Paul Hackett, a Marine Reserves major who recently returned from Iraq, has garnered national attention for his long-shot bid to become the first Iraq war vet to win a congressional seat. He's running against Republican Jean Schmidt, a former state legislator, in a district that hasn't elected a Democrat since 1966. (The election was held Tuesday as Scene was going to press.)
Last week, one of Schmidt's campaign consultants, Eric Minamyer -- who served as a Navy captain in the Middle East -- questioned Hackett's military bona fides. "I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all," Minamyer wrote at an internet site. "Let's just not act as though we led marines in combat if we did not, okay."
Of course, Minamyer never actually bothered to research the matter. Nor did he abide by The People's Definition of Bravery: If you even show up in a country where people are trying to smoke your ass, we're pretty sure you're brave.
Minamyer was forced into hasty retreat when Hackett appeared on local TV to describe commanding a convoy that was attacked -- and carrying the photos to prove it.
"That counts as combat," Minamyer grudgingly admitted.
As for Schmidt, she once battled a nasty cold to a standstill.
Denny, you dog!
Punch's love for West Side Congressman Dennis Kucinich is no secret. Between bankrupting Cleveland, his aversion to work, and a run for president that made every Ohio Democrat cringe, the guy's a walking punch line. A quick search of our archives reveals 97 articles devoted to him. Sometimes we make fun of him four times in one issue.
So, when we heard Kucinich got himself engaged to wife No. 3, Brit think-tank thinker Elizabeth Harper, we thought we'd show our gratitude for providing so much comedic material over the years. Punch checked online bridal registries at Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and Target, but came up empty.
It's not like we could just leave a spice rack at his Lakewood office. He hasn't been there since 1954. So we decided to call his Washington headquarters.
"Uh, hi," said Punch. "Could you tell me where Kucinich is registered? You see, we have this spice rack and --"
Spokesman Doug Gordon interrupted: "The congressman considers it a gift enough just to have Scene magazine continue to make fun of him every chance they get."
Ah, yes. Now there's a gift that just keeps on giving.
Denny's score, part II
Though Punch is happy that Kucinich found a new sweetheart, we're a little perplexed by what Lady Harper sees in the strange little congressman. After all, if Kucinich placed a personal ad, it would read something like this:
Flaming narcissist, 4 foot 2, 87 pounds, Disneyesque in appearance with clinical delusions of grandeur, seeks third-string arm candy who enjoys talking about me, taking long walks on the beach while talking about me, and outdoor activities that include talking about me. Send photo, current bank balance, and 15,000-word essay on me to . . .
So Punch spent a fine evening on West Sixth Street, posing that most pressing question to passersby: Who could possibly want to marry Kucinich?
· Joe, a 31-year-old Lakewood resident and longtime Kucinich fan, had only one question about the congressman's sweetie: "Is she blind or stupid?"
· Anne, a 32-year-old saleswoman from Cleveland, was kinder: "He's totally not hot. I don't know why anyone would marry him . . . My dad's 51, and he's a hell of a lot sexier than him."
· Tom, a 23-year-old recent Cleveland State grad, had this advice: "Tell him not to do it. Tell him to find a nice Irish girl instead. British women bring men down." (Tom, incidentally, is from Ireland.)
· Amanda, a 21-year-old from Shaker Heights, expressed disbelief that the congressman was getting married at all. "I wouldn't expect him to be the marrying type," she said.
"I didn't know elves got married."
A recent study by Forbes.com shows Cleveland moving up in the world. In its 2005 Best Cities for Singles rankings, Denver finishes first, followed by Boston and San Francisco. But Cleveland came in at a relatively impressive 28th out of 40 cities listed. That's a herculean jump from last year's finish at 33.
The problem: Taking singles advice from a business magazine is like getting mutual-funds counsel from Topless Skank Monthly. Proof of Forbes' inexperience wooing the opposite sex is on full display this year. It ranks Cleveland's nightlife ninth, ahead of Miami, Boston, New Orleans, and -- get this -- Vegas.
Lacey Rose, who helped compile the rankings and hasn't had a date since 1983, when she traded playful quips on the bond market with a cute guy at T.G.I. Friday's, refuses to back down from the numbers, reminding Punch that nightlife rankings include the entire metro area, not just downtown. After all, you know what they say: What happens in North Royalton . . .
What's that smell?
Andrew Marcis was enjoying his daily stroll through beautiful Lakewood Park. The late-morning sun blazed high in the sky over placid Erie waters. Seagulls played tag overhead like restless schoolchildren. The serene quiet was broken only by birds chirping in harmony.
Marcis walked down a path along the water to a little crescent beach, which offers a breathtaking view of the downtown skyline. He took a deep breath as he stared out across the horizon, filling his lungs with the sweet smell of . . . feces?
Marcis was disgusted to see gallons of raw sewage gushing from a drainage pipe into the lake. "I saw human waste and pads flowing into a stagnant, black encrusted holding area about the size of a pool table, and then flowing over in a little stream right into the lake," he says. "Trust me, it's as bogus as I say it is."
Tony Beno, Lakewood's director of public works, assures us that bong hits hadn't affected Marcis' vision. Apparently a sewer became clogged, sending all sorts of shit flowing into the lake. "It's pretty nasty stuff," says Beno. But he assured us that the city would respond immediately if it happens again. Still, the problem won't be fixed until 2010, when Lakewood will overhaul its sewer system.