Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Cincinnati News Stories of 2010

Dear George,

People in Cincinnati probably aren’t any nuttier than people in, say, Escanaba or Santa Cruz. However, this is a big place, and, with so many human beings around, there are bound to be some peculiar happenings from time to time. We try to keep track of the stranger episodes in the local news. Here are our picks for the “best” local stories of 2010.


Elaine Doneuvan, 77, was driving out of her church parking lot in Mason on Sunday when she knocked down Officer Bart Midler who was directing traffic. Ms. Doneuvan got out of her car, looked things over, then got back in and quickly drove home. When she turned herself in days later, she explained that she had gotten scared because she’d run down a policeman. She was charged with leaving the scene of an accident. It was definitely not a Christian thing to do. (Cincinnati Enquirer online, 3-8-10)


Authorities arrested Allen Parton of Dublin when he installed a mechanism to collect urine from a men’s room toilet in a suburban Wendys. It was not clear exactly why he wanted the urine. One clue, however, is that he spent four years in jail for fondling two minors in a restroom and trying to drink their urine. We think Allen may be some new strain of vampire. (Cincinnati Enq., 11-6-10)


Sadistic Sarah has enjoyed local fame as the star of the Cincy Roller Gals, our local roller derby team. Fans, however, were chagrined to learn that Sarah was sentenced to 30 months in prison on criminal fraud charges. It seems that she used her daytime airlines job to create fake ticket numbers and obtain over 525 tickets for her teammates, other roller derby teams, friends, and family. The fraudulent tickets, which included flights to Cancun and Italy, were worth about $850,000. Spokespersons for the Roller Gals expressed extreme shock, said that they had no inkling that fakery was involved. (, 10-19-10)


Twenty-one-year-old mother, Jellica Camble, is in trouble for teaching her two-year-old daughter to smoke marijuana. Everything would have been cool except that Ms. Camble made a video of her baby smoking and e-mailed it to a friend. The horrified friend forwarded it to authorities. Charged with corruption with drugs, Ms. Camble has lost her child to foster parents, and she faces a huge fine and a jail sentence. This is just more proof of the danger of mixing one’s drug fun with modern technology. (Ambien users, take note.) (, 9-13-10).


Bank robber Conrad Zdzierak, 30, was successful in his crime spree because cops were searching for a black man, whereas Zdzierak is totally white but wore a high-quality silicone mask of an African-American male. Authorities got a break when a tipster directed them to Zdzierak’s 1996 Volvo getaway car in a motel parking lot. They found Zdzierak hiding naked in his motel room bathroom. In an interview Zdzierak, an emigree from Poland, described himself as having an artist’s soul and struggling to find his place in the world. Judge Melissa Powers told Zdzierak, “You are the type of villain we read about in novels and see in the movies.” Concerned that the public might view him as a racist, Zdzierak vehemently denied such implications. [Cincinnati Enquirer, 5-13-10]


Exotic dancer Christine Hanesley has been charged with dragging a client under her car. Hanesley, who works for Naughty Torsos, was invited to Jai Chu’s house early on Saturday morning. Chu was a valued employee for Ronny’s Tasty Burgers and Booze in Blue Ash. According to police, “something happened” inside the house. When Chu stepped in front of Hanesley’s car to keep her from leaving, she drove right over him and dragged him underneath the car for a mile. When she stopped for gas, a clerk called 911 and reported a body impaled under a car. Ms. Hanesley has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Chu, unfortunately, is too dead to enjoy her arrest. [; 8-9-10]


Pi Beta Tsi Sorority at Miami University has been suspended for one year because of members’ and guests’ bad behavior at their spring formal at Lake Lyndsey Lodge in Butler County. The sheriff’s office was called when their buses arrived and inebriated partygoers were urinating on the roadside in front of passing cars. Many of the students were so drunk that they could barely make their way into the lodge, whereupon they urinated in sinks, tipped over a table of food, vomited and defecated on the floor, hurled crystal vases off a porch to watch them shatter, and had sex in the closets. No Miami sororities or fraternities will ever be welcome at Lake Lyndsey again. [Cinc Enq, 5-12-10]


When long-haul trucker Kevin Nootle returned home from four months on the road, he and his wife Janet McCoy-Nootle went out on the town to celebrate. They seem to have overdone it because, when police were summoned, they found Janet lying in bed, surrounded by seven wildly yelping Chihuahaus, with a large white parrot standing on her face and pecking at her nose and forehead. Mrs. McCoy-Nootle was too intoxicated to speak and was unable to get the parrot off her face. A bleeding Nootle gave police conflicting stories, but it appeared that his wife had tried to rip off his ear. Mrs. McCoy-Nootle was taken to jail where she got even angrier and threatened suicide. If I were Nootle, I wouldn’t come home again for at least four more months. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 4-22-10)


