Odds & Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
JULY 13, 1998:
Dateline: France--A Romanian man who was arrested in Austria
escaped from a Salzburg police station, hopped a train and rode
all the way to Paris--even though his wrists were still handcuffed.
The rather conspicuous escapee caught the eye of police officers
patrolling Paris' Gare de l'Est railway station. The man, who
had no identity documents, was nabbed while boarding a train to
Brussels. French police assume the man had to pass through Germany
or Switzerland, crossing at least two borders unnoticed, to make
the trip from Salzburg to Paris.
Dateline: France--Meanwhile, the Gallic land continues
to revel in the fallout from World Cup fever. The international
soccer championship continues to bring out the finest in national
pride. Just last Wednesday, a drunken Mexican soccer fan "extinguished"
the eternal flame burning under Paris' Arc de Triomphe. Twenty-four-year-old
Rodrigo Rafael Ortega was arrested for "offending the dead"
and for being drunk in public. The flame has been burning since
1921 over the grave of an unknown French soldier who died in World
War I. The War Veterans Ministry said Mexican Ambassador Sandra
Berain and the French Junior Minister for War Veterans, Jean-Pierre
Masseret, were "deeply hurt" by the "unspeakable
act." The beer-bloated Ortega is believed to have extinguished
the flame au naturale, if you catch my drift.
Dateline: Nebraska--America's favorite flavored sugar water,
Kool-Aid, is now the official soft drink of Nebraska. The announcement
follows months of confusion, during which the animal rights group
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wrote Nebraska's Governor
Ben Nelson thanking him for not choosing milk as the official
state beverage. In May, Nelson awarded Kool-Aid the "official
state soft drink" designation, noting that the drink was
invented in Hastings, Neb., in 1927. On May 22, the Associated
Press mistakenly reported that Nelson had designated Kool-Aid
as the "official state beverage"--subsequently prompting
the PETA praise. Now that the mess has all been cleared up, Nelson
spokesman Karl Bieber reiterates that Nebraska has no official
state beverage, and that the Governor, "didn't do this to
slight milk at all. He is a milk drinker." No response yet
from the American Dairy Council.
Dateline: Oregon--The tiny, 615-member community of Echo,
Ore., recently decided it was time to renovate their city hall.
It seemed like a simple task, but when workers ventured into the
building's 4,000-square-foot attic, they found an unexpected surprise--5
1/2 tons of pigeon poo. The pigeons have been dumping in the attic,
unmolested, since the two-story building opened in 1916. Even
with a high-powered vacuum and several shovels, it took five days
to clear the attic.
Dateline: California--It was a bitterly fought battle,
but organizers of the annual Independence Day parade in Huntington
Beach, Calif., finally bowed to public outcry and agreed to include
clowns in this year's festivities. Trouble arose over the Garden
Grove Elks Clown Unit's yearly tradition of squirting spectators
with squirt guns. Although parade watchers have been known to
fire back with their own squirt guns, the arms race has escalated
in recent years, with some spectators lying in wait for the clowns--garden
hoses at the ready. The trigger-happy clowns promised to leave
their water weapons at home this year, but did score one concession
at the bargaining table: Organizers have banned Silly String vendors
from this year's parade. Apparently, the stuff sometimes damages
the clowns' $200 custom shoes.