As we close the books on the 20th century -- we know, all you math freaks insist it won't happen for another year, but we'll be in our bunker for the foreseeable future, so we're throwing our wrap party now -- we'd like to take a moment to salute the irrational exuberance of our golden age.
These are Good Times, no doubt about it. We've all got jobs, at least until the next round of layoffs by the new corporate ownership. And when we get downsized, there are some terrific jobs selling vacation packages in a telesolicitation operation. Besides we probably don't even need jobs, since we've been smart enough to load up our IRAs and 401Ks. Our fortunes keep growing and growing, thanks to a rocketing stock market that hasn't soared like this since the '20s!
Our toys keep getting better, faster and cheaper -- big-screen high-definition TVs, digital laser stereo, high-speed Internet access that allows us to download porn faster than any generation before us. We love our hulking SUVs and semi-automatic handguns. And as long as we can afford a good lawyer, we can get away with almost any crime.
Our health care is great, as long as we don't get really sick. We've got pills that put hair on our head, a smile on our face and wood in our pants, with only mild side effects like the occasional anal leakage.
Our president has been one of the greatest innovators of the modern era. Bill Clinton has proven conclusively that baby boomers can enjoy plenty of hanky-panky without having actual sex -- which is, of course, defined as the missionary position. Anybody remember that?
Whatever happens next -- sewers backing up, the collapse of the Dow, bioterrorism, the return of Christ -- we'll be watching it all from the comfort of the our fully stocked bunker. We stopped by one of those big-box megalomarts and did our shopping for the new century, yes-indeedy. We've got plenty of canned goods and ammunition, an ISDN Web hook-up and a top-of-the-line satellite home-theater system. We'll be watching you!
In the meantime, we offer this review of the goofs, gaffes and guffaws of 1999.
We Don't Need No Stinking Nacho
Arizona Daily Star reporter Ignacio "Nacho" Ibarra was arrested for criminal trespassing by Graham County Sheriff's deputies while covering a tomato workers' strike at the Eurofresh plant north of Willcox.
Ibarra was attempting to talk to workers when an unnamed sergeant grabbed him by the elbow and shoulder and pushed him away from the scene. "I never did anything more than my job," said Ibarra, who was handcuffed in the episode.
The Real Big Box Issue
The City Council voted unanimously to ask a Denver publisher to remove two of its vending machines selling sex-oriented newspapers away from schools, churches and homes. The tabloid papers are Arizona Swingers and Pleasure Guide, both of which sport covers of fleshy women in suggestive poses.
Excuse Me? Have You Seen The Rosie O'Donnell Show?
In an Arizona Daily Star article in which men were criticized for not showing vulnerability, Tim Wernette, chief propagandizer in charge of touchy-feely, '90s-style, gobbledygook for the UA, also known as the school's coordinator of diversity education, said, "I don't buy that there are fundamental differences between men and women."
Like, We Didn't Already Know That Size Matters To Chicks, Too
Republican Gov. Jane Hull denied a statement by House Speaker Jeff Groscost, made in an interview with USA Today, that Hull, Secretary of State Betsy Bayless and Senate President Brenda Burns talked about what size curling irons work best on their hair during a political tour of the state in 1998.
Groscost's version was later collaborated by House Majority Leader Lori Daniels, who said the women told her they had indeed talked about the size of their curling irons.
Apparently unaware of any other crimes that require investigation in the entire city of Tucson, two police officers raided Molly G's Restaurant in October and busted owner Molly Grezaffi because people were smoking inside, a violation of the city's new anti-restaurant smoking ordinance.
City Prosecutor Bill Call, obviously a crack law enforcement figure, said, "It's my understanding Molly G's serves food to customers and doesn't do it for free."
Former P.O.W.'s Temper Leaves Him M.I.A.
Gov. Jane Hull told The New York Times that Arizona Senator and presidential candidate John McCain's temper is so explosive that she sometimes has had to hold the phone several inches from her ear until McCain calms down after an eruption.
But We Have The Fewest Teeth Per Capita
Arizona has the lowest percentage of obese adults of any state in the nation.
Down And Dirty José
When Ward 1 Councilman Jose Ibarra heard that Republican Ray Castillo would challenge his seat, Ibarra asked the Tucson Police Department for a list of police calls to Castillo's westside home on the pretext of investigating a citizen complaint.
TPD reported the request to the City Manager who said Ibarra's action was inappropriate, but not illegal. Ibarra won the election in November.
Just Imagine This News Lineup: Kris "Touch My Gherkins" Pickel, Randy "Pecks" Garsee and Bud "Sand-Trap Head" Foster
Brill's Content magazine reported that a national newscast was slated to begin in January in which the anchors would wear bikinis and Speedos. The Los Angeles Times picked up the story, saying the show's Florida producers were "scouring the top journalism schools for talented young journalists who have good grades and great bodies."
