An Inclusive Litany


When DC Comics announced that Superman would be killed by a straightjacketed escapee from a cosmic insane asylum, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill complained that its portrayal of the mentally ill was insensitive and derogatory.

Manuel Wackenheim, a three-foot-eleven-inch dwarf, sued the Interior Ministry of France for lost wages because the government banned dwarf tossing.

From a full-page advertisement in the New York Times Book Review, January 31, 1993:
—Volume 9 of "The Selected Works of Prof. Dr. Hisatoki Komaki" is now available from American Komaki Peace Foundation—
Outline of Prof. Dr. Hisatoki Komaki's "FOUR STEPS TO ABSOLUTE PEACE" Programme:

Goal I. Peace between Men and Men (Complete World Disarmament)

Goal II. Peace between Men and Animals (Total abolition of meat diet, animal experimentation and insecticides)

Goal III. Peace between Animals and Animals (Control of the population of wild animals, fishes and insects, without mutual killing and pain)

Goal IV. Peace of the all beings of the Whole Universe (Complete and Eternal Salvation of the all beings of the Whole Universe—of Endless Time, Endless Space, Endless Dimensions—from severe pain and agony)


In 1989 a South Carolina woman applied for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the theory that Hurricane Hugo made her pregnant.

How many farmers receive government assistance in Bell County, Kentucky? Secretary of Agriculture Edward Madigan said 2,127 were on the rolls in one federal agency. That didn't seem possible to Sen. Richard Lugar (R, Ind.), ranking minority member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. After all, 85 percent of the county is forest. Lugar, perplexed by the count, then received a USDA printout showing 1,217 farmers, along with an explanation that the first number was a mistake. When he asked for more details, the USDA provided another list—this one containing 57 names.

When asked by Senator Lugar how many field offices the USDA had, Assistant Secretary Richard Albertson replied, "We have tried to get a straight answer to this question for as long as I have been here. Our staff still cannot give us an accurate number."

Spike Lee said of his stepmother, "I hate the woman... It's not because she's white and she's Jewish. I just hate her."

Mentor, Fall 1992:
We have to look at our lostness and be on the road to our answers. This means going back to recover the rainbow of feelings in our autobiography. We are taught to live in our heads, to oversee and be planners. Shake that and start to work in our hearts and our souls. When we go through the work, we will reach the full range of feelings. We, as men, need to grieve for ourselves and then understand. The goal of life is to become wise and compassionate.

[Ed.: No, no, no. As a matter of fact, the goal of life is to get a life.]

Dan Rather, in an exchange on the "Arsenio Hall Show," January 28, 1993:
Dan Rather:
Some days I say "Why is he [Clinton] doing that?" or "Gosh, can he do it a little better?" But it may be time to, sort of as you say, chill. We know when it comes to politics and governing, whatever you think of this President, whether you voted for him or not, he can hang—which is to say he can do it..."

Arsenio Hall:
See! See! Dan is deep, ain't he? Dan in the Hood!... I thank you for being here. You're a special guy. And I hope whatever you have is contagious.

[Ed.: Is it ever! In another interview, Arsenio asked actor Robert Duvall whether some people might consider Joseph Stalin, whom he portrayed in a television role, a hero. That's right, Stalin, a hero. No kidding.]


From a statement by Nick Bell, a graphic designer and teacher at the London College of Printing, in Emigre No. 22. Bell is the designer of a typeface called "Psycho," which is "printed" by stabbing and slashing paper with knives and forks.
Illegibility is redefining typography. As Michelle-Anne Dauppe, the English design historian, has written, "Challenging Functionalism in typography has led to experimentation with the message rather than the words; with type as image, with recognition rather than reading."

As these preoccupations redefine typography, they also inevitably redefine what we call a typeface. If legibility is no longer seen as the primary characteristic of a typeface, then why restrict yourself to the use of letter forms? If the boundaries of legibility are so out of focus, then a typeface can be said to have a vocabulary of marks of any sort, made with any medium on any surface, even in the absence of the formal structure that an alphabet provides. "Psycho" illustrates that a typeface can be seen as a vocabulary of stab marks, fork indentations, and slicing, tearing, slashing, and gouging scars.

