Custom-Tailored B.S.

The PD gets fished on a fashion story.

Someone should help Plain Dealer fashion editor Evelyn Theiss remove the fish hook from her mouth.

In a June 11 story about Pen-E-Ventures, a Rocky River boutique, Theiss related that co-owner Debra Dixon, a onetime lawyer, got a taste of running the store while her mother recovered from surgery. Dixon "enjoyed it so much," wrote Theiss, "she decided to give up her legal practice."

Not quite.

Truth is, the Ohio Supreme Court disbarred Dixon last summer for allegedly filching $280,000 from a client's estate ("Off the Hook," May 28). According to the court, she allegedly took another $110,000 to lend to her brother, then charged the client $18,000 for her services.

Facing a lawsuit, Dixon later agreed to repay the dough. But that didn't placate the Supreme Court, which yanked her law license for "incompetence, neglect, dishonesty, and misrepresentation."

When Scene asked Dixon last month about her legal career, she brushed us off: "I don't want to talk about it." She apparently was far more loquacious with Theiss, who gushed that Dixon "had made a name as an attorney. She even argued a patent case before the U.S. Supreme Court and won." Punch bets she looked absolutely fabulous doing it.

But the would-be Sandra Day O'Connor left it all behind for the greater glory of hemlines and bodices. "Now, I am all about fashion," Dixon told the paper. "This is my life."

Black history lesson

Parma may seem an unlikely place for the making of black history, but former resident Angelo Purnell thinks otherwise. He says he may be the first person ever arrested for walking his dog.

The crime of dog-walking while black -- or DWWB, as it's known in legal circles -- is apparently Parma's latest strategy to keep out dark skin of the non-tanning-salon variety. On April 28, Purnell was led away in handcuffs for walking his pit bull/boxer mix in violation of the city's vicious-animal ordinance. Typically, such offenders are given a warning and asked to remove their pet from the city. In fact, neither law director Timothy Dobeck nor interim Police Chief Daniel Hoffman can remember another arrest for this crime.

But that didn't stop precedent-setting motorcycle cop James Manzo. According to Purnell, Manzo arrested him and threw him in a detox cell -- even though he'd been walking his dog past the police station for six months. Five hours later, Purnell returned to his apartment at Regency Towers to find it ransacked by officers, who were ostensibly searching for his ID. (Manzo was on medical leave and could not be reached for comment.)

It wasn't the first time Purnell ran afoul of the honky menace in Parma. He was once booted from the swimming pool of his apartment complex because the lifeguard refused to believe that he lived there.

Purnell and his lawyer, James Gay, believe that his civil rights were violated and have asked city officials to investigate. "I may be the first to get arrested for DWWB," he says, "but after this case goes to court, I sure hope I am the last."

Punch is proud to bring you another great milestone in black history.

Let 'em eat Shortcake

Layoffs and shutdowns saved American Greetings from bankruptcy, but thong underwear didn't hurt the cause either.

The Cleveland cardmaker, bleeding red ink from years of poor investments and lame greeting cards, notched a $243 million turnaround between 2001 and 2002. The good news just happened to coincide with the reemergence of the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake, classic American Greetings properties that have become the hottest in kitschy nostalgia.

"The resurgence of Strawberry Shortcake this time actually started with the older market," says Dave Polter of American Greetings. "Parents know these toys, so they're very quick to buy them." Kinky parents too. In addition to Strawberry Shortcake dolls and lunchboxes, licensees are targeting adults with T-shirts, pajamas, and underwear.

"When I first got it in, I sold it immediately. It was nuts," says Gayle Lewis, owner of the Green Tomato on Coventry, which stocks Shortcake and Care Bears clothing and accessories. Her hottest item: Strawberry Shortcake thongs. "I sell them all the time," she says. In July, the Cleveland Sheraton hotel will host the first-known Strawberry Shortcake convention.

Polter says the runaway success of Shortcake and the Care Bears leaves the door open for other vintage American Greeting characters to reemerge. Which means, yes -- Ziggy thongs could be here by Christmas.

Show them the money

With all the hot topics in Columbus these days -- slot machines, tort reform, concealed handguns -- lobbyists and corporate honchos are funneling Big Scratch into the hands of very receptive state legislators. An informal survey by Ohio Citizen Action turned up 109 fund-raising events this year alone.

But if you want to know how much money these guys are taking and who's greasing their palms, you're out of luck. While campaign finance reports were due last Friday, only those seeking reelection this year have to file them. Everyone else -- virtually the entire Statehouse -- can keep their bag money on the Q.T. until next January, which means you can't find out who bought what bill until the game's long over.

"By then, it only provides a historical context," says Citizen Action's Catherine Turcer. "It's not so relevant anymore." Just the way the legislature wants it.

God vs. gays

Joe Glover's favorite Cedar Point attraction is the one that soars hundreds of feet skyward, then turns homosexuals upside down.

As founder and president of the Family Policy Network of Virginia, Glover is charged with the weighty task of "confronting the culture on the moral issues of the day," as he puts it. So on June 15, the FPN chartered a plane to fly over Cedar Point during Gay Day, when hundreds of gays and lesbians gathered at the park. Glover's plane towed a banner bearing the message: "Jesus Christ -- Hope for" It refers to a website featuring testimonials from former homos who have converted to breederhood.

But it might have been prudent to save the charter fee. "I'm not aware that it even took place, so it must not have been that effective," park spokeswoman Janice Witherow says of the afternoon flyover. "It was a typical day in the park. It went without incident, as we certainly expected."

Glover himself may not be thoroughly convinced of his anti-gay plane's effectiveness. "After you see him make several loops," he admits, "you look to the person you're there with and say, 'Let's go get something to eat.'"