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The Short, Strange Voyage of the Acorn 

We all live in an acorn Submarine.On Sept. 7, 1776, a strange, egg-shaped craft slipped into the waters of New York harbor. With a crew

click to enlarge We all live in an acorn Submarine.
  • We all live in an acorn Submarine.
We all live in an acorn Submarine.On Sept. 7, 1776, a strange, egg-shaped craft slipped into the waters of New York harbor. With a crew of one - Army Sgt. Ezra Lee - its mission was to blow up the HMS Eagle, one of the British ships blockading the city.

Lee gave up the attempt when he was unable to bore through the Eagle's hull and attach his bomb, but his vessel - the Turtle, designed by inventor David Bushnell - had won a place in history as the first submarine used in warfare.

A few minutes after 9 on the morning of Aug. 3, 2007, a strange, egg-shaped craft slipped into the waters of New York harbor. Aboard was a crew of one - performance artist Duke Riley. The exploit won him a string of criminal charges.

Riley, 35, intended to have his sub - christened the Acorn - towed next to the luxury ocean liner Queen Mary II and be videotaped for an upcoming art exhibit. But he only got to within about 200 feet of the huge ship's bow when he was spotted by New York City police and apprehended. The Coast Guard cited Riley for operating an unsafe vessel and violating a security zone, and the NYