The 2010 Bum Steer Awards
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Are we there yet? Did we make it? Is it finally 2010? Thank God that’s over. Nothing was fine in 2009. The drought was hot; the economy was not. Oil prices sank, and Congress bailed out the banks. Unemployment went up, and Sir Allen Stanford went down. Jerry Jones spent a billion dollars on a football stadium, but no one would pay to put their name on it. Tom Craddick got the boot, Boone Pickens lost some loot, and the eighty-first legislative session bore no fruit. Rick Perry talked about secession, while Kay Bailey Hutchison dreamed about succession. Tea parties were the rage, literally.
Frankly, we were worried. Could such a depressingly serious season produce a worthy Bum Steer? Whose foolish antics would rescue us from the somber newscasts and grim headlines? Just when we had lost all hope, he arrived, tripping the light fantastic, and sometimes just plain tripping. Yes, folks, it was the return of the Hammer, the Exterminator, the Baryshnikov of Bug Men, the Gene Kelly of disgraced House majority leaders, Tom DeLay, lunging across our television screens in the ninth season of Dancing With the Stars.
Even before he hit the floor, DeLay was an instantly infamous celebrity, the subject of a million giddy blog posts. We howled when he grimaced to the grinding guitar of “Wild Thing”; we gasped when he squeezed into that hideous glittery brown outfit; we covered the children’s eyes when the camera drew uncomfortably close to his derriere as he thrust it awkwardly from side to side. His were the buns that launched a thousand puns.
And then, disaster! Just as we had begun to recall the joy of ridiculing something other than the Friday morning jobs report, DeLay was gone. Stress fractures in both feet brought on by a pair of “Latin shoes with high heels” knocked Hot Tub Tom off the show. He may not have been tops in ABC’s book (that crown would go to Donny Osmond, another dedicated public servant), but the Hammer had nailed down the biggest honor there is: He’s our 2010 Bum Steer of the Year.
It Forgot to Pack Its Sansabelt Slacks and Florsheim Shoes
New York Times shopping critic Cintra Wilson drew flak for her size-ist review of the grand opening of Plano-based J.C. Penney’s new Manhattan store. In her review, Wilson wondered, “Why would this dowdy Middle American entity waddle into Midtown in its big old shorts and flip-flops?”
All Units, Be Advised: We Have a 36DD in Progress
One Midland County sheriff’s deputy was fired and four others were disciplined for getting drunk and photographing a scantily clad waitress who had posed on a patrol car holding their assault rifle outside a Twin Peaks restaurant in Round Rock where the lawmen had come for a training session.
Challah When You Get a Clue
Austin deli owner Marc Katz arranged a media event so that reporters could watch him file for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary, but he initially led everyone to the wrong state office building. When he finally got to the right office, Katz learned he couldn’t legally file for months.
It Was the Best of Teams, It Was the Worst of Teams
In Dallas, the Covenant School’s girls’ basketball team was criticized for poor sportsmanship following a game against Dallas Academy. Covenant led 59–0 at halftime but still ran a full-court press and shot three-pointers well into the fourth quarter. The final score was 100–0.
Explains Why So Many Convicts Have Been Declining Parole
Inmates at the Segovia Unit, near Edinburg, were startled to discover 25 pounds of marijuana hidden inside a crate of bananas that had been confiscated during a drug stop by the Edinburg Police Department and then given to the prisoners as a gift.
And Neither Do Your Kids
A press release from state representative Debbie Riddle, of Harris County, slamming President Barack Obama’s upcoming speech to schoolchildren was headlined “Riddle to Constituents: You Children Do Not Have to Hear Obama’s Speech.”
“Manufactured in a Facility That Also Mangles Frogs”
Chasity Erbaugh, of Tyler, was horrified to discover that the frozen green beans she’d purchased at WalMart and cooked for her kids’ lunch contained part of a dead frog.
They Really Need to Get Ribbit That Supplier
Carla Hill, of Gilmer, was horrified to discover that the bag of mustard greens she’d purchased at WalMart and was about to cook for her family contained a dead frog.
