's downfall at KVOA, Star columnist Bonnie Henry said the issue makes her glad she earns her living with her fingers, not her face.


JANET AND THE TWIINS

A Tucson T-shirt shop--X-Tee's Offensive Wear--specializes in message T-shirts that upset, outrage and titillate. One shows a picture of Justin Timberlake exposing Janet Jackson's breast at the Super Bowl. Caption: "He should have gone for two."


SHOCK AND AWE

A Casa Grande, Ariz., barber with a striking resemblance to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has made a killing playing the mass murderer in movies and videos.

Frank Mejia has worked with Madonna, Ice Cube, George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and others. In a Madonna music video, he was filmed sitting next to a George W. Bush look-alike. "Making $650 for the 30-minute shoot wasn't bad," said Mejia.


RABID

After trading words over a retirement check, retired Pima County Sheriff's deputy Richard Pettitt slugged it out with Capt. Shawn Cooper at department headquarters. When Capt. Warren Alter tried to break it up, Pettitt grappled with him, too, after which Pettitt was arrested.

His last assignment was as a dog handler in the canine unit.


RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! IT'S ... IT'S THE STRAIGHT PEOPLE!!!

Three heterosexual couples vacationing with a gay couple at a gay-friendly resort in Key West, Fla., were turned away because they were not gay. The manager told the couples, "We don't want you here," according to The Associated Press, because the majority of the guests wouldn't want straight people staying there.


BROCOLLI SNARFERS ARISE!

The screen adaptation of Stephen King's gory book, Desperation, being filmed in downtown Bisbee, ran into a problem with vegetarians when Director Mick Garris tried to put live snakes in a meat case for a scene set in the general store.

But the set for the general store was the town's vegan co-op, prompting an outcry from vegetarians who didn't want meat or live snakes on the premises.


WE'RE TAKING SUGGESTIONS: HOW DO WE MAKE HER GO AWAY? ANYBODY?

Courtney Love, the former lead singer with the appropriately named group Hole, and widow of dead Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain, climbed atop David Letterman's desk and pulled up her shirt to reveal her boobs while singing Danny Boy.


DON'T YOU HATE IT WHEN YOU FEEL OPAQUE?

In tortured, painful prose on the front page of the Star's Accent section, writer Rhonda Bodfield Bloom killed many trees glorifying the female strip-tease industry as so much more than showing your ta-tas to drooling men for money.

It's fun, good exercise, and gosh-darnit, when you're not fighting off scumbags in the parking lot, it can produce a sexual awakening, as Bloom explained about part-time stripper and Pima College grants evaluator Cheryl Bartlett:

"Somewhere along the way, she felt weighted down by her roles as mother and career woman as though the sexual part of herself had been banished. She was dowdy. She didn't wear makeup. She felt opaque."


REVEALING HIS SHORTCOMINGS

Pablo O. Sanchez, a Pima Community College cop, lost his peace officer's license over suspicions that he exposed himself in public on several occasions.

Allegations include jogging nude from the waist down on North Sandario Road; peeking under a UA Library bathroom stall, then pretending to be deaf when confronted; sitting in the nude in his truck at Gates Pass; and standing naked beside his truck at Grant Road and Interstate 10, his arms on the door frame, his legs spread and genitals clearly exposed.


WE PUT AUNT BEE IN STREERAGE, AND WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT, SHE BLEW AWAY

Travelers carrying cremation urns are causing increasing problems for airport security officials in Tucson, Phoenix and around the country. Metal urns, or those lined with lead, will set off the X-ray machine, but screeners are not allowed to check inside, meaning the usually-grieving passenger cannot board the flight.

People want to carry a loved one's ashes on board to make sure they reach their final destination safely, said Joe Livingston, funeral director at Hansen Mortuary in Phoenix.

"It's one thing to lose your underwear," he said. "It's another to lose an urn."


GERONIMO!!!

A man touring the Grand Canyon by helicopter unhooked his seatbelt, opened the door and jumped 4,000 feet to his death.


WHY DON'T WE JUST RID OURSELVES OF THIS PESKY BORDER AND MAKE MEXICO OUR 51STSTATE AND FORGET THE WHOLE DAMN THING?

U.S. Border Patrol agents were outraged to find Made in Mexico labels on their new uniforms. Customs and Border Protection officials told the Arizona Republic that they were trying to get as much as they could for their money.


IT WAS A CHEAP GALLO

Three Polish divers got into trouble with authorities after a news photo showed them serving champagne to a pike. The picture showed the three frogmen, neck deep in a lake, tipping a bottle of cheap Russian champagne into the fish's open mouth, according to Reuters. The Polish National Fishing Authority accused the men of "maltreating a fish."


HEY, THIS IS AN IDEA WE CAN GET BEHIND

Authorities arrested an Esquire magazine writer and Rod Coronado, an Earth First! member, in Sabino Canyon for attempting to disrupt a state Game and Fish department hunt of aggressive lions.

Coronado said, "If we see the hounds tree a lion, we will put our bodies between the lion and the hunter."


KIDS NAPPED

Police arrested a Phoenix couple for allegedly keeping their 5-year-old twins locked in cages for 20 hours a day. Louis and Estelvina Rodriguez said they did it to keep the children from hurting themselves.

