WTF?!

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GOOD NEWS FOR YALE GRADS WITH A B.A. IN APPLIED LUNCH-PACKING

Are the inhabitants of the island of Manhattan evolving a subspecies too busy to pack its own suitcases? Lambent Services, a new personal assistant company, hopes so.



“It is our belief that because professional New Yorkers are so busy, it would be useful to have dedicated, flexible help with a variety of tasks that are considered onerous, boring, not fun or simply time-consuming,” Jill Glist, the company’s founder and president, tells prospective customers in a promotional letter. “If you want to lose weight, they can cook dishes, pack lunches and walk you to the gym.”



For $30 to $35 an hour, clients can choose from among Lambent’s more than 80 assistants, many of whom hold degrees from Yale, Glist’s alma mater, and other top tier schools like George Washington, New York University and the University of California at Berkeley.  Headshots of prospective assistants can be perused by possible employers at www.lambentservices.com. The PA’s majored mostly in the humanities: acting, literature and rhetoric, history, architecture, creative writing, fine arts. Overqualified? Sure, says Glist, but what’s new about that?



“A lot of PA’s are actors, or trying to pursue acting,” says Halle Petro, 29, who has been working part-time for Lambent Services for five months. Petro, a Syracuse grad, has been trying to make it as an actress in the city for eight years, which means her resume includes gigs as a tour guide, a full-time personal assistant and a personal shopper. “When you move to the city, and you’re trying to be an actor, it’s typical to wait tables. But you know, when you come here with a degree that’s worth $150,000, that’s not exactly what you want to be doing. I think this allows people like us to better use our instruments—meaning our brains.”



Petro describes the work she gets through Lambent as flexible and interesting. She has arranged flowers, filed insurance claims and organized a home office. While working for a SoHo artist in the midst of a move, she hired a marching band to play on the artist’s husband’s birthday. So far, Petro has worked for a TV personality, several writers and a handful of people in finance, who all have one thing in common: They hail from a very narrow slice of upper crust New York that’s what Glist calls “help-positive.”



Glist, the company’s founder and president, is finding that New Yorkers still balk at the idea of outsourcing chores, although it has long been a cultural norm on the other side of the country. “Los Angeles is where the personal assistant was born,” Glist says. Not surprisingly, Lambent Services’ newer LA branch is growing faster than the New York operation. “There’s a culture in Los Angeles of using, appreciating, valuing personal assistants, which is not true of New York, or of the East Coast in general,” Glist says. “The vast majority of people in New York City just are not considering the possibility of having a personal assistant, whether they can afford it or not.”



Glist has already made her service as affordable as possible. Now her task is to make it fashionable—as she puts it, “something for people to consider along with tangible items, like handbags, or clothes.”



GET YOUR FAKE I.D. AT THE NEW YORK PRESS, FOR $1 OFF THE \REGULAR PRICE.

CONTACT BECCA TUCKER FOR DETAILS.


There’s a booming black market for fake ID’s out there, and we want our piece of the pie. “Nearly 44 percent of high school students are drinking alcohol, and fake IDs are helping them do it,” said State Senator Jeff Klein, whose underage interns had no problem at all buying fake ID’s for $20 at photo shops in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. Klein wants it to end.



Best of luck, Senator. No matter how many resources you put toward the Sisyphusian task of busting each and every supplier, the black market will prevail until you tighten a few screws at the Department of Motor Vehicles. For $15, the DMV will issue anyone a “replacement” (read: duplicate) driver’s license or photo ID, no questions asked. There is no cap on number of replacements per person.



“Replacing a lost New York driver license or learner’s permit is a snap,” New York State DMV’s website explains. “Simply apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a duplicate license or permit and pay a $15 fee. You may do this online or by mail if your address hasn’t changed, or you may apply in person.”



To illustrate the glaringly obvious problem here, I biked over to the License Express—a streamlined DMV office only for license and registration issues—at 300 West 34th Street during lunch break with my passport and social security card. I filled out form MV-44, and got a slip with a number.



Twenty-four minutes after I’d walked in, Ms. Milden of Window Number Two handed me my temporary license, called me honey, and told me my new license would arrive at my apartment in two to three weeks. I’m 25, female, 5-foot4-inches, white. Let the bidding begin.

WTF?!