As It Turned Out, They Were Both Smashed
Slurring heavily, Jeff Sabold, of Carrollton, called 911 to report that he had gotten his Ferrari stuck on a railroad crossing in Sherman. Though a train was bearing down on him, Sabold exited the vehicle only at the emergency dispatcher’s urging, moments before the car was obliterated.
Evacuation, by Calvin Klein
Nearly 150 workers ordered to evacuate a Fort Worth call center complained of dizziness and shortness of breath from suspected indoor air contamination. Investigators found no evidence of danger and theorized that the incident had been triggered by someone wearing an unusually strong perfume.
Now If I’d Known / They’d Line Up Just to See ’Em / I’d Display Some Dinky Replicas / At the Local Art Museum
Ads for the Dallas Museum of Art’s King Tut exhibit featured large photos of what seemed to be the boy-king’s famous seven-foot gold sarcophagus. But the exhibit, which cost as much as $32.50 to see, included only a 15.5-inch replica of the sarcophagus.
Here’s a Short Sentence: “James, You’re an Idiot”
Fearing a long prison sentence, James Carroll Franklin, of Azle, fled the Wise County courthouse while a jury was deciding his penalty for a drug conviction. As police chased Franklin across three counties, the jury’s recommendation, probation, was announced. A judge added 180 days in jail for the escape, and police said Franklin would likely face additional felony charges.
“Sting! You Are Now Free to Run Screaming Through the Cabin”
A man on a Southwest Airlines flight to Indianapolis was stung by a scorpion, and five more of them were found in a nearby overhead compartment.
That’s Just How He Unrolls
A federal appeals court ruled against state prison convict George Morgan, who claimed his First Amendment rights had been violated when he lost fifteen days of good-behavior credit for sending an assistant state attorney general a vulgar letter written on toilet paper.
We’ve Always Said He Doesn’t Noah Thing
Speaking to the Texas Hospital Association Leadership Conference about the nursing shortage, Governor Rick Perry said, “I’m telling you all—I’m, like, telling Moses about the flood here.”
Kid’s a Real Marinara-Do-Well
Eighteen-year-old Jonathan William Kirby, of Allen, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief for allegedly hurling jars of spaghetti sauce at cars and houses.
If at First You Don’t Succeed, Pry, Pry Again
Hours after Kristopher Garcia was released from jail for burglarizing a liquor store in Lakehills, he was rearrested for attempting to break into the same store.
Butt It Pains Us to Say There Were No Entries
Among the events at the 12th Annual Cornbread Festival, sponsored by the Malakoff Chamber of Commerce, was a “Cornhole Tournament.”
Here I Bleed / My Flesh He Parted / We Were Friends / Until I Farted
Juan Antonio Salano Castellano was stabbed in a Waco motel room by an associate who was fed up with his flatulence.
The Audacity of Head
Lubbock County judge Tom Head posted inflammatory flyers on a courthouse bulletin board, including one that tried to “spark conversation” with mug shots of people who’d been arrested wearing Obama T-shirts.
Sorry, We’re Just the De-icer People. You Need the De-de-icer People
The Texas Department of Transportation sprayed San Antonio freeway bridges with de-icer ahead of predicted freezing rain, which never came. Some San Antonio police felt the de-icer was why nearly 400 car wrecks were reported the next day; the average is 140 per day.
He Was Just Trying to Adjust the Picture
After Tennessee Titans reserve punter A. J. Trapasso kicked a ball that hit the enormous video screen at Dallas Cowboys Stadium during the first preseason game played at the brand-new facility, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones all but accused him of doing it intentionally.
That’s Par for the Coarse
Dallas resident David Feherty, a golf analyst for CBS Sports, wrote a column for D Magazine that included a “joke” about a U.S. soldier shooting U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and strangling Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
They Rreally Rread Her the Rriot Act
News personality Cynthia Izaguirre, of WFAA, in Dallas, annoyed some viewers who felt that by rolling the rr in her last name she was flaunting her Latina heritage. When she tried alternate pronunciations in response, other viewers chided her for abandoning her heritage.