Pamela Hurley, 56, of Cleves, and Donna Schott, 41, of Cincinnati have been charged with three counts of child endangering for giving the sleep aid Melatonin to the children in their custody at the Covenant Apostolic Church Day Care in Springfield Township. Police were tipped off by a daycare worker. Prosecutor Joe Detters proclaimed, “Daycare workers are responsible for a very valuable commodity and must be held to a high standard.” We respectfully disagree with the prosecutor and think that Melatonin is probably makes for a peaceful and pleasant day care center. [Cincinnati Enquirer online 3-10-10]


Shawn Petrick, a University of Kentucky member of Sigma Alpha Epsalon fraternity, has been sentenced to two years of probation for a prank gone awry. Petrick wrapped fellow student Jon Palochi in toilet paper, then set the paper on fire, with the flames engulfing Mr. Palochi from his toes to his shoulders. Palochi was eventually able to extinguish the flames by rolling on the floor. He did live. It is unknown whether Mr. Petrick would have still gotten probation for his amusing prank had Mr. Petrick been burned up. [Associated Press, 9-24-10]


Sandy Staley, 50, was taken to University Hospital after he was shot three times with bow and arrows at his home in Elmwood Place. The archer was identified as Harold Spicey, 57. Staley, known in the neighborhood as kind and generous, had taken Spicey in for a few days because he was homeless. The two had argued about Spicey “disrespecting” Staley’s pre-teen daughter. Spicey shot Staley once in his hand and twice in his back, resulting in a punctured lung. Staley played dead, and Spicey left, taking Staley’s car and driving to Alabama. Spicey later turned himself into the police there and is being extradited to Cincinnati for trial. ( 9/10)

So what does the New Year have in store for the Tri-State? We’ll keep track and let you know.



*Pseudonyms used.

G-Mail Comments

-Gayle C-L (12-31): very cool stuff;))) love it....Happy New Year;)))). Love you :)))

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sheepdog Christmas

Duffy (left); Mike (lying down); Sophie (right rear)

Dear George,

Donna went to Nashville to be with her kids for Christmas, so 8-year-old Sophie came to stay with us and her older brothers. Sophie is the perfect holiday guest since she livens up all the dogs and the humans. Here (above) are the boys and the girl in the bedroom, demonstrating all possible levels of holiday excitement.

Sophie (left), Duffy (right), Mike (rear)

These three dogs have grown up together since early puppyhood and make up a well-formed pack. They were usually in the same room together this past weekend, and, when one started barking or looking out the window, they’d all be barking and looking out the window. Here they’re praying together that maybe I’ll give them a treat.

Katja with Duffy (front), Sophie (middle), Mike (rear, sitting)

The dogs are well-known in our neighborhood, and everyone’s pleased when they see them on the street. They’ve elicited so many smiles that they should get some sort of humanitarian award. Often when I have Mike and Duffy out, people will ask where the third one is, and I have to explain that Sophie is a visitor.

Sophie resting

Sometimes it seems hard to tell the dogs apart. Sophie’s hair is longer -- sometimes you don’t even know for sure if she has any eyes.

Duffy (left), Sophie (right), Mike (bottom)

Duffy used to be the clear Alpha dog in the pack, but, as they’ve aged, Sophie has gotten pretty assertive too. Sometimes Mike gets stuck at the bottom of the stairs, afraid to trespass on territory controlled by his two more dominant siblings.

Sophie (standing), Mike (sitting)

More often than not, though, Sophie and Mike are most comfortable with one another and hang out together.

Mike (sitting), Sophie (standing)

Sophie’s a lot more playful than her brothers. She’s a little wary of Duffy, but likes to initiate play with Mike, usually by pawing at and chewing his face. Mike, who doesn’t fully get the idea, usually responds by growling. Sophie knows he doesn’t mean it.

Duffy (left), Mike (right), Sophie (forward), all with their hopes up.

All three dogs become totally fixated when Katja is in the kitchen. They’ve learned that sitting is more likely to get them a treat.

Mike (right), Duffy (left) in the foyer for dinner.

When they finally do get fed, you’d think they hadn’t eaten for a month. I think they gobble their food up so quickly out of fear that another dog might get some of it.

Sophie in Burnet Woods

I took Duffy and Sophie on a hike in the park (Mike was being lazy). All the dogs like to romp in the snow. Sophie, in particular, likes to roll around on her back and kick her legs in the air. She is a real snow dog.

Sophie (left), Duffy (right), heads together

You wouldn’t think it, but there’s plenty of good stuff to sniff in the snow.

