1989 Bum Steer Awards!

January 1989By Comments

Will the eighties never end? It has been a decade good only for Bum Steers. To add insult to injury, 1988 was a leap year. Isn’t 365 days long enough to suffer?

This was the year that Lloyd Bentsen, of all people, became a folk hero. But he would rather have been vice president. Oil prices went down, and bank failures went up. There were other notable failures as well: Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk, shut down in Fort Worth. The Bluebonnet Bowl expired in Houston. Dallas lost a police chief, a rail-transit plan, and its confidence. But there was some good news. Texas got the supercollider and Sematech. San Antonio discovered Shamu, a baby Shamu, and Sea World mania. And Billy Bob’s reopened.

Of all the Texans who had bad years, our Bum Steer of the Year seemed to epitomize the whole miserable mess. Seldom has anyone had so many chickens come home to roost all at once. Meet the man who engineered the disastrous bank merger between InterFirst and Republic (the merged bank was declared insolvent and sold to North Carolina National Bank). . . the man who bought the Dallas Cowboys just as they began their great collapse (he tried to sell them but couldn’t find a buyer). . . the man who brought football coach Jackie Sherrill to Texas A&M (the NCAA placed the Aggies on probation, and Sherrill was in more hot water as the year ended). He even comes with the right nickname. Ladies and gentlemen, meet H. R. “Bum” Bright.

Cursed Are the Meek, For They Shall Inherit John Jacobs
As part of a trend called “radical Christianity,” John Jacobs’ Evangelistic Association of Garland organized the Power Team, which performs feats of strength before Jacobs’ sermons. “Rocky was just a movie, but there was a real Rocky who lived the greatest comeback there ever was,” preaches the six-three three-hundred pounder. “He went down to hell and said, ‘I am a champion. I paid the price for all time.’ Now that’s real.”

It Cleans Your House And Your Record
A Houston patrolman was suspended for offering to tear up a traffic ticket if the motorist he had stopped would buy the officer’s Amway products.

That’s Why There Was The Great Chicago Fire
New KTRK-TV business manager John Jancar asked Houston firefighters to pump 40,000 gallons of water into the TV station’s swimming pool. When firefighters complained about the special treatment, Jancar said that he had just moved to Houston from Chicago, where such service was standard.

You Can Always Find Them at Stupid Lectures
Ashok Kushalani, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, gave a public lecture on the subject “Nerds: A Psychological Portrait.”

Keep the Change
Marshal Fink of Austin persuaded a Los Angeles cabbie to drive him 1,350 miles to Texas and then paid the fare with a $1,000 hot check.

Too Bad They Were False Alarms
Houston radio station KZFX’s “Still Smokin’” promotional billboards, which puffed real smoke, had to be deactivated after ten passers-by called in fire reports.

The Case for Planned Parenthood
Judge John McKellips of El Paso lost his race for reelection after his six children endorsed his opponent.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do
After filing for bankruptcy, John Connally became a pitchman for University Savings in Houston. His message: “Nellie and I worked hard all of our lives to make sure our future would be financially secure. Well, the future is here, and things haven’t quite worked out like we’d planned. But that’s all right because there’s no better place than Texas to start over and to save a little.”

Desperate for a Slurpee
A Houston convenience store patron returned to his car and found a three-foot alligator in the front seat.

Next Time, Try Earplugs
In an effort to reduce distracting noises at concerts, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra provided patrons with complimentary Halls cough suppressant lozenges.

Other Than That, He Did a Hell of a Job
First City Bancorporation disclosed that it gave chairman Daniel Arnold an $8,750 raise in 1987, a year during which the company lost $1.13 billion.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice
A chicken belonging to ten-year-old Delbert Warren, Jr., of Zavalla has four legs.

A Heap o’ Thanks, Ma’am, But We Don’t Want None
Diction teacher Margo Manning of Dallas ran newspaper ads headlined IS YOUR TEXAS SHOWING? and for $225 offered to remove the twang of native Texas accents.

