Subterranean Singers Vie to Be Idol of the Underground

Move over, “American Idol.” These subterranean singers are interested in being a different kind of music master.

Seventy aspiring entertainers are set to compete in New York’s Grand Central Station for a chance to be the next idol of the underground.

But the next Subway Idol won’t be thrown into stardom solo. Music Under New York is an organization devoted to keeping the Big Apple’s best below the boulevards, serenading the swarms of crazed commuters.

The winner of the competition is granted a lifelong membership — and the right to practice his or her craft at the MTA’s 25 most coveted stages, the New York Post reports.

And according to the panel of judges, the yearly competition is getting stiffer every season.

The judges are expected to narrow the crowd of crooners to 20, who will then be granted entrance into the exclusive ranks of the 100 other “undie” rockers supported by MUNY.

“More and more people see the subway as a viable platform,” judge and filmmaker Alex Steyermark said.

More and more people indeed. This year’s talent show will feature everything from quirky country to drumlines to danceable flamenco beats.

"Even with our other gigs this is a great opportunity," contestant Laurie MacAllister of the band Red Molly said.

Dead Drunk Doofus Takes a Dirt Nap

CANTON, N.Y. (AP) — A man was charged with burglary and criminal mischief Thursday after he allegedly broke into a funeral home and fell asleep in a coffin.

Joel Fish, 20, of Queensbury, was arrested after he was discovered at the O'Leary Funeral Home in Canton, 127 miles north of Syracuse.

Debra White, wife of the home's funeral director Joe White, said she noticed a broken window and open door to the casket display room when she awoke at 6:30 a.m. Inside, she saw a boot and pair of pants on the floor and a pair of knees sticking out of a stainless steel coffin.

Fish, who police said was intoxicated, was treated at Canton-Potsdam hospital for cuts. He was arraigned and released to return to court at a later date.

The funeral home estimates the damage from the burglary, mostly to the coffin, at $4,000.

Thanks to Out There readers Susan A and Angela P.

Clearly, What We Need Here Is a Bunch of Fiberglass Bears

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) — More bears don't always translate into more tourists, but officials are hoping that 50 life-size fiberglass bears painted and decorated by artists will do just that for this mountain resort community.

Until next fall, Bears by the Lake organizers say the creations will be displayed throughout the south shore. They're calling it a "celebeartion."

Artists embellished the bears with their own touches. One bear was given an inner tube, goggles and a snorkle, while another turned out as a bathing beauty. There's also a biker bear — dubbed the "Bad Bear of Lake Tahoe."

The choice of bears was simple, said Patrick Kaler, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

"We have a fairly large bear population within the mountains up here that we have to cohabitate with," he said.

Kaler got the idea from a similar program in Chicago that raised $1 million auctioning 322 painted and decorated cows. Chicago officials estimate that project generated up to $200 million more in tourist spending.

The Tahoe bears are due to be auctioned off by mid-October. The starting price will be $2,000 but Kaler said some could go for $15,000 or more. The goal is to raise $200,000 for 10 charities that focus on the community's youth and on wildlife preservation and education.

If you want one of the bears next fall, bring a truck and some friends. The 6-foot-tall creations weigh 375 to 400 pounds.

Talking Smack About Happy Crack

PENN HILLS, Pa. (AP) — Parents and at least one school board member believe the Penn Hills School District overreacted by suspending elementary students earlier this month for playing with a sugar and Kool-Aid mixture.

The reason the kids got in trouble was because they labeled the plastic bags they used to contain the mixture "Happy Crack" — which some school district officials said imitated drug activity.

Denise Brown Bey told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that her 11-year-old son was among the students suspended from Shenandoah Elementary School.

The principal and school district superintendent haven't commented on the incident.

But school board member Erin Vecchio says the colored mixture looked like the grainy candy found inside Pixy Stix — and she says the didn't see anything wrong with it.

Thanks to Out There reader Rob E.

Read My Chest

DECORAH, Iowa (AP) — Mary Wohlford has made it perfectly clear what her final wishes are: The words "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" are tattooed on her chest.

Wohlford, 80, got the tattoo in February. She hopes she's made her wishes perfectly clear should she become incapacitated. She also has a living will hanging on the side of her refrigerator.

"People might think I'm crazy, but that's OK," she said. "Sometimes the nuttiest ideas are the most advanced."

But Wohlford's decision to have her final wishes imprinted on her chest have raised some legal issues. Some medical and legal experts doubt that Wohlford's tattoo would be binding in the emergency room or in court. But they give her credit for originality.

"There are easier ways to do it than that," said Bob Cowie, a Decorah lawyer and chairman of the Iowa Bar Association's probate and trust law section. He suggested people sign a living will or authorize a medical power of attorney.

She said she knows some people might find the tattoo amusing, but her motive is serious.

"This is a modern day and age," she said. "You have to advance with the times. We never even had a living will 20 years ago. Now I think we've got to go to the next step."

Thanks to Out There reader Tiffany V.

Compiled by's Taylor Timmins.

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