When they emerged from captivity, the boys couldn't speak, and police soon learned the children hadn't been toilet trained.


IT CUTS DOWN ON THE SNORING

A French woman married her dead fiancée in the Rivera city of Nice. Christelle Demichel married her departed squeeze, Eric, who was killed by a drunken driver. In France, anyone wishing to marry a dead person can do so, if the two had planned to marry before the death.


SHE HAD A FISTFUL OF COUPONS, TOO

A Covington, Ga., woman was arrested for using a fake $1 million bill to buy $1,675 worth of merchandise at Wal-Mart.


NOW THEY CALL HIM THE WHITE-SHOES-AND-CHECKED-PANTS BANDIT

An Arizona Republic reporter discovered that the 74-year-old chairman of the board of Smith & Wesson gun company was a dangerous criminal as a young man.

Scottsdale resident James Joseph Minder resigned from the board after the revelation that he'd been an armed robber who sometimes carried a Smith & Wesson gun, as well as a 16-gauge, sawed-off shotgun, while committing dozens of holdups, some during his time as a student at the University of Michigan. The press dubbed him "the shotgun bandit."


OH, NO. DON'T TELL US THERE'S TWO OF HIM

Police arrested a Tucson man who allegedly stole $300,000 by impersonating former county supervisor and now-Congressman Raul Grijalva. Art Garcia Martinez, 39, called an unidentified city employee claiming to be Grijalva and asked for money to help pay fines and other expenses for a jailed friend.


SHRINKING NUTS

Three Spokane, Wash., youngsters who went streaking through a local Denny's wearing only shoes and hats were chagrined when they looked out the restaurant window and saw a man, who'd been eating inside, drive off in their car.

The boys had kept the engine running, hoping to make a fast getaway. Police found them huddled behind cars, naked, in 20-degree weather.


LOCK AND LOAD, BABY

Charles Heller, host of Liberty Watch--a weekend show on radio station KJLL, the Jolt--barricaded himself inside the St. Philip's Plaza studio. Heller, who usually has guns with him in the studio, blurted out on the air his plans to depart for another station, prompting General Manager Pat Johnston to order Heller out of the studio immediately.

"We didn't know what was going to happen," Johnston said. "He's always carrying guns, and we just didn't know."


HOSED

Corpus Christi, Texas, resident Chuck Richison received a water bill for $7,714,510.21. When he called to notify the utility, he was told the meter had made a correct reading.


BOOB TUBE

KGUN-9 News, which boasts of being "clear, accurate and to the point," had to backpeddle when reporter Craig Smith announced on the air that Pima County sheriff's candidate Michael Steber had won the Republican primary.

Smith returned later in the broadcast to announce that, in fact, Roland Youngling had won. At the time, Youngling was ahead by 7,000 votes.


FIRED UP

The size of a westside gas spill turned out to be almost twice as large as originally estimated. Kinder Morgan, owners of the pipeline, initially told state environmental officials that the spill totaled 10,000 gallons--when in fact it was 19,000--and that it could never spread west of the Silvercroft Wash. But it did spread, contaminating a water well.

"We had concerns from the beginning that there was a lot more gasoline that was spilled than the company originally let on," said Stephen Owens, director of the Department of Environmental Quality.


HE COULD MAKE CHANGE, TOO, AND YOU CAN GUESS HOW

French doctors found about 350 coins in the swollen belly of a 62-year-old French man. He had come to the emergency room of a hospital in western France, complaining of a stomachache. Doctors later said the man had swallowed the coins over the course of a decade.

"When he was invited and came in some homes, he liked to steal coins and eat them," said Dr. Bruno Francois.


BIG PILES OF MUSH

Authorities disciplined a security screener at the Denver International Airport, and several others at airports across the country, for sending their bodies through checkpoint X-ray machines to see what their brains looked like.


EEEEEEEEUUUUUUUUU!!!

The Lumberjack, the student newspaper at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, raised a fuss with a how-to Valentine's Day article on oral sex.

Sample copy: "First off, pick a place and a position. Get the recipient to sit on the edge of something comfortable (a couch or bed) or lie down, and make sure the giver is comfortable, too. Or engage in some serious multi-tasking by pleasing your partner and being pleased yourself at the same time--69 style. Doing this lying on your side decreases the risk of suffocating one another."


BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNE

Arizona ranks No. 1 in the West in the percentage of its population in jail. The state's incarceration rate is 502 per 100,000.


YES, AND IDIOT-LOSER-MORON CAN REALLY MEAN SMART GAL

As part of a lawsuit by women who say they were sexually assaulted by University of Colorado football players, school President Elizabeth Hoffman said the gender slur c--- can be used as a "term of endearment."

"It's all in the context of what--of how it is used and when it is used," Hoffman said.


THE WRITE STUFF

Tucson Citizen sports writer Jack Rickard, 68, resigned after his bosses learned that he'd published a story with two quotes swiped from the Arizona Daily Star's Web site. Citizen editors planned to investigate his past stories as well.


HAND OVER THE CRAYONS, PUNK

The Secret Service showed up at a Prosser, Wash., school to question a 15-year-old boy whose art class drawings depicted President Bush's head on a stick, and as a devil launching a missile.

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