Lead Stories

Sure to be next in the England-to-America TV pipeline: In 2003 London’s Channel Five will air a one-off reality program featuring C-list celebrities in detox. Four “contestants” will go to an island for a week to undergo enemas and colonic irrigations, in some cases on camera; a station spokeswoman told the Independent earlier this month that the “celebrities will have to survive for a week on oral enemas, which basically means drinking things like olive oil. They’ll also be analyzing their own poo.”

According to a November report in the Boston Globe, some callers to the city’s major homeless shelters became “frantic” or “outraged” when their offers to help on Thanksgiving were rejected (urban shelters routinely have too many volunteers at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and too few the rest of the year). Callers even tried to cajole officials to let them bypass waiting lists (one shelter, which started accumulating names in August, had a backlog of 170 by Thanksgiving), despite suggestions that they help instead at less popular suburban facilities.

Boredom, Illustrated

In September in West Somerset, England, district council employee Ian Jewell was rewarded by his bosses after his count revealed that the council offices’ toilet paper contained only 200 sheets per roll, not the 320 specified in the supplier’s contract. And according to an October report from Bismarck, North Dakota, a popular pastime for teenagers there is a game called “Slip”–players roam the city on foot after dark, trying to avoid being spotted by friends driving around in cars (the thrill, apparently, comes from not knowing which set of headlights is the car hunting for you). Said one girl, “It’s better than sitting around on the couch on a Friday night watching a movie.”

Quotes From Deep in the Story

“It’s sick, disgusting and perverted. I know all these things. [But] I can’t go to prison for the rest of my life . . . without seeing [some].” –Confessed quadruple murderer Cary Stayner, quoted in the San Jose Mercury News in July; he was offering FBI agents a detailed description of his crimes if they’d give him a “good-sized stack” of child pornography. (He was sentenced to death earlier this month.)

Just Can’t Stop Myself

James Sabatino, already serving time in Putnam County, New York, for attacking a federal officer and recently jailed in London for a telephone scam, had his phone privileges revoked because for five months he’d allegedly spent eight hours a day on prison phones perpetrating another scam. According to a November article in the New York Post, Sabatino convinced cellular providers that he was working for an entertainment executive and needed dozens of cell phones quickly for movie and music-video shoots; without paying a penny he obtained about a thousand activated phones and had them delivered to dummy offices set up by his girlfriend.

People Different From Us

In November in Saint Paul, Minnesota, 54-year-old Steven H. Bailey was charged with manslaughter in the bondage death of a sexual partner (one of 5,000 he says he’s had). Bailey is known as “the True Master” in S-M circles, largely for his expertise in erotic asphyxia, but he allegedly took a phone call while his partner was restrained and strapped into a gas mask treated with chloroform, and the man had stopped breathing by the time he returned.

Least Competent People

In November near Brooksville, Florida, 56-year-old Jimmy Batten returned to his home and walked in on Sean Todd Duval, 26, who’d apparently broken in meaning to steal guns from Batten’s collection. At first Batten was puzzled that Duval remained in a chair rather than trying to run away, but then he realized Duval had accidentally shot the middle toe off his left foot with a rifle; the would-be thief was so demoralized that he told Batten, “Finish me off. Go ahead and blow my brains out.”

Undignified Deaths

In Great Falls, Montana, in November, a 73-year-old man died when a thermostat in his building broke, creating such heat that all the water evaporated from a toilet. And in July in Bangkok, Thailand, a 21-year-old student accidentally strangled himself with his belt, which he’d looped around his neck and tied to a door handle during a marathon study session–the belt was supposed to tighten if he slumped forward in his chair, keeping him awake.

In the Last Month

In Beijing, China, panda experts announced that “dating” software had been developed to match the health characteristics of male and female pandas and determine the most compatible bloodlines, thus improving mating opportunities….Britain’s Office of Fair Trading charged Hasbro (which makes the board game Monopoly) with retail price-fixing….And an aboriginal woman in Winnipeg, Canada, claimed she’d been the victim of racial profiling when an Extra Foods store refused to sell her hair spray; she said the owners “probably thought I was going to drink it.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.