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By Frank Thomas Croisdale

In honor of the just-passed holiday, one that had many people desperately looking for the NFL Network on their satellite guide, we now pause to hand out the Seventh Annual Croisdale Turkey Carcass Awards. As most of you know, the Turkey Carcass is awarded to those who have embarrassed themselves publicly with criminal or blatantly outlandish behavior. The winners will be presented with a nearly picked-clean Thanksgiving turkey -- much like the one currently taking up roost in your refrigerator.

The first category: Hollywood celebrities (The Jacko Wacko Memorial Award).

Second runner-up: Kim Kardashian.

You've got to love America, especially if you're a Hollywood trust-fund baby who is famous just for being famous. Add K.K. to a long list that already includes Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie and Kimberly Stewart.

Kardashian, daughter of the late O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Kardashian, earned her fame the new Hollywood way -- by taking her clothes off. First she performed in an X-rated video with the little (in some ways) brother of pop star Brandy. Let's just say that her late loquacious father wasn't the only one in the family with polished oral skills. As an encore, she went full-frontal for "Playboy."

And people have the nerve to say that being born into money corrupts the young -- sheesh!

First runner-up: O.J. Simpson.

As Yogi Berra once so eloquently proclaimed, "It's deja vu all over again." Whoda thunk that after all of these years the major news networks once again would get to show close-up shots of a seemingly unfazed O.J. in a courtroom listening to testimony that might send him to prison for life?

Oh, the delicious irony for the Brown and Goldman families if the Juice is sent away for attempting to steal back items that once belonged to him. Memorabilia, by the way, that a court has ordered rightfully belongs to the Goldmans to satisfy the civil suit won against the one-time Bills great.

The only thing surer than an O.J. conviction is the fact that some cable network will offer a reality show to the highly entertaining former con-turned-memorabilia dealer Thomas Riccio.

The Carcass goes to ... Britney Spears.

As if there were any doubt. Even Ray Bradbury on acid couldn't have dreamed up a wilder sci-fi story than what the former queen of pop experienced in 2007.

Brit checked in and out of rehab at a pace that exhausted even Robert Downey Jr. She flashed more beaver than a Canadian trapper. Spears pulled off the first self-Sinead O'Connor in the history of barbering. Her kids were taken away and returned more often than a David Copperfield dove. She graced the MTV Video Awards Show with an uninspired routine that immediately had Jenny Craig calling to ask her to be their next spokesmodel.

To cap the year off, Spears faced being sent to jail on a hit-and-run charge. Voyeurs everywhere can hardly wait for 2008 to see what treats the trainwreck pop princess will bestow upon them.

Our second category: World leaders.

Second runner-up, First runner-up, and the Carcass goes to ... Idaho Sen. Larry Craig.

Considering that most people figure all leaders to be turkeys, we've shortened this category to honor a man who set a new low for behavior in a public washroom.

On June 11, 2007, Craig was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after he allegedly hit on an undercover police officer for gay sex in a bathroom stall.

As a result of the media coverage, Americans learned all sorts of facts about the solicitation of sex in semi-public areas, such as, the tapping of one's foot under the stall divider is a signal that "little Larry" needs some male attention, and waving one's hand, palm up, under the same divider is a more flagrant signal of the same deviant need. Maybe most horrifying is the fact that the term "cottaging" means something far more perverted than how your Uncle Milt and Aunt Sonya spent the bulk of last summer. It refers to men seeking out sexual encounters with other men in public restrooms. The term derives from the British habit of constructing public washrooms that resemble small cottages.

Silly me, I was under the delusion that public restrooms were only for when nature came calling. I suppose that if he were truthful, the closeted Craig would argue that it was nature calling him that fateful afternoon.

The third category: Sports figures.

Second runner-up: Will Geoghegan, manager of Cyclist Floyd Landis.

Who could have imagined that the fringe sport of long-distance cycling could be so salacious? If it wasn't wild enough that 2006 Tour de France winner Landis was in danger of being stripped of his title after he was accused of doping, Geoghegan came along and took the whole affair to a new Peyton Place level of incredibility.

At Landis' arbitration hearing, former multi-tour winner Greg LeMond testified that Geoghegan had threatened to disclose the fact that the cycling legend had been molested as a child, a secret that LeMond had once confided to Landis, if he testified on behalf of the prosecution. Geoghegan then admitted his culpability and apologized to LeMond in open court. He was fired on the spot by Landis' attorney.

With this type of drama, how long can it be before Mike Tyson hops on a Schwinn and enters the fray?

First runner-up: Marion Jones, Olympic track star.

Once upon a time, Jones was the darling of the Olympics. The three-time Gold Medalist could run like the wind and had a girl-next-door mug that looked great on the front of a box of Wheaties. Then whispers started that she might be juicing. Jones vehemently denied the rumors.

Finally, in October of this year, Jones buckled in the face of insurmountable evidence and admitted to using steroids prior to her incredible 2000 Olympic performances. Her January 2008 sentencing could net her up to six months in prison.

With all due respect to boxing fanatics, track may be the purest of sports, and Jones has harmed its integrity more than anyone this side of Ben Johnson.

The Carcass goes to ... Michael Vick, NFL quarterback and No. 1 on PETA's most hated list.

It's a simple story really: NFL superstar buys rural home with lots of property for underprivileged cousin. Cousin paints all sheds and barns on the property midnight black and fills them with pit bulls. Cousin then starts up nefarious dog-fighting ring and wagers on the brutal matches. Cousin kills losing dogs in all sorts of heinous ways while the blissfully ignorant Vick goes to sleep each night with a smile on his face as he thinks of his benevolence toward his needy kin.

