The Best of Week in Review

When Michael Jackson died, Miss California talked her crown off and Tiger Woods drove his marriage into a tree, everybody knew it was only a matter of time before Las Vegas got involved.

Our unofficial city motto is really only half-right. Everything happens here, but nothing ever stays.

Consider one of the weirdest stories of 2009: A showgirl-turned-bartender sees Jesus on her toilet seat, so she puts it on eBay. Could this have happened anywhere else?

Here are the year’s 10 most unusual stories, as compiled by the Week in Review staff:

10 MAYBE THERE IS SUCH A THING AS BAD PUBLICITY. Especially if you’re not a bounty hunter, but rather a two-time felon posing as a bounty hunter, and a magazine wants to do an article about your career as a bounty hunter.

That logic was lost on Alfonso Mares, who posed for the Las Vegas Weekly in his bounty hunter getup with a Taser on his hip. Police somehow found out and discovered 37 other weapons in his home. $186,000 in bail later. …

9CELEBRITY JUSTICE? At the end of a November hearing on unpaid child support, Michael Jackson’s deathbed doctor, Conrad Murray, strolled from Family Court with five lawyers and not a reporter in sight.

That’s because the dozen or so reporters there to cover the hearing were stuck in the courtroom, where an armed court bailiff blocked their path and said they couldn’t leave.

The Review-Journal and The Associated Press sent letters to court officials protesting the detainment, which kept Murray’s walk to his car delightfully question free.

8RECOUNTS ARE US. Razor-thin election results are not unheard of, and neither are recounts, but the 2009 municipal election produced two of them.

On the same night Henderson mayoral candidate Steve Kirk lost to fellow City Councilman Andy Hafen by 45 votes, Las Vegas City Council hopeful Glenn Trowbridge lost to Stavros Anthony by 10 votes.

Both men challenged the results. Neither recount changed a thing.

7WHO KILLED MIDAS? The death of a 10-year-old lion at the Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park in early June touched off a controversy when Zoo Director Pat Dingle suggested Midas may have died after eating a rubber football tossed into his cage by employees of a neighboring thrift store.

A necropsy finally put the matter to rest. It was cancer, not a bowel obstruction, that felled the lion.

Exotic animal veterinarian Randy Ceballos explained it in terms anyone could understand: “There was no rubber football in that cat, from the stomach to the butt.”

6HANGING ON BY A STRING. Recession, tanking economy, foreclosures through the roof, so what does Vegas need to get back on track? Mostly naked women walking down the Strip!

Well, they may not have sparked the surge hoped for in tourism, but the 281 bikini-clad ladies who in May took part in the World’s Largest Bikini Parade managed to stimulate something: a spot in the Guinness World Records.

5WELCOME TO FABULOUS GRAFFITI. After 50 years with nary a blemish, the famous diamond-shaped “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” sign on the south Strip was hit by vandals twice.

The first incident in July prompted a predictable reaction from Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman: “Off with their heads!”

The second attack on the iconic sign was caught on camera by a local television station and resulted in the arrest of a local kook with a well-publicized beef with state gaming regulators and a valley casino.

4FOR SALE BY OWNER: VIRGINITY. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, 23-year-old Natalie Dylan (not her real name) claimed she was auctioning off her virginity at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel in Northern Nevada.

The story made headlines around the globe, but it drew a skeptical response from George Flint, lobbyist for Nevada’s legal brothel industry. “She’s probably as much a virgin as I am,” he said.

3ROOST AWAKENING. A valley exterminator’s plan to open a “pigeon sanctuary” in North Las Vegas got its wings clipped by city officials, who shut down the operation amid health and licensing concerns.

Though Nevada Pigeon Control’s big idea was short-lived, it did introduce us to the company’s owner, who proved to be one of the most unusual characters of the year: Nephi Oliva, bird whisperer.

2STUCKEY IT TO THEM. Byren Stuckey had had it with Bank of America. So he did what any normal person would do: He filled his safety deposit box with urine and anchovies. The result created a smell so foul the bomb squad was called and the bank was evacuated. Then Stuckey spent the night in the Henderson jail.

1HELL ON WHEELS. Maybe the quintessential Las Vegas story: In a genius marketing ploy, a local strip club owner put scantily clad pole dancers in the back of a windowed truck and drove them up and down the Strip. And what ranked just behind stripper safety as the biggest concern cited by county officials who moved to shut down the stunt? Traffic congestion.

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