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La Crosse Tribune, Wis., Marc Wehrs Column: Marc Wehrs: Rumor Mill Was All Revved Up

July 3, 2008

By Marc Wehrs, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Jul. 3–The rumors started even before S&S Cycle’s 50th anniversary celebration started.

Jay Leno (I heard versions that included both Brothers and Hooters), Kid Rock (I heard versions that had him at Bucky’s, Del’s and The Library), and Sandra Bullock were all over town. And that was just the beginning of the list. La Crosse must be a little celebrity-starved for so many fourth-hand accounts to take on lives of their own.

Here’s what visitors at www.lacrossetribune.com had to say about a story on Tuesday’s Web site that debunked the celebrity sighting rumors that ran wild over the weekend:

OnaRes wrote: “I got a chuckle every time I heard a celebrity rumor. Heck, I heard Guns and Roses was even in town and might do a surprise performance Saturday night. …”

002 wrote: “The fact is, there were more celebrities here than most people were aware of. I am a waiter at one of La Crosse’s premiere restaurants. I won’t say which one, but it starts with ‘Burger’ and ends with ‘King.’ George Clooney was in town researching for a role as an engineer who designs roads on the side of hills. He stopped in and had a Whopper. Jay Leno stopped in and had a chicken sandwich with light mayo. He was looking for new jokes since Bush is almost out of office, so he wanted to visit with Mayor Johnsrud.”

nicole24 wrote: “Some of the rumors going around at my workplace: 1) Jay Leno rented the entire top floor of the Radisson; 2) Sue Kolve’s shut down so that Sandra Bullock could go to it; 3) George Clooney was going to come on Saturday; 4) David Letterman was coming as well; 5) Kid Rock was coming to see the show. … I loved the bikes, the crowds, and everything that went along with it. I look forward to something similar to this happening again!”

Katerose wrote: “The bikes rocked! What a cool event. I heard the rumors, too, but who cares! It’s all about the bikes. I hope the city does this once a year … great event for everyone!”

In the end, it looks as though the human celebrities were of the bike-building variety.

But the real celebrities were the thousands upon thousands of bikes in La Crosse, both in the build-off tent on the Oktober-fest grounds and lining the streets downtown.

Indoor air quality vs. the ‘right’ to smoke

The results of a La Crosse County Health Department report on the air quality in restaurants and bars got people typing — yet again — about whether smoking is a “right.”

“Smokers’ rights” and “business owners’ rights” comments are giving way to more celebration of a smokefree Wisconsin future.

The health department found that pollutants in the air of 13 of the 19 establishments it evaluated exceeded levels the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources deems hazardous. Here’s a sample of comments visitors attached to reporter Terry Rindfleisch’s story at www.lacrossetribune.com:

Athenry wrote: “Wow. How much was wasted to conduct this study? Nothing surprising in the report. But I wonder, with the camping season in full swing, what is the comparable level of airborne pollutants released, and centered, around the typical campfire? What’s next? A study to indicate that loud motorcycle exhausts are actually damaging to hearing?”

blogger wrote: “Emphysema and cardiovascular disease rob people of their health and vigor — but it is their choice. Being forced to being exposed to smoke by OTHERS’ choice, whether during employment or enjoying a meal out or a drink at a bar is another matter. It is a public health issue, just as it would be if someone was polluting our drinking water yet maintained they had a ‘right’ to do so.”

let’s face it wrote: “Our elected officials have really dropped the ball on this one. The people of this state want a smoking ban. Shame on you, Mike Huebsch!”

PicklesPlease wrote: “You’re all wasting your breath … er, key strokes. The smoking ban is coming whether you like it or not. Just hopefully sooner than later. Go Iowa and Minnesota! We’re getting closer, Wisconsin. … Madison and Eau Claire take the lead.”

onawom1 wrote: “Get over it … the smoking ban is happening, state by state, city by city in Wisconsin. We can’t live in the ’50s forever. Pathetic how some hang on to their right to stain their teeth, empty their wallets, and stink up their clothes and hair — oh, and hang on to that sweet phlegmy smoker’s cough.”

By the numbers

Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and Charles Bronson.

They were the top three vote getters in the pop culture poll at www.lacrossetribune.com looking for the toughest Hollywood tough guy.

Twenty-three percent of respondents (204 of 884) picked Eastwood, 22 percent Wayne and 17 percent Bronson.

The best of the rest? Bruce Willis (9 percent) and Sylvester Stallone (7 percent).

My favorites didn’t fare so well — Lee Marvin (3 percent) and Robert Mitchum (2 percent). But if it takes one to know one, I’m no judge of tough guys.

Marc Wehrs can be reached at mwehrs@lacrossetribune.com or (608) 791-8218.

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Copyright (c) 2008, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

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