The year of our Lord 2010 was a banner one for jackasses. In a year in which Sarah Palin was the driving political personality, when caffeinated alcoholic beverages reached such a sublime state of perfection that they had to be banned for the safety of college kids, when Tea Partyers stomped the terra demanding that government keep its hands off their Medicare, when the Super Bowl and its surrounding debauchery came to Miami, when panic and hatred seemed to bloom everywhere you looked, it goes without saying that the jackasses were on the prowl.
They seemed to be everywhere, from the local bar to the halls of Congress. If a local radio talker wasn’t calling for people to resort to armed insurrection if a nutcase like Allen West couldn’t get elected (the one upshot to his successful campaign, really), an angry motorist was plowing through a Martin Luther King Day parade, or a deputy sheriff was involved in a complicated scheme involving falsified police reports and fraud to get a refund for his Def Leppard tickets. (Also, he may have stolen a tractor.)
This was the sort of year that, if you told Carl Hiaasen to write a book about it, he’d laugh in your face and call you a lunatic, right before he gave you a wedgie and tossed you in a canal along Alligator Alley. We hear he likes giving wedgies almost as much as he enjoys the floating underground midget knife fights held in warehouses around Little Haiti — which is to say, a lot. But who really knows? In any case, stranger things have happened than a Hiaasen-delivered atomic wedgie, as the following stories will surely show.
We would, at this point, offer some sort of prayer that 2011 proves to be a saner, less-stupid year than 2010, but let’s face it — the bizarre acts perpetrated by some of our sun-fried neighbors here in South Florida are among the things that keep this place interesting. It just wouldn’t be South Florida without an all-Asian Super Bowl party broken-bottle brawl that ends in a partial castration.
We love you, South Florida. We really do.
THE JACKASS: SHAWN BARBER
The jackassery: Shawn Barber just wasn’t made for these times. A former Broward Sheriff’s deputy, Barber was suspended from the force in December 2009 because he may have been involved in the theft of a neighbor’s tractor. As if that weren’t enough of an anachronism — who the hell steals a tractor in this day and age, let alone in South Florida? — Barber may have gotten caught up in the only criminal act involving Def Leppard in the 21st century.
This past June, Barber turned himself in to Palm Beach County Police for his alleged role in a complicated and supremely jackasstic scheme to get a refund on tickets to see the aging hair-metal band two years earlier at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood. Pour some sugar on yourself, take a deep breath and try to follow along with this: After the babysitter Barber and his wife had hired to work the night of the show bailed on the couple, the totally rockin’ law-enforcement officer allegedly decided the best way to get his money back for those unused concert tickets would be to draft a fake report that stated his wife and neighbor had been in a traffic accident. The resulting insurance claim would cover the price of the tickets and then some. A brilliant idea? Does the drummer from Def Leppard only have one arm?
Well, after Barber got caught up in Tractorgate more than a year later, the Broward Sheriff’s Office began to take a closer look at his old police reports. Surprisingly, it turns out Barber didn’t think his plan all the way through, as the date he listed on the phony accident report happened to coincide with a day he wasn’t working, meaning he could not have filed it, and used a case number that belonged to another, obviously unrelated case.
Palm Beach County Police reportedly charged Barber with grand theft, insurance fraud and Florida Communications Fraud. The neighbor who went along with his plan, Sharyn Iaboni, faced the same charges.
“There’s an innocent explanation to this,” Barber’s attorney told The Palm Beach Post. “There’s another side to the story that will come out.”
For Barber’s sake, we hope it involves a time machine, a Pyromania cassette and a bitchin’ ’83 Camaro.
THE JACKASS: NATHAN ROBERT MOSER
The jackassery: Before he became a reality-show punch line and a World of Warcraft pitchman,Ozzy Osbourne did some downright freaky things. He bit the heads off bats, snorted ants, wrote songs about werewolves and Aleister Crowley, peed on the Alamo and married Sharon Osbourne. And even though Ozzy now acts more like the Duke of Dusk than the Prince of Darkness, no one should try to outmadman the guy who recorded Diary of a Madman in his presence.
