An Inclusive Litany


In Norway, Dr. Ingvard Wilhelmsen announced the opening of a hospital for hypochondriacs.

The San Francisco Chronicle:
The California Board of Education will meet in secret next week to decide if it may meet in secret. No one is saying what the meeting is about. That, according to a school-board spokesman, is a secret. Secret meetings by public agencies are common. Secret meetings about secret meetings, although legal, are less common. Public announcements about secret meetings about secret meetings are required by law. It's all explained in Government Code section 11126(q)(2)(a).... "The California State Board of Education reserves the right to meet in closed session pursuant to Government Code Section 11126(q)(2)(a) to determine whether facts and circumstances authorize it to meet in closed session pursuant to Government Code Section 11126(q)(2)(a)," said the announcement.

The New York Times:
The 23 lawyers who formed Rodney King's legal team have submitted their bill to Los Angeles, and it's a doozy: $4.4 million in legal fees for 13,000 hours of work at up to $350 an hour. Included in the billing were the hours lawyers spent on talk shows, taking King to movie and theater premieres [$1,300 to see Malcolm X], attending his birthday party [$650] and coaching him for the news conference where he pleaded, "Can we all get along?"

The bill is $600,000 more than the $3.8 million King received in his judgement against the city.

Lawyers also billed $3,981.25 for what they said were efforts to counter the negative publicity generated after King, with a transvestite prostitute in his car, allegedly tried to run down a police officer. (No charges were filed by the district attorney.)

"All I'm asking for is a day's wage for a day's work," said Steven A. Lerman, one of King's lawyers.

U.S. Senate Chaplain Richard Halverson (approx. $115,000 annual salary) delivered the following prayer to open a session of that body:
We pray for O.J. Simpson. Whether he is innocent or guilty rests with our system of justice. Whatever the circumstances, he has got to be hurting deeply. As the wheels of justice slowly grind, he may be comforted by the sense of the presence of the God who loves him.

After being recruited to play football as a quarterback at the University of Miami, Bryan Fortay was unexpectedly overshadowed by another player, Gino Torretta, who wound up taking all the honors Fortay had been eyeing. As Miami coach Dennis Erickson told the National Law Journal, that's not uncommon: "You tell them they should be good players and beat another guy out, but a lot of times the other guys beat them out anyway. That's college football."

But Fortay, who transferred to New Jersey's Rutgers University—where his football career has also failed to blossom—obviously learned something at school. He's suing the University of Miami, claiming that its enticements and predictions of his success amounted to ironclad contracts, and that their failure to get him a pro football career, a Heisman Trophy and all the rest amounts to a breach of contract. His suit asks for $10 million.

Having given up on football, Fortay is now applying to law school.


In New Orleans, a woman who used her deceased husband's stored sperm to become pregnant has gone to court to have the child declared the man's child and heir, and thus eligible for Social Security survivor's benefits.

Irvine World News (Irvine, California), November 3, 1994:
Someone unfamiliar with our customs and traditions might find it peculiar that every last day of October, American adults find it festive to purposely frighten their children, dress them up as ghouls, ghosts, witches and monsters, and feed them unhealthful foods.

Someone unfamiliar with our customs and traditions might perceive this holiday as a sort of sanctioned communal exercise in child abuse.

It is often argued that "recreational fear" serves as a desensitizing exercise. We rationalize that small children should learn to confront their fears and a good way to do this is for trusted adults to fabricate morbid imaginary characters.

Regardless of whether or not you believe there is a satanic connection with Halloween, we know that today's children will face such horrors as homicide, suicide, drugs, teen pregnancy and AIDS, either in their own lives or the lives of their friends while they are still children....

Perhaps Halloween could better be celebrated by dressing up in ethnic costumes that teach kids about other cultures, about tolerance. Or, in memory of the past, wear costumes that remember the heroes that have gone before us.

Given our collective concern for violence and crime, now would be a good time to stop dressing children in horrific clothing and calling it entertainment.

From an editorial in The New York Times, January 27, 1995:
Gov. Christine Todd Whitman's ... most striking proposal for savings is a plan to eliminate some 3,400 state jobs, primarily through privatization. Perhaps some jobs are not needed. Even so, this is a brutal transference of state salaries into the pockets of taxpayers.

Invitees to the artist William Scarbrough's exhibit at a New York gallery received their invitations in the form of a canvas bag filled with parts of a slaughtered cow. Despite protests from people unhappy about receiving a collection of lungs, hearts, guts, and tongues in the mail, Scarbrough was unfazed. "I sent something sensational because I wanted people to finally see what the real thing is—what rotting animals smell like," he said. "I didn't care if people react positively or negatively—I want a reaction."