Another Shocking Case of Kim-on-Kim Violence
Kim Gonzales, of Austin, was arrested for assaulting her roommate, Kim Martinez. Martinez’s dog had bitten Gonzales, who responded by threatening to kill the dog and then stunning Martinez with an electric cattle prod.
But Wait . . .
An exercise to test Decatur’s preparedness for swine flu outbreaks was canceled because of concerns over actual swine flu outbreaks.
Let Us Prey
Police in Webster used a Taser on Pastor Jose Elias Moran, arrested him, and pepper-sprayed some of his congregants in a confrontation in the church parking lot, where the cops had pulled a church member over on a traffic stop. The charge against Moran was dropped.
I’m Pro-(My)Life, and I Vote
In April, Travis County apologized to 93 voters who had been notified in March that they would soon be purged from election rolls because the county believed they were “possibly deceased.”
So Report Us to the Illustrated Game Warden
A dove hunting article in The Manual, TEXAS MONTHLY’s series explaining iconic state traditions, included an illustration of a hunter holding an air rifle, with which, of course, it’s illegal to hunt game birds in Texas.
Right there between “Tanzania” and “Utah”
Texas made a U.S. State Department list of foreign countries visited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Still at Large: His Accomplice, the “Buns of Steel” Bandit
A beefy man who robbed two Houston-area banks in less than an hour while wearing sunglasses and a reflective silver sweat suit was dubbed the “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” robber by the FBI.
Things Had Been on the Sunny Side Up, but Then Her Priorities Got Scrambled, and Now Her Law Enforcement Career Is a Complete Yolk. Shell Have a Lot to Explain. According to the Hard-boiled Investigator Who Worked Her Over Easy, She Might Have Just Been Fried or Deviled or Simply Rotten All Along. Ova the Weekend Maybe I’ll Poach Her Tactfully and Ask. Nah, Omelet Someone With Bigger Huevos Figure Out How She Cracked
Carrollton police officer Jennifer Cackler and three police dispatchers were fired after an internal investigation revealed that they had egged the house of Steven Benzer. Benzer suspected that the act was payback for complaints he’d filed against a neighbor, who he believed was a friend of Cackler’s.
And the Oscar for Cattiest Bitch Goes to . . .
Hearing that Houston-born Hilary Duff was reprising her breakthrough role in a remake of Bonnie and Clyde, Faye Dunaway allegedly sniffed, “Couldn’t they at least cast a real actress?” Duff responded, “I might be mad if I looked like that now too.”
But He Didn’t Admit to Squat
A worker at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo was arrested after a vendor reported that someone had broken into a carnival booth, stolen a box of novelty items, and defecated in a bucket. The suspect was caught with the items a short time later.
Slap a Windmill On It. No One Will Notice
T. Boone Pickens, without seeking permission, hired workers to remove part of the driveway in front of his grandmother’s former home in Holdenville, Oklahoma, where he’d etched his name as a youngster.
Sit Tight, Kids. Daddy’ll Be Back in Five to Ten
Michael Martinez was arrested for trying to steal beer from an El Paso store. He was also charged with child endangerment after police discovered he had left three young children waiting in his car.
You Have a Friend Request From Austin P. Department
Police nabbed Austin graffiti tagger Robert Fitzgerald after noticing that dozens of “Kudos” tags scrawled all over Austin matched one on his MySpace page.
The Officers Had Probable Paws
Gregory Pracht was arrested for theft in an El Paso Target. Before being taken to jail, Pracht asked police to check on the puppy he’d left in his car. They obliged and found a stash of cocaine.
The Barbie of Seville
London’s Royal Opera House announced it had commissioned an opera based on the life of Anna Nicole Smith.
But They Decided to Save It for Their Last Supper
Dan and Sarah Bell, of Dallas, found a Cheeto they claimed looked like the robed figure of Jesus in prayer. They nicknamed it “Cheesus” and considered selling it on eBay.
“But the Really Primo Stuff I Left With My Puppy in the Car Is Cool, Right?”
