By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Truth is stranger than Crusty
When Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey circus was in town recently, you might have noticed that the major attraction touted on billboards and obligingly covered in The Dallas Morning News was Uberclown David Larible.
"I am a clown on a mission," Larible says in the circus program. "I want people to experience the joys of falling down first-hand."
But Larible seemed to have a somewhat different mission in mind during his 7:30 p.m. performance August 8.
Part of Larible's schtick is involving the audience by inviting members into the ring to participate in skits. Each group Larible chooses from the audience always includes a comely woman. The clown then goes for big yucks by flirting, hugging, and mugging--you know, stuff that in any other milieu would get you slapped with a lawsuit quicker than you can say "hubba-hubba."
At this particular performance, Larible selected a beautiful high-school student poured into a tight midriff blouse and jeans--all in all, enough to make an old clown's heart pratfall through all three rings.
"I thought it [the act] was all arranged," the excited 18-year-old from Farmers Branch, who had attended the circus with a friend and their grade school-age siblings, told Buzz. "Then he came and picked me--I guess not."
As Larible, 39, tells us in his publicity: "In clowning, the heart is more important than the brain." Wink, wink, we're with you, Dave.
As he escorted her down to the ring, the teen says the clown told her "I was very beautiful," and--proving the brain wasn't completely disengaged--"asked me how old I was." He also noticed she was wearing a beeper.
"He wanted to call me," she told Buzz later. "He was like, 'I want to call you. Can I get your number?'"
Ha. Ha. That wacky clown.
During the skit, he kissed her hand, hugged her, flirted--all in that adorable, over-the-top clown way. Larible also kept asking for her phone number. As Larible likes to say: "When I involve the audience, everyone enters into a good-natured conspiracy to have fun. No one knows what might happen next, not even me."
Conspiracy or not, our young audience member knew one thing that was not going to happen: Larible wasn't going to get her phone number. As much as she loved the clownish attention--what kid wouldn't?--she just kept saying no.
"He's not stable enough for me," she told Buzz.
The editor fondly remembered by staffers for her irrational fits of pique will be replaced by innocuous-to-the-point-of-transparency Jim Witt, an S-T management survivor who has weathered several regimes in roles that included publisher of the paper's northeast Tarrant County edition.
Though the S-T reportedly claimed she left of her own volition, Debbie's lawyer claimed that his client was fired when she stood up for "strong journalism ethics" in challenging unethical practices at the S-T. Unfortunately, we'll never know what those practices were because, in the settlement, the S-T apparently bought Debbie's freedom of speech for an undisclosed sum.
Debbie's only previous brush with journalism ethics came when she removed a gay editor from a youth section after receiving one letter of complaint from a conservative Christian group.
Now the former queen of the Fort Worth newsroom finds herself a general-assignment state reporter at the Baltimore Sun.
Kinder, gentler Jimmy
If the Cowboys' run of luck continues hellward this season, one turnaround option (or should we say fantasy) appears very obviously out of reach: Jimmy Johnson returning to Dallas.
In an article in the September issue of Men's Journal, Jimmy flatly articulates that--even beyond minor details like coaching the Dolphins and a fundamental disgust for Jerry Jones--he just doesn't much care for Big D.
"I don't think my heart was truly in Dallas toward the end," Johnson says. "I'd made up my mind that I wasn't going to be there forever."
In a final slap across the kisser, Jimmy gushes about Miami: "I know I'm gonna live here forever. I'm not looking to go somewhere else. I couldn't say that about Dallas."
Fortunately, the article makes it clear that we wouldn't want him back, considering some of the decidedly blasphemous things he says about football. "I understand there are things other than football. Not that it's taking anything away from my motivation or my work ethic or my feelings toward the game or toward winning. But at least I understand that there are some things other than whether we win or lose this or that ball game."
Buzz has to wonder if the Dolphins locker room is stocked with potpourri.