The week begins with formal proof of one of modern life's absolute truths--videotaping felonies is always a good idea--illuminated today by the Associated Press report on David Hwang and Sheila Sikat, the Southern California newlyweds arrested last week after allegedly molesting kids aged as young as three in front of their video camera. The sordid saga kicked into high gear last Wednesday, September 3, when an anonymous tip compelled police to search Hwang and Sikat's Rancho Santa Margarita home, where cops say they found more than 100 videotapes and photographs of three- to nine-year-olds "being molested." Orange County authorities immediately arrested 32-year-old Hwang and 23-year-old Sikat (married just two months ago) on suspicion of an array of felonies, charging the pair on Friday with two counts each of using a minor for sex acts, with David Hwang receiving an additional 21 charges for allegedly performing lewd acts upon a child. Investigators say they haven't determined how the couple arranged the alleged meetings with the victims (who were reportedly distracted with video games and candy during the alleged assaults), while Hwang and Sikat's employer--Newport Beach's Pacific Life Insurance Company--says the alleged sick fucks have been placed on "administrative leave."


Speaking of sad facts: It's no secret that every hot new cultural development carries within it the seeds of its own destruction, typically manifested in increasingly debasing appropriations by mainstream America (and people selling things to mainstream America) and culminating in an image so contradictory, twisted, or flat-out wrong, it effectively ends an era. For mainstream hiphop, it was KFC's rappin' colonel. For "heroin chic," it was J.Lo's giant ass. For the "'90s punk revival," it was this Skyy Vodka ad ( And for "metrosexuals"--AKA heterosexual men who pay rigorous attention to fashion and personal grooming (hyped as a new social force last year in the New York Times)--it was today's "metrosexual exposé" in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Penned by Kristin Dizon, the P-I piece offers a veritable field guide to the mysterious metrosexuals--"They may be harder to spot on the street here than in New York or L.A., but we've got 'em," gushes Dizon, proving her point by tracking down two straight Seattle men who admit to having their eyebrows waxed. Still, Dizon's piece is not without its insights, the most entertaining of which focus on the reassuringly masculine euphemisms applied to inherently girly procedures: At Gene Juarez, women get a "spa" manicure, men receive a "sports" manicure; the women's combo package is called "Pure Bliss," the men's "Executive Retreat." Even better, Dizon's piece closes with some eternally wise advice, courtesy of Michael Flocker, author of the upcoming The Metrosexual Guide to Style, who recommends four basic musts for the would-be metrosexual: "high-quality underwear and socks, a good haircut, and getting rid of excess ear or nostril hair." Praise the Lord and pass the nostril clippers.

-- Speaking of men experimenting with their sexuality: Today the Archdiocese of Boston agreed to pay $85 million to settle more than 500 lawsuits from victims of sexual molestation by Roman Catholic priests--the biggest priestly-sex-abuse settlement in U.S. history (thus far). The Associated Press reports that today's settlement will be divvied up among the victims, with damages ranging from $80,000 to $300,000 based on the type of molestation, the duration of the abuse, and the injury suffered. (Ick.) Today's payout follows the Boston archdiocese's September 2002 settlement, which paid $10 million to 86 victims of recently iced Father John Geoghan, and precedes the Seattle archdiocese's September 2003 settlement, announced this Thursday, September 11, paying $7.87 million to 15 victims of gropy former priest James McGreal.


The week continues with a horrible story from Florida, where today police announced the arrest of a 19-year-old Daytona Beach man charged with armed carjacking, armed kidnapping, armed robbery, and armed sexual battery after allegedly accosting a young couple in a public park and raping the boyfriend at gunpoint. Police told the Associated Press that 19-year-old Lorue Frankline--wearing a T-shirt over the lower half of his face and armed with a handgun--woke up a 23-year-old woman and her 27-year-old boyfriend sleeping in the park early Tuesday morning. After demanding the woman's car keys, Frankline forced the man into a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass, tying the man's wrists with rope and blindfolding him before driving off. The man later told police that Frankline put the gun to his head and sodomized him, then took his ID and threatened to kill his family if he reported the crime. The woman ran from the park, flagged down a nearby city worker, and asked him to call the police. An hour after the kidnapping, investigators tracked down the jacked car, arresting Lorue Frankline and escorting the male victim to a rape crisis center. Police declined to release the identity of the couple, but agreed to release the heartbreaking detail that they'd been dating for a week.


Nothing happened today (unless you count the second anniversary of the worst day in modern American history).


Today announced itself with news of the long-expected, culturally momentous death of Johnny Cash, the American music icon whose five decades of unrelenting artistry (peppered with requisite binges on booze/pills/Jesus) ended today in Nashville as the 71-year-old Cash succumbed from diabetes-related respiratory failure. Today followed up with the entirely unexpected news of the freakishly sudden death of John Ritter, the American sitcom star who collapsed last night on the set of ABC's 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, dying at a hospital shortly thereafter from a previously undetected dissection of the aorta. Did today plan today's perversely synchronized death announcements, connecting forever in the collective cultural memory two men who had absolutely nothing to do with each other? Did Ritter's survivors feel that the media treated their loss like Dodi Fayed to Cash's Princess Di? Did Cash's survivors resent Ritter's intrusion upon what should have been a day of singular tribute? We may never know. But ironic mystery is at the heart of celebrity death, where mortal loss is followed by such a thrilling outpour of immaculately produced media tributes one almost can't wait for one's favorite celebrity to bite it. After enjoying 16 hours of brilliant Cash footage on E! and CMT and VH1, could we honestly claim to mourn the old, sickly man's death? Yes. RIP Johnny Cash, who taught the weeping willow how to cry, and got old better than anyone.


Happy birthday to "Miss Manners," Judith Martin (born on this day in 1938), late Gimme a Break star Nell Carter (1948), and Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine (1961).


Happy death-day to assassinated U.S. President William McKinley (who perished on this day in 1901), scarf-bedeviled dance legend Isadora Duncan (1927), and beloved star/American princess/ reckless driver Grace Kelly (1982).

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