Jose Alacleto told Austin police officers investigating a disturbance that he had scuffled with a mall security guard because the guard had allegedly sold Alacleto’s cousin inferior cocaine, which Alacleto then produced from his pocket as proof. He was swiftly arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance.
The Court Does Not Like to Be Reminded to Wash Its Hands
District judge Jack Robison gave a 69-year-old grandfather thirty days in jail for contempt of court after the two men got into a heated exchange in a Caldwell County courthouse rest-room, even though it’s widely understood that a judge’s power to issue contempt rulings applies only in the courtroom.
“Well, Son, Babies Come From When a Daddy and Some Random Guy Love a Mommy Very, Very Much”
Mia Washington, of Dallas, gave birth to fraternal twins, but genetic testing showed that her fiancé had fathered only one of them. A fertility expert explained that Washington would have had to have sex with her fiancé and another man within a 24-to-48-hour period for the rarity to have occurred.
Why, Grandma, What Frightening Spasms You’re Having
A dash cam video captured Travis County deputy constable Christopher Bieze using a Taser to subdue 72-year-old great-grandmother Kathryn Winkfein after Winkfein got belligerent when asked to sign her traffic ticket.
It’s a Moment He’ll Undeservedly Cherish Forever
George Lobb, a University of Houston law school grad, sported a hard hat and shovel as he posed for photos with invited politicians and dignitaries at the ceremonial groundbreaking for Austin’s new federal courthouse. Only later did organizers realize Lobb had crashed the event.
Or Toward Ignorant Legislators From Tyler
Congressman Louie Gohmert, of Tyler, criticized proposed legislation that would protect people from hate crimes based on sexual orientation because it might protect those “oriented toward animals . . . oriented toward corpses, toward children.”
Next They Investigated a Case of Illegal Dumpling
Haltom City police released a tape of a 911 call from a woman who wanted police to respond to her complaint that a Chinese restaurant failed to put enough shrimp in her shrimp fried rice. When police arrived, the woman was gone.
Unfortunately, They Were Busy Counting Shrimp
After James May, of Haltom City, plowed his car into a ditch while fleeing from police following a robbery, he hitched a ride from a passing motorist, a security guard who drove him straight to the cops.
As a Prankster, He’s Shot
Bandera County jailer Daniel Spengler hid in a dark room near some civilian co-workers, planning to scare them. Hearing suspicious noises, the co-workers asked a sheriff’s deputy to check the room. When the deputy entered, Spengler leaped out; the startled deputy shot him in the thigh.
“GRATUITOUS AUSTIN WEIRDNESS! IGNORE!”
An Austin vandal reprogrammed a portable electronic sign that flashed roadwork updates to instead display warnings such as “CAUTION! ZOMBIES AHEAD!”
Yo voto, tu votas, el vota, Melinda Nickless idiota
Melinda Nickless, the assistant director of the Secretary of State’s elections division, was fired after telling a story that mocked Spanish speakers during election-worker training at a pre-primary seminar in Austin. The story, about a minor traffic accident involving Nickless’s mother and a Hispanic woman who did not speak En-glish, seemed to imply that Spanish speakers were untrustworthy.
They Got a Lotto Nerve
In a felony indictment, Travis County prosecutors alleged that Grand Prairie convenience store clerk Pankaj Joshi failed to inform regular customer Willis Willis that his Mega Millions lottery ticket was in fact a $1 million winner so that he could instead redeem the ticket for himself. Yet despite the indictment and the fact that the clerk seems to have fled the country, Texas Lottery officials told Willis’s attorneys they consider Joshi the rightful winner.
Good Ol’ Bud Snake—Helluva Writer
A paid obituary in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram misspelled the last name of author and Fort Worth native Bud Shrake.
Wasn’t Super Colon Half of the Dynamic Duodenum?
An eight-foot tall, twenty-foot long walk-through colon replica known as “Super Colon” toured Fort Worth, Dallas, Tyler, Victoria, and Laredo to promote colorectal cancer awareness.
