Niagara Falls Reporter | November 21, 2006


By Frank Thomas Croisdale

In honor of the just-passed holiday, during which we gave thanks to the NFL for adding a third game for our viewing pleasure, we now pause to hand out the Sixth Annual Croisdale Turkey Carcass Awards. As always, the Turkey Carcass is awarded to those who have embarrassed themselves publicly with criminal or blatantly outlandish behavior. The winners will be presented with a nearly picked-clean Thanksgiving turkey -- much like the one currently taking up roost in your refrigerator.

The first category: Hollywood celebrities (The Jacko Wacko Memorial Award).

Second runner-up: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

Not since Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton hooked up back in the days before Hollywood couples were given nicknames has Tinsel Town produced such an obnoxious pairing. Their Italian wedding was like a cross on a church steeple -- way over the top -- and their three-minute kiss lasted about two-and-three-quarters minutes too long for even the strongest of constitutions to bear.

Three questions that still linger from TomKat's big day: Who knew John Travolta and Oprah were so tight? Is it appropriate to wear white when it's the groom's third trip down the aisle and the happy couple have already gone forth and multiplied? What kind of postpartum drugs did Brooke Shields have to score to sit through that nonsense?

First runner-up: Michael Richards.

Did you see the look on Jerry Seinfeld's face as he sat in the chair next to Letterman listening to Richards attempt to explain his meltdown on stage at the Laugh Factory? Seinfeld must have been thinking that someone finally figured out how to kill the eternal cash cow that is otherwise referred to as "Seinfeld" reruns. Every time Richards used the incorrect term "Afro-Americans," in describing those he owed an apology, Seinfeld twitched like he'd just been hit with a blast of nerve gas.

Richards' "N-word" laced tirade was so bad that it made public speeches given by the Grand Wizard of the KKK seem mild by comparison. Here's hoping that Richards finds a way to make amends to all he offended. For a start, someone needs to tell him that Africa is a continent, while an afro is a hairstyle.

The Carcass goes to ... O.J. Simpson.

Where to start? O.J. is so out of touch with mainstream America that he actually thought he could be involved with the whole "If I Did It" book and TV fiasco and not have it blow up into the major firestorm that it quickly became. Judith Regan would have had a better chance of putting over a book by Michael Jackson describing how he would have molested those young boys -- had he actually done it.

The Juice then went on to cry about his dwindling finances after the whole deal was nixed. He said that he's running out of money and is worried about the future of his kids. Most of us think that it would have been nice if their mother were alive to help them into adulthood. It's hard to have sympathy for someone who cries poverty while continually traveling and playing golf on North America's top courses.

At least O.J. reminded us that an old axiom is indeed true -- some stories are better left untold.

Our second category: World leaders.

Second runner-up, First runner-up, and the Carcass once again goes to ... President George Bush.

Much like last year, Dubya's year in office overshadowed all others as it brought America to a new all-time low in international approval ratings.

The ill-conceived war in Iraq has cost thousands of brave young Americans their lives and cost the Republican Party control of Washington in the midterm election.

Even the staunchest red states have wavered in their ironclad support of President Bush. The firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was a move in the right direction, although it may be viewed by history as too little, too late. History will most certainly view Bush as a president who was in far over his head. Here's hoping that the men and women his actions placed in harm's way are brought home in the timeliest manner possible.

The third category: Sports figures.

Second runner-up: Albert Haynesworth, Tennessee Titans Defensive Tackle.

In a game against the Dallas Cowboys back in October, Haynesworth ripped the helmet off of the head of Cowboys' center Andre Gurode and proceeded to stomp on the helpless player's head and face with his cleats. Gurode needed 30 stitches to close the wounds caused by the out-of-control Titan. The NFL suspended Haynesworth for an unprecedented five games, costing him hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost salary.

Football will always be a violent occupation, but thuggery is something altogether different and has no place in America's favorite sport.

First runner-up: Bode Miller, Olympic skier.

It is universally agreed that America only cares about skiing once every four years when the Olympics roll around. So to have such a bonehead as Bode Miller grace the national stage was truly a colossal downer. For the few weeks leading up to the Olympics in Turin, Italy, Miller was on television more than Billy Fuccillo. One had the sense that the brash wunderkind was already counting his Wheaties-box money.

Then the games came, and Miller flopped like sweat on a bombing comedian's brow. Miller was expected to contend for five Gold Medals. He finished out of the money in two of his events, was disqualified in another and didn't complete the other two. He also told "60 Minutes" that he enjoyed skiing stoned. Hey Bode -- it shows!

The Carcass goes to ... Floyd Landis, cyclist.

America loves to dominate sports that are routinely ignored -- especially when that domination comes at the expense of the hated French. With Lance Armstrong retiring to turn his attention full-time to bedding Hollywood starlets, it seemed certain that America would not retain the yellow jacket at the Tour de France. At the commencement of the grueling 2,272-mile race, all of the mentioned favorites were from foreign nations. Landis was like Atlantis -- not even on the map.