Money Talks, The Help Walks
In an editorial blast sent to newspapers in several cities around the country, Douglas Mayor Ray Borane said Mexican migrant workers are dying crossing the deserts of southern Arizona so that rich Americans can have cheap labor to mow their lawns, cook their meals and make their beds.
Cut-Up Cut Loose
Due to a paperwork foul-up, a murder suspect was mistakenly freed from the Pima County Jail, the fourth time in 16 months an inmate had been accidentally released. Allen C. Brown was being held on suspicion that he murdered his girlfriend, Carol Buvik-Arnold, who'd been stabbed more than a hundred times.
Tune In, Turn On And Sing Like A Canary
Counterculture guru Timothy Leary in 1974 secretly informed for the FBI against the radical Weather Underground group. Leary told the feds he wanted to work out an "honorable relationship with law enforcement" that would allow him "to get out of prison as quickly as I can."
Can You Eat With A Pitchfork?
Michael Kent Poland, who in 1977 drowned two armored car guards in Lake Mead while trying to make off with $300,000, was executed at the Arizona State Prison in Florence. Asked if he had any last words, Poland said, "Well, I'd like to know if they're going to bring me lunch afterward."
Nyles Bauer made headlines in Tucson when he bought what he thought was an original copy of the Declaration of Independence from a seller on-line for a mere $1,500. But it turned out to be fake. The papers missed the real story, however. Bauer was actually on line looking for a shrunken head, which evidently attracts big interest among collectors.
"I've always wanted a shrunken head," he said. "I saw one in Hawaii in the '80s and just loved it."
Big House On The Prairie
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio decided that inmates at county jails should go to bed with audio versions of bedtime stories piped into their cells, including classics such as Little Women, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Call of the Wild.
The Bulbs On His Light Saber Are Getting Dim
Tucson actor James Terry Wilkowski, a lifelong Star Wars fan, legally changed his name to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Pancho Wouldn't Have Eaten Nearly As Much Mexican Food
Tucsonans were excited by President Clinton's February visit to town. "If Pancho Villa would have shown up here, we wouldn't have felt this proud," said Isaac Trejo in the Tucson Citizen.
Hef! Hef! Hef! Hef! Hef!
"The divorce wasn't my idea. Maybe it's not over until the fat lady sings -- and we don't allow fat ladies on the premises." -- Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, 72, commenting on his divorce
And Thus The Curtain Falls
UA student Brian F. Dermody was arrested for allegedly breaking into Centennial Hall and stealing the costumes used by actors playing Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert in the hit musical Les Miserables.
"He's a theater lover and he's pretty much infatuated by these particular leads," said UA cop Brian Seastone.
Hey, You In The Tommy Hilfiger Shirt And Hugo Boss Shoes... Halt!
UA chemistry professor Michael Brown caught and chased 26-year-old Anh Tuan N. Haynh after allegedly seeing him rifling the professor's desk in the old chemistry building. "He was well-dressed and nice looking," said Brown. "He didn't look like a normal UA student."
Headless In Lupton
Public workers on the Navajo Reservation finally re-installed the bathroom at the home of Velmatonie Dominquez and her four children, reported the Navajo Times.
When the workers ripped out her toilet, shower, tub, sink, hot and cold water pipes and a portion of her floor in 1994, they said they would return the next day to replace the items. It took five years.
Officials of the Lupton Chapter House, the tribe's governing body in that area, told Dominquez that the Public Employment Program, under which the workers served, had run out of money.
In the meantime, the workers left her with no running water, a 10-foot-long, 3-foot-deep open trench from her septic tank to the bathroom, and bathroom fixtures scattered around the yard.
Lupton officials gave Dominquez an outhouse, but asked her to pay $35 for it. She and her family took their water from an orange barrel on the front porch. For reasons that are still unexplained, the workers also took her large, wooden entertainment center and never returned it.
"I was always dead right." -- Thomas Noguchi, the controversial coroner who handled the deaths of Janis Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, John Belushi and other stars, on his retirement in Los Angeles
The Rev. Victoria Collins, proprietor of a bed and breakfast and chapel in Tombstone, unwittingly married two women in the courtyard of her establishment.
One of the women, Aida Lopez, 20, was dressed as a man, with short hair, a loose shirt, and masculine vest. "It didn't look like she had any disguises on," said Collins. "I didn't see any boobs on her."
U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth cited two Clinton Administration cabinet members -- Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin -- in contempt of court for missing two deadlines for turning over documents concerning the mishandling of royalty money earned by five Indian tribes through oil and mineral sales.
At one point, the Interior Department claimed its warehouses were infested with rodent droppings that might contain a harmful virus, and that only employees in special suits could comb through the files.