Duffy (front), Sophie (in the distance)

Duffy sticks closely to me when we’re out walking, but Sophie likes to run ahead. Sometimes I worry about losing her, but she’ll stop and look around if she goes too far.

Duffy (left), Mike (middle rear), Sophie (right)

After an outing, it’s time for a nap. Sophie’s the only one with any energy left.

Sophie in bed

Every evening at 8 o’clock Sophie would disappear, and then we’d find her in our bed. She apparently wants to stake out her spot before the other dogs arrive.

Duffy (left), Mike (front), Sophie (right rear), plus Katja

Once three dogs are in bed, there’s not much room for any more humans. But that’s what makes for a Merry Christmas. We wouldn’t have it any other way.



G-Mail Comments

-Donna D (12-28): david i just saw was in my junk mail!!? anyway, it is so fun, what wonderful dogs! hmmmm, i don't think i've ever seen sophie roll on her back in the snow and kick her legs up! wish i had seen that...what fun! at least it wasn't mud or poop.... donna

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmases Past at Our House

Dear George,

Since our son J was growing up in a half Jewish, half vaguely Protestant household, we celebrated both Channukah and Christmas. December was just one non-stop party. Channukah always came first. We burned a candle on the kitchen windowsill and opened a present every evening for seven days, each gift getting bigger and grander.

Channukah was fun in itself, but it also served as an appetizer for Christmas. Katja is a very a generous gift giver, and she took to the holiday shopping season with fervor. We’d bring J to Johnny’s Toy Store to monitor his reactions to various items. He would respond excitedly for the first ten minutes but ultimately dissolve into tears because of the overwhelmingness of it all. I had fun picking out toys, Katja enjoyed paying the bill, and J always received a bonanza from Santa Claus as a result.

J – who, in this picture, is exactly the same age as his own kids, V and L, are right now – loved his sturdy airplane. He and our black poodle, Jacques, grew up together for their first several years. Katja gave Jacques some Christmas presents as well.

Vicki and George sent this hand crafted wooden toy train from Toronto in 1971. It was a big hit.

We moved into our Ludlow Ave. house in the mid-70s, and we made a big snowman each year. Or sometimes it would be a snow-rabbit. The bigger that J got, the bigger we’d make the snowman, and it became a holiday attraction in the neighborhood.

Here’s J in his top of the line cowboy outfit. He reports buying the same outfit for V and L this year. We’d make homemade decorations for the tree, using cookie dough, paper mache, styrofoam balls, and painted cardboard cutouts. After New Years people would put the trees out on the curb, and J and I would go around the neighborhood after dark and collect them. One year we had 21 trees in our rear patio area.

Our pets in the early 70’s were our rabbit Thumper and our Bedlington Terrier Winston. Katja loved them both with all her heart. From this photo it looks like she loved Thumper the most.

I liked Christmas because it was a chance to be a kid again. As J got older, there were more and more games we could play together. Sometimes I think I was more of a playmate than a parent.

Katja’s looking very lovely, J’s a dapper young man, and Winston in his holiday garb thinks he’s king of the household. I brought home a bare-branched tree from behind the Digby tennis courts and decorated it with cookie-dough faces so we would have a Christmas tree all year round.

Actually by the time that Christmas Eve rolled around, we usually had driven to Philadelphia to visit Katja’s parents, Buck and Helen, then on to New York to be with her sister Ami and brother-in-law Bruce. Here are Helen and Buck in an unguarded celebratory moment at their house on Sherwood Road. That’s a festive image to wind up our holiday tour with.

Merry Christmas to All!


G-Mail Comments

-Donna D (12-25): david, must be sweet memories...sure looks like it. Merry christmas! donna

-Jennifer M (12-25): merry christmas! i love the pictures!

-Gayle C-L (12-25): She s Beautiful;_)))Enjoy;))))). Merry Xmas Please give my love...Miss u all …Miss the family...Holiday time you know;;;)))). G

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flea Market Santas

Dear George,

There are hundreds – no, thousands -- of people who are important to the course of our lives. Hopalong Cassidy and Lady GaGa are two who pop right into mind. The most important of all though is surely Santa Claus. He’s been there from the dawn of our earliest memories. When I think back to age four, there were three people of major significance in my world: my mother, my father, and Santa. My parents were important because they were around all the time and wielded great power. But, even though he was seasonal, no one matched Santa in terms of wonderment and boundless expectations.

