Just take a look at the famous and infamous who made headlines this year: Diana Ross fighting DUI charges in a Tucson courtroom; former Wildcat basketball star Damon Stoudamire walking through an airport metal detector with marijuana wrapped in tinfoil; right-wing demigod Rush Limbaugh checking himself into an Arizona clinic after admitting an addiction to painkillers. (And how did he come by those pills, anyway? Something tells us he didn't have a legal prescription for all of 'em ...)
We've cruised our local papers and publications beyond, from the online gutters of the Drudge Report to the high-end cobblestones of The Wall Street Journal, scouring the world and the Web for the strange, stupid and scandalous snippets that make up our annual compendium. Once upon a time, in a tip o' the hat to the gang at Esquire, we had a certain title for this annual year-end package, but the magazine has copyrighted "Dubious Achievements," so we won't be ripping that off anymore.
Nonetheless, we're still here to bring you this roundup of roundups and all the crooks, crazies and clowns that made 2003 such a wild and wackadoodle year.
BANG-UP JOBA Tucson police lieutenant was suspended and demoted for pressuring a subordinate to contact a woman with whom the two officers had engaged in three-way sex. Nineteen-year veteran Lt. John DeConcini was busted to sergeant, and his cohort, Sgt. Sean O'Brien, was demoted to officer after the incident.
WE KNOW SOME TUCSON POLICE OFFICERS WHO MIGHT WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS RESTRAINING DEVICEA thief used erotic bondage gear to bind two workers while he robbed a Phoenix-area adult-novelty store at gunpoint.
"I don't think they were aroused," Police Sgt. Lori Williams told the Arizona Republic. "They were pretty upset. He had a gun and they were afraid for their safety."
NOW HE SWEARS BY COMFORTABLE SHOESHeadline in Monterey (California) Herald: Castrated Molester Claims He's Changed.
KID NAPTUSD bus driver Lisa Marie Grajeda was charged with child abuse for leaving a boy on her school bus at the end of her shift. The 6-year-old had fallen asleep, and Grajeda, thinking the bus was empty, parked it at the TUSD depot and left for the day.
DOPEFormer Arizona basketball star Damon Stoudamire was busted at the Tucson airport for trying to sneak 1 1/2 ounces of marijuana wrapped in aluminum foil past security. When airport police asked Stoudamire about the marijuana, he responded, "You know what it is."
The Portland Trail Blazers star was on probation in Washington state for a similar charge.
SNORTState and federal authorities accused Innovative Waste Utilization LLC, a Phoenix-area company that specialized in disposing of seized ingredients for methamphetamines, of re-selling those chemicals to meth labs as part of an interstate drug ring.
MAYBE NOT, BUT IT HELPSHeadline, Arizona Republic: Expert: Tugging Women's Nipples Not Orthodox Medical Care.
YEAH? YOU JUST TRY SUCKING A HORSE'S TOESA former Tucson youth soccer coach was sentenced to life in prison in a Santa Ana, Calif., courtroom for sucking the toes of 20 boys, ages 6 to 10 years, who were part of a Newport Beach youth program. His lawyer said 32-year-old Trenton Veches' actions were mere "horseplay."
WHAT A RUSHRight-wing radio commentator Rush Limbaugh spent five weeks in an Arizona drug rehab clinic after confessing that he had become addicted to painkillers.
"Too many whites are getting away with drug use," Limbaugh said in a 1995 interview. "The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."
DEAD BANGResidents of Lardal, Norway, who watched a fireball explode in the night sky and fall to earth, reported the citing as a UFO. But the supposed spaceship was, in fact, an exploding cat, which had climbed an electrical mast and touched a live wire, blowing itself up.
COOKIE MONSTERSan Francisco lawyer Stephen Joseph sued to outlaw Oreo cookies, saying unlabeled fats presented a public danger.
SHOOTING STARSan Francisco police busted former Arizona basketball player Gilbert Arenas on a charge of possessing a concealed weapon. Officers found the ammo clip to a .40-caliber handgun in the glove compartment when Arenas reached for his registration, then found the gun in a bag hanging from the back of the passenger seat. The guard, who now plays for the Washington Wizards, said he didn't know the gun was in the car.
LIKE, IF YOU PUT ON A HAT, YOU'RE OUTTA HERERepublican lawmaker Jeff Flake expressed concern about the Shangri-La Ranch nudist camp for teenagers, 45 minutes north of Phoenix. "I have to think they're breaking some laws somehow. Indecency or something," Flake said.