They Tried To Get OJ, But He's Still Busy Looking For The Real Killers
An uproar hit the little town of Chino Valley, near Prescott, when it was revealed that newly hired Town Manager William Sizemore had done time in prison for stealing almost $500,000 from a trust fund for the blind. The town had also hired a convicted killer in its parks and recreation department.
And He Shows A Suspicious Interest In Interior Decorating
The Rev. Jerry Falwell said the popular PBS children's character Tinky Winky is a role model for the gay lifestyle, because the figure is purple (which Falwell alleged was the gay pride color), has a triangle-shaped antenna sticking out of his head (the shape of the gay pride symbol), and carries a magic bag that looks like a purse.
Everyone Welcome, Except You Cop-Loving, Evidence-Planting, Honky Mo-Fos
Lawyer Johnnie Cochran, who won acquittal for O.J. Simpson in his sensational in 1995 murder trial, gave a 30-minute, $10,000 speech at the UA titled "Bridging the Racial Divide."
Dropping A Dime
Three teenagers robbed a Phoenix Circle K of $47, then sprinted to an apartment complex a block away, leaving a trail of quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies that police followed right to their doorstep.
Something Smelts Here
Ron Ruiz, owner of an Oro-Valley based store called Stone People Products, offered for sale a grey-green, potato-sized rock that he claimed was the remains of a liquid-hulled alien spaceship that crashed in St. Joseph, Mo. in 1947. Price tag: $69,000.
But Tucson astronomer and UFO skeptic James McGaha said the rock looked to be nothing more than slag-fused remains separated from metal during the smelting process.
His Next Gig Is At Sizzler
Magician Scott Bray, 35, suffered burns to his face and mouth when he tried to breathe fire during a performance at the Inn Suites Hotel & Resort on North Granada Avenue. He attempted to exhale a white fuel through a lit torch, but something went awry causing the resulting fireball to back toward his face.
Now He's In One
Tucson Police officer Phillip Penta was arrested for allegedly stealing $47 worth of plywood and other lumber from a house under construction in Oro Valley. He said he wanted the wood to build a dog house.
And This Is Different From Every Other Marriage Because...?
A justice court judge in Peoria, Arizona, refused to marry a 38-year-old woman and a 99-year-old Sun City man who could barely lift his hand to sign the marriage license. "He was slumped over in his wheelchair," said JP Lex Anderson. "He could talk, but she definitely told him what to do."
In an editorial in Scottsdale's Saguaro High School student newspaper, Scott Claiborn criticized violent football heroes who become the "spouse abusers, drunks and hamburger flippers of tomorrow."
For his trouble, a football player beat up Claiborn and the school's principal cautioned the editorialist to be more careful what he writes the next time.
Next Time We Won't Be Anywhere Near This Subtle
Fairfield Homes, owner of Canoa Ranch south of Green Valley, threatened a $900-million federal lawsuit against the Smithsonian Institution, operators of Mount Hopkins Observatory, if they didn't stop their vocal opposition to Canoa's plans for a massive building project. Fairfield soon dropped its threat.
"The action we took was wrong," said Fairfield President David Williamson. "We were hoping it would bring everyone to the table."
The reputation of the University of Arizona Press suffered nationwide from revelations that its all-time best-selling book, I Married Wyatt Earp, billed as the memoirs of Wyatt's wife Josephine, was fictionalized and based partially on a manuscript that probably never existed.
UA Press officials are considering ceasing publication of the book.
Asked at a GOP presidential debate whether he'd reappoint Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Arizona Sen. John McCain said, "I would not only reappoint Mr. Greenspan -- if Mr. Greenspan should happen to die, God forbid -- I would do like they did in the movie, Weekend at Bernie's, I'd prop him up and put a pair of dark glasses on him and keep him as long as we could."
Lawmaker Of The Year
Over the course of 1999, Republican state Rep. Barbara Blewster said, according to her colleagues in the Legislature:
- Being gay was a stepping stone to beastiality, human sacrifice and cannibalism.
- A fellow lawmaker didn't appear to be Jewish because she didn't have "a hooked nose."
- Native Americans were stupid for giving up their lands to European immigrants.
- Teachers should bring guns into the classroom to protect themselves and students from rampaging armed kids.
- A portrait of Martin Luthor King Jr. should be removed from a youth correctional facility and replaced with a portrait of a real American hero like George Washington.
- Slavery wasn't bad for blacks.
"It isn't that she is coated with bigotry," Prescott Mayor Sam Steiger, a former lawmaker who is acquainted with Blewster, told reporter Howie Fischer. "She is honestly Stone Age dumb."
Jock ShortsHey, All We Did Was Pick The Wildcats To Go To The Rose Bowl (And We Do That Every Year)
Arizona Daily Star sports columnist Greg Hansen picked Canyon Del Oro High School to win the 5A-South football championship. The Dorados finished 0-10.
