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LEAD STORY: Defensive back Randall Gay wore a New England Patriots jersey as a member of this year's Super Bowl-winning team, but when one of his former college professors tried to order a personalized jersey in tribute to Gay in mid-February, she was turned down. The National Football League's official online merchandiser, NFLshop.com, refused to imprint "Gay" on the back of a Patriots jersey because it was a "naughty" word, one of 1,159 the shop has banned. (Two weeks later, after the website Outsports.com picked up the story, the word was removed from the list.)

Public Servants in Action: 1) New Hampshire state Rep. Christopher Doyle, 26, was arrested in March and charged with slapping elections supervisor Gail Webster, 61, to the floor on election night after learning that he had lost his race for town selectman in Windham. 2) Shirley Martin, a member of the school board in West Orange, Texas, was convicted in February of disorderly conduct for threats against colleague Beth Wheeler. At a meeting, Martin had continued speaking after her colleagues had ruled her out of order, and subsequently Martin angrily told Wheeler, "I'm going to stomp a mud hole in your ass."

Great Art: In 1992, News of the Weird reported that artist Janine Antoni carved huge blocks of chocolate and lard using her teeth, but at New York City's LMAKprojects gallery in February, artist Emily Katrencik gnawed sections of the drywall separating the gallery's exhibition space from the director's office, for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Katrencik said she concentrates on thinking of "the things in the wall that are good for me, like calcium and iron." But, she said, "I prefer cast concrete because it has a more metallic flavor."

Thieves Who Think Big: Management at the Globe Hotel in Topsham, England, reported in February that a guest had dismantled and removed the entire shower unit out of his room. And Norwegian Arild Nicolaysen told reporters in February, after arriving at his mountain cabin for the weekend, that the in-ground swimming pool was missing (steel lining, plastic liner, filter, hoses and pipes). And in March, police in Lindale, Texas, arrested two men who they said had taken a house apart, brick by brick, board by board, over a three-month period and sold the materials for drugs.

Surreality: Tennessee state Sen. John Ford testified in a juvenile court hearing in January that his child support payments should be reduced, in accordance with a state law that he had introduced on behalf of fathers with many children. Ford owns two homes, lives part-time in one with his ex-wife and their three children (with another on the way), and lives part-time in the other with an ex-girlfriend and their two children. Hence, he said, he should have lesser payments to a third woman, who is the mother of his 10-year-old daughter.

Least Competent Criminals: In March, accused U.S. fugitive securities-swindler Frederick Gilliland, living on the lam in Canada, was tricked into coming back across the border, just for a free meal. A vengeful private investigator offered to buy Gilliland lunch at Brewster's in Point Roberts, Wash., and then alerted authorities, who intercepted the super-hungry Gilliland as he approached the restaurant.

Recurring Themes: The police report column in the March 16 Newton (Mass.) Tab newspaper listed a "hate crime" committed by someone who apparently left the familiar Nazi symbol on the dirty window of an SUV. The police report read: "On the rear hatch someone with their finger traced out 'wash me' and below that was a swatz sticker symbol." (The officer is not the only one unclear on Nazi history. In 1994, News of the Weird reported that a murder defendant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had asked a judge for permission to wear a Ku Klux Klan robe in court and to be addressed by the "honorable and respected name of Hi Hitler.")

Below the Fold: Apparently important to actor Robert Blake's acquittal on a murder charge in March was the lack of credibility of the prosecution's witnesses, including an alleged methamphetamine abuser who once thought his house was surrounded by large, horned animals and "people dressed like sagebrush or Joshua trees." To testify that drug users are unreliable witnesses, the defense presented a UCLA psychopharmacologist who revealed that in the course of his own drug use 25 years ago, he had once crawled into a cage of monkeys that were smoking crack cocaine.

© 2005 Chuck Shepherd

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