A Night in the Life Of Our Hero, Part I
A seventeen-year-old boy identified himself as a Williamson County sheriff’s deputy, entered a motel lobby, and told the clerk he was part of a team working on prostitution. The teenager demanded a free room and called an escort service from the motel lobby.

A Night in the Life Of Our Hero, Part II
When the escort arrived at the teenager’s room, the youth told her she was under arrest for prostitution—but he would let her go if she would have sex with him. He handcuffed the escort in the bathroom. Then the desk clerk showed up to insist on payment. The teenager argued unsuccessfully and left with his escort.

A Night in the Life Of Our Hero, Part III
After taking the escort to two more motels but failing to get a free room, the teenager went to a fourth motel and paid for a room, where he and the escort had sex.

A Night in the Life Of Our Hero, Part IV
The escort called home and reported the incident to her boyfriend, who went looking for the teenager, found him at a gas station, and took his gun belt and briefcase. The teenager reported the theft to the Austin police, who arrested the escort and her boyfriend.

A Night in the Life Of Our Hero, Conclusion
The escort and her boyfriend were released after the police heard their story. The teenager went to the police station to claim his property. He was promptly arrested.

Thy Cheeks Are Black As Onyx and Blue As Sapphires, Thine Eyes Are Red As Rubies, the Stitches in Thy Chin Are Like Strands of Gold
Recovering from plastic surgery—including a nose job, tummy tuck, breast implants, face-lift, and chin implant—at Houston’s Methodist Hospital Nancye Radmin of New York had a jeweler come to her hospital room every day to coordinate her jewelry with the bruises caused by her surgery.

Three Strikes, No Balls
Houston Astros pitcher Bob Knepper told reporters that umpire Pam Postema should not work in the major leagues because “God has ordained that there are some things women should do and some things they should not do.”

Quick! Get His Urine Sample
Tarzan, a Belgian Malinois trained to locate drugs by smell, gave a demonstration of his prowess in a Houston courtroom. He ripped up a green suitcase containing a dog blanket and jumped on a small bag belonging to a court reporter but ignored a satchel that contained drugs.

Hey, Look, There’s The Pennzoil Tara
The November issue of Highlife, British Airways’ in-flight magazine, featured a story about travel to Atlanta. An accompanying photograph that was identified as “downtown Atlanta” actually showed an aerial view of downtown Houston.

Easy Come, Easy Go
During a statewide cleanup campaign for beaches and highways, volunteers collected 1,100 bags of trash from the Boca Chica beach near the mouth of the Rio Grande. But when Cameron County workers neglected to pick up one pile of bags, high tides rescattered the trash along the beach.

God Is a Six-Point Underdog
Concerned that attendance at its evening service on Super Bowl Sunday might be disappointing, the Second Baptist Church in Houston announced that it would show the game in the church auditorium and hold the service at halftime.

Yes, But We Still Have the Most Gas
According to figures compiled by the American Petroleum Institute, Alaska replaced Texas as the state that leads the nation in the production of oil.

So Help Me, Gourd
Testifying at his trial for assault, Houston cab driver Lincoln Biola Fagbemi of Nigeria swore to tell the truth on his akolmologoban, a large brown gourd containing tribal medicines.

Crime Doesn’t Pay. Tenants Do
Dallas police raided two crack laboratories in apartment complexes owned by Dallas police officers.

No More Worlds to Conquer
A week after the thoroughbred industry named Nelson Bunker Hunt the outstanding breeder of the year, Hunt auctioned off his entire breeding stock of 596 horses.

Wait Till Next Year
A survey conducted by a household pesticide manufacturer ranked Houston as the third most-flea-infested city in the country and the second most-roach-infested.

Now We Know Who Really Belonged in the Hole
Rival groups involved in the rescue of Midland toddler Jessica McClure bickered over which one had the legal right to sell the story of her rescue to Hollywood television producers.


