No Pain, No Gain
It's hard being a police officer in Hollywood, and Tailpipe's not even talking about the shaking down of pimps or the pocketing of bribes from FBI agents posing as drug smugglers or any of the other questionable deeds with which the department has recently been linked. No, the 'Pipe refers to one of the state's most grueling police training programs.
From what this battered auto part hears, the 18-week program, for officers recently graduated from the police academy, is a lot like boot camp scenes from a Stanley Kubrick movie. During the hottest part of the afternoon, cadets shamble out to a training course near the Metrolink station at I-95 and Hollywood Boulevard to climb across red-hot monkey bars and scale chainlink fences. Then they climb over a ten-foot-high cement wall in Presidential Circle. And then, just in case they haven't been tenderized enough, cadets are directed to the water trap in Orangebrook Country Club, where they wrestle one another to the amusement of their field training officers.
A source with knowledge of the program says there's also a fraternity-style hazing, one aspect of which is pushups in the shower room. The same program has purportedly discouraged a slew of women aspiring to be officers.
A woman who witnessed the training regimen e-mailed a complaint to Mayor Mara Giulianti, saying it "might be good for warfare but not for policing." She added: "How can we expect people put through these programs to patrol neighborhoods and deal with children?"
The complaint found its way to City Manager Cameron Benson. Then Police Chief James Scarberry ordered an investigation. But the investigators were the same officers who are in charge of the training program.
Predictably, the investigation only confirmed the merits of the program. Capt. Mark Smith wrote to Scarberry that his cadets (all of them still on probation) "indicated everyone participated in the physical training, which built team work and cohesion. No officer stated they felt they were demeaned in any way nor did they experience a hostile work environment."
See? Cadets love this program.
Correct That Correction
Ever notice how pro athletes tend to think a lot about their sport, leaving little time to look up definitions of the kind of four-syllable words that reporters throw around? A Miami Herald reporter recently asked the Dolphins' new linebacker, Joey Porter, if there had been any "residual" effects from arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
Porter, a nine-year NFL veteran who graduated from Colorado State, reportedly laughed at the question.
"What's 'residual'?" he asked. "What does that mean? Just hit me with the regular words. You don't have to hit me with the big words."
Yeah, that's a good one. An even better one is the way the Herald spelled the term "residual affects" (meaning feelings as opposed to rational thoughts) rather than effects (results or outcomes). This is where spellcheck cannot help you. Perhaps what the Herald needs is a good copyeditor, like New Times' Keith Hollar, who brought this to the 'Pipe's attention. Meanwhile, Tailpipe is trying to get over his residual feelings of professional dismay.
Hollywood's Arnold Cohen believes that, when it comes to clean butts, America should catch up with the Old World. He believes in the bidet.
"It's my life's work," Cohen says. "Changing the habits of a nation, weaning us off the Charmin."
The bidet was employed by Napoleon's cavaliers to cleanse their saddle-worn behinds, then progressed to the bedrooms of fashionable French households. By the middle of the 20th Century, bidets had spread throughout Europe and parts of South America and by the 1980s to the Far East, where a new toilet seat/bidet hybrid took hold. These days, an estimated 60 percent of Japanese households contain toilet seats that squirt their users in the bum. Whom to thank?
Quite possibly Cohen, who likes to call himself Mr. Bidet. Born to a wealthy family in Brooklyn, Cohen established his own advertising firm on Fifth Avenue at age 19, with a little help from his folks.
"I invented the American bidet 45 years ago to help my father with a literal pain in the A," he says.
He cobbled together plumbing parts to assemble a toilet seat that would wash and dry his father's behind. He also outfitted the apparatus with a hose that could be employed for "feminine douching and colonic irrigation." He patented it, he says, and called his gizmo the American Sitzbath.
It could be a lifesaver. Cohen, 72, warns that Elvis's end could be yours too, citing a statistic that eight of ten heart attacks occur on the toilet. With the help of the American bidet's soothingly invasive jet of warm water, he says, his customers don't have to worry about straining themselves into cardiac arrest.
Cohen began plying the device at trade shows and placing large, illustrated ads in newspapers. "Ninety-nine percent of Americans did not know what a bidet was," he says of those days, shaking his head. It was a hard thing to explain.