The Governor Is a Unique Man. When He Came Into Office, in 1845, One of the Issues Was That We Would Be Able to Disregard Half of What He Says
In comments that launched a thousand late-night-TV monologues, Governor Perry told a reporter who asked him about the possibility of Texas’ seceding from the United States, “Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union, in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that.” As many reporters rushed to point out, Texas came into the union with the ability to divide into five states but not withdraw.
The University of the Cumberlands, in Kentucky, invited the youth choir from Fort Worth’s Broadway Baptist Church to participate in the university’s Mountain Outreach program but withdrew the invitation shortly after the Southern Baptist Convention expelled Broadway Baptist for being too tolerant of homosexuality.
They Were Chiefly Petty Officers
A Fort Worth bicyclist riding past an arrest in progress shouted, “Did y’all read them their rights first?” The police noticed that his bike didn’t have a headlight and ordered him to stop, which he failed to do. The ensuing bike-car chase ended with the cops arresting him on two misdemeanor charges.
Is Our School Districts Learning?
Arlington school district officials rejected live classroom viewings of President Obama’s speech encouraging students to do well at school but approved busing 28 fifth-grade classes to a North Texas Super Bowl XLV Committee event featuring former president George W. Bush.
So Often It’s the Man Who Has the Hair Trigger
Deborah Yvette Parker, of Houston, was arrested for the shooting death of her common-law husband. She told police that her gun had accidentally discharged while the couple was engaging in an act of sexual foreplay she called “dirty cowboy.”
Most Teams Would’ve Stopped at Stroking His Ego
In The Yankee Years, a book about Joe Torre’s managerial stint in the Bronx, a Yankees team trainer divulged that one of his pregame chores on days that Roger Clemens pitched was to rub the hurler’s testicles with a strong liniment.
Baby, They Were Porn to Run
John Scott Kincaid, 21, of Kilgore, and Christopher Ray Fitzgerald, 20, of Longview, were arrested for armed robbery of an adult video store. The stolen goods: fifty adult movies.
A Woman Like That Is Triple-double Trouble
Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki dumped girlfriend Cristal Taylor after she was arrested at his house on Texas and Missouri warrants. Subsequent news stories detailed Taylor’s checkered past, which included her many aliases and allegations of credit card fraud.
What a Dedicated Public Self-Servant
Representative Wayne Christian, of Center, helped draft and pass a stealth amendment filed in the closing hours of the legislative session that exempted a select group of landowners on the Bolivar Peninsula—including him—from a prohibition against building on a public beach.
Hook ’Em, Hate U
State representative Norma Chavez told Marisa Marquez, a fellow Democratic legislator from El Paso with whom she’d had a falling out, not to attend an event celebrating her graduation from the University of Texas at Austin by text-ing, “Plz do not go to my noon reception. Or I will ask u to leave.”
And He Said, “Go Forth, Max, and Ruin Property Values”
Residents of a Kerrville subdivision went to court to stop an organization led by evangelical Christian artist Max Greiner Jr. from erecting the 77-foot, 7-inch metal cross Greiner says God told him to place on a lot near the highest point of the subdivision.
Or Play Through, Whichever
Seventy-three-year-old Austin duffer Edwin Dailey was arrested after he pointed a loaded gun at a group of golfers he felt had been playing too slowly, telling one of the men, “If I feel threatened, I am morally obligated to destroy you.”
No Doubt, but Can You Handle Cheney in the Paint?
In response to a question from Maxim, the men’s magazine, about whom he’d like to dunk on, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James said, “If it doesn’t have to be a basketball player, George W. Bush. I would dunk on his ass, break the rim, and shatter the glass.”
That’s one small sip for a man, one giant leak for mankind
During the space shuttle Discovery’s March mission to the International Space Station, a test of the station’s urine recycler was scrapped because a valve had gotten stuck. In May, space station astronauts repaired it and took the first sips of water purified from space urine. In October, it quit working again.
Apparently the Monkey Was the Brains Behind the Operation
After the theft of several dozen plants from a Richardson nursery, surveillance video revealed that the thief was a monkey trained to snag the plants and hand them to its human accomplice on the other side of a fence.