After a Stage 16 collapse left him more than eight minutes behind the leader, Landis was considered done like dinner. Then, in Stage 17, a cycling miracle happened. Landis conquered the climbing stage like a man possessed and made up all but 30 seconds of the deficit. It was hailed as quite possibly the greatest day of racing in the history of the sport. When Landis finished the final stage more than half a minute ahead, American glory was restored. Until, that is, the drug tests came in. Landis was found to have an unnaturally high amount of testosterone in his system. In a sport already rocked by doping scandals, this was another black eye on a face already full of shiners.

Landis continues to maintain his innocence, while America continues to lament the retirement of Lance Armstrong.

The next category: Criminals.

Second runner-up: Alfredo Martinez, Reno, Nev.

It looks as if those "don't drink and drive" commercials are finally paying off. Alfredo Martinez must have been paying attention when he realized that he was too loaded to get behind the wheel of his car after tying one on last month. The problem was his designated driver.

According to the Smoking Gun Web site, Martinez handed the keys to his 7-year-old son and commanded the lad to hightail it for home. Police pulled over the Martinez vehicle as it weaved all over the road attempting to enter a freeway.

Martinez went to jail -- hopefully he doesn't call the 7-year-old to come up with bail.

First runner-up: Ronald Dotson, Detroit, Mich.

Most men complain about women that just lie there during a sexual escapade. Not Ronald Dotson. He goes out of his way to find just such a "girl."

Dotson was arrested for breaking a store window to get his hands all over a mannequin wearing a French maid's outfit. It must have been that come-hither look she was casting on him through the plate-glass window.

The worst part of the story is that Dotson is not a first-time offender. It turns out that he had just completed a lengthy prison term for breaking and entering when he committed almost the identical crime 13 years earlier.

Someone needs to tell Dotson that mannequin sex was not what Mr. McGuire meant when he whispered the word "plastics" to Dustin Hoffman's character in the famous scene from "The Graduate."

The Carcass goes to ... hometown boys Charles Morris and Gregory Quick of Buffalo.

OK, I'll concede that binge eating is a direct side-effect of pot smoking. I'll even go so far as to say that Kentucky Fried Chicken may be the mecca of potheads' dreams, despite what Hollywood may have you believe about White Castle. But here's a little tip for all of you spleef-rollers in training out there -- don't fire up a blunt as you make your way through the KFC drive-thru.

That's exactly what our buds Morris and Quick did, and the pungent pot smoke wafted right into the restaurant and into the nostrils of two narcotics detectives taking a break from their usual lunch at Dunkin' Donuts. One of the officers said the duo was smoking "the biggest marijuana cigar you ever saw." Evidently, Morris and Quick came up with their own way to make a KFC Stacker.

Our final category: Local turkeys.

Second runner-up: Alan Hevesi, state comptroller.

There are not a lot of ways to screw up a high-paying political gig that mainly flies under the radar of the average citizen. Having your wife chauffeured around on the taxpayers' dime is one of them. Hevesi got busted doing just that and only agreed to reimburse taxpayers once the cat was out of the bag.

The good news is that incoming Gov. Elliot Spitzer is expected to relieve Hevesi of his duties in January, and the then former comptroller will have plenty of free time to drive his wife to all of her appointments.

First runner-up: Sam Fruscione, city councilman.

The freshman councilman got himself in a lot of hot water this past summer when he was at the center of the picketing of the Gray Line tour booth on Niagara Falls Boulevard. Fruscione angered other tour operators when he accused them, along with Gray Line, of sending their meal business to Canadian eateries. Fruscione failed to mention that he has a business relationship, through a tourism Web site he operates, with many of the American-side restaurants he suggested that the tour companies should frequent.

Later, Sam got involved in Mayor Vince Anello's plan to put parking meters downtown. The move would no doubt usher more visitors to Pine Avenue's Little Italy district, where Fruscione has most of his business contacts. It's nice to see a councilman put tourism on the front burner. Now, Fruscione just needs to learn the merits of a phrase used often on the pages of this newspaper -- in the interest of full disclosure.

The Carcass goes to ... Mayor Vince Anello.


It would be nice if someone other than the mayor of the Cataract City won this award, but some things are just sure bets. Vince spent the past year mired in mess, as he has during the bulk of his tenure. The feds have set up permanent camp around City Hall. The people of LaSalle are ready for a tax revolt. Downtown business leaders are ready to sue over the parking-meter fiasco, and property assessments keep going up faster than Paris Hilton's skirt whenever the paparazzi start clicking.

The good news is that the mayor will soon have to run for re-election, and the people will have a chance to start anew. Maybe the next mayor will enjoy a post-holiday week carcass-free.

Congratulations to all of this year's Turkey Carcass Award winners. As always, we raise a wishbone in your honor and, clutching the big piece, wish all of you a future lived in total obscurity. Amen.

Frank Thomas Croisdale is a Contributing Editor at the Niagara Falls Reporter and author of "Buffalo Soul Lifters." You can write him at