I was reminded of this when I went to the antique flea market in Dayton. Though there are endless representations of various celebrities, real-life and fictional, at the flea market, there’s nobody you encounter more frequently than Santa. Photos, figurines, dolls, statuettes, wood carvings, cardboard cutouts, Xmas cards, book illustrations. Plus there’s all of that emotion that he generates – rewardingness, nurturance, basic feelings of well-being. This, of course, gets tempered a bit after we decide at age seven or eight that Santa is not as real as we once believed him to be. Even then, however, that deeply disturbing insight has useful consequences. Disbelief about Santa is probably the most striking marker of the transition from being a little kid to being a big kid. It provides us with dramatic proof of the potential disparity between our deeply held beliefs and reality. We learn the valuable lesson that we can’t believe everything that we’re told by authorities, even when they may have our interests at heart. Perhaps most significantly, we learn that this all-powerful giving entity is not a distant magical being who lives at the North Pole, but, rather, turns out to be our very own tricky parents.

I don’t think anybody can ever totally cast off beliefs in Santa because we are constantly faced with concrete evidence of his reality. We see him on TV and in the movies; he’s there in storybooks; we watch him in person ringing his bell outside Walmart. Here are a few photos from the flea market and the thrift shop which remind us, after all, that Santa is still a big deal.



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Times Square Raptures

Dear George,

I was 20 years old and only two years removed from my U.P. hometown when I visited Times Square for the first time. I’d driven from Yellow Springs with several Antioch College friends who were also starting coop jobs in New York City. As we approached New York on the New Jersey turnpike I panicked about driving in such dense traffic. One of my more cosmopolitan passengers took the wheel, and it was just as well because I was able to lean back and take in the sights at 42nd Street and Broadway. For a kid from Menominee, it was overwhelming. The size of the buildings, the flashing bright lights, the immense bustling crowds, the traffic noise – the whole scene was so hyper-stimulating that I vowed that, once I finished college, Manhattan would be the only place I would ever live.

I found a rental room on 163rd St. near Broadway in Washington Heights, a few blocks away from where two of my college acquaintances lived. On weekends we would walk down to Times Square and look around, then continue on to Greenwich Village or the Bowery. I’d sometimes add to my wardrobe by buying a necktie at the $1 tie store at Broadway and 44th, perhaps pick up a bargain book at a midtown discount bookstore, or have a twenty-five cent shot of whiskey at an Eighth Avenue bar. When my friend John N got me evicted from my rented room one evening, we spent an entire night riding back and forth on the Times Square shuttle train between Broadway and Grand Central Station, probably 100 trips or more. After Katja and I married, we would drive East every year to visit her parents in Philadelphia, then stay with her sister Ami and brother-in-law Bruce in New York. Katja was pretty much a Fifth Avenue and Soho sort of person and had little or no interest in Times Square. Ami would simply frown and say that no real New Yorker would ever want to go there voluntarily. I, though, made it my #1 destination. It got sleazier in the seventies with the influx of drugs, porn shops, and more overt prostitution, but the grunginess just added to its appeal. When our son J reached middle childhood we would regularly go to Times Square when in the city, and I’d finally found a companion who enjoyed the bright lights and bizarre sights as much as I did. J and I went there on New Years Eve one year, along with roughly a million other celebrants. A teenage gang started doing a weaving, snake-like conga line through the crowd, then picked up speed and started snatching purses. When a male tourist tried to intervene, the teens knocked him down and kicked him in the ribs. That was our first and last New Years excursion. On our most recent trip Katja was thrilled to see the Naked Cowboy once again, and I was excited to spot Spiderman and Batman conversing with one another. A group of attractive young people were giving away free hugs to tourists, though there were surprisingly few takers. All in all, Times Square, as the saying goes, is the world’s crossroad. You see every nationality, members of every ethnic and religious group, can watch Japanese or Australian tourists, hear Swahili or Hungarian. There are sidewalk preachers, radical politicos with bullhorns, panhandlers, tough kids from the Bronx, nuns, transvestites, con artists, violinists, hip hop dancers, and crazy people talking to themselves.. Sidewalk vendors offer honey roasted peanuts, caramel corn, and hummus, and you can buy plastic Statues of Liberty or Obama bobble-heads in the Broadway gift shops. It’s a far cry from midtown Cincinnati.

I gave up the idea of living forever in New York quite a while ago, but the city remains our favorite vacation place. When we were there last August, I went off by myself several times to check up on Times Square while Katja and Ami were out shopping or spending a quiet evening at home. It’s been cleaned up a lot in the last fifteen years and has become almost too wholesome. But it’s still a wild, crazy place. Here are some more pics that help tell the story.



G-Mail Comments

-Phyllis S-S (12-20): Hi, Neat story. I remember the first time I went to Times Square, in 1964 I saw a guy wearing a tiger loincloth, wearing black sandals and walking a cheetah on a leash. It's true. Loved the photo of the guy in the cowboy hat, guitar.... Best, Phyllis-