Hello, Room Service? Do You Deliver to Kennebunkport?
Mocking George Bush’s claim that he is a Texan, a group of Democrats rented the hotel rooms that the vice president lists as his permanent residence—a $264-a-night suite at the Houstonian—during their state convention. To prevent further embarrassment, the Bush campaign rented the suite until Election Day.

September 7, 1988, a Day That Will Live in Idiocy
On September 7 Bush told an American Legion convention, “Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Forty-seven years ago today we were hit, and hit hard, at Pearl Harbor.” The attack on Pearl Harbor came on December 7.

George Who?
Bush telephoned Houston Oilers coach Jerry Glanville while the Oilers were practicing to play the Pittsburg Steelers. An Oilers’ equipment manager told Bush that the coach was on the practice field and couldn’t come to the phone.

That’s All Right, Mike
On ABC’s Nightline, Bush repeatedly called Ted Koppel “Dan.”

Read My Maxilla
A group of El Paso amateur historians charged that Yale’s secret Skull and Bones Society had possession of Pancho Villa’s skull and asked Bush, a former member of the society, to arrange the skull’s return to Mexico. Bush did not respond. Unable to get a meeting with Bush, the former leader of the San Carlos Apache tribe, Ned Anderson, asked that Congress investigate charges that Bush’s father had robbed Geronimo’s grave seventy years ago and given the skull to Skull and Bones.


Jim Wright
The House Ethics Committee investigated whether or not the Speaker of the House from Fort Worth violated House rules against excessive outside income and improperly intervened with federal savings and loan regulators on behalf of Texas S&Ls.

Shearn Moody, Jr.
The onetime Galveston financier was sentenced to five years in prison for defrauding his family’s charitable foundation of $1.3 million.

William Herbert Hunt and Nelson Bunker Hunt
Once heirs to one of the world’s greatest fortunes, they filed for personal bankruptcy.

Tom Landry
At the start of the season the Dallas Cowboys coach was optimistic his team could reach the play-offs; at the end he watched the Cowboys suffer through their longest losing streak ever.

Henry Cisneros
The San Antonio mayor announced that he would not run for reelection and confessed to having an affair with a former campaign fundraiser.

There’s So Much on TV A Monkey Would Enjoy
British researcher Jane Goodall urged scientists at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio to stop deciding what chimpanzees used in research can watch on television. Said Goodall: “It should be television with a switch the chimpanzee can control.”

Country Rode, Take Him Home
Astronauts at the Johnson Space Center were required to hear a briefing given by John Denver on his plan to become the first civilian to fly on the Soviet Mir space station.

A belligerent bovine charged a hovering Midland County sheriff’s department helicopter, hooked a skid with its horns, and sent the copter crashing to the ground.

Maybe They Were Looking for the Canadian River
At least six moose fleeing the Yellowstone fire wandered as far south as the Texas Panhandle.

Today’s Special: Bread and Water
When oil prices plunged, La Colombe d’Or restaurant in Houston reinstituted its 1986 offer of a four-course lunch for the current price of a barrel of crude.

I Thought I Could, I Thought I Could
Three unoccupied Union Pacific locomotives sped 214 miles from Big Spring to Van Horn.

On Second Thought, I’d Rather Go to Jail
Houston political consultant Rocky Mountain was found guilty of submitting forged petitions for Republican presidential candidate Pierre du Pont. He was sentenced to address high school civics classes every week for a year on the topic “The Political Process and How to Make It Work Right.”

Diogenes! We Found One!
Miss USA, Courtney Gibbs of Dallas, explains why she chose to try Miss USA instead of Miss America: “The Miss America pageant has a talent division, and I don’t really have a talent.”

He Was Just Freebasing Limburger
The Dallas City Council adopted a resolution protesting a CBS cartoon that showed Mighty Mouse sniffing a mixture of crushed petals and stems that critics said could be interpreted as cocaine.

