Monkey Business

Ted's gone, splitting City Hall and heading off to train young minds in government at the University of Texas at Dallas. Mike's gone, too, leaving DISD and serving on the board of Trammell Crow Co. A-Rod's a Yankee now. And poor Jabari is really gone, up to that happy banana plantation in the sky, God rest his hairy soul. Three of them cashed out and moved on. The fourth just cashed out.

But Buzz is still here, once again looking back on the past year to bring a little historical perspective. While all those other guys couldn't hack it, we soldier on year after year, which leads to an inescapable question: What the hell is wrong with Buzz? Are we an underachiever or what?

Well, yeah. What of it? Ted and Mike climbed to the top of their chosen fields in Dallas and didn't last as long as Buzz. Jabari, a particularly ambitious gorilla, made the "leap of his life" to escape his pen at the Dallas Zoo, and look what happened to him. Buzz and all the other regular Joe apes--e.g. the Dallas City Council--are still around, scratching, enjoying fruit, watching TV and picking nits.

So let's call 2004 the Year of the Underachiever, the time we celebrated all things average. It only makes sense, seeing how America elected George W. Bush to a second term.

But don't feel too bad about it. Remember, he who laughs last...


Bite out of crime: Dallas police release figures showing that the number of homicides in the city in 2003 increased by 20 percent over 2002. Responding to residents' worries about the city's spiraling crime rate, police begin enforcing an ordinance that makes it illegal to take shopping carts from the premises of the businesses that own them. "Well, we gotta do something," interim police Chief Randy Hampton tells reporters. "Homeless winos pushing carts filled with cans are pretty easy to catch, most times. Murderers? Much, much harder." The plan backfires, however, when the city's homeless switch their belongings from shopping carts to baby strollers, leading to a 37 percent increase in reports of untended babies roaming the streets after curfew.

This is a problem?: The search for a replacement for fired Dallas police Chief Terrell Bolton gets under way in earnest, with the list of candidates reaching around a dozen by the end of January. Among the candidates is David Moore, a former Jackson, Mississippi, police officer whose run for the job falters when city officials learn that he has been jailed on charges of impersonating a police officer in Garland, The Dallas Morning News reports. Not just any cop, either: According to Garland police, a belligerent Moore flashed a badge and insisted he was the Dallas police chief. "Dallas cops fake drugs, fake arrests and fake convictions," Moore says by way of explanation. "So what's the big deal about being a fake chief? It worked for Terrell Bolton."

Compassionate conservatives: Pharmacists at a Denton Eckerd drugstore refuse to fill a prescription for a "morning after" birth control pill for a woman who had been raped. The druggists, who are fired by the chain, say the pill could induce an abortion, which they morally oppose. A San Antonio state legislator, his heart brimming with compassion over this outrage, this invasion of privacy and breach of decency, later files a bill intended to ensure that no similar injustices occur--the firings of those poor pharmacists, we mean. State Representative Frank Corte Jr.'s bill, the "Just Lay Back and Enjoy It, You Slut, Act of 2005," would protect the jobs of pharmacists who refuse to dispense prescriptions on moral grounds.

Likely candidate: Robin Jones, a diminutive 34-year-old Mesquite woman, interrupts a thief attempting to steal a television from her garage by whacking the burglar with a shovel. Hearing the news, Dallas City Manager Ted Benavides quickly sends Jones an application for the job of chief of police and announces she's the leading contender for the post. "She's head and shoulders above this pack of stiffs we're looking at," Benavides says.

Gay old time: Administrators at Creekview High School in Carrollton nix plans by the school's theater students to perform a one-act version of the play Six Degrees of Separation at a University Interscholastic League competition, citing complaints from parents who were upset that the original play featured a gay character. "We're just looking for something less contentious and more appropriate for children," a school spokesman says. The students instead perform Hedwig and the Angry Inch after they convince clueless school officials that it's a fable based on a story by famed children's author Roald Dahl.

Loose change: Ted Benavides draws criticism from Mayor Laura Miller when he reveals that he has located a little-known Police and Fire Welfare Fund containing $471,000 that he suggests be used to compensate officers who cannot work because they were injured in the line of duty. (In 2003, the Dallas City Council voted to cut supplementary pay for injured city workers, including cops, from 52 weeks to 13 weeks.) An exasperated Miller demands to know how city staff could have overlooked a fund worth nearly half a million dollars. Benavides explains that the money had slipped between sofa cushions and was found when he "tore up" his office looking for a misplaced set of car keys. Responding to complaints from police officers and other people with hearts, city council members later apologize and reinstate the 52-week supplement for injured cops, providing they can show they are still injured. "A sucking chest wound, missing limb, paralysis--that's all we're asking. Taxpayers need to know they're getting their money's worth," Miller says.