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THE SOUND OF ONE CLAP HANDING

Don’t be fooled by the idyllic charm of swans seen gliding along the surface of the Gowanus Canal. The notoriously polluted body was revealed to have another, uglier tenant: Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that causes the clap. Scientists, who published their findings in Scienceline, an NYU-based publication, said they were particularly interested in sampling the “fluorescent white gauze that lies near the canal’s bottom.” It is suspected that this pus-like substance indicates the presence of “a colonizing life form that adheres to the contaminated sediments.”



BEST SQUEAK EVER

John Lyles, 36, feared his squeaky boots would thwart his robbery attempt. So after crawling through the window of a Mt. Vernon home, he took them off. The family dog heard him anyway, and his growling scared off the would-be burglar. Lyles escaped empty-handed. Cops soon spotted him skulking barefoot around a nearby apartment building.



THAT MUST HAVE BEEN ONE HOT DREAM


The neighborhood knew him as Felix. He curled up at his usual nighttime spot on top of a cardboard box—in front of the Eglesia Christiana Betania Church on East 103rd Street near Lexington Avenue—and went to sleep. The next day he was found with second- and third-degree burns over 75 percent of his body and was taken to Cornell Hospital in critical condition. Cops were searching for the suspects, described by a witness as three teenage boys who doused his pants with gasoline and lit them on fire. Looking into a Channel 7 news camera, an East Harlem woman said no one deserved to be burned alive. “He was always drunk, screaming, but no one deserves that.”



WHO KNEW THERE WAS A HOTEL IN YONKERS?


Construction worker Carlos Ortez ventured deep into Yankees territory—Yonkers—wearing a Red Sox cap and jersey. When he went to a hotel bar and sat down to watch a Red Sox-Anaheim Angels game, someone asked him about his allegiance. He couldn’t deny it; he was a Red Sox fan. Two men from Pennsylvania caught up with him as he left and beat him severely.



THEY WERE LUCKY.  I HAVE TO PAY MY HOUSEKEEPER EXTRA TO CALL 911.


Since they were busy observing the Simchat Torah Jewish holiday, a Midwood, Brooklyn, family had to ask their housekeeper to dial 911 when they spotted a five-foot snake crawling up their driveway. Officials said it was a rat snake scouring Avenue M for breakfast. A pair of Emergency Service officers arrived and scooped up the serpent as neighbors watched.



SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE NAMED HIM BEFORE THE CHECK CLEARED


The going rate for a newborn baby is $25,000, the Queens District Attorney has learned. That’s because Yue Fan Chau, 36, was promptly arrested at New York Downtown Hospital after handing over her son, whom she had named Brian, to an undercover cop. Everything was arranged: She had falsified the birth certificate and was throwing in ultrasound photos and her doctor’s business card in exchange for the money, which included $5,000 in cash. Chau faces up to seven years of jail time for abandonment of a child, tampering with public records, endangering the welfare of a child and felony violation of the state’s Social Services Law.



NEXT TIME SOMEONE OFFERS TO MOVE YOUR CASH, JUST SAY NO


Frank Demedina, 44, was arrested in Atlantic City after assaulting a casino employee. Police, using his DNA and surveillance camera footage, linked him to a series of robberies in Midtown and Lower Manhattan. His and an accomplice’s modus operandi was to dress up as movers and walk into commercial buildings and then walk out with everything they could carry. They stole computers, office equipment and $17,310 in cash.

WTF?!

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AT LEAST HE WASN’T PRACTICING HIS SKEET SHOOTING

Noel Lauria, a 40-year-old insurance broker and amateur archer, missed the target he had set up on the terrace of his fourth-floor apartment on East 81st Street—three times. His first and second shots hit a building scaffold across the street. The third miss broke a woman’s window. Lauria pleaded guilty to felony reckless endangerment and avoided jail time.



PUTTING SOME SPIN ON THE BALLS


Cops busted a Chinatown brothel run out of the back of a pingpong parlor. The bordello reportedly used low, low prices and business cards emblazoned with a topless woman and the word “good” to lure students from a high school across the street. Students at Pace High School could call the number on the card and get the address of the Robo-Pong Training Center at 39 Eldridge St. Along with a place to play pingpong, courtesy of a spare table-tennis setup, customers found playing cards for sale that could be traded for sexual favors in the back. The cards cost as little as $35; the girls could then trade them back to their pimps for $15 each.



