>From the looks of this guy's picture, it was hard to tell.
Some dealers at Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s recent "Bizcon 5" commercial dealer meeting in Nashville, Tenn., may have done a doubletake, seeing a deadringer for country music kingpin Garth Brooks. It was really an able impersonator and look-alike, Carey Carver, a hometown Music City boy.
He didn't say if his "Cowboy Cadillac" was shod with Bridgestones or Firestones. But his alter ego, Chris Gaines, was a no-show. Probably out washing Garth's car.
Pressing their suit
Smelling a potential gravy train, a number of legal beagles have bellied up to the feeding trough to file lawsuits trying to capitalize on the Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. (BFS) recall of 6.5 million light-truck tires.
One firm was in such a hurry to sue BFS and Ford Motor Co.—maker of the Explorer sport-utility vehicles involved in a number of alleged Firestone tire-related accidents—that the suit it filed Aug. 10 in State Superior Court in Los Angeles contained an almost unheard of 199 blank spaces. A report in Business Week said those blanks included the identity of the allegedly defective product, the injuries incurred and the damages sought.
Why the rush to seek judgment?
The story said Chukwudum Emenike's L.A .law firm wanted to file before California's one-year statute of limitations expired. In retrospect, the company did plan to file an amended complaint. (Would the gang at "L.A. Law" have made such a blunder?)
A New York University law professor, Stephen Gillers, told the publication that even leaving one blank on a legal filing is "a real faux pas." It is, he said, tantamount to "publishing your novel with a typo on the first page."
It sure gives new meaning to the term "shooting blanks."
Will ya' move over, bud?
It's not your imagination: Bigger and bigger "urban assault" vehicles are making it tough on small-car owners.
A new publication from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a nonprofit education and research group, and the National Parking Association has found that a significant increase in consumers' use of light trucks, vans and sport-utility vehicles is putting a squeeze on compact-car spaces in parking facilities nationwide, making small-car-only spaces "no longer viable."
The publication noted that the percentage of vehicles categorized as small—in terms of square footage occupied—dropped from nearly 50 percent of the national fleet in 1987 to just above 30 percent in 1998. In the 1990s and in 2000, "the pendulum has begun to swing back toward larger vehicles," it said, causing many parking lot designers to revisit the question of appropriate parking space dimensions.
Standard parking space widths increased from 8 feet, 4 inches in the late 1950s to as wide as 10 feet in the late 1960s (remember all those big-finned cars?), before falling back to 8 feet, 6 inches in the early 1970s.
"The practicality of small-vehicle-only parking spaces was short-lived," the publication stated. It recommends tailoring spaces to the turnover of cars using the lot. So a convenience store should have spaces with wider clearances than those in a low-turnover lot for employees or commuters.
One glaring problem we doubt the study addressed: What to do with the clown who, to the consternation of everyone, parks his or her car semi-sideways, taking up at least two spaces. If you've got a suggestion, e-mail them to Marketplace. We'll personally try out some of them (under cover of darkness) at a nearby parking facility.
Looking for a gimmick that'll draw more tire sales to your store? Think color—full-depth colorized tread rubber.
At least that's what some dealers are trying out in their showrooms, according to the BFGoodrich Tires Today newsletter. It talked with Jim Jones, director of business development for Tireman Auto Service Centers, which operates nine stores in Ohio. Mr. Jones custom ordered nine orchid/blue-striped BFGoodrich-brand Scorcher T/A tires as "conversation pieces," he said, to let customers know about all the different options they have when buying tires—such as the colorized Scorchers made by Michelin North America Inc.
The publication suggested ordering Scorchers with hues matching a local college or pro team's colors, then drape the tires with that team's t-shirts, pennants and ball caps.
Just make sure, we might add, they're not the same colors as some local gang so you don't start a turf war.
Speaking of colorizing stuff, sometime soon you may not be able to count your profits (what's that? you ask) in "greenbacks," since the U.S. Treasury is considering ditching traditional green bills and printing money in a rainbow of colors. A Cleveland Plain Dealer article said fed officials haven't decided yet on what colors might be included in a new series of bills due for release in 2003.
What that'll do to the counterfeiting trade is anybody's guess, but it'll sure feel like we're using "play money."
Smile, you're on candid camera
This guy was definitely not as smart as he may have thought he looked.
A story in the "Crime Blotter" section on ABC-News' Web site said a burglar in Brunswick, Ga., may have wished he'd taken one less thing. A couple of weeks after the theft of a cell phone, video game player and digital camera, a woman identified the purloined camera at a pawnshop.
Checking the camera's digital memory, guess what she found? The image of 19-year-old Cleveland Robert Bruce. She told police the guy had asked about renting a house the day of the theft. He also was identified as having pawned the camera. After his arrest, police said he confessed to the crime.
If all criminals were this dumb, solving cases would be a heck of a lot easier. Talk about a ready-made "mugshot."
This, that 'n the other
Not a working number—The Associated Press reported that the Florida Attorney General's Office is investigating some telephone fortune tellers at the "Psychic Readers Network." In sworn testimony, a former employee said many of the so-called swamis were likely not even real psychics, but rather just some homeless people rounded up from a local Salvation Army shelter and given scripts to work from. Hence the name "psychic readers"?
We wonder if these psychic friends saw the probe coming in the stars—or their Tarot cards. One thing it doesn't take a soothsayer to predict: At $4.99 per minute, most callers are going to have lighter wallets.
Picky picky—There was at least one documented awkward moment back in July at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.
DaimlerChrysler A.G. gave money to the host committees, displayed vehicles and also hosted several parties at the GOP gathering. So things got a little dicey when one of the party bands showed up with, shall we say, a verboten "nom de guerre." Before they went on, the "T-Birds" had to change their name temporarily to the "Cruz-Zers," as in PT.
Turn 'im over—With the grilling Ford Motor Co. CEO Jacques Nassar underwent in Congress over the Bridgestone/ Firestone Inc. tire recall saga, you think the exec, who was raised in Australia, felt like he'd been tossed on the barbie?
Visa, your passport to.|.|.|Hades?—Tired of customers asking to buy tires or service on time?
Here's a devil of a deal spotted by TB staffer Vera Fedchenko on a sign behind the service counter of Parma Tire Service in Parma, Ohio: "Helen Wait is our credit manager. If you want credit, go to Helen Wait...."