Naugle the Zep
The City of Fort Lauderdale sure knows how to spend its money. A few weeks ago, the city sent out a mass mailing of a glossy flier called Focus On. Along with the usual propaganda ("sunnier skies" in city finances, "improvements" on Himmarshee, an "update" on Sistrunk) was "A Message from Our Mayor." His Honor Jim Naugle took the occasion to offer cutting-edge comments about people forgetting the words to our national anthem. As a public service, Naugle reprinted "The Star Spangled Banner" all the way from "O say can you see" to "the home of the brave."
For this, the city paid $13,578.
Few citizens were aware, however, of Naugle's alternative column, which circulated in the bars, clubs, and after-hours joints. Tailpipe obtained a copy:
"While hanging out with a few of my buds the other night, somebody pointed out a recent study by Spin magazine that said more than two-thirds of all Americans don't know the lyrics to 'Stairway to Heaven.' At first, I couldn't believe it, but then it turned out that, hey, many of us are hazy on the first verse. So this summer, my friends, as backyard barbecues blaze, let's restore America's zoned-out voice:
There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
And when she gets there she knows if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
Woo ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
And she's buying a stairway to heaven.
The Lam Ain't Funny
It wasn't supposed to happen this way for these two senior citizens. Frank Schweihs, age 75, was living the quiet life as a retired "construction worker" in Dania Beach, and Joe Lombardo, age 76, was staying out of the spotlight in Chicago. Then a federal organized-crime investigation called Operation Family Secrets found that the pair were allegedly up to their necks in contract murders.
Schweihs, known around Chicago as "The German," was said to have been the guy wielding the baseball bat in the 1986 deaths of Anthony and Michael Spilotro (a Mob hit reenacted in the movie Casino), and he may have had a hand in, among a lot of others, the murder of Miami cigarette boat king Don Aronow. Lombardo? He was supposedly "Joey the Clown," the reputed head of the ruthless Chicago Outfit and a famous jokester (he once eluded news photographers by rushing out of a courtroom with a newspaper draped over his head with eyeholes like a ski mask).
These two, facing significant jail time and other assorted indignities that no self-respecting septuagenarian mobster should have to endure, took it on the lam this past April. Nobody saw them split.
But Tailpipe has been in touch by e-mail with a man -- let's call him Moochie -- who says he's been accompanying the pair as a valet/chauffeur/geriatric nurse. It's been a wild international ride.
April 28. Puerto Rico, a little joint on the beach outside Luquillo. S. and L. are barefoot in floppy fishing hats and perfectly ironed black slacks, sipping piña coladas. S. has a pained look. The Alka-Seltzer ain't workin'. "Can't nobody in the freakin' Caribbean do a spaghetti carbonara?" he keeps asking. The papers are full of stories about the death of an Isla Verde pasta chef, strangled on the restaurant floor with a greasy spoon down his throat. S. don't know nothin', of course. But he keeps muttering: "I told the guy, 'No bacon, y' mook. Use the prosciutto. Pro-sciutt-toooo.'"
May 15. Ibiza. S. has a shit-eatin' grin that won't go away. Two words: scungilli marinara. Found it in a little café called Sempre Italia. That length of clothesline stickin' out of S.'s back pocket and the black gloves he wears don't even get a second glance here. But the Spanish cops want to talk to L. about his practical joke. We came in one night and L. dropped a dead canary on the counter. "You been talkin' to the guardia, eh, compadre?" he says, and the little guy falls to his knees and starts sobbing. L. turns to me and says, "OK, Mooch, fast and painless. One to the back of the head." L. goes giggling up the stairs as the clerk faints dead away.
June 29. Sicily. L. and S. weren't exactly greeted like visiting royalty by the local goombahs. There was L. sitting in the back of an ox cart on the way to our "accommodations." S. trailed along on foot with his Glock in one hand, shooting windows out of the huts we passed. Both of them have been having hemorrhoid flare-ups. The local capo got us a "villa," but it looks a lot more like a stable. L. grabbed the fancy room with the straw on the floor. S. ain't so happy with the suite in the back. He wants me to sweep up the manure, and he won't put the Glock away. Me? Soon as they go to sleep tonight, it's back to Chicago.
Here Come de Judge
With the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, President Dubya has the opportunity to make his first appointment to the nation's highest court. Tailpipe, always a booster of local legal stars, recommends that the president select one of two Broward Circuit Court judges nominated to the bench by younger brother Jeb:
Cheryl Aleman: Appointed to the Broward bench in 2001, she is a good, old-fashioned, Bible-beating, don't-spare-the-rod kinda girl. In July 2003, Aleman refused to give early release to a nonviolent drug offender who was dying of AIDS. What's more, since donning the robe, Aleman has seen a number of her decisions overturned by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, including one in which she ruled that children be removed from a low-income family. The reason: The parents were late to a hearing because they rely on... unreliable public transportation. Clearly, Aleman's moral character, if nothing else, makes her worthy of the Supreme Court.
Eileen O'Connor: No relation to Sandra Day, this O'Connor made national headlines when she jailed 19-year-old Stacey Forbes for lying about his arrest history on a jury duty application. As it turns out, the good judge might be guilty of a similar crime. The Judicial Qualifications Commission has been asked to investigate charges that O'Connor did not disclose on her judicial application two discrimination complaints that had been filed against her. Additionally, in June, the Broward Public Defender's Office alleged that O'Connor forces plea deals on defendants. Her schtick: Take a plea, dirt bag, or risk a harsher-than-bleach-down-the-throat sentence from me. Clearly, O'Connor's courageous legal approach makes her a fine candidate for the nation's top court.
Come on, Big Bush. Listen to Little Bro. He's the next president, right?
Those Broward school bureaucrats just might have something. They gave the thumbs-down last week to an educational music video called We Are Family, with SpongeBob and Big Bird singing about "togetherness." The claim: It blurred important sexual distinctions and might convince kids to open the door to strangers.
Tailpipe thinks our kids' protectors didn't go far enough. There's much more un-Christian material in newspapers and on television. Take, for instance:
Homer Simpson: Does this man love his neighbor? Not.
Shaggy Rogers: What's with the friendly dog and that obsession with eating? Can you say bestiality and pot?
Buzz Lightyear: He claims to go to infinity and beyond without God's help. Ha ha.
Winnie the Pooh: Any gay person knows what a "bear" is.
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Barney: No pants. He doesn't wear pants.
Shrek: The swarthy complexion, the ample nose, the bushy eyebrows.
It's the al Qaeda look, all right.
-- As told to Edmund Newton