From a kit, supplied by the National Endowment for the Humanities, to help foster a "national dialogue" on the subject of "American Pluralism and Identity," an effort spearheaded by NEH Chairman Sheldon Hackney that is supposed to consist of "thousands of small-group discussions around the country":
The meeting should not go longer than planned without the consent of all present.... The site should be convenient to get to and there should be sufficient parking.... Consider the size and the temperature (not too hot or too cold) of the room.... Chairs should be comfortable and placed so that the participants are able to sit facing each other.... All participants will show respect for the views expressed by others ... name-calling and shouting are not acceptable.... Consider having each session in a different location, allowing each racial, ethnic, or cultural group to play host.... If your community has little racial or ethnic diversity, look for other kinds of diversity. You might find people of different ages, religions, political affiliations, socioeconomic levels, professions, or neighborhoods.... You might need to help some participants overcome lingering feelings that they were invited solely because of their race, ethnic origin, or cultural background.
In addition to the instructions, the kit supplies a list of readings that ranges from Aristotle to Maya Angelou, as well as a list of films: "Casablanca—this World War II classic explores American values in the multinational setting of war-town Casablanca. Pertains to question 6" ["Where do we as Americans belong in the world?"]; "Meet Me in St. Louis—this musical depicts a family's experiences during the year of the St. Louis World's Fair. Pertains to question 5" ["What do we share as Americans?"]; "Shane—a former gunfighter comes to the defense of homesteaders and is idolized by their son. Pertains to question 5."


Democratic strategist Tony Coelho explains the 1994 election results in the New Republic, January 2, 1995:
I haven't seen this written anywhere.... I think the Reagan announcement on Friday (that he has Alzheimer's) is basically what did it. We were scoring on Reaganomics. But we were being very careful not to attack Reagan the man. Our polling showed the numbers were moving with us. But when he announced he had Alzheimer's... it was all over the evening news. And the country reacted. All of a sudden, sympathy set in for the guy. I think it really stopped us. I don't know what else could have happened.

After 16-year-old Chase Russell had a batting cage built in his parent's back yard in an effort to improve his baseball game, city officials of University Park, Texas, threatened the family with huge fines for violating zoning ordinances and for failing to get the proper building permits.

In an interview for Esquire magazine, Norman Mailer asked Madonna about a photograph that showed her with her nose between a man's buttocks. Mailer speculated that perhaps she had posed for the photograph because she believes that "religion and excretion are not all that separate." Madonna replied, "Maybe unconsciously."

A Defense Department memo cited on the November 18 broadcast of ABC's "20/20" declared, "In the future, special permission will be required for the promotion of all white men without disabilities."


At a cost to taxpayers of about $15,000, a convicted murderer was given plastic surgery to correct his protruding ears and large nose. New York City officials said the surgery was performed because the man's ears caused other inmates to ridicule them.

Christina Talley in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, December 12, 1994:
Christmas is such a beautiful time of year. Carols ringing through the air. Children playing in the snow. Snuggling next to a loved one near a toasty fire. And a corpse in your living room.

Each year, thousands are killed just before the holidays. Most of these bodies end up taking up scarce landfill area or just rotting in the front of people's houses, waiting for the garbage man to take them away. These bodies are sold on every corner and the merchants get good business around this time of year. They are displayed by consumers in their homes, covered in bright lights and plastic decorations.

You're probably thinking, "I surely can't be taking part in these crimes," but these corpses are not human or even animal. They are trees.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel:
Confessed armed robber Mark Joseph Johnson said he spent his take ... [on] toilet paper and incense for his neighbors, paid his rent, saw some movies, ate nice dinners ... He purposely spent the money locally, he said. "I shopped locally to make sure the money went back in. Really, I thought that up," he said.

In a move to mollify allergy sufferers, the University of Minnesota School of Social Work invoked the Americans with Disabilities Acts in issuing a rule that prohibited students from wearing colognes or using shampoos that are "strongly scented."

The receptionist at the school told the Washington Post, "One day this woman wearing Gloria Vanderbilt [perfume] came up to the office. I could smell her before she hit the door. I was out of there fast." The Post noted that the receptionist "cannot be around anyone who has smoked a cigarette within the last half-hour—one co-worker who smokes has to store his coat in a box when he gets to the office." The receptionist also stated that she is very sensitive to the smell of cow manure.

From a March 16, 1995 story in the Wall Street Journal, clarifying new guidelines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on disabilities:
People who are currently using drugs illegally don't have a disability, the EEOC said. But people not engaged in illegal drug use could be considered to have a disability if there is a record or perception they have been addicted to drugs.