First at the Scene of the Accident
Tony Delgado, chief photographer for KHOU Channel 11 in Houston, suffered severe bruises when he was hit by a truck from KTRK Channel 13.

Moral: With Government’s Help, We Can Whip The Real Estate Crisis
The Harris County Mental Health and Mental Retardation authority purchased an office building for $3.3 million. The seller had purchased the building earlier on the same day for $2.1 million.

Sold, to the Harris County Mental Health Authority
Prince Abdul Faisal of Saudi Arabia and Houston put his four-year-old, ten-bedroom River Oaks mansion up for sale with an asking price of $35 million.

Sorry, Sir, Only Learjets Are Allowed to Land Here
Freeman Ford of Palo Alto, California, made an emergency landing of his Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza aircraft in a field at Hockaday School in Dallas.

The Winner Gets Ten Shares of First Republic
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram held a contest challenging readers to match the old and new names of Texas banks.

She Was Tired of Him Being Baroque
Judge Tony Cantu of San Antonio testified at his divorce trial that to please his wife he gave up a career as an art teacher to go to law school.

Where Is Melvin Powers When You Need Him?
Rock and roll singer Chuck Berry, in his autobiography, told of his affair with the late Houston millionairess Candace Mossler: “‘Come,’ she whispered, pulling me to the round bed, ‘and undress me.’. . . I’d often seen the cleavage of her enormous breasts. . . but never the lower hemisphere of her voluptuous bosom as it became exposed. She stood silent as I saw my father’s expression amid the cleavage of her lily-white bosom. . . . ‘Hurry,’ she whispered. . . . In dubious perplexity, I yielded. . . and I heard minute moans of a million-dollar approval”.

They Said You Was High Class. Well, That Was Just a Lie
Gail Giorgio, the author of a book claiming that Elvis Presley is still alive, hired voice analyst L. H. Williams of Houston to determine the authenticity of a tape recording on which her book was based. After listening to the tape of a man saying that he had grown a beard, assumed the name John Burrows, and traveled the world in disguise, Williams concluded that the voice did belong to Elvis Presley.

Houston city councilman Jim Westmoreland encountered retired army general William Westmoreland in a London airport. After introducing himself, Jim Westmoreland asked, “Have as many people been asking you if you’re related to me as have asked me if I’m related to you?”

If You Ever Go to Houston/ You Better Walk Fine/ You Better Not Gamble/ You Better Not Mime
Houston actor Reginald Harrison, who appeared in “Crime Stoppers” TV spots that aid police by reenacting felonies, was stopped by police officers who thought they recognized him as a robber.

The Gospel According to Jim
After the Tarrant County Republican executive committee voted down chairman Jim Ryan’s proposal to condemn the film The Last Temptation of Christ, Ryan resigned and said of his opponents, “They are satanic people. Either you are on God’s side or Satan’s.”

The Hours Aren’t Great, But You Can Make Lots of Contacts
Charges against Johnny Pantoja, Jr., of San Antonio for selling obscene materials were dismissed after he testified he had been sent to apply for the job by the Texas Employment Commission.

Introduction by John Burrows
David Kelley and Glenn Gill of Red Oak announced plans to publish a book compiled of eyewitness sightings of Elvis Presley.

Being of Unsound Mind
Southfork Ranch owner Terry Trippet opened the Dallas memorabilia museum at the ranch house, featuring such classic items from the television series as Sue Ellen’s bathing suit, Miss Ellie’s fine china and crystal, the gun Kristin used to shoot J.R., and Jock Ewing’s last will and testament.

Wanted: Big Mama, Broad Pelvis
In a $9 million lawsuit for breach of promise of marriage, Lita Spencer accused Akeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets of leaving her for a taller woman more likely to bear tall sons.

