'I Shoot Dead People'
You can't spell "funereal" without F-U-N, and Thomas Condon isn't the first to photograph dead bodies behaving whimsically. J.T. Colfax of Colorado understands both the artistic urge that struck Condon in the Hamilton County Morgue and the outrage that followed discovery of his photos.
"I saw online tonight that your city is having some corpse-abuse trouble," Colfax tells CityBeat. "I took pics of corpses in the Denver area while employed in the funeral industry. I placed signs on the corpses with such sayings as, 'Yee Haw,' 'Getting Fired Isn't the End of the World,' 'Happy Halloween,' 'Time's Up.' "
After two years in jail, Colfax, a performance artist and prankster, regrets his idea for a line of punk greeting cards.
"You think, while you're doing it, you have access to something rare," he says. "But after you're caught, you realize it would be very shocking to the families. I was so glad the families didn't come to court. It would have been horribly embarrassing.
I used them when they were in a tragedy."
Snout and About
Cincinnati is famous for the ones that got away — those creative, energetic people who depart for greener pastures. Add Betsy Dresser to the list. The former Cincinnati Zoo executive was just named New Orleanian of the Year by Gambit, New Orleans' alternative newsweekly, for her work as director of the Audubon Institute Center for Research of Endangered Species at New Orleans' Audubon Zoo.
The accompanying article, "Nature's Nurturer," quotes University of New Orleans Chancellor Gregory O'Brien as saying Dresser's arrival in New Orleans in 1996 "was a great moment for the community's future. By assembling this team of renowned scientists to focus on endangered species preservation, she brings world attention to New Orleans." She did the same thing here in helping found Cincinnati Zoo's Center for Reproduction of Endangered Wildlife (CREW).
The successor to Cincinnati Zoo Executive Director Ed Maruska, who officially retired Dec. 31, has yet to be announced. Hometown-gal-made-good Dresser wouldn't be a bad choice.
A leader in the fledgling Northern Kentucky Green Party is dropping out of politics and returning to his former line of work. Ken Sain, the Green Party's candidate for the Kentucky 4th Congressional District, has accepted a job as sports editor with The El Paso Times in west Texas. Before getting political last summer, Sain was an assistant sports editor with The Cincinnati Enquirer.
When the U.S. Defense Department reopened the notorious School of the Americas on Jan. 17 under a new name, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Cincinnatians Deborah Meem, 51, and Rebecca Johnson, 21, were there — until military police took them away. Meem and Johnson were in Columbus, Ga., to protest the school, whose alumni include such thugs as former dictator Manuel Noriega, late of Panama, currently on an extended stay at a federal prison in Florida.
What a Pig Sty
The Cincinnati Enquirer paid Chiquita $14 million in the settlement over its 1998 investigative series, clarifying the "in excess of $10 million" previously reported. That's one bombshell on Editor & Publisher magazine's Web site (www.media info.com), which on Jan. 22 became the first media organization to obtain and report details of the top-secret agreement.
The settlement is a key piece of evidence sought by plaintiffs in two lawsuits against The Enquirer and its parent company, Gannett (see "Searching for the Holy Grail," issue of Dec. 21-Jan. 3). A federal magistrate ruled Jan. 10 that George Ventura, who filed one of the suits — ex-Enquirer Editor Larry Beaupre is the other — couldn't have a copy of the agreement. Maybe he can get it now from E&P.
Another shocker in the agreement, according to E&P, is that Beaupre and then-reporter Cameron McWhirter were to be barred from again writing about Chiquita. It's the first confirmation of what CityBeat has speculated for more than two years — not only did Gannett sell out its journalistic integrity to thwart a Chiquita lawsuit, but it also allowed Chiquita to dictate how the paper would run its newsroom in the future. Absolutely appalling.
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