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  INCOMING! AUGUST 15, 2005.  


It's moving day on the Gaza Strip, and we imagine it might look something like the last day of spring semester in college. Everyone wants to get the hell out, but really needs their security deposit. So they rush to scrape the mold off the shower door and the pink, foul ring around the toilet bowl. What's left? Empty cases of Old Milwaukee tossed to the curb along with broken furniture, soiled bed sheets and whatever was in the stock pot that someone cooked in -- and then left sitting on the stove -- four months ago. Oh, and don't forget the machine guns and use of force.

Today, the Israeli government will begin removing some 8,000 people from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Soldiers will first ask nicely, "Please, get the hell off of your property." If that doesn't work, things will get testy.

Yes, it's time for the Jews to get out of Dodge. As fate would have it, the mass move comes on the anniversary of the installation of one of the world's great symbols of freedom: the Berlin Wall. Built in 1951, the wall is best known for: A. Allowing the man to keep us down; B. Providing fodder for a rock album; and C. Producing that ridiculous soundbite we are forced to listen to anytime the wall or Ronald Reagan are mentioned (Mr. Gorbachev, tear… down …this … wall!). There, now it's stuck in your head, too.

The reason for all of this: building a better, more neighborly relationship with the Palestinians. Sure.






Turns out Germans and Austrians are, in fact, not Beatle men. This week, they will celebrate the death of Elvis Presley, a beloved figure whose popularity has reached an all-time high well after his death 28 years ago today. In Austria, they're calling it Elvis Week. How clever.

They even transformed a Vienna Hilton into a Heartbreak Hotel. Wacka, wacka, wacka.

Elsewhere, English fans of the King will gather next month in Bristol for United Elvis Meetup Day. One gets the impression this is a gay singles event for Elvis impersonators. This could be a great opportunity for hunkaburninlove4u to finally meet chatroom buddy getaloadofmyhounddog.

But let us not forget the events that made this an anniversary. Elvis Presley consumed copious amounts of drugs -- including codeine, morphine, Valium and Demerol -- and numerous scoops of ice cream before dying on the royal commode. According to at least one account, Elvis was reading the book A Scientific Search for the Face of Jesus at the time of his passing.

Read this book and die -- not the most ringing endorsement. Incidentally, the book, at the time of this writing, was ranked No. 2,215,940 on's sales chart, well behind such drivel as Confessions of a Video Vixen (No. 96) and It's Not about the Bike: My Journey Back to Life (No. 98) by Lance Armstrong. Yeah, yeah, we know. You had cancer. You can ride a bike real fast. Fantastic. Now go away.






Microsoft founder Bill Gates will open the National Conference of State Legislatures Annual Meeting today in Seattle. He has more cash than most of the states represented at the conference do. He's just learned how to better siphon people's money than government has.

There's a huge list of conference topics that attendees can choose from for the Strong State's Strong Nation annual meeting, including Beyond the Schiavo Case: Revisiting End-of-Life Issues (or, how about let's not), Maintaining Your Tools for Better Legislative Construction and Crime Technology: Science Meets Law and Order, moderated, in part, by O.J. Simpson's personal savior, Barry Scheck.

Fourteen years ago today, the video that CHANGED MUSIC FOREVER, that is, before it became crappy and formulaic and overproduced again, was filmed. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana awakened a generation to the possibility that music can change lives, or at least make living tolerable for the moment. It also awakened the sexual drives of millions of teenage boys who thought, "Damn, that cheerleader with the anarchy symbol on her chest is hot."

Today is W. Mark Felt's birthday, and if you don't know who he is, it's just further proof that nobody pays attention to the news anymore. Felt turns 92. He was revealed earlier this year as the newspaper source known as Deep Throat in the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon. He's also one of the reasons thousands of young idealists went to journalism school wanting to be the next Robert Redford or Dustin Hoffman.





At about the same time thousands of Austrians with unattractive mutton chops, beer bellies and thick sunglasses will mourn their leader, another man with an impressive following will pop in on the kids in Germany. Some 800,000 people and an additional 6,000 journalists are expected to be on hand when Pope Benedict XVI attends World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. The pope is scheduled to visit today the city's gothic cathedral, dedicated to Saints Peter and Mary.

This is the pope's first trip abroad since he was popified earlier this year. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was really good at hanging with the youngins, which makes Benedict's challenge all that more daunting. His stance on Harry Potter (Harry Potter of all freakin' things) has made him unpopular among the Hogwarts masses. He said of the popular series of books, "This is a subtle seduction, which has deeply unnoticed and direct effects in undermining the soul of Christianity before it can really grow properly." Whatever, dude, it's FICTION.

Even Charlotte Church, the squeaky clean young soprano whose CDs are hawked on late-night television, (she also got in trouble for comments about New York City firefighters after Sept. 11) can't stand Benedict. She said, "I'm from a Catholic family. But I don't like this new Pope - he even wants to ban Harry Potter. He says it's because it's full of witchcraft and other bad stuff." Well, it is, but that's not the point. The kids dig it.






Today is Bill Clinton's birthday. He turns 59. What to get the former leader of the free world who has everything? We already know he has a copy of Oy Vey, a book of Jewish jokes Monica Lewinsky bought him.

This weekend, Virginia Sen. George Allen attends the 8th Annual Crab Feast & Watermelon Extravaganza in Delaware. This event is hosted by Sussex County Councilman Vance C. Phillips and sounds just like any other boring political event save for the name. We have no idea how Vance C. Phillips started this event or why. We also don't know anyone who eats crab and watermelon together. However, it is fun to say "Crab Feast & Watermelon Extravaganza" over and over, particularly in a vaguely feminine Latin American accent.

This weekend also marks two other important anniversaries in the history of the world. First, it's been 16 years since Lyle and Erik Menendez whacked their filthy rich parents in their California home. This was the first trial of the millennium, only to later be eclipsed by O.J. and then Michael. The brothers Menendez have since spent a lot of time contemplating their dastardly deeds, for they both received life in prison.

But, perhaps more importantly, this weekend also marks the 18th anniversary of the release of Appetite for Destruction, the Guns 'N Roses anthem to debauchery. Too bad Axl's too fat to do that dance he used to do. He's kind of like Elvis before the end.




Mike Cetera is an editor at The Beacon News in Aurora, Ill.



INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.