There is a definite parallel between musical and typographic composition: if for John Cage the sound of a passing car was music, then a car engine was a musical instrument. Likewise, if the definition of typography can encompass abstract marks that no longer need to be legible (in the scientific sense) but merely recognizable, then the instrument of these marks need not be a letter form. For example, if the typographic composition is made up of an "alphabet" of stabs and cuts, the instrument of these marks can be knives and forks, from a "font" called "cutlery drawer."

Nearly forty years after Cage's ideas radically changed music, typography is going through a similarly dramatic change. As experimentation continues, typography will become more and more detached from its oppressively traditional textual, literary base.

Every two weeks for the past eight years, President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire has flown his hairstylist, Mr. Andrew, first-class to Zaire or to one of Mobutu's chateaus in Europe to cut his hair at an estimated cost of $5,000 to Zaire's citizens.

Claiming it was following its antidrug policy, Wilson Junior High School in Hamilton, Ohio, suspended a girl who gave two Tylenol capsules to a friend with a headache.

Howard Fineman in Newsweek, January 25, 1993:
There's no doubting that the nation is about to be led by its first sensitive male chief executive. He's the first President to have attended both Lamaze classes and family therapy (as part of his brother's drug rehabilitation). He can speak in the rhythms and rhetoric of pop psychology and self-actualization. He can search for the inner self while seeking connectedness with the greater whole.


In Japan, the Yokohama Tire Company recalled hundreds of tires that it had placed on Jeep Grand Cherokees designated for Brunei, after a Brunei holy man discovered that the tire tread resembled a passage from the Koran deemed offensive to Islam.

A report issued by a committee charged with planning diversity education for incoming freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania lists "women's names not remembered" as an example of prohibited sexual discrimination.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology sells freeze-dried urine containing marijuana samples so that laboratories can calculate the accuracy of their urine-testing equipment. Three jars sell for $159.

Townspeople in Niamey, Nigeria, blamed the region's drought on women who wear short skirts.

A $6,000 award to a woman who sued her former boyfriend over housekeeping chores during their seven-year cohabitation was upheld in December by a Wisconsin court. Linda Walsh and her sons lived in dairy worker Harlan Ray's home from 1979 to 1987. Ray's kids also spent half their time there, according to court papers. Ray handled mortgage payments and utility fees, while Walsh took care of the cooking and cleaning. Two years after their split, Walsh sued Ray, demanding compensation for her share of household duties. A Circuit Court jury in Sauk County decided in favor of Walsh in July 1991. Ray appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals "fighting on principle," but lost on December 3.


Promotional jacket text for Antonio Benitez Rojo's The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective, published by Duke University Press as part of its Post-Contemporary Interventions Series:
Benitez-Rojo redefines the Caribbean by drawing on history, economics, sociology, cultural anthropology, psychoanalysis, literary theory, and non-linear mathematics. His point of departure is chaos theory, which holds that in nature order and disorder are not the antithesis of each other, but rather function as mutually regenerative phenomena. Appropriating this theory as metaphor, Benitez-Rojo argues that within the apparent disorder of the Caribbean—the area's discontinuous land masses, its different colonial histories, ethnic groups, languages, syncretic beliefs, traditions, and politics—there emerges an "island" of order that repeats itself, giving shape to an unexpected and complex sociocultural archipelago.

Alfred Spremo, Jr. has sued a neighbor, a mattress manufacturer, the company that repossessed his car, at least 12 attorneys (including his own), more than 30 state and federal judges, and his own mother. In all he has filed—and lost—at least 51 lawsuits. But now Judge Arthur Lonschein has ruled that Spremo may no longer sue anyone in his home state of New York. Spremo says he will appeal.

The Los Angeles Daily News, September 20, 1992:
Genethia Hayes says she recently learned firsthand the importance of getting a good education—when her car was stolen.

Hayes, assistant executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, found her car gone as she left her South-Central Los Angeles office to attend a special Los Angeles Board of Education meeting.

Other car theft victims might be understandably angry at the thieves, but Hayes said that whoever took her car was also a victim.

"On a personal level, I know that person now driving my car on a road to crime had an inadequate educational background," Hayes said, after getting a ride to school district headquarters.

More than 350 years after condemning Galileo for saying that the earth revolved around the sun, the Roman Catholic Church admitted he was right.