But ranch owner Horst Kraus said anyone who displays inappropriate behavior is immediately thrown out, with their name put on a do-not-admit list.
WE WERE AFRAID OF THATHeadline, Calgary (Alberta) Sun: Greenspan Warns of Gas Pains.
EXTRA SALSA, PLEASEPerformance artist Nao Bustamante specializes in strapping on burrito-dildos and having white males feast on them in an absolution ceremony for 500 years of colonial guilt, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
ASS ISIn a sale offer posted on eBay, a Tubac couple sought a buyer for 29 acres, including the Burro Inn and restaurant and a 5,000 square-foot underground Titan 2 missile silo. The asking price--$1.4 million--includes two pet burros, Louie and Andrew.
IF YOU LAUGH AT THIS, YOU'RE AS SICK AS WE AREHeadline at NationalLampoon.com: "Gay Palestinians attempt to blow away stereotypes, Jews".
OK, HERE'S A QUESTION: CAN YOU MAKE A DECENT HAIRPIECE OUT OF A SPOTTED OWL?Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, was arrested for allegedly pushing people in a protest at the offices of the Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association. The balding environmentalist denied the charge, saying the police report on the incident was a pack of lies invented by developers.
AT LEAST THEY CARPOOLEDPop diva Jennifer Lopez and her 30-person entourage used six limousines to travel from one exclusive London hotel to another, a distance of about 100 yards.
BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNEIn its ranking of national universities, U.S. News & World Report placed the UA in an eight-way tie for 99th.
REPRODUCTIVE WRITESSeveral women sued Lexington, Ky., surgeon James M. Guiler, who branded the letters UK--for his med school alma mater, the University of Kentucky--into their uteri during hysterectomies.
Some fellow doctors defended the practice, saying surgeons sometimes place a mark on the uterus to keep their orientation during surgery.
SURE, PADRE, AND MAYBE THE DIRTY RAT WAS THE SECOND GUNMAN IN THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION, TOOThe family of New Mexico resident Ben Martinez is suing his Catholic church over a funeral eulogy at which the priest allegedly said Martinez was going straight to hell.
The Rev. Scott Mansfield reportedly told the congregation that Martinez was "living in sin," "lukewarm in his faith," and that "the Lord vomited people like Ben out of his mouth to hell."
HE'S THE REAL AMERICAN IDOLTucsonan Mark Fontes donned a fighter pilot's uniform and went to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to try to get visiting President George Bush on the phone, thus earning a $1,000 prize offered by a morning DJ on KRQ-FM. Security personnel evicted the 21-year-old Fontes before Bush arrived.
He told reporters that he's done other stunts for the radio station, including bursting into a Waffle House and singing a rousing rendition of "I Will Survive" to astonished diners.
HE MUST WEAR REALLY POWERFUL GLASSESCalifornia Gov. Gray Davis, while campaigning during the recall election: "My vision is to make the most diverse state on Earth, and we have people from every planet on the Earth in this state."
WHERE DO WE APPLY?Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Harvey has been paid $23.56 an hour to stay home for eight months pending a final decision on whether he can return to his job. Dismissed because of the high number of complaints against him, Harvey has collected approximately $45,000 for doing nothing.
IMAGINE WHAT THEY'D DO IF THEY WERE REALLY, LIKE, STUPIDUA students Stephen Lewis Kobes and John Edgar Buonagurio Jr. were arrested on felony weapons charges for allegedly throwing a homemade dry ice bomb from a dorm roof. "If a bomb like that were to detonate in close proximity to a person, the injuries could life-threatening," said police spokesman Eugene Mejia.
The students were residents of the dorm, Yavapai Residence Hall, which is reserved for honors students.
WEIGHT-CHALLENGED HOOPSTER SUCCUMBS TO POWERFUL URGE FOR BABY RUTH; MOTHERS KEEP THEIR CHILDREN INDOORSIsaiah Fox, a junior on the UA basketball team, was cited by police for stealing a bagel and a candy bar from a university-area store. His coaches had been badgering the heavyset Fox for two seasons to control his weight.
GOT THE FLYBOYS-FIND-A-FLOATER BLUESA Drug Enforcement Administration helicopter pilot and his partner, flying over an exclusive Scottsdale neighborhood, spotted a man's body floating in a swimming pool below.
"They were hoping it was just a mannequin," said Anthony Coulson, assistant special agent in charge for the DEA in Arizona.
THE BIG CHILLNude female models at a Philadelphia art school, deciding they'd had enough of low pay, dusty air and cold rooms, voted to form a union.