NOW AND FOREVER: DEAD CATS

David and Laraine Spivak of Canarsie like cats. So much so that they took in every stray they could find. And when the animals started getting sick, their waste stinking up the house and eventually the block, the Spivaks let the felines take over; they started sleeping in their car across the street. A neighbor’s 311 call prompted ASPCA officials to raid their amateur shelter, extracting 24 disease-ridden cats. Too sick to be put up for adoption, the felines were “humanely euthanized,” ASPCA spokesman Richard Gentles said.



GIRLS DON’T MAKE PASSES AT BOYS WHO BREAK GLASSES


A provocative—but mostly theoretical—research paper released by the Urban Institute blames the rise of the iPod for the nationwide crime surge of the past two years.   Davida Montano of Staten Island knows this all too well. A troublesome teen staying at Montano’s house allegedly swiped her son’s iPod. Seeking revenge, she confronted the bully at his grandparents’ home, ripped off his glasses and broke them in half, saying, “How much are these?” She confessed to all of this, but denied using the pieces to stab the 19-year-old thief, leaving a “gaping hole” in his chest, as the boy, Joseph Applebaum, claimed in court papers. Montano faces assault, harassment, criminal mischief and weapons charges. The victim’s grandma said he had it coming to him: “I threw him out after he got stabbed,” she said.  “Everyone thinks that’s cruel. But you know what? He’s no good.”



NOR WOULD POLICE CONFIRM THAT ONE PLUS ONE DOES NOT EQUAL 17.


A ninja-like burglar continued to terrorize Staten Island, although there were questions about whether the latest burglary was committed by a copycat.   This one broke into a Todt Hill home early last week, but skulked off when a woman in the house shrieked, “He’s here!” A few days later, Steven Okrepka, of Castleton Corners, was working in his basement at 3:30 a.m. when he spotted a man who fit the ninja’s description crossing his yard. Okrepka grabbed a baseball bat and went to get help from his neighbors, but when he returned the thief had already broken into the house and absconded with $400. Police would not confirm whether this was the borough’s 17th ninja attack.

WTF!?!

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A CONSPIRACY TO BLOW UP EVERYONE IN NEW YORK NAMED MOHAMMED?

A cabbie finishing up his day parked near Rockefeller Center at the end of his workday. He saw smoke rising from his dashboard, leapt from the car and then watched as it burst into flames. No one was hurt, and a Taxi and Limousine Commission spokesman insisted that cabs are among the safest cars on the road. A fire department spokesman said that this type of thing happens all the time.  He was right: two days later, it happened again, this time on Eighth Avenue, just north of 42nd Street. Again the driver smelled something funny and saw smoke. He ordered his passengers out of the cab, then bailed after parking in front of a comedy club. Both cabs were Ford Crown Victorias, known for a design flaw that causes overheating.



AT LAST, A STORE WHERE CUSTOMERS LIKED THE LONG LINES


Until recently, the Fiesta Meat Market in Washington Heights let customers buy cocaine along with the bologna and provolone. Cops busted the $4 million-a-year operation after undercover officers bought the narcotic at least 24 times, directly from the deli counter. Along with 25 suspects, police rounded up $175,000 and 4.5 kilograms of coke.



MAYBE HE JUST LIKED SLIDING DOWN POLES


Fire buff Ronald Deshields liked to ride on fire trucks, bringing along his own helmet, radio, rope and harness and other gear.  But he wasn’t a probationary fireman, as claimed; he was, in fact, a parolee, having served four years for impersonating a security officer, among other crimes. His firehouse colleagues first suspected something when they learned his age was 33; the cutoff to join the department is 29. They confirmed their hunch when they checked the caller ID on his radio, which had been pilfered from a firehouse in Bushwick. All this was revealed when he was arrested for burglary in Bay Ridge.



HE ONLY OWNED UP TO THE CUM STAINS


After being pulled over for a missing license plate, Lawrence Ubell told

police the vomit on his kilt wasn’t his. The man, who had bloodshot eyes and was driving a 2002 Honda, claimed sobriety, although a breathalyzer said otherwise. Ubell, 48, was arrested and charged with DWI.