When George Bojarski's son failed to come up with the $384 balance due on his father's cremation in October in Richmond, Texas, Evans Mortuary placed the body on the son's doorstep. Interviewed by Houston's KRIV-TV, owner Newell Evans quarreled with the news report: "Who says I dumped him there?" he asked. "I [merely] left him there."

New York artist Rirkrit Tiravanija staged a show at Chicago's Randolph Street Gallery in which he cooked a Thai meal from scratch for gallery visitors and then left the cooking utensils and dirty dishes on display for the next month "as a comment on physical, cultural, and social relationships."


City workers attempting to resolve flooding problems in Alexandria, Indiana's Riverview Avenue pulled a 200-pound hairball from the sewer underneath that street. Tom Humphries, supervisor for the city's water management department, remarked that "we thought we had a goat, at first."

According to former Perot campaign manager Ed Rollins, Perot advisers mentioned William French Smith, who died in 1990, as a possible running mate.

In February 1989, millions of television viewers tuned in to "60 Minutes" and heard Ed Bradley declare, "The most potent cancer-causing agent in our food supply is a substance [Alar] sprayed on apples to keep them on the trees longer and to make them look better." The story, fed to the show's producers on an exclusive basis by an environmentalist public relations firm, was based on a single rodent study by the National Resources Defense Council that was neither peer-reviewed nor published in a reputable scientific journal. Mice were fed such massive doses of the substance that many died from acute poisoning. The P.R. campaign was so successful that a panic ensued as parents forced schools to stop serving apple juice, supermarkets pulled apple products from their shelves while often cynically hyping their alternative Alar-free products, and many apple producers were forced out of business. Apple growers lost about $250 million, apple processors lost an additional $125 million, and the USDA purchased $15 million of leftover apples.

The EPA's Scientific Advisory Board, on the other hand, found no problem with Alar and repeatedly refused to ban it up until the panic forced them to do so. Dr. C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General and chairman of the National Safe Kids campaign, commented in 1992, "As a pediatric surgeon, as well as the nation's former Surgeon General, I care deeply about the health of children, and if Alar ever posed a health hazard I would have said so then and would say so now. But the truth is that Alar never did pose a health hazard. The American food supply is not only the most adundant in the world, but it is also the safest. Paradoxically—it has achiceved that position in the world market just because of chemicals like Alar that have made it possible." Although the National Cancer Institute declared that Alar does not cause cancer, "60 Minutes" has refused to retract its story.


The Seattle Times ran the following correction: "Mike Lowry is the Democratic candidate for governor. In a correction in part of one edition yesterday, he was erroneously described as running for the U.S. Senate. That correction rectified an error the day before in an election results chart, which identified him as a Republican."

Describing Jerry Brown's campaign team, Jacques Bazaghi, an aide to Brown, said: "We're not disorganized. We just have a kind of organization that transcends understanding."

From the Candidate Statement by Beloved Gift-Given Quail, a candidate for city council, in the 1992 Voter Information Pamphlet provided to voters by the City of Santa Monica, California:
Age: 41 years, 6 months, 20 days
Occupation: Homeless Healing Tenant Activist Poet Singer Songwriter Performer.
A Pennsylvania high school graduate, studied two years at Pennsylvania State University, plus additional credits from University of Southern Colorado, Los Angeles City College, United College of Business (Santa Monica). A survivor of repeated false, illegal, contrived evictions, and civil-rights abuses by public officials and police in several states and several jurisdictions in Los Angeles County. Exposed abuses of farm-workers in Florida, abuses of clients by mental-health administrators in Colorado, police abuse in Pennsylvania, corruption in courts in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Glendale; also police and prosecutorial and real estate corruption. Homeless, tenant, and mental-health client advocate, Pasadena to Santa Monica. Set precedent acting as own attorney against Los Angeles landlord-tenant court in 1985. Received numerous beatings; subjected to repeated threats, burglaries, thefts, evictions since. Worked for successful candidates in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey. Awarded public speaker, published poet. Numerous radio and television appearances. Truly non-partisan, non-factional, independent, innovative, creative. Experience as laborer, as photocopier, in law firms; as self-published and other-published writer; as farmworker, food-service worker, messenger. Speak some Spanish. Worked in U.S.C. Olympic Village in 1984. Healing and hoping for healing. Let us bless earth's creator.

The Berkeley city council changed the name of Columbus Day to Native American Day, but later changed it to Indigenous People Day following arguments that Indians originally came from Asia and are not native to America.