ALL RIGHT, NOBODY LEAVES UNTIL WE FIND THE M&MsUA coach Lute Olson reacted angrily to an accusation that two of his players, Luke Walton and Salim Stoudamire, stole from a vending machine in a Lawrence, Kan., hotel during a road trip.
A police report alleged that about 70 items were taken from the machine, and a cashbox was raided. "This is nothing other than hearsay and rumors," Olson said. "I'm speechless. They will hear from our attorney."
SCROOGEDA thief who snatched a Salvation Army donation bucket raced into traffic in his haste to escape--and was hit by a car.
Edward Sanders, 40, was taken into custody after the accident. The donation pot had less than $54, according to a report in the Arizona Daily Star.
SAY, HAVE YOU SEEN MY PHILLIPS HEAD? IT WAS HERE A MINUTE AGOThe New England Journal of Medicine reported that operating doctors leave about 1,500 clamps, sponges and other tools inside surgical patients every year. The lost objects were usually lost around the abdomen or hips, but sometimes in the chest, vagina and other cavities.
HEY, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, IT ALL TURNS OUT THE SAMEAn unidentified Tucson man suffered life-threatening injuries when he ignited his oxygen tank while smoking at the hospice where he lives.
LIKE THE ENERGIZER BUNNY, FATHER CHICKEN HAWK KEEPS GOING AND GOINGAn Arizona Daily Star reporter found Tucson priest Robert Trupia living in a stylish condo in Ellicott City, Md., and driving a late-model Mercedes. Trupia, still officially a priest in the Diocese of Tucson and receiving monthly payments of $1,475, is accused of molesting up to 30 boys.
Neighbors said they didn't know Trupia was a priest and assumed that the young men who occasionally visited him were his sons.
FAR BE IT FROM THE MAYOR OF PARADISE TO MAKE A POLITICAL STATEMENTA band of patriotic Tucsonans, including four members of the Tucson City Council, rushed atop a mountain to repaint the giant "A" red, white and blue, after activists protesting the Iraq war had painted it black.
Mayor Bob Walkup missed the paint party, believing the patriotic colors to be an inappropriate "political statement."
TUSK, TUSKThieves stole a 250-pound jade elephant sculpture from the International Wildlife Museum. The piece--worth about $30,000--was last seen in the entrance to the Insect Room.
THAT'S WORSE THAN GOING TO JAIL!!Headline, Houston Chronicle: Retired Pedophile Priest Gets 20 Years in Kentucky.
LIZ, HAVE YOU MET JOSE IBARRA?Liz Phair, in Blender magazine: "I feel so bookish, so I tend to like guys who are the opposite of me. I find myself very turned on by big and stupid."
IF THIS WAS ANYBODY ELSE, WE'D SAY IT WAS UNINTENTIONALEven though his picture hangs on the wall near the security checkpoint, City Councilman José Ibarra was denied entry to City Hall, because he'd forgotten his ID badge.
ONE OVERREACTION DESERVES ANOTHERIn search of a knife-wielding black man, UA police handcuffed the director of the school's Africana Studies program, forced him to his knees and pointed a gun at his groin and chest.
"Never have I experienced such humiliation and degradation," said Julian Kunnie. "It was a terrifying reminder of the horror of racial profiling and racism in this society. My human and civil rights were violated solely on the basis of my skin color."
GOD LOVES YOU. CARE FOR A CREAMSICLE?The Rev. Juan Guillen, a former associate pastor at a Catholic Church in Yuma, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted child molestation of altar boys. He plied the boys with games and frozen treats.
FUZZYPolice officials demoted a lieutenant who admitted to driving to work drunk and sleeping with her head on her desk while at work. According to her supervisor, Karen Dickerson, a 16-year veteran, had "slurred speech, a disheveled appearance, droopy eyes and a saggy face."
HORRENDOIn The Washington Post, Geraldo Rivera, speaking of his latest wedding, a Jewish ceremony: "This is actually my first 'church' wedding, as opposed to some hippie thing in a backyard. I'm making a conscious decision to take this whole Judaism things seriously. I think the Jews need me right now."
I THINK WE HAVE A SUSPECTAn unidentified young man took a picture of himself flashing gang signs behind the wheel of a stolen 2003 Chrysler Sebring, then left his camera in the car, which was recovered two weeks later.