First NCNB and Now This
Researchers in North Carolina discovered that when they put male cowbirds from North Carolina with female cowbirds from Texas, the North Carolina birds started singing songs that had previously been sung only by Texas males.

The Corpses Had Been Illia. Life Is a Femoral. Then the Doc Had A Haunch. Tibia or Not Tibia? He Decided to Stirrup Trouble. Operating With His Hammer and Scapula, He Coccyx Bones and Covered Up With Adhesive Stapes. After a While, It Got To Be Zygomatic. If Caught, He Vowed to Patella Fibula. But Investigators Worked at a Femur Pitch. As Always, They Got Their Mandible. He Got a Sternum Lecture About Robbing Carpus. Please, Talus More. No, That’s The End of Our Humerus Story
Dr. Vincent DiMaio, the chief medical examiner for Bexar County, admitted to earning at least $50,000 since 1983 by harvesting bones from corpses and selling them to the Bone Bank Foundation of San Antonio.

Monty Wants One
Suzann Madeley of Austin knitted a fourteen-foot sweater for Babushka, Gullett Elementary School’s Burmese python.

His Work Shows the Influence Of Rubuns, Butticello, and Picasso
Artist Krandel Lee Newton of Dallas set up an easel on a West End corner and began sketching the posteriors of passers-by.

He Should Have Played “You’re No Good”
Following a disputed call by Texas League umpire Brian Owen, the announcer for the El Paso Diablos baseball team began playing a tape of “When Will I Be Loved,” which begins, “I’ve been cheated, been mistreated.” Owen kicked the announcer out of the press box.

Or With Stern in Corpus
Stern Feinberg, Jr., the manager of the Best Western Sandy Shores in Corpus Christi, sent promotional maps of Texas to prospective visitors with the message, “Without a good map you might wander aimlessly around the state and something awful happen to you, like ending up in Wichita Falls.”

Just Give Us The Poop on Who Won
Mary Valenzuela of Anthony, New Mexico, won $191.90 playing cow-chip bingo in a fundraiser for the El Paso Andress High School band. Contest organizers matched contestants’ names with patches of turf on a football field; then they borrowed two cows and turned the cows loose on the field.

Dumb Yankee. Hasn’t He Eaten Jalapeño Cornbread Dressing?
Members of the Mission Trail Association of El Paso said that the first Thanksgiving dinner was actually held by Spanish explorers near El Paso on April 30, 1598—23 years before the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in 1621. Massachusetts historian Jim Cyphers responded, “The tradition of 1598 didn’t go anywhere.”


Actually He’s Being More of a Turkey
After Willie Nelson’s managers canceled a concert in Belfast, Northern Ireland, because the risk of violence was too great, the Ulster News Letter ran a page-one headline, WILLIE NELSON CHICKENS OUT.

The Place Was Full of Protestants And Catholics, and Nothing Happened
Saying that he hadn’t been consulted about his managers’ cancellation of his Belfast concert, Nelson ordered the concert rescheduled. “I’m not afraid to play anywhere,” he said. “We played at Big G’s in Round Rock.”

We’re Worried Too
Baylor University president Herbert Reynolds canceled an on-campus Willie Nelson benefit concert, citing “concern for the health and well-being of the American people.”

But Will He Respect You in the Morning?
Playgirl magazine ranked Willie Nelson first on its list of the ten sexiest country-western singers. Said the magazine: “Those braids just beg to be unbraided.”


Earrings in the shape of packaged condoms, marketed by Marsha Malgesini and designed by Patricia Jackson of Austin.

Rubber Ducky, a condom collection marketed by Steve Finley of Irving. Available in five colors.

Puttin’ on the Pooch, a line of upscale jewelry for pets that includes Doggie Dangle pendants, Paw Cuff bracelets, and Bowser Bow hair ornaments, all designed by Liza Lee of Dallas.

Dog shampoo and coat conditioners, made by Snooty Scents of Houston. The company claims its products smell like Obsession, Giorgio, Polo, and Aramis.