SPE Newsletter, published by the Society for Photographic Education, Fall 1994:
MARCH 16-19th, 1995

For possible inclusion in the March 1995 SPE National Conference presentation and possible exhibition entitled "Women and Animals: Oppression, Representation and Resistance." The panel discussion, led by feminist vegetarian author Carol Adams, artist and educator Susan kae Grant, and Afterimage editor Karen vanMeenen, will historically identify a cross-mapping between the feminist and animal-rights movements. Specifically looking for photo-based or related work by women artists that deals with issues of animal oppression, the animalizing of women and the sexualizing, and implicit feminizing of animals. Deadline: January 5, 1995. Please send slides, statement, résumé, any supporting materials, and SASE for return to Karen vanMeenen, c/o Afterimage, 31 Prince St., Rochester, NY 14607.

Among the workshops and panels presented at the Sixth Annual Gay and Lesbian Studies Conference at the University of Iowa were the following: "The Erect Penis: Can We Top It? A Visual and Theoretical Interrogation of Imagery for Active Female Desire"; "G.I. Joes in Barbie Land: Recontextualizing the Meaning of Butch in Lesbian Culture"; "Butch Rage: Daggers, Dykes and Daddies"; and "Anals of History."

A Milwaukee-area woman filed suit against St. Florian Catholic Church, at which in 1990 she was participating in a game of bingo when an electrical display board showing the numbers collapsed on top of her. As a result, she says, she has been experiencing a series of mysterious maladies, both physical and psychological, that have cost her more than $84,000 in visits to almost 50 doctors. Among her complaints, the 72-year-old woman says she has been experiencing spontaneous multiple orgasms several times a day and has developed an irresistible sexual attraction to women.

Thomas Nangle of Springfield, Ohio, sued Kellogg's after his insurance company refused to pay for about $3,000 in damages that resulted when a Pop-Tart he was toasting in October 1992 caught fire. The insurance company was convinced that the fire was his own fault, and Nangle then sued Kellogg. In a settlement, Kellogg agreed to pay $2,400 to Nangle's insurance company, Pioneer Mutual. However, an attorney for the company said this was not an admission of guilt but rather a "nuisance settlement."

After former Philadelphia parking lot attendant Michael McAleer tripped over his toes in an elevator, he filed for disability payments, claiming that his accident induced insomnia, agitation, lightheadedness and chest pains. Since then, says McAleer, his problems have become worse, chiefly because of the negative press he has received. All the printed pooh-poohing of his case, he says, has caused him even greater stress, so he now wants triple his pension.

In another legal action resulting from a coffee spill, Darby Bullivant, a California woman, is asking for unspecified damages against the Seattle-based Starbucks coffee chain and the manufacturer of their paper cups. She claims her receptacle was flawed and had no instructions detailing its proper use.

An editorial in The Washington Post, January 2, 1995. See if you can spot the non sequitur:
The world is getting steadily richer.

...This rising wealth ... means that people live longer, are better educated and have better tools with which to work. The increased competition that the United States is feeling has little to do with the new trade laws. People in dozens of poor countries are now capable of making the goods that used to be a monopoly shared only by producers in North America, Western Europe and Japan....

The infant mortality rate in Kenya is 61 per 1,000 births, and in Guatemala it's 62—lower than it was here in 1930 (it's now 8 per 1,000 births).... Rising wealth means not only a better life, but sometimes life itself. That's a point to keep in mind if your congressman starts talking about abolishing American foreign aid.


In Stockholm, Sweden, Irene Wachenfeldt was forced to resign from her post as high school teacher. She stripped in front of one of her adult classes in an effort to drive home her lesson about the importance of loving one's body. Her students protested her dismissal.

An Associated Press story from Cape Canaveral, Florida, March 5, 1995:
An animal rights group is asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to penalize NASA for failing to remove a great horned owl and three hatchlings from a shuttle pad before launch. "They've delayed launch for various reasons and saving the lives of infant animals is a pretty good reason," said Leslie Gerstenfeld-Press, a biologist for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. All four birds were killed when Endeavor blasted off Thursday.

After employees of the federal Bonneville Power Administration in Portland, Oregon, complained of wet typewriter keys, yellow-stained sweaters, and office plants that were dying, an infrared camera was installed in their work area. It soon captured a computer specialist in the office urinating on various things. His superiors put him on administrative leave, under full pay, and entered him into a treatment program. After six months it was determined that he shouldn't be returned to his workplace, and termination was recommended. Nine months later, months in which he continued to receive his paycheck, he was discharged. The employee immediately appealed his termination to the Merit Systems Protection Board and six months later won the appeal. The judge ruled that the employee posed no threat to fellow workers and ordered him reinstated at his old job and reimbursed for lost back pay. At last report, the BPA appealed the ruling, but the man was back on the payroll and still not in the workplace.