At least that's the fairy tale Mike Vick was peddling until he pled guilty to federal felony charges of conspiracy in the case. He was dropped by all of his sponsors and ordered to repay the Atlanta Falcons $19.9 million of the signing bonus he had received.

The former superstar is now the butt of many jokes, none funnier than this one offered up by former Pittsburgh Steelers great Terry Bradshaw: "You know you're having a bad day when your dog would rather hang out with Michael Vick than with you."

The next category: Criminals.

Second runner-up: Kymberly Smith, Farmington, Conn.

And you thought Rush Limbaugh had a bad Vicodin habit. In January, Farmington police arrested Smith. She was accused of attempting to obtain the popular painkillers by presenting prescriptions made out in her dog's name. (For the record, her dog told police he scores his Vicodin on the street like everyone else.)

First runner-up: Zagory Harris and Taylor Kraus, Des Moines, Iowa.

Here's a lesson for all of you teenaged burglars out there: Pay attention in math class. If Harris and Kraus had done so, they might not have been arrested on charges of attempted robbery.

The two teens cooked up what they thought was a fool-proof plan. The ne'er-do-well duo began drilling a hole through the roof of a liquor store. Having slept through geometry class, the boys didn't take into account the building's overhang, and actually were drilling a hole to the sidewalk in front of the store.

To add insult to injury, a woman passing the store spotted the criminals and told them to get down immediately or she would call 911. The hoods complied and hopped down directly in front of a video surveillance camera.

The Carcass goes to ... Suzanne Marie Butts, Marshall County, Iowa.

Butts may not have been the most dangerous criminal arrested in 2007, but she was the most creative. People steal a whole bunch of things, but very few have been charged with stealing Butts' object of desire. Suzanne Butts was arrested for stealing -- wait for it -- toilet paper.

Police at a central courthouse noticed the TP was being used at a much higher rate than usual. The cops set up surveillance and busted Butts after an employee spotted her stealing three rolls of the soft, white stuff. Police are pretty sure that crack wasn't behind Ms. Butts' TP caper. The fifth-degree theft charge could bring jail time, but a judge might wipe her slate if she keeps her butt clean.

Our final category: Local turkeys.

Second runner-up: Michael Hadick, Village of Albion mayor.

Q: What's worse than being a sitting mayor and getting arrested for a DWI that involves a one-car accident?

A: Following that act up by having nude pictures of yourself surface on the Internet.

That's exactly what happened to the 38-year-old mayor of the small Orleans County township. Enraged town residents called for Hadick's immediate resignation. The mayor refused, stating of the nude pics, "That's my face on there. The rest of it I'm not sure of."

If a nearly 40-year-old man is unsure what his wedding tackle looks like, is he really suited to run a town?

First runner-up: Ed Shoemaker, Town of Somerset attorney.

According to Town Supervisor Richard Meyers, the small town of 2,800 at the eastern end of Niagara County has paid Shoemaker's firm over $800,000 in legal fees since January of 2005. Furthermore, Meyers states that Shoemaker made campaign donations to his opponent in the last election as well as to board members loyal to the longtime town council. Considering the fact that a town attorney is employed to do the bidding of the elected officials of the municipality, such a practice seems highly unethical.

The Carcass goes to ... Mayor Vince Anello and the merry Anello clan.


While the mayor has singlehandedly won this award for the past three years, this year he had a lot of help from his kooky kin.

Amid all the usual controversy that has surrounded Anello's soon-to-be-over tenure as mayor was the folly that spun around his attempt to remain on the ballot in the past election.

After failing to secure enough proper signatures to get on the ballot, the mayor went to court to try and backdoor his way into the election. Once that failed, he conceded defeat, but not before trying to strongarm raises for a whole host of cronies who have wasted the oxygen inside City Hall for the past four years.

In addition, Anello's family got in on the act. His daughter Vincenette was reportedly the person responsible for letting a bunch of hoodlums into the mayor's office after hours for a beer blast. Pictures from the unseemly soiree made their way onto the Internet and caused further embarrassment for a city already down on its luck.

The mayor's brother, Matteo, made headlines when he was arrested after going on a mad rant at a City Council meeting. With family like this, who needs enemies?

For the record, Vince Anello is not a bad guy. His love for this city is true, but as mayor he was in way over his head. May you enjoy retirement, Mr. Anello. It's got to be a whole lot better than what you've gone through for the past four years.

Congratulations to all of this year's Turkey Carcass Award winners. As always, we raise a wishbone in your honor and, clutching the big piece, wish all of you a future lived in total obscurity. Amen.

My good friend Ed Russo passed away Nov. 16. I wrote a premature eulogy on these pages for Ed back in September. I was unsure how he would take my request, but he warmed to it immediately. I'm told by his family that he carried the piece with him everywhere and was known to introduce it with the words, "I'm going to show you something that you've never seen before: a eulogy for a live man."

The experience taught me that if someone means a lot to you, tell them while they are still here to hear it. I'm saddened that Ed is gone, but grateful that he knew how much I loved him before he went to his just reward. RIP, old friend.

Frank Thomas Croisdale is a Contributing Editor at the Niagara Falls Reporter and author of "Buffalo Soul Lifters." He has worked in the local tourism industry for many years. You can write him at nfreporter@roadrunner.com.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Nov. 27 2007