Mug-Smashing Mayor

The mayor of Vancouver, Wash., went on a violent rampage Tuesday.

Lest anyone be alarmed, Mayor Royce E. Pollard's (search) anger was directed at two Starbucks coffee mugs that had the audacity to have — horrors! — "Portland" printed on them.

Pollard's made an issue of promoting his fair city, which both languishes in the shadow of much larger Portland, Ore., just across the Columbia River, and gets confused with even larger Vancouver, British Columbia, far to the north.

"Vancouver is the fourth-largest city in Washington" — after Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma — "and people better start showing a little respect," he told The Columbian of Vancouver (Wash.).

So when Starbucks started selling its "Portland" coffee mugs, part of its "Destination" series of 23 locally branded mugs, in his town, Pollard went ballistic.

He had an aide e-mail Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, but their answer wasn't good enough. So he set off in pursuit of the Portland mugs.

The first Starbucks he got to had heard he was coming and had already safely evacuated its Portland mugs back across the river.

"It was because of you," manager Melanie Goodman admitted. Pollard gave her a hug.

The next Starbucks wasn't so lucky. It had two Portland mugs on display. Pollard bought them both, walked over to a garbage can by the front door and smashed them to bits.

"What's he doing?" one employee, or "barista" as Starbucks calls them, asked another.

"That's the mayor of Vancouver and he's breaking up the Portland coffee mugs," the other replied.

"Sweet," said the first.

By the end of the day, Starbucks had capitulated to Pollard's demands and announced it was pulling its Portland mugs from all of Clark County, Wash.

The Columbian newspaper cheekily suggested to Pollard that Starbucks might ship its Vancouver (B.C.) coffee mugs south to replace them, but as of Thursday the mayor had not replied.

Likewise, there was no word on whether anyone in Portland, Maine, was upset about the Portland mugs.

— Thanks to Out There reader Bryan D.

Woman Gets Whopping Water Bill

MASCOUTAH, Ill. (AP) — It's been a hot, dry summer in this St. Louis suburb, but Rose Mary Cook knew there was no way she could have used $74,000 worth of water.

The city's utility department claimed Cook used 10 million gallons of water last month, charging her $29,787 for water, $43,581 for sewer, plus $893 for municipal tax.

"Luckily, when I opened the bill, I was sitting down," Cook said. "I could have filled every pool in southern Illinois and still not used that much water."

Cook presented the bill to a public works employee at City Hall. The city quickly determined the whopping charge was the result of a broken meter and issued her a corrected bill for $32.66 — waiving Cook's monthly water and sewer charges for her troubles.

"My daughter asked me if I was hoarding water during the drought," Cook said. "I told her I would, but I don't know where I would find 10 million gallon jugs."

— Thanks to Out There readers Chris E., Don W. and Julie B.

Professor Forgoes Economics for Philosophy

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Zamir Bavel is spending a lot of money to fight a $45 speeding ticket.

The University of Kansas (search) computer science professor says there's a principle at stake. So far, he's dropped about $1,000 contesting the ticket.

He objects to the fact that officers in Lawrence and Larned, Kan., aren't required to take any special classes in operating the radar speed guns.

Such classes are recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (search) but are not required by law.

Bavel contends the speed gun that nabbed him may not have been operated correctly.

He said he'll take his speeding case all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court if necessary.

— Thanks to Out There reader Greg M.

'Lenin and Stalin Visigoth' Must Have Been Taken

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) — A pair of identical twins have traded anonymity for infamy.

Scott C. Wurgler and Matthew A. Wurgler, both 21, of Strongsville, have changed their names, becoming Sacco Vandal and Vanzetti Vandal, respectively.

The names were inspired by Nicola Sacco (search) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (search), who were arrested in 1920 in Massachusetts after shoe company employees were shot and robbed.

Sacco and Vanzetti were described as anarchists and executed, despite alibis and conflicting witness statements. In 1977, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis cleared the pair of "any stigma and disgrace."

The brothers said they look up to the historical figures, but they chose the names as a tribute to their Italian heritage and to help with future business and political plans.

The name Vandal is in honor of their German background, they said.

The judge in this northeast Ohio town believes few will notice the change.

"If the applicant is using the name change to make a social commentary, it is a subtle one," Judge John J. Lohn wrote. "Most people won't 'get it' without a short history lesson and a long social commentary."

A Toast to Changing Times

ROCKPORT, Mass. (AP) — The long dry spell in the quaint seaside resort town of Rockport is over.

It ended Wednesday when Peter Beacham knocked back a vodka martini with two onions on the lawn of the Emerson Inn overlooking the ocean. He headed the drive to legalize liquor sales in Rockport.

Except for a brief reprieve in 1933 when Prohibition ended, it had been illegal to buy a drink there for nearly 150 years.

Rockport still bans bars and liquor stores, but supporters of sales at restaurants and inns say the town needs to take care of tourists who'd like to have a drink with their meals.

They could before, but had to bring a bottle with them.

Mr. Ed Shows Up on the Menu

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Some customers say wild horses couldn't drag them to the table at a New Zealand restaurant that's offering a char-grilled horsemeat dish called "Mr. Ed Is Dead."

Restaurant owner David Kerr said Wednesday that he received lots of complaints and abusive phone calls after he started serving horse steaks at his eatery in Hamilton, North Island, as part of an annual event.

The calls were "pretty lively and disgusting and not comforting for the staff," Kerr said, adding that "there was swearing, cursing, horrible language."

Nevertheless, some customers couldn't wait to chow down when horse appeared on his menu over the weekend. Kerr said he sold 10 horse steak meals on Monday night.

"Some think it is appalling but others are really interested to give it a go and want to know where else they can buy it," he said.

Leading racehorse breeder Sir Patrick Hogan said he "certainly won't be eating horse, that's for sure."

"If there was only one restaurant in Hamilton and it was his, I wouldn't sit at his table," said Hogan, who was knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II for his passion for breeding thoroughbreds.

"Mr. Ed" was a 1960s television comedy series about a talking horse.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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