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Defining Fellatio 

A new mystery confronts Ohio.

Like flossing and mowing the lawn, fellatio would seem one of those acts that's pretty easy to define. Except, apparently, in Ohio -- which may be why the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could finally determine what qualifies as oral sex.

Two years ago, a Medina County jury convicted John Shondrick of rape for allegedly rubbing his penis across the mouth of his step-granddaughter, who is blind, deaf, and mute. Police arrested Shondrick after the girl's older sister claimed she witnessed the offense, though her mother walked into the house seconds later and saw nothing illicit.

During their deliberations, jurors -- evidently uncertain about the older sister's account -- asked the judge whether fellatio could occur even if physical contact doesn't. Judge Christopher Collier, citing an obscure 1987 ruling, replied that fellatio "doesn't require contact or touching, merely physical [stimulation]." Shondrick got nine years.

But in overturning his conviction last year, the Ninth District Court of Appeals disagreed. It has ruled in three cases that fellatio must involve contact -- a notion considered common knowledge to anyone familiar with the birds and the bees. In fact, so obvious is the concept that only one state -- Delaware -- has bothered to spell out what fellatio is.

Cleveland lawyer Gary Eisner, who's representing Shondrick, calls Collier's definition ludicrous. "If a man was staring at a woman's mouth and he got aroused, that would be fellatio, and he'd be committing rape," Eisner says.

Nonetheless, the Medina County prosecutor's office has appealed. The Supreme Court will hear the case in June.

Jay cleans up

It's been six months since deputies raided Ohio City's Jay Hotel and arrested 12 people on outstanding warrants and drug charges ("Chuck's Last Stand," December 11, 2002). The sweep was prompted by complaints from neighbors, who claim that the hotel is a wide-open market for dope and prostitution.

All 12 skipped their court dates, which is the upside of being transient: It's easy to make yourself scarce. But eight were eventually rounded up, and last week deputies returned to the flophouse to make "a little splash" and search for the remaining fugitives, says Lt. David Bartko, who runs the sheriff's narcotics unit. "We wanted to make the residents feel that we haven't forgotten them, which we haven't," he says slyly.

Jay owner Chuck Minadeo wasn't thrilled to see deputies the last time around -- as evidenced by signs posted around the hotel, seeking residents who had been mistreated by deputies for a possible lawsuit. Yet Minadeo apparently did get the message. This time around, deputies didn't make a single arrest. "I don't want to say they cleaned it up," says Bartko, "but they do seem to be more mindful of who's living there."

That doesn't mean Minadeo can rest easy. Deputies will charge in again if they hear something's up, Bartko says. And since neighbors are adamant that the Jay should be shuttered, don't think Bartko's phone won't be ringing.

Buying Bob

It's a simple strategy, but oh so effective. Donate big bucks to Governor Taft. Then complain to your new pal Bob that "bureaucratic red tape" is needlessly hurting your company, which happens to be an integral part of The Economy. Next thing you know, you're getting your way.

This perhaps explains the Guv's desire to cut by half the number of Ohio plants requiring special air-pollution permits. The permitting process is the only chance for neighbors to raise hell, question the plant's claims, and push for changes. In Sandusky County, for example, it allowed activists to reduce smokestack emissions at a new magnesium smelter, says Teresa Mills of the Buckeye Environmental Network.

But without the process, the plant must deal only with the Ohio EPA, the noted houseboy of heavy industry.

Taft's strategy seems cribbed from the Dick Cheney Handbook on Energy Policy. The changes -- surprise! surprise! -- were based on recommendations from the EPA's permit-processing committee. And while the committee has plenty of bureaucrats (seven), it's stocked with industry lobbyists (10) and business fat cats (34). It doesn't have a single environmental or community activist.

"It's the usual fox watching the henhouse," says Catherine Turcer, of Ohio Citizen Action.

Now it just so happens that committee members, the companies they represent, and their PACs contributed a cool $2.9 million to Ohio politicians from 1999 to 2002, according to Citizen Action. The biggest recipient: Governor Bob, naturally, who raked in $311,504. Members of Ohio's General Assembly, who have final say on the plan, did pretty well too: House Speaker Larry Householder took in $111,808.