FUNNY…WHEN MY WIFE SHOOTS ME IN THE LEG, I GET ANNOYED


Jonathon Aponte turned out not to be the battle-hardened Iraq War vet he claimed. He had said the smell of burning flesh and nightmares of “screaming, gunshots [and] explosions” was too much for the 20-year-old Bronx resident to bear. It seems he paid a hitman $500 for a gunshot wound to the leg that would save him from what he said were the “horrors” of combat. In fact, said Bronx Assistant District Attorney James Cudden, “Aponte worked in a warehouse that stocked helicopters.” Aponte was cleared of felony perjury charges and instead pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of false reporting. The same cannot be said for his wife, who was a co-conspirator—and the shooter. Both face felony

assault charges.



NEWS FROM THE ART WORLD: PETER MAX NOW NAMES ESCAPED COWS FOR A LIVING


After an hour spent chasing a cow named Maxine across a busy intersection and through the residential streets of Queens, and following  a short stay at Animal Care and Control in Manhattan before her final trip to her current home

upstate, no one could answer the question: Where did she come from? A tab in her ear said something about an abattoir—that she escaped from one, or was headed to one. But authorities couldn’t confirm this. The cow was originally called Queenie, but was renamed Maxine after the artist Peter Max.  She now lives in an animal sanctuary in Watkins Glen.

WTF?!

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BANG THE DRUM EVEN MORE SLOWLY…PLEASE!

 The crack of a breakdancer’s snare drum terrified a carriage horse named Smoothie. Smoothie dashed from her carriage, which was parked near Central Park South. The spooked mare charged another horse and a tree before collapsing dead on the street. This, just as the city issued a report saying carriage horses are often mistreated, as WTF!? reported last week. The Horse and Carriage Association of New York said buskers shouldn’t be allowed to perform so close to horses; the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages said that was beside the point.



FIRST RULE OF POT DEALING: DON’T STORE YOUR STASH WHEN YOU’RE STONED

Roger Golden, a drug smuggler who had previously flown to Thailand, Mexico and Turkey packing pot, landed in New York 18 months ago after serving a 13-year prison stint. He stored 35 pounds of product at the Manhattan Mini Storage in Chelsea. Unfortunately, that turned out to be next door to the new headquarters of the NYC branch of the Drug Enforcement Agency. The smell resulted in a warrant, and agents finally found his stash in a cardboard box labeled with his name and address. “The only thing he didn’t do was walk in, surrender and go to our jail,” the local DEA chief said.



COPS GIVE WAITRESS AN EXTRA TIP


A Brooklyn waitress cried as she told a courtroom her story of the November night in 2005 when two police officers pulled her over for an illegal U-turn, then followed her home and molested her. Her nephews and brother and daughters slept in the other room while she was told to “put it in [her] mouth.” One of the alleged molesters faces 15 years in prison, if convicted; the other has already pleaded guilty.



LADIES, IF YOUR BOYFRIEND BRINGS A LEAD PIPE TO DINNER WITH MOM, IT’S A WARNING SIGN


Crown Heights resident Marie Luzincourt—whose ex-boyfriend was arrested for murdering her mother—is apparently given to understatement. “We have family trouble,” she said. But the alleged killer, a Haitian native, claims he was acting in self-defense: The woman he beat with a lead pipe and left to die on a bathroom floor had threatened to hex him with charmed voodoo dust. However, friends and neighbors described the 61-year-old victim as a church-going woman, and insist she was not a witch.



NO WONDER COPS CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY FOR SEX

The NYPD’s Operation Impact—in which new recruits are dispatched to the city’s toughest neighborhoods—is being threatened by high dropout rates. A recent study credited Impact with helping to reduce the murder rate to an all-time low, but the exodus rate from cop school was up to almost 15 percent this year, reportedly due to the low salary. “All your patriotism goes out the window when you can’t pay the rent,” said a former recruit who now makes more money working at a shoe store.



MORE NEW YORKERS GOT HAMMERED LAST WEEK THAN EVER BEFORE


A cabdriver in Lower Manhattan—perhaps nostalgic for the taxi strike—refused to pick up an off-duty fireman, 30-year-old Sean Owen. Owen spit on the cabbie’s windshield, then attacked the driver and was arrested for misdemeanor assault. The cabbie, who was treated for swelling and minor cuts, was lucky: Other alleged criminals this week used a machete, a hammer and fireworks to attack or threaten their victims.