Ptisenbon, a perfume for infants selling for $30 a bottle, available at Neiman Marcus.

Tanna the Cat, a collection of songs (“Tanna the Famous Cat,” “Tanna Loves Tuna,” “Inside or Out, What’s It Gonna Be?” “A World Without Kittens” and more) on LP, cassette, or compact disc, available from Big Y Productions in Dallas.

Two Beef Tacos and a Green Card to Go, por favor
To push the amnesty program for illegal aliens, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service promoted “Amnistia,” a song in Spanish by INS official Art Zuniga of Harlingen, and placed fact sheets in tortilla packages.

But She Looks So Innocent
Charles McGuire of Houston, the president of a construction supply company, claimed that he was targeted in a price-fixing investigation because he is a transvestite who lives much of his life as Kathryn McGuire.

They Were Picked Up At Their Podiatrist’s
Four inmates escaped from the new $69 million Bexar County jail by cutting a wire-mesh fence with toenail clippers.

Some People Will Do Anything to Get Elected
Phillip Dougharty defeated Joe Fisette, Jr., in a race for constable of Jasper County, Precinct 6, in the Democratic primary on March 6, one week after he died. Fisette attributed his loss to the sympathy vote.

She Couldn’t Kick the Habit
Steve Woolverton of Port Isabel won a $1.5 million judgment against Sister Mary Kregar and the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville in a suit contending that his marriage was destroyed by a lesbian nun who seduced his wife.

So Long Sucker
An unidentified woman brought her son into Designer’s Eyewear in Corpus Christi and, using disappearing ink, wrote two checks for an examination and eyeglasses.

The Bedrooms Were Already Occupied
A police raid on an Austin nude-modeling studio turned up San Antonio attorney Oliver Heard, candidate for president of the State Bar of Texas. Heard said that he had just stopped in the studio to use the bathroom.

The Rest Could Only Earn Their Master’s
A Houston Independent School District official revealed that up to 25 HISD administrators held doctoral degrees from unaccredited Pacific Western University, which has a “nine-months-to-a-PH.D.” mail-order program.

That’s Texas Monthly, P.O. Box 1569, Austin, Texas
Dallas disc jockey Ron Chapman asked listeners of radio station KVIL-FM to send in $20 but didn’t say why the money was needed or how it would be used. Listeners sent in more than $240,000.

A Kinder, Gentler Nation? Get Behind it
A study by the U.S. Department of Education revealed that Texas leads the nation in spankings of schoolchildren.

Spare the Road and Spoil the Narc
A 25-year-old narcotics officer posing as a student at Mansfield High School was such a discipline problem that school officials paddled him.

Only the Press Is Free
Lyndon Massey, the president of the Dallas Times Herald, paid $229 in restitution after a family member tossed 916 slugs into toll-road baskets.

The World Will Little Note Nor Long Remember
Rancher Tom Garrett of Angleton offered to let Republican political candidates pose with his six-month-old calf. It had a splotch on its side that Garrett said resembled the profile of Abraham Lincoln.

He Couldn’t Make It. He was in Labor
The State Bar of Texas filed disbarment proceedings against Morgan Lamb after Lamb’s nine-months-pregnant wife took the California bar exam while pretending to be her husband.

I See a Big, Throbbing Phone Bill in Your Future
The Houston Independent School District discovered that employees had run up more than $6,000 in telephone calls to hear prerecorded messages about fortune-telling and sex.

And We Say That Getting 15,000 People To Come to Lubbock Is a Miracle
The Reverend Joseph James announced that something miraculous would happen at the St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Lubbock on August 15. On the appointed day, more than 15,000 pilgrims came to the church. They reported seeing such supernatural sights as the Virgin Mary’s face in a cloud that passed over the sun, but a commission of Catholic clergymen later determined that no miracles had occurred.

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