Enter Nathan Robert Moser, who apparently misread the lyrics of “Crazy Train” as an instruction manual and showed up to an Ozzy book-signing at a Barnes and Noble in Palm Beach Gardens with a questionable bag of tricks. Actually, it was a backpack, and after police allegedly spotted Moser smoking a joint while waiting for the original Iron Man to sign his autobiography, I Am Ozzy, they discovered within it a healthy supply of pot and some homemade fireworks. The 19-year-old jackass was arrested, of course, and charged with possession of narcotic equipment, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of explosives. We’re not sure if he ever got that autograph.
THE JACKASS: KENNETH PARKERSON
The jackassery: Heroes seldom appear in our Jackass of the Week feature. Heroically stupid decisions, yes. Heroic people, not so much. But the story of Kenneth Parkerson involves a hero the likes of which we see far too little of these days, the kind of brave soul whom, if we were living in another age, we would have already written a folksong about and whose likeness we would have cut from a block of marble and erected in a town square. Pity for Parkerson, he is not that hero.
That honor belongs to Capt. Ireneusz Fajkis of the Pembroke Pines Fire Department, whose Coral Springs house Parkerson allegedly made the tremendously unlucky mistake of breaking into this past May in an attempt to secretly film the firefighter’s wife going about her business. Parkerson made it no farther than the couple’s porch when Mrs. Fajkis saw the voyeuristic jackass and screamed for her husband, who caught up with the intruder on the lawn and smashed his face into the ground (resulting in one of the most-Godawesome mug shots of the year). Police arrested Parkerson and charged him with burglary, video voyeurism, marijuana possession and tampering with evidence for trying to destroy his camera while running scared shitless from Fajkis.
If you think the firefighter is a hero for fearlessly pursuing a burglar who for all he knew could have been armed — with a knife, a gun or a brain — you’d only be half-right. You see, a few months earlier, Fajkis joined the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 2 in Haiti to seek out and save people trapped under mountains of rubble created by the earthquake that devastated the country in January. To save one of those people, a woman he found pinned under a concrete slab, Fajkis had no choice but to amputate her leg on the spot with a power saw. To rescue another woman, he crawled into a collapsed building through a narrow hole filled with dead bodies and unstable debris. That woman, Mireille Dittmer, turned out to be a resident of Pembroke Pines who was in Haiti on business at the time of the earthquake.
Parkerson was unaware of any of that when he broke into Fajkis’ home, though he certainly realized the firefighter was no ordinary human being, telling a hospital staffer following his arrest,“I picked the wrong house, because a UFC fighter lived there and beat me up.” Parkerson has a hearing scheduled before a Broward County judge Jan. 13, the same day, we imagine, Fajkis will be preventing a massive asteroid from striking the Earth or retrieving a child’s kitten from atop Mount Everest.
THE JACKASS: JOHN LONG
The jackassery: Break-ins happen all the time, but it’s not often that someone breaks into your house for the orange juice. Up in Wellington, though, several residents experienced just that state of affairs when John Long allegedly busted into their joints and absconded with their juice. (Also, a flashlight.) Long’s father, Vincent Long, told WPTV News, “He did some ecstasy and PCP and hasn’t been right since.” To which we say, man, you’d have to have done a shit-ton of ecstasy to start busting into people’s houses and stealing their O.J. When we named Long our Jackass of the Week in August, he had been arrested and faced a psychiatric evaluation. Since that time, according to the Palm Beach County Clerk’s office, his evaluation has been completed and he now faces trial.
THE JACKASS: BENNETT WYCHE
The jackassery: You may think New York Jets assistant coach Sal Alosi pulled the biggest jackass stunt on the sidelines of a football field in 2010 when, earlier this month, he intentionally tripped the Miami Dolphins’ Nolan Carroll during a punt return. As childish and unsportsmanlike as Alosi’s action was — the Jets have indefinitely suspended the coach for his numbnuts move — it’s nothing compared to the sideline shenanigans committed this past April by Bennett Wyche, the head coach of the Stranahan High School flag-football team.
Wyche, whom the Sun-Sentinel named the 2009 Coach of the Year, guaranteed he wouldn’t become a repeat winner during an April 27 game between the Stranahan Mighty Dragons and the Western Wildcats. As the accompanying photo shows, Wyche yanked the flag from the waist of Wildcats safety Jessica Lucarelli after she intercepted a pass and headed for the goal line.