me in independent pitcairn story

I’m sure all my millions of British readers will be happy to learn I was quoted in The Independent (UK) newspaper last week.
The story’s about one of the few topics I can claim any degree of expertise on, Pitcairn Island. Depending on your definition, it’s the most remote inhabited place on earth, a mile-wide speck of volcanic rock in the South Pacific, many miles from anywhere else. Its inhabitants are not natives in the traditional sense; they’re the descendents of Fletcher Christian and the other mutineers on the HMS Bounty, who crash landed onto Pitcairn in 1790 after famously shipping off the tyrannical Captain Bligh. The mutiny on the Bounty has, of course, become a famous tale in Western culture; Fletcher’s been portrayed in movie versions of the story by Mel Gibson, Marlon Brando, Clark Gable, and Errol Flynn.
About 40 Pitcairners live alone on the rock their forefathers settled. There’s no airstrip, no harbor, no regular transportation to the rest of the world. They rely on the generosity of passing freighters and yachtsmen to get supplies or people in and out. It’s a thoroughly bizarre place, impossible to get to and impossible to understand once you do.
I managed to go there in 1999, for a week. I wrote a bunch of stories about it (the main story: part one and part two). Since only a handful of writers have been allowed onto the island in the last few decades, I occasionally get calls from other reporters working on Pitcairn stories.
Lately, the stories haven’t been very positive. As Kathy Marks writes in The Independent, there’s a huge, awful, nasty, disgusting child abuse scandal there. The island might be empty in another year or two, since a significant portion of the island’s male population stands accused of sex crimes. It’s a sad, sad story.

stupid yalie druggie

Conclusive proof that being an Ivy Leaguer does not require intelligence: Yale senior arrested for asking police to test purity of his heroin.
Tippy was arrested at 5 a.m. on Jan. 17 after he allegedly brought a small bag containing white powder to the Yale Police substation at Phelps Gate. “He said that he had just purchased what he thought were drugs and wanted to test their purity,” Yale Police Lt. Michael Patten said. Police administered a field test to the substance and discovered that it tested positive for narcotics. Tippy was charged with drug possession and arrested at the scene.

red stick ramblers

I’m back in Dallas — more to come on the now 70-year-old Mazie, newly discovered childhood home movies, and other weekend topics. For now, a simple link to the Red Stick Ramblers, the band I was supposed to see this weekend.
See, the Ramblers — a self-described “authentic Cajun gypsy swing” band — feature an old high school friend of mine on mandolin. (There was a period of time in our youth when there seemed to be a doppelganger thing going on between us — both named Josh, both going to the same small school, both blond and with mothers named Debbie, even both having at the time one tooth oddly out of sort with the others. At at least one point, we also had a crush on the same girl, although that’s a battle he won. Now all we share is ill-advised facial hair.)
My friend Lauren and I were supposed to go to see them play Friday night, but alas there was a miscommunication and I was under the impression the show was Saturday. (We could play a little edition of the blame game, but who would gain from that? Harrumph.) So all I could do was read up on them a bit more, listen to one of their MP3s, and make plans to buy their new CD.
One final note: the Ramblers will always have an edge as long as Josh’s mom continues to let them use her amazing photos as their album art. The new CD’s cover uses one of my absolute favorite photos of hers. (Which I’d love to get on my walls if it didn’t cost, um, $2,000.)

mazie trip to rayne

Just talked to Mazie, who got card No. 30 today. I’m leaving in a couple of hours to drive down to see her, but she doesn’t know it — I felt so bad saying things like, “Oh, sorry I can’t make it down for the weekend, I’m so busy, blah blah blah.”

dave barry in north dakota update

Dave Barry in North Dakota update: Barry had a sewage lift station named after him and a potluck dinner thrown in his honor Wednesday…”I’m honored,” he said at the lift station dedication. “It’s not every day that your work is compared to human waste.”
To those huddled around him in the bitter cold after the dedication ceremony, asking questions, Barry said: “Do you people have nothing to do?” And as for the magnitude of the honor: “I’ll remember this for as long as . . . I’m in North Dakota.”

enron ceo as treasury sec?

In this week’s edition of Dodged Bullet Theater, Business Week in December, 2000:
Facing shaky markets, antsy consumers, and political turmoil, Bush is shopping for a powerhouse Treasury Secretary who projects wisdom and calm–and understands global markets. In short, confesses one Bushie, ”we need someone like Bob Rubin,” the ultrasmooth Wall Street veteran who was Clinton’s Treasury Secretary before Lawrence H. Summers. But whom to pick? Transition scouts are said to be eyeing heavyweights such as retired Chase Manhattan Chairman Walter V. Shipley and businessmen like Enron CEO Kenneth Lay.

ed emery and opal covey

So good to see that my all-time favorite political candidate, Ed Emery, is running for Congress again. This would be the same Ed Emery whose listed profession is “unemployed sociologist” — aren’t we all? — and who was arrested on election day in 1998 for stalking and resisting arrest after continually slipping threatening messages into his neighbor’s newspapers. (He was the endorsed Republican in the race, which shows how much of a non-factor the G.O.P. is in Toledo politics.) Ed was again convicted last August of puncturing a tire on the neighbor’s car and, according to the complaint against him, “scattering dog feces in her yard.”
He was last spotted “advising” the Toledo mayoral campaign of famed local looney Opal Covey, best known for her animal cruelty convictions (stemming from the 400-plus animals she kept in her disgusting home) and her listed profession: “former thrift shop owner and self-proclaimed minister.”
Now, journalists covering an election have an enormous responsibility to be fair and balanced in the way they do their work. So when, for example, Opal was running for mayor, reporters covering something one of the legitimate candidates in the race did would always have to include her in their stories. You know, things like: “Candidate Jack Ford wants to increase police salaries 15 percent over the next three years. Candidate Opal Covey, in contrast, wants police officers to all learn how to play flute, sousaphone, or triangle and form a department marching band, available to frighten children at birthday parties.”
Okay, I made that one up, but she did say her method for revitalizing Toledo’s dismal downtown was building a huge amusement park in the middle of all the pretty tall buildings. And she did say Toledo doesn’t need any public transit, because “I like riding in my own vehicle.”
Luckily, I’m no longer a journalist covering Toledo politics, so I can come out and say it: Crazy!