An Inclusive Litany


Ken Bergstrom asked the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for permission to build another pond on his property in Sunderland, Red-Wing Meadow Farm. The department refused him permission because the pond would be in a wetland area. Besides farming, Bergstrom raises trout in several ponds on the property. According to the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act, farming and fishing are allowed on wetlands. But the department says changing from one use to the other, which Bergstrom proposes, is not allowed. "There is no logic" to the policy, he complains.

Jacque Evans sued the Georgia Department of Human Resources and prison guard Robert Neal for physical injuries sustained during his attempted escape from a juvenile detention facility. Evans, 16 at the time, was detained for automobile theft and a previous escape. According to the suit, he was allowed to move freely about "despite the fact that he was a designated escape risk who was supposed to be confined in a restricted area." He was also "negligently permitted" to wear street clothes, making it easier to escape.

When Evans and another youth ran for the fence, Neal chased Evans and grabbed his foot as he prepared to jump from the top of the fence. Evans fell head first to the ground and was paralyzed by the fall. Evans's lawyer says Evans had escaped from Neal before, and that Evans "thought [Neal] would just let him go and catch him later... He had no idea he was in danger" when he climbed the fence.

In July 1990, after National Endowment for the Arts chairman John Frohnmayer claimed that the NEA had never funded performance artist Annie Sprinkle, an ex-prostitute and self-proclaimed "postporn modernist," documents were found proving that a $60,000 grant had indeed funded Sprinkle's 12 performances at the Kitchen Theater in New York. In these performances, Sprinkle used dildos to simulate oral sodomy on stage and invited audience members to use a flashlight to peer up her vagina.

After rejecting Karen Finley for a grant the same month, the NEA gave grants to several theaters with the knowledge that she would perform there with NEA funds. Finley's performances feature her smearing her bare chest with chocolate syrup and alfalfa sprouts (representing sperm) to express "rage against sexual violence and women's objectification."

Tim Miller and Holly Hughes, two other performance artists, sued the NEA for denying them grants, claiming their First Amendment rights to free expression were violated. A solo performance by Hughes, "World Without End," included the artist's putting her hand up her vagina to show how her mother imparted the "secret meaning of life." The NEA gave Hughes a $15,500 playwriting fellowship to finish writing the very play that it refused her a grant to perform.

After Tom and Doris Dodd bought 40 acres of property in Hood River, Oregon, the Hood River County Planning Commission refused them permission to build their retirement home. The commission had re-zoned the area as "forest land"—where houses may not be built because they increase the risk of fire, a rule that applies only to parcels 40 acres or over. The minimum size available to the Dodds was 40 acres. Tom Dodd wonders why the commission doesn't consider homes built on less than 40 acres a hazard, "but over 40 it's going to burn down?"

Two sisters were convicted in Rexburg, Idaho, on charges stemming from an attempt to bring popcorn from one movie theater into another. The case eventually involved the FBI.


After charges were dropped against several male Vassar students accused of date rape, Catherine Comins, the Assistant Dean of Student Life, said: "Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience." She elaborated, "They have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. 'How do I see women?' 'If I did not violate her, could I have?' 'Do I have the potential to do what they say I did?' These are good questions."

[Ed.: Comins also noted that "To use the word [rape] carefully would be to be careful for the sake of the violator, and the survivors don't care a hoot about him."]


The Mendocino Beacon, September 19, 1991, in a piece by Tony Miksak, owner of the Gallery Bookshop and Bookwinkle's:
Publishers have discovered that plastic "peanuts" are a quick and cheap way to fill in the gaps around books before shipping... Some mornings I stand on the Kasten Street sidewalk listening to the surf and watching the odd peanut or two blow down the street toward the Mendecino Bay. I wonder if a Brown Pelican, California Gull, Brandt's Cormorant, Common Loon, Great Blue Heron, Coot, Surf Scoter, Black Turnstone, Killdeer, Oystercatcher, Grebe, Phalarope, Sandpiper Curlew, Godwit, Clapper Rail or Wandering Tattler may decide to try one of those crusty plastic things for breakfast.

After Texas state Representative Larry Evans died, his voting light blinked for roll call votes for several hours. He continued to vote until police announced they had discovered his corpse.

Acting on an anonymous tip, drug agents from the Campbell County, Virginia, sheriff's department seized eight seedlings from Doug Mitchell's front porch. Lab tests determined that the plants were Japanese dwarf maples. The lab tests also destroyed the plants.

According to a memo from cafeteria managers in the Treasury Department building, home to the IRS, of 2,040 individual pieces of silverware available, some 1,430 (70 percent) were missing and presumed stolen.

Lloyd Manson planned to build a new home on a lot he purchased in Santa Cruz, California. But arborists told him that the towering eucalyptus trees on the property were likely to topple onto his house during a wind storm. So Manson decided to cut down the trees. However, people who live near the lot got an injunction forbidding Manson from cutting the trees. As Gillian Greensite, a leader of the fight to keep the trees, explained, "We live in a community, and trees are part of that community."

A new turn in the outing craze: the Bald Urban Liberation Brigade of New York City is posting fliers of celebrities who secretly wear toupees.

Letter to the editor, the New York Times, October 2, 1991:
"Bikes for 2: Romantic, Now Rugged" (Business Day, Sept. 7) reports that the bicycle built for two is coming back into style. Then you state:

"Tandems, as they are known by the cycling savvy, never really went away. But the last few years have seen a spurt of growth, thanks in large part to family-oriented fitness enthusiasts, graying baby boomers and some new technology borrowed from mountain bikes."

You could have mentioned that nowhere is male chauvinism more arrogant, or female subservience more pitiful, than on the tandem bike.

Common sense would dictate that the shorter person sit up front and the taller person in back, where he or she could look over the driver's shoulder. That is not what happens.

The male, who is almost always the taller, sits up front at the controls. In their expedition into the great outdoors the man's share is the great outdoors and the woman's share is 12 square inches of the noble man's back.

—Daniel Farber
Worcester, Massachusetts

[Ed.: I asked a bike store owner about this, and he said that, due to the design of the tandem bike, it always makes for an easier ride when the "stronger" person sits up front.]