The week begins with a thrilling Hot Tip from northwestern Washington's Whidbey Island. That's where Hot Tipper Rick had parked his truck when it was ransacked by a window-smashing thief. "They took the stereo and a bunch of CDs," reports the unlucky victim. But tragedy soon turned to triumph as Rick discovered among the glassy shards a vial containing several small white chunks and two pills. "The thief must have dropped his stash," says Rick, who quickly disposed of the cracklike chunks, then whisked the mystery pills home to his computer. When a simple Internet search revealed the pills to be the freakishly powerful painkiller Dilaudid, Rick and his girlfriend decided to make the best of a bad situation and happily popped their car-theft consolation prizes. "It was," Rick says, "the best vacation I've had in years." Congrats to the victims-turned-victors, and hurrah for a universe that, on rare occasions, balances itself out so justly.


For years, Seattle resident Anthony Ercolano, 44, has enjoyed his status as the Mariners' most vociferous fan, bellowing out zingy putdowns of the M's opposition from his $32,000 fifth-row seats behind Safeco Field's home plate. But in May, Ercolano was told by Mariners Executive Vice President Bob Aylward to pipe down or give up his Diamond Club seats, and today, Ercolano filed a lawsuit against the Mariners, charging the team with violating his freedom of speech and possibly breaching his season-ticket contract. According to the Seattle Times, Anthony Ercolano, a former Microsoft employee who has missed fewer than 15 Mariners games in four seasons, adheres to a strict moral code in his sideline shenanigans: no foul language, no taunting players about low batting averages, and no insulting a player's family. But that's not enough to appease Mariners bigwigs, who have adamantly defended their authority to protect Diamond Club members from "the heavy, incessant volume of noise created by Mr. Ercolano." Filed today in King County Superior Court, Ercolano's lawsuit asks that the Mariners be prevented from ejecting him from a game or revoking his season tickets, and seeks "unspecified monetary damages."


It all began around 10:50 this morning, when the driver of a Route 42 Metro bus phoned his superiors to report a fight between passengers on his Rainier Valley-to-Downtown bus. After pulling over at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Myrtle Street, the driver opened the doors and evacuated his passengers, including those involved in the altercation. But one rider--21-year-old Courvoisier Carpenter--stayed on and freaked out, banging on the walls and windows, and inspiring the leery bus driver, a 15-year Metro veteran, to join his passengers on the sidewalk. That's when freaky Mr. Carpenter (who was NOT a participant in the aforementioned bus rumble) jumped behind the wheel and sped away, taking the 30,000-pound bus for an extremely violent three-and-a-half-mile joyride down MLK Way and through a residential South Seattle neighborhood, eventually smashing to a stop against a stone retaining wall before being taken into custody by Seattle police. Among the victims of Carpenter's Metro rampage were eight smashed cars and six injured citizens, including two who remain in serious condition at Harborview. Courvoisier Carpenter remains in police custody while awaiting charges on a variety of life-ruining felonies.

·· Also today: A federal grand jury in Seattle indicted former Central District community activist James Ujaama for allegedly plotting to set up an al Qaeda training camp in southern Oregon. According to the Seattle Times, the seven-page indictment charges that Ujaama conspired to "provide training, facilities, computer services, safe houses, and personnel" to Osama bin Laden's international terrorist network, and alleges that Ujaama discussed plans to commit armed robberies, to build underground bunkers for storing weapons, to manufacture biological weapons, and to firebomb vehicles. Currently being held at a detention center in Alexandria, VA, Ujaama faces up to 25 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.


Tonight brought the live-from-Radio City Music Hall broadcast of MTV's 2002 Video Music Awards, and, as always, the results were eminently gawk-worthy. Among the highlights: an impressively intergenerational guest list (including such awe-inspiring oldsters as James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, and Rudy Giuliani) and a handful of brilliant performances, from the ferociously lovable Hives to the guilty pleasure of Shakira to the sheer surrealism of watching the White Stripes receive an award from the Olsen twins. Among the lowlights: the multitudinous props to God, particularly Mary J. Blige's near-pornographic onstage prayer service (in flagrant violation of Ms. Blige's well-publicized anti-drama ordinance), and the presentation of several awards to No Doubt that by all rights should have gone to Pink. (Readers unable to make the distinction between the disposable pop trash of Gwen Stefani and the vital pop art of Pink are directed to Last Days' explication at But the night's prize turkey was none other than Michael Jackson, who was brought onstage at the top of the show by 2005's Playboy Centerfold of the Year, Britney Spears. Introducing Jackson as "the artist of the millennium," Spears presented His Sickness with a birthday cake and a novelty trophy shaped like a musical note. Unfortunately, the chronically deluded Jackson seemed to believe he was actually receiving an award, responding with a heartbreakingly heartfelt acceptance speech: "When I was a little boy in Indiana, if someone had told me that one day I'd be getting the Artist of the Millennium award, I wouldn't have believed it," Jackson told the baffled crowd. As well he shouldn't: Tomorrow, MTV will confirm that there is no Artist of the Millennium award, explaining the gaffe as a result of poor communication and general misunderstanding. (This bet's almost too obvious to be sporting, but 50 bucks says Jackson ends his twisted life by December 18, 2002.)

Speaking of superstars: Tonight brought the triumphant return of Pizzazz!, The Stranger's third annual citywide talent show, held once again on the glamorous Biringer Farm Bagley Wright stage at Bumbershoot. Unfolding before a screaming, packed-to-the-rafters crowd, this year's Pizzazz! was everything we dreamed The Stranger's talent show might one day be: a spicy conglomeration of grade-A talent, from artsy bands and a cappella singers to sharp sketch comedians and musical flea trainers, with the greatest glory bestowed upon singularly talented freaks. Among this year's STFs were dancer Pepe Quick, whose quadruple-jointed gyrations earned roof-raising applause from the audience and third place from the judges, and Bones Bironne, whose single-Pip lip-synch of "Midnight Train to Georgia" earned him a well-deserved second place. But the night's highest honor went to James Burchfield--a.k.a AudioPoet--a mind-blowingly inventive and agile human beatbox, who walked away with a slew of prizes and nearly 800 passionate new fans. Thanks to all who attended, and love to all who competed. Look for a star-is-born profile of AudioPoet in an upcoming issue of The Stranger.

Nothing happened today.

Nothing happened today, either (unless you count TNT's 24-hour Law & Ordermarathon, which, sadly enough, we do).

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