That's All Right, They're From New York
After buying... uh, winning another World Series title, the New York Yankees officially dubbed themselves The Team of the Century. With 25 titles in 99 years and no one else even close, this is one case of premature centurization that we'll let slide.
Since It Was Played in the U.S., At Least We Didn't Hear The 'Nil' Word
The United States women's soccer team whipped the country into a frenzy (well, sort of) when they won the World Cup championship with a rousing 1-0 overtime victory over China.
Word Is She Could Hit A Picture Of Renny Harlin At 200 Paces
Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis reached the semi-finals of the U.S. Olympic Trials in archery, a sport she had taken up just two years earlier.
We Threaten To Make Them Read A Book
Fourteen University of Arizona football players allegedly robbed a UA employee who was demonstrating the use of a cash- card machine in the Student Union building. In the midst of the demonstration, the players surrounded the employee and one of them said, "Come on. Give us a couple of bucks. We bring in millions to the university."
According to the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the players then helped themselves to about 20 $1 bills. UA police detective Joe Rocco promised to interrogate the scholar-athletes. "We have ways of getting them to tell the truth," he said.
And You Smell Like Sushi
After Hideki Irabu failed to cover first base in the ninth inning of a spring training game, New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner called the Japanese pitcher, who weighs 252 pounds, a "fat pusy toad."
Three, I'm A Complete Idiot
Arizona State University tailback J.R. Redmond was suspended for one game after his unusual marriage came to light. Redmond married 31-year-old Francine Arthur, who worked in the ASU sports department, because she told him it was the only way he could avoid NCAA penalties for borrowing her cellular phone.
Redmond filed for divorce about two months after marrying Arthur, saying he believed she was after a piece of his potential NFL earnings.
"I learned some valuable lessons," Redmond told the Associated Press. "One, nothing is for free. Two, you can't trust women."
Believe Us, Richard, It Has Nothing To Do With Skin Color
Richard Williams, whose daughters Serena and Venus have seen their on-court heroics overshadowed by their dad's boorish off-court behavior, cried racism after he was almost banned from several venues and named by one sportswriter as the most hated parent in all of sports.
Yeah, But How Would They Do Against A Major-League Team?
The Cuban national team defeated the Baltimore Orioles in an exhibition baseball game.
Wild, Drunken Parties On Graduation Night Are A Tradition At Some Schools, Too, But That Doesn't Mean... Oops, Never Mind
A member of Salpointe Catholic's boys swimming team explained the practice of seniors initiating freshman by urinating on them, by saying: "Hey, it's a tradition."
The Buck Isn't The Only Thing That Stopped There
Back in the 1930s and '40s, Brown University had a modest little road winning streak against Ivy League foe Princeton in men's basketball. This past season, Brown lost at Princeton for the 49th consecutive year, meaning the Brownies haven't won on the Tigers' home floor since Harry Truman was president.
Hey, We Stopped Being Shocked After Santa Clara
The University of Arizona men's basketball team, picked by many to reach the Final Four, again bowed out in the first round of the NCAAs, losing in the last minute to a very average Oklahoma team.
At Least There Was No Exchange Of Bodily Fluids
Mere seconds after the Salpointe Catholic girls basketball team had lost a close game on Senior Night to visiting rival (and league champion) Amphi, Salpointe coach (and former UA women's basketball star) Kim Conway was accosted by a team parent, who shook her finger at Conway and shouted, "If you ever embarrass my daughter like this again, I'll have your job!"
Conway went on to coach her team to an upset victory in the Regionals, then two more upset wins in the state tournament before finally losing in the Final Four to eventual state champion Chandler.
Then she quit.
If There's A TV In Hell, Klebold And Harris Are Strapped In Front Of It, Watching Endless Replays Of The Game
Just a couple weeks ago, Columbine High School won the 1999 Colorado state football championship.
Johnny Cochran Immediately Hired A Ghost Writer To Find Out What Rhymes With "Carruth"
Carolina Panthers defensive back Rae Carruth was arrested and charged with arranging (and perhaps participating in) the drive-by shooting death of his pregnant girlfriend. Amazingly, he was let out on bail, then re-arrested hundreds of miles away where he was found hiding in the trunk of a car.
Sports Quotes (Math Division... So to speak)
Dallas Mavericks forward Michael Finley on his team's abysmal start: "We're 9-18, but we could very easily be 19-9."
Mike Lieberthal, catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, after he began running again after an injury: "I was only going three-quarters to 75 percent."
Charlie Just, basketball coach at Bellarmine College in Louisville, KY, speaking about how young his team is: "We're so young, we've decided to dress only seven players on the road. We're pretty confident the other five can dress themselves."