[Ed.: Berkeley later changed the name of the holiday back to Columbus Day following complaints from sensitive Italian-Americans, then to Indigenous Peoples/Columbus Day as a compromise. Some Berkeley residents are reportedly lobbying to rename the holiday Animal Rights Day.]

After embezzling $2,000 of government money and gambling it away in Atlantic City, an FBI agent was dismissed but then reinstated after claiming that his weakness for gambling is a "handicap" and therefore protected under federal law forbidding discrimination against the handicapped.

A Baltimore contractor sued for a minority set-aside because he weighs 640 pounds.

After being late for work almost every day, a Philadelphia school teacher was dismissed but then sued for reinstatement, claiming she's a victim of "chronic lateness syndrome."

An indigent New York couple with a combined income of $350,000 appealed to the mercies of the public as victims of "compulsive spending syndrome."

A Virginia special education teacher who failed a teacher's test eight times claimed she was a victim of "slowness in understanding."

A Wisconsin man who admitted to exposing himself 10,000 to 20,000 times was turned down for a job as an attendant in a park. He successfully sued, claiming he had never exposed himself in a park but only in laundromats and libraries.

A Chicago man with a 60-inch waist complained to the Minority Rights Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office that McDonald's violates his rights by not providing seats large enough for his backside.

A Midwestern government professor claimed minority status because he rides a bicycle and is a victim of "motorism."

A New Jersey mother's Oldsmobile was confiscated by police after they alleged that her son had used it to drive to a store where he shoplifted a pair of pants.


After testifying at a New York City mayoral hearing against the cruelty of horse-drawn carriages, actor Alec Baldwin challenged a hansom-cab driver to a fight, shouting, "C'mon out here, you faggot."

Luis Carrion Cruz, a former member of the Sandinista's ruling junta who has been implicated in hundreds of extrajudicial political executions in Nicaragua, has been awarded a scholarship by the taxpayer-subsidized Organization of American States to attend Harvard's prestigious Kennedy School of Government, to earn a masters' degree in public administration in the school's Edward S. Mason program for Third World leaders in mid-career.

David Chandler in the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine, December 13, 1992:
The scientists [astronomers James Scotti and Tom Gehrels] have been developing and testing computer software and designing and improving their equipment since 1981, and the full-scale search for asteroids began in earnest two years ago. This past March, a committee appointed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration issued a report recommending that the United States commit itself to a $50 million project to build a network of six telescopes. Modeled on the Spacewatch project, it would be asked to do a thorough search to find out if there is an asteroid out there with our name on it, and if so, when it is due.

The committee estimated that an object big enough to cause global effects, casting a pall of dust over the planet that could destroy a year or more of agricultural production and causing mass starvation on a truly apocalyptic scale, may strike Earth about twice every million years. It probably has not happened since humans have existed. The odds of its happening in one person's lifetime are about one in 70,000—comparable to the risk of a person's dying in a plane crash, says David Morrison, chairman of the committee and an astronomer at NASA's Ames Research Center, in Mountain View, California. The odds of its happening during a congressional term of office, perhaps the most relevant statistic in seeking support for the proposal, is a figure that does not appear in the report.

Astronomers see the search for Earth-crossing asteroids as a means of gaining a fundamental knowledge about the solar system, and about our prospects, a knowledge that humanity simply ought to have available. Scientists involved in the Strategic Defense Initiative, the so-called Star Wars project, see the search as a way of preparing for a threat that they might be able to do something about, providing them a raison d'etre now that the Cold War is over. Jim Scotti sees it as a wonderful way to make a living.

"It's like insurance," says astronomer Richard Binzel, a committee member from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The key is that we have the technology to detect these objects. We are now able to protect ourselves in a way that the dinosaurs weren't."

Binzel says the group members "tried to be very conservative" in figuring the odds, and they decided not to include the comparison with plane-crash statistics in the report because even though the numbers are correct it might mislead the public. People die in plane crashes every year, after all, and no human has ever been killed, so far as we know, by a meteorite—the generic term for any object that enters Earth's atmosphere and makes it all the way to the surface.

The only documented case of a human being struck by a meteorite took place in Alabama in 1954, when a woman was hit on the hip by a fist-sized rock that came through the roof of her home. She sued her landlord for negligence, but the court found in his favor.