Reports of two motor vehicle arrests grabbed my attention recently, in part because they appeared on the same page of this newspaper.
In Incident No. 1, a man was found “asleep” behind the wheel of a heavily damaged and smoking car at a Wallingford gas station. Police discovered heroin and prescription pills in the car. The driver was released on $2,500 bond.
In Incident No. 2, a woman was found in her car, stranded on an embankment in Meriden. Police say she was confused, failed a field sobriety test and registered on a breathalyzer at more than twice the legal limit. There was also a large, open bottle of vodka in the car. The driver was released on $500 bond. That’s one-fifth the bond for Driver No. 1.
Is that appropriate?
Just the facts, ma’am, as Jack Webb used to say on “Dragnet”: Without presuming to judge these specific cases (let’s think of them as hypotheticals) and without knowing how much contraband was found in Car No. 1 or how far either car had traveled, endangering the public every inch of the way, I wonder: Could it be that, with all the drugs, including and especially opiates, that we read about in the news almost every day, we may have forgotten just how dangerous it is to drive under the influence of plain, old-fashioned, perfectly legal alcohol?
Now for a change of pace. I was just thinking about some of the famous headline gems one has seen over the years. As someone who spent decades writing headlines, I should point out that sometimes a great idea comes to you, but you can’t use it because it’s inappropriate, or just too tawdry for a family newspaper.
But urban tabloids do whatever they want, and this has given us: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD” in the Daily News (President Gerald Ford had just denied federal funds to bail out a nearly bankrupt New York in 1975) as well as the classic “HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR” (in the New York Post, meaning just what it says, during a 1983 crime wave) and — plenty lewd, but more recent — “CHINA FERRARI SEX ORGY DEATH CRASH” (about the sordid death of the son of a high Chinese official in 2012, on the front page of a Dublin tabloid.)
But one of my faves appeared in this newspaper many years ago, and it involved the Southington Apple Harvest Festival.
But you’d have to know the background, so here’s the setup, to the best of my memory:
For years, the vendors could sell various apple-derived goodies during the fest, but only a certain church could offer apple fritters.
Then one year, the committee that runs things decided to end that monopoly. So then-copy editor Bob Rocco came up with this (OK, just as at my age I have a bad back and a trick knee and two ankles that can’t be trusted, the old cranial calculator may not be firing on all cylinders these days, but Bob’s headline ran along these lines):
“Apple festival relaxes
designated fritter rule.”
Not bad. Not bad at all.
Reach Glenn Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org.