OH, IN THAT CASE, WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO OUR FREAKING HERO IS JUST FINE WITH US!!! YOU WEIRDO BASTARDS!!!Sports Illustrated reported that surgeons of Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale decapitated Ted Williams' body and suspended both parts in liquid nitrogen. The article also said the baseball slugger's head was shaved, drilled with holes and accidentally cracked 10 times.
Carlos Mondragon, an Alcor director, said that drilling holes in a head being preserved is normal, but it would be limited to one or two holes.
TUCSON'S BARNEY FIFES BLOW THEIR STREET CRED ALL TO HELLSuzanne Crawford, a public defender for Pima County, angered Tucson Police when she stood behind the microphone at a peace vigil and welcomed to the protest undercover officers observing the crowd.
"I want to thank all the undercover officers that are here, the ones I know personally," said Crawford, while staring at an officer she knew, then walking up to him afterward.
In retaliation, police sought felony endangerment charges against her and altered their policies on how public defenders can interview undercover officers.
THE PIGTAILS DID ITHistorian Robert Dallek revealed that during his presidency, John F. Kennedy had a 17-month affair with a 19-year-old White House intern named Mimi.
Marion "Mimi" Fahnestock caught the president's eye during a trip to Washington to interview First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy for her school newspaper.
MAXIMUM CAPITALISTForbes magazine estimated Cuban President Fidel Castro's wealth at $110 million.
G.I. JOKESA Pentagon crackdown netted 33 airmen from Davis-Monthan and 99 soldiers from Fort Huachuca who tested positive for marijuana, cocaine and other illicit drugs last year.
WHAT'S THE BUZZ?A Sedalia, Mo., shoplifter carrying about $60 worth of CDs, perfume and other goodies let loose a swarm of bees in a Kmart restroom, creating a diversion that allowed him to escape store security.
MARTIANS FLUNK AIMS TEST, DEPART PISSED OFFHeadline, (Nacogdoches, Texas) Daily Sentinel: Space People Visit School.
GRIDIRON CAPTAIN QUEEGSix months after it happened, former UA football coach John Mackovic alleged that the player mutiny against him during the 2002 season was fueled by outsiders.
"They were being guided and lead in certain directions by grown adults who have an agenda of their own," said Mackovic. "I think they had a favorite son who might appear to save the day. He might have been a former coach here or a former player here."
THANK HEAVENS; NOW THE CITY CAN SLEEPIn a raid on a house party near the UA campus, police rounded up 74 underage drinkers, resulting in the largest booking in a decade at the city jail. It took more than six hours to process them all.
LESS MOORE, PLEASEAt a show in London, left-wing gadfly Michael Moore ranted that the passengers on the doomed planes on Sept. 11, 2001, were scaredy-cats because they were mostly white. Had they been black, the hijackers, with their puny bodies and unimpressive small knives, would've been crushed, because black dudes take no disrespect from anybody.
ALL BEACH, NO SANDDeveloper Jonathan Tate allegedly threatened the personal assets of City Council members with a lawsuit, thereby getting them to switch their votes and approve his 14-home subdivision in the westside foothills.
Republican Kathleen Dunbar called Tate's plan "outright awful," but wasn't willing to risk her family's finances to block it.
OH, WE LOVE GRAMMARHeadline, The Associated Press: Giant Colon Replica Educates Arkansans.
GEE, FOR THAT YOU COULD GET A HUMMER. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE CAR, OF COURSECity Councilman Steve Leal's 16-year-old Chevrolet Caprice has required more than $30,000 in repairs and maintenance at city expense during the past four years, an average of $625 a month.
ROAD TO RUINDuring the last 11 years, TUSD board member Adelita Grijalva has had 19 civil and criminal cases filed against her in local courts, most stemming from speeding and other driving infractions, including a charge of driving on a suspended license, a misdemeanor.
The 31-year-old Grijalva, daughter of U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, also teaches a workshop called Being Accountable, in which she advises young people to be responsible for what they do.
BROTHERLY LOVEThe UA withdrew recognition of the Sigma Chi fraternity after several hazing incidents, including one in which a pledge suffered hypothermia after being stuffed into a walk-in freezer.
In other cases, fraternity members threw firecrackers at sleeping pledges and dumped beans, sugar and creamer on them, then forced them to do calisthenics in the slop. One pledge was even forced to eat his own vomit.
EATING JIM CROWA school memo at Tucson's Reynolds Elementary School asked teachers to use color-coded notes to identify students by their academic levels, including the request that African-American students be singled out by printing AA on the corner of the post-it, along with a red circle for behavioral problems.
Clarence Boykins, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, called it racial profiling. School officials apologized profusely.