It Was, No Doubt, Well-oiled
Arrestee George Vera had already cleared five body searches by Houston police and Harris County jailers when he admitted he was concealing a handgun. Vera, who weighs more than five hundred pounds, was searched again, and the weapon was found hidden in folds of his skin.
Who Doesn’t Love a Big Society Wetting?
Torrential rain drenched the rural ranch venue of Dallas’s Cattle Baron’s Ball, an annual society fundraiser, ruining food, putting restrooms out of service, and stranding hundreds of guests’ cars in deep mud. The event became known as “the disaster in the pasture.”
I Played My Drum for Him / Ba Rum Pum Pum POW!
San Antonio police detained an 83-year-old man on aggravated assault charges. The man had asked his son to quit his drum practice. The son refused, so the man fired a gun through the door of his room, wounding the son in the head, nonfatally.
Dearly Beloved, We Are Battered Here Today
Juan Garcia Montiel, of Austin, was charged with intoxication assault after he hit a motorcycle cop escorting a funeral procession, then plowed into a limo carrying the deceased’s immediate family, sending himself, the policeman, and four others to the hospital.
Why Not Name It After J. Frank Doobie? Leander’s new high school football stadium was to be named Tumbleweed Hill Stadium, after a restaurant that long occupied the site, but the plan was scrapped, partly because then–school board president Don McCall voiced his concerns that “the kids are going to say, ‘Tumbleweed Hill—oh, that’s marijuana.’ ”
Pelicans, 1; Ridiculous Male Enthusiasms, 0
Thirty-four-year-old Andy House, of Lufkin, was driving on Interstate 45 near Galveston in his Bugatti Veyron, an extremely rare, $1 million, sixteen-cylinder two-seater sports car with a top speed of 253 miles per hour, when a low-flying pelican distracted him and caused him to steer into a lagoon. The car was ruined.
You Mean He’s Loose on the Streets Now?!
McKinney cops stopped Douglas Maupin for speeding and discovered that he had a 2003 warrant for failing to appear for jury duty. Maupin, who couldn’t make his $1,500 bail and was also unable to get a public defender, spent 83 days in jail until the Dallas Morning News informed a Collin County judge about his plight.
“You Know, Like General Tso . . . or Seafood Delight”
Representative Betty Brown, of Terrell, responded to a witness testifying before the Texas House Elections Committee about voting challenges faced by some Asian Americans with this instantly infamous quip: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you . . . if you could adopt a name . . . that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”
He Was Also Cited for Dropping Trowel, Unspooling His Hose, and Consorting With a Hoe
A 71-year-old Fort Worth man was cited for disorderly conduct after a deputy city marshal spotted him trimming the lawn in his backyard while nude.
Plus, the Other Guests Are, Well, Criminals!
Alleged Ponzi schemer R. Allen Stanford complained about the jail he was being held in before his trial because, among other things, the air-conditioning went out for several days.
Sushi Was Pretty Mad
A Pasadena man called the police to report that his very angry ex—common law wife had snatched their communal goldfish from his house. When police arrived at her house, they found four fried goldfish on a plate. The woman, who was not charged, told them she’d eaten three others.
Live Newt Girls!
A conservative group pulled Dallas businesswoman Dawn Rizos’s invitation to receive its Entrepreneur of the Year award from Newt Gingrich, the group’s founder, when it was discovered that Rizos’s business was a topless club.
Progresso School Board Working For Our Children
That’s when the campaign hit a bad spell.
But the “Cool Ranch®—Flavored Seawall” Is Still on the Table
After Frito-Lay pledged $1 million to help remodel Fort Crockett Park, Galveston city officials proposed renaming it Sun Chip Park at Fort Crockett. The idea was scrapped after a public outcry.
Twenty-four-year-old Trista Joy Lathern, formerly of Robinson, was arrested after she confessed to McLennan County sheriff’s investigators that she had lied about having breast cancer and encouraged friends and family to throw an elaborate fundraiser, which included a bake sale, a raffle, an auction, and three musical performances, to help cover her medical bills. The event raised $10,000, which Lathern, who was in perfect physical health, spent on breast implants.