"I would be surprised if this plan didn't get approved," Mills says. "Dirty dealings behind closed doors usually make it through the legislature just fine."

Entourage of one

The 2002-'03 Cavaliers were deficient in many areas, including the flash of the players' entourages. On some nights, one or two cell-phone brandishing fellows constituted Ricky Davis's entire crew. Rookie Carlos Boozer is married, and wives are entourage killers. Chris Mihm? Forget it.

But what Smush Parker's posse lacked in size, it made up for in dedication. Night in, night out, Charles Devine kept a watchful eye on his cousin, often wearing the only custom Smush jersey in the stadium.

In many instances, entourages bring out the worst in the celebrity they attend. But Devine seemed a steadying influence. He talked Smush out of getting a tattoo. He also kept watch on his cousin's game. "I keep reminding him that his assist-to-turnover ratio is not very good," says Devine, who took courses at Tri-C while Parker was at practice.

The native New Yorkers shared an apartment downtown, but theirs was hardly a glamorous life. They didn't even have a car. Teammate Jumaine Jones gave them rides to Tops.

Smush had a one-year contract, so there's no guarantee he'll be back next year. But the cousins will remain in Cleveland this summer. Smush, Devine says, wants to show the Cavs he's committed to becoming a better player. And Devine hopes to earn enough credits to play for Tri-C's basketball team next winter.

Never trust the media

Conventional wisdom says that we in the media are lying corporate scum. If you're still unsure of this basic truth, look no further than the Tri-State Defender, Memphis's leading black newspaper.

Since 1995, the Defender has published 142 stories by one Larry Reeves, a writer with a gift for delivering powerful tales of injustice and racism throughout the South. Reeves's lengthy, well-researched pieces must have seemed a bonanza to Defender editors, since they obviously took weeks of legwork, and the paper doesn't even pay its writers. The mastery that is Larry Reeves's would simply arrive via e-mail, and editors would publish the articles verbatim. At least that's the paper's story.

But what readers didn't know was that Reeves was working an impressive plagiarism racket. His scam: Take stories from papers around the country, change the locales and names and -- presto! -- a story about police corruption in, say, Oakland, was now a saga of malfeasance in Nashville.

Scene had two stories ripped off. Both -- the tale of a teenager who killed his father and a piece about a woman whose kids were taken by DCFS -- mysteriously occurred in the exact same way, in the exact same words, down South, according to the Defender.

It remains to be seen whether editors were in on the scam, or whether they're just really, really stupid. Tom Picou, president and CEO of the paper's parent company, told the Memphis Flyer that he believes Reeves is an 80-year-old white guy, but he hasn't spoken to him since 1996. Nor does he know where Reeves lives. Nor is he certain if Reeves actually exists. Apparently, Picou and his staff never bought into that whole fact-checking concept.

Beer Shower for Slider

After a White Sox fan jumped an umpire last week, Major League Baseball beefed up security to protect players, coaches, and umps from the drunk and disorderly. But Punch wonders what they're doing to protect that most inviting target: the mascot.

Last Wednesday, Slider, the Indians' politically-correct-yet-anatomically-ambiguous mascot, was taking his usual between-innings lap around the Jake. It was the night after the Chicago attack, and security was ultra-vigilant. But as Slider maneuvered his scooter beneath the left field bleachers, a fan leaned over and dumped a beer on him.

The lesson: No matter what measures are taken to deter him, the ingenious drunk cannot be thwarted.

The question: Why would anybody waste a perfectly good beer on a mascot?

Scene Pavilion

House of Blues announced this week that it has changed the name of Nautica Pavilion to Scene Pavilion as part of a new partnership between the concert promoter and the magazine. The renaming is the culmination of last year's $5 million refurbishing of the 4,800-seat outdoor facility on the west bank of the Flats, which is owned by Jacobs Investments. Among the early bookings scheduled for this summer are Nora Jones, Mushroomhead, and Aretha Franklin.

"Scene has been covering entertainment in Cleveland for more than 30 years, and every week we put 100,000 copies on the street," says Ramon Larkin, publisher of this here rag. "So the new Scene Pavilion is a natural fit for both of us."

House of Blues, based in Los Angeles, operates clubs and promotes concerts across America, and is the sole promoter of concerts at the amphitheater.

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