Tag Archives: Freelance Writer Boston

Leave Boy George alone: Why do you really want to trash him?


THE WORKING STIFF – By Darren Garnick
“Do you really want to trash me?”

The Boston Herald — August 2, 2006
What impact does humiliation have on employee morale?

You know the answer. I know the answer. But the supervisor of New York
City’s 7,000-plus sanitation workers is inexplicably allowing his
department to be used as a petri dish for criminal

Fallen pop culture icon Boy George, the former lead singer of
gender-bending “Culture Club,” agreed earlier this week to serve five
days of community service as a garbage man in one of Manhattan’s
high-traffic tourist spots. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Anthony
Ferrara threatened the Karma Chameleon, a.k.a. George O’Dowd, with
jail time if he did not report for trash duty before Aug. 28.

Imagine you’re toiling as a street sweeper or a sanitation truck
worker – quite the fun assignment in 100-degree Manhattan smog – and
you learn that a washed-up celebrity has been ordered to do your job.
As a punishment.

The effeminate singer, best known for his outrageous make-up and ribbon-tied
braids, plead guilty to reporting a false break-in at his Little
Italy apartment last fall. Police had discovered cocaine at the scene,
but the drug charges were later dropped.

New York Department of Sanitation spokesman Vito Turso confirmed with
the Daily News that Boy George soon will be bringing his broom and
shovel to high-litter areas such as Chinatown and the Lower East Side.
“We also send them to vacant lots and to sweep sidewalks,” he crowed.

“This is the epitome of community service,” Turso added.
“It’s not like he’s going to be working in an air-conditioned office.”

Since when does a trash department hack get to act like a prison
warden gloating about all the big rocks that will soon be broken down
into little rocks?

Maybe Judge Ferrara hated his childhood piano teacher. Or maybe a
woman once rejected him at a singles dance during “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya.”
Because the normal rules of criminal justice don’t apply here.
Assigning the Boy to trash duty is not only vindictive – it’s an inappropriate waste of resources.

His mandatory community service should involve talking to high school
kids about drugs, judging karaoke at a nursing home or warning
Americans about the hidden dangers of falling in love with your

But the judge wants to shame Boy George. He wants those manicured
fingernails to get tarnished by sticky soda cans and cigarette butts.
He wants to see the singer be tormented by the lyrics of his most
popular hit song.

“Do I really want to hurt you?” a meanspirited co-worker might
rhetorically ask. “Do I really want to make you cry?”

So while Boy George is mocked and gawked at by the public, and lives out the sad conclusion of his soon-to-be revised “Behind the Music” biography, the regular guys in uniform must be wondering if their careers are a joke, too.

George has teased the media in the past that he might protest his punishment by showing up to work in a Big Bird costume. At this point in his career, that might be a wise move — providing a gateway to the children’s birthday party market.

Ironically, the Big Apple’s sanitation bosses have made a tremendous
effort to market their profession as highly respected and desirable – even
going as far as issuing special World Series-style rings branding the
DSNY as “New York’s Strongest.”

That image is bound to unravel when the humiliation of the Boy begins.

Darren Garnick’s “Working Stiff” column runs every Wednesday in the
Boston Herald. He was also vehemently opposed to the garbage-themed humilation of supermodel Naomi Campbell.



Do you work in the waste management industry? What do you think of punishing celebrities by making them pick up litter? How long do you think the Karma Chameleon or Miss Naomi Campbell would survive on the back of a garbage truck?

Send your insights to heraldstiff (at) gmail.com

BOY GEORGE UPDATE: OK, he’s not worth defending…
In January 2009, the Boy was sentenced to 15 months in jail for handcuffing a male escort to a wall and keeping him detained against his will. Maybe he should be assigned to a place where they break big rocks into little rocks — and where he can be handcuffed to the job site.

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Fish Pedicures Now BANNED in NH


Just got word that New Hampshire, the state that doesn’t care if you wear a motorcycle helmet or not, just cracked down on fish pedicures.

The offbeat, controversial beauty craze, which has been sweeping the nation since the summer, uses chin chin fish (also called “doctor fish,” or massage fish”) to nibble on dead, scaly skin in place of a pumice stone.

The New Hampshire Board of Barbering, Cosmetology, and Esthetics ruled on Nov. 3 that in the context of fish pedicures, the fish are considered to be nail salon tools and must be subject to sanitization.

Of course, sanitizing fish the same way you sterilize a nail file means killing the fish. Here’s the state licensing agency’s official statement posted on its Web site:

“The Board has determined that fish cannot be utilized as an implement when used in the care for the skin therefore, falls under the sanitation and disinfection administrative rules of the Board. Those rules require that all implements be sanitized and disinfected before and after services on each client. If sanitation or disinfection cannot be achieved, the implement must be disposed of after a service on each client.”

Seems like there is some wiggle room here — that a salon could use fish but would have to “dispose” of each group of fish after their first use as pedicure implements. That solution wouldn’t necessarily mean the cruel act of throwing the fish away, but perhaps exiling them forever to a retirement tank.

But I’m splitting fins here because at $4 a fish, it’s simply unaffordable to spend $400 in aquarium overhead per pedicure, let alone the logistics of handling overpopulation in that golden retirement tank.

Cosmetology board administrator Lynda Elliott says Kim’s Spa & Nails in Derry — the first salon in New England to offer fish pedicures — has been formally notified that they can no longer offer the service.

“The board’s job is to protect the consumer,” says Elliott. “Fish can carry all sorts of parasites and bacteria.”

The state licensing agency says it is concerned with diseases getting passed from fish-to-customer and customer-to-customer with the fish as the transmitter.

“Let’s say one customer has foot fungus and a fish nibbles on it. If 10 other people put their feet in with the same fish, I don’t want to end up with your foot fungus,” Elliott says.

“Also, these chin chins start growing teeth when they get older. They could start drawing blood,” she says.

Yikes. Didn’t know about the teeth part. Lucky I was nibbled by the baby fish.

There isn’t tons of consumer information available on Chinese chin chins, but this prominent Malaysian fish spa offers a side-by-side comparison with therapeutic Garra Rufa fish from Turkey. They claim that older chin chins will peel your skin off and feast on healthy human skin when the scaly stuff is gone.

Kim’s Spa had been planning to also introduce Garra Rufa fish, which have been widely acclaimed for their effective treatment of eczema, psoriasis and other skin ailments. That’s now on hold. The adult Turkish fish apparently have no teeth.

“It’s heartbreaking,” says Delores Nichols, director of spa services at the New Hampshire salon, “This was something we all were looking forward to doing. And we’re hopeful that the fish pedicures will be back.”

According to Nichols, only 20 people had tried the fish treatment before the state intervened.

She adds that Kim’s Spa is now gathering testimony from scientists about the hygienic safety of chin chin pedicures. The salon intends to appeal the state’s ban at the next cosmetology board meeting on Dec. 8.

As for the 500 chin chins who are potentially out of work, Nichols says they are acting hyperactive.

“Everytime we walk near the tank, the fish swarm to where we are,” she says. “They will jump out of the water toward my hands.”

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