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where there's smoke: A building under construction next to the Logan Police Station caught fire from a welder's spark. Damage was estimated at $50,000. / Photo by Gideon Oakes

Today's word on journalism

August 27, 2008

On protests at political conventions:

"The citizens of Denver and St. Paul, and Americans everywhere, should hope officials in those cities already have considered both the constitutional and monetary costs of silencing voices that have a right to be heard. . . . Well-expressed or wacky. Irritating or illuminating. Respectful or raucous. There's nothing in the 45 words of the First Amendment that sets out any such qualifications or limits on protests. Time and again in our history, from women's suffrage to civil rights to tax protests, to name just some, voices first raised in the streets -- to the disgust or disappointment of some -- have led to significant, positive changes in law and American life."

--Gene Policinski, executive director, First Amendment Center, 2008

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Confessions of a Gary Coleman stalker

By R.M. Monk

May 23, 2008 | So there I was, in Orem, in Applebee's, eating my Weight Watchers-approved herb chicken with broccoli (7 points), and I heard this odd, high-pitched voice, the kind of voice you've heard somewhere on television. Once, you stayed home sick from school and ate an extra bowl of Fruit Loops in your underwear listening to this voice on day-time-TV reruns. Only one person sounds like that.

"Who the hell sounds just like Gary Coleman?" I wondered as I turned my head.

It was Gary Coleman.

He was ordering something to-go from a waiter. I turned to my friend dining with me.

"Dude, is that Gary Coleman?" I whispered.

He peered over the divider to get a better look, but he could only see little black hands pointing to a menu.

"OK, thank you, sir, I'll get that right out to you," said his waiter.

Then, he sat down, directly across from us.

"Oh my God, it is. It's Gary Coleman in Orem," whispered my friend.

"And he's old," I added. He looked like a smaller, darker version of Richard Nixon, jowls and all. His biography on says he's 40 now, but he looked more like 50.

"Should we say something to him?" asked my friend.

"Like what?" I said, "Hey, Mr. Coleman, wha'cha doing in Applebee's? Ya like baby-back ribs? Or do maybe something more appropriate like, 'I loved you in Webster or Avenue Q?'"

Two grown men trying to stifle giggles weren't called for in this situation. We didn't want to be rude. We didn't want to cause a scene. We wanted to treat Mr. Coleman with dignity, show him that Utahns are more sensitive than the Hollywood crowds.

So we stalked him instead.

It just so happened that Mr. Coleman received his order to-go when we got our check. My friend and I just about died trying to get back to my car without laughing. We were, and still are, huge dorks.

As Mr. Coleman started up his black Saturn SKY Roadster complete with new dealer tags, totally a car one buys to compensate for something, we realized we had three hours to kill.

"Dude, let's stalk Gary Coleman," I said to my friend.

"You don't see anything wrong with two 6-foot-4 white men creeping behind Gary Coleman?"

"What else are we going to do today?"

Point taken, he said, and we were off.

Tailing someone in a car is much harder than it looks in the movies. Such as, how do you follow someone when you pulled out in front him to get out of the parking lot? Answer: act like every other Orem driver and make a turn into the left-hand lane without signaling, brake suddenly, almost smash into the car behind you, then double back and duck in behind the car that was originally behind you. I almost killed us for Mr. Coleman's sake. I surely hoped he noticed.

We got on the freeway headed south. Here's a little fact about Mr. Coleman you might not know: that man has a lead foot. I don't know if he saw us, but aegos soon as he got out of the on ramp, he floored it to 85. My poor Chevy just couldn't keep up with Mr. Coleman's esteem-extender car.

"Dude, you just got ditched by Gary Coleman," said my friend.

We tried to catch up to him. We were like grieving mothers looking for our departed children. And with every small black roadster we saw, we hoped it would be Mr. Coleman.

But, alas, Mr. Coleman was gone.

Now I must tell you something more. There was another person in Mr. Coleman's car- a female, a good-looking one too. We didn't know if it was his girlfriend, wife, assistant or manager, but we did know this: she waited in the car at Applebee's.

Maybe I was still suffering from Post-Gary-Coleman-Sighting Depression, but I couldn't get this person out of my mind. If she was Mr. Coleman's assistant, why didn't she go into Applebee's while he waited in the car or at least go in with him? If she were his significant other, why would she send the famous person into the public place? You'd think you'd want to send in the non-famous person as to not cause a scene. Or maybe that's what he wanted. Perhaps Mr. Coleman was trying to use his star power to get himself a free herb chicken with broccoli. Either way, that sucks—to be famous enough get yourself a pretty assistant/ partner, but not to be famous enough that she makes you go in to get your own damn herb chicken with broccoli.

The next day my friend and I, still obsessing about our encounter, happened to pick up a City Weekly in Salt Lake. You'll never guess whom their main story was about.

It was Gary Coleman.

The article said that after making the film Church Ball, Mr. Coleman had decided to buy a home in Santaquin. Somehow this information lessened my run-in with Mr. Coleman. Him being in Orem will probably not be a rare occurrence anymore. Our sighting won't be a unique one.

So please, if you see Mr. Coleman, don't stalk him. Because you'll probably meet up with him again the next time you're in Applebee's.



Copyright 1997-2008 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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