But in 1964, a Japanese trading company, Nichimen Jitsugyo, took notice and invited Cohen for a visit. The firm began importing Sitzbaths and eventually worked up its own design, taking into account Japan's plumbing and electrical specs, as the "wash dry seat." Cohen was fine with that. "It's a tribute to my life's work," he says. "The more the merrier."
In 1971, Cohen relocated the American Bidet Co. to Miami. After five years, he moved to Hollywood, where business was never great but the company muddled along. "We lived comfortably," Cohen says. His sign in North Miami, featuring a little man riding the crest of a powerful bidet, became an iconic curiosity along I-95.
Meanwhile, the device took off in Japan. A company called Toto Ltd. in 1980 spun Cohen's device off as the "washlet." By 1985, according to an article in Japan Times, 30 Japanese companies were doing business in bidets. "They don't realize they are sitting on top of a great revelation for mankind," the newspaper quoted Cohen as saying.
These days, Asian takeoffs on Cohen's doodad are top sellers, while Cohen continues to manufacture his line of bidets at his factory store in Weston. He sells them nationwide through his website (bidet.com) and in several major cities. But it's hard to keep up.
Recently, bidets have gone high-tech. In 2006, American manufacturer Kohler unveiled its C-3 toilet seat (cleanliness, comfort, convenience). Retailing for $1,300, it has nozzles front and rear and three remote-control settings for temperature, pressure, and seat heat. Blue LED lights detect darkness and illuminate the inside of the bowl. Then there's the de-odorizer. "There's a built-in fan that draws air out of the bowl, runs it through a charcoal filter, and blows it out a rear exhaust," says Shane Allis, senior project manager for toilet seats at the Kohler Corp.
Kohler's sales have been climbing. Toto's washlet has sold more than 17 million units. And Cohen?
"My numbers are dwarfed by that," he says. "I couldn't have topped a few hundred thousand."
Yet Cohen looks forward to brighter days ahead with a new advertising campaign and a new, hand-held, jet-stream attachment (to be used before and after romantic encounters) that he hopes will be installed in thousands of hotel rooms across the country. In the midst of ending a 40-year marriage, Cohen adds that he is also "in the market for a new Mrs. Bidet."
Been Good to Know Ya
So televangelist the Rev. D. James Kennedy, who wanted to "Reclaim America for Christ" by promoting hard-right politics and turning back the clock on social issues like gay rights, is gone.
Kennedy, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, wasn't a phrase-maker like his local pal the Rev. O'Neal Dozier, who once described homosexuality as "something so nasty and disgusting that it makes God want to vomit." But he used the power of his pulpit to stigmatize gays, spreading the perception that they were immature beings ("little boys looking for a daddy to love them," Kennedy called them) who just had to be encouraged to make the right choices.
Tailpipe wasn't surprised that Kennedy's death didn't inspire a lot of lamentation by South Florida's gay-rights activists. Wayne Besen, executive director of the Miami-based organization Truth Wins Out, issued a statement that summed up an apparently widespread sentiment, but in a comparatively civilized tone.
"It is never easy to lose a loved one, and those who took comfort in Kennedy's sermons will surely miss him," Besen said. That was followed with a quick "However...
"We must also recognize that Kennedy was a great source of pain for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans," Besen wrote.
"I think Reverend Kennedy hurt a lot of people," Besen said in a phone interview. "His message was that a certain group of people were inferior to other people. It was gratuitously mean-spirited. 'Reclaiming America for Christ' — what would America look like if he'd accomplished his goals? We'd be the Christian version of Iran."
Besen takes particular issue with one of Kennedy's marquee issues: that, if gay people wanted to become heterosexuals, all they'd have to do was make the right moral choices. John Paulk appeared on a 1998 Newsweek cover as a kind of poster boy for the notion of "ex-gays." When Besen saw Paulk walking into a D.C. gay bar in 2000, he took a photo and made international news. It's important to expose such hypocrisy, Besen says, because the idea that someone can change his sexual orientation is dangerous. Closeted gay kids have contemplated suicide because Christians like Kennedy make them feel so ashamed, he's said. Besides, that's consumer fraud, Besen contends. "They're promising people a product they can't deliver — and delivering disasters they never promised."
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.