Monday, November 13, 2006

Vast file of trivia

"I have a garbage can mind," the great Jean Shepherd used to observe, by way of explaining why he could remember obscure radio characters and comic strips rather than Official History, and why he was a pioneer collector of what Funny Times calls "News of the Weird," odd and inexplicable items that fill in the gaps of our world picture. Having grown up with Shepherd's wised-up, insidious voice in my head, I still seek out such flotsam; it's why National Briefing is my favorite section of The New York Times. Combining wire-service filler with local crime, N.B. is frustrating in its refusal to provide follow-up, but consistently funnier than Metropolitan Diary or the columns of David Brooks. This is what I was reading on November 4 when everybody else was carbo-loading on Ted Haggard:

Delaware: Man Ordered To Wear Sentence. A Wilmington judge ordered a man who twice exposed himself to a 10-year-old girl at his workplace to wear a T-shirt with the words "I am a registered sex offender" in bold letters...Deputy Attorney General Donald Roberts said he requested the T-shirt punishment because he was concerned about [Russell Teeter] exposing himself to children at the gardening business he runs... (Reuters)

Clearly the judge and the deputy AG need to get out more, especially during Spring Break. Hester Prynne and her big red A were a long time ago. The "I am a registered sex offender" shirt is supposed to make Mr. Teeter (who is 69) a social outcast, but you can see far more unsettling boasts on the clothing of young men and women almost everywhere. Perhaps if he were required to wear an albatross around his neck...


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