IF YOU’RE WALKING AROUND HUNTS POINT AND SNIFFING, YOU’VE GOT WORSE PROBLEMS THAN THIS


Wandering around the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, you might smell something sweet, smoky, earthy, metallic, acidic, oily or like mothballs. Those are the “almond-like” odors. Or a “sulfidic” odor, which is yeasty, fruity, putrid, fecal, buttery or honey-like. If it’s rubbery, sooty, fried chicken- or coffee-like, or chemical, then it’s “alcohol-like.” Some blame the meat and fish markets in the area for the funny scents that plague it, although no one can say for sure.

WTF?!

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Has anyone seen Chuck Norris lately?

The ninja breached the house, stirring the homeowner. The ninja wielded nunchuks; the homeowner, a butcher knife. The ninja dealt blows to the homeowner’s head and body but was stabbed; the knife was sunk “in up to the hilt” before the ninja escaped. It was the ninja’s 14th home invasion; no one knows where he is.



Club Stereo manager’s note to self: keep cash in sock.


Police did not catch the thief or thieves who cut a hole in a roof on West 29th Street. Seeking money, the burglars found it in the safe in the manager’s office at Club Stereo. Employees arrived for work at 10 p.m. the next day. The safe had been “drilled open,” and $29,000 in cash was gone. In addition to drills, chainsaws were used.



The eBay price of your AC/DC T-shirt just went up.


New York State will permit Consolidated Edison to replace Direct Current electricity with Alternating Current electricity, thus jolting into the 21st century the five remaining New Yorkers who still use Edison’s invention. The State also said the utility could raise rates and charge more for power—more than it ever has before. The Public Service Commission was not pleased and sought to cut the $1.2 billion rate hike to about $600 million. That would mean only a 10 to 12 percent increase in April 2008.



Breaking News: the United Nations isn’t wrong about something.

A few weeks ago a Brooklyn woman was told she had viral meningitis. She had headaches, fever and muscle pain, and a misdiagnosis. The West Nile Virus was the real culprit, and the woman, 41, was resting at home. Officials said the bug—and the bug’s bug—probably bit her while she was traveling abroad; most New York City mosquitoes that carry the virus are from Queens, not Brooklyn. And the Iraqi phosgene found at the United Nations turned out to be a “commercial solvent” of unknown identity—not an ingredient for a deadly nerve gas. A UN official said, “ We have to assume the worst. I don’t think we were wrong in that sense.”



Evidence mounts that babies, cocaine and loaded guns don’t mix.

Along with a loaded gun and ammunition, cocaine and cocaine accouterments, cops raiding a Bed-Stuy apartment found, stuffed in a shoebox, a squirming baby. Roaches crawled over everything. The 4-day-old girl was the raid target’s niece. Police arrested the gangster, who had a long rap sheet, and took the girl to the hospital. The criminal complaint for child abuse cited a lack of formula and diapers.



Laurel Touby, your boa has been found!


A snake’s appearance in Central Park led the Parks Commissioner to make an observation. “This has been our week for the wild kingdom. First we had the sharks at Rockaway Beach. Then, the raccoon attack at Prospect Park. Today, it’s the boa,” said Adrian Benepe, referring to the six-foot Boa Constrictor spotted trapped in an outcropping of rock. Likely an abandoned pet, the snake was rescued by police and taken to the Animal Care and Control facility.



Man calls God, gets wrong number, dies.

A policeman’s Taser interrupted a man’s conversation with God. Standing on the 17th balcony of a Flatbush apartment building just before dawn, four officers tried to coax him down before using non-lethal force. He fell to his death. Police told reporters he was disturbed. And a man blamed the spill of a hot cup of coffee when he lost control of his car and killed an elderly woman in Greenlawn. A drug test later revealed that he had had marijuana with his breakfast.



And we all thought those carriage horses looked so happy!

Carriage horses often face conditions tantamount to abuse. So said a first-of-its-kind report, conducted by the city comptroller’s office, of how the city enforces regulations on the carriage horse industry. The hot asphalt overheats them, lack of water dehydrates them, and poor drainage systems force them to loiter in their own waste. “Central Park South is a spectacular thoroughfare, but it was never set up for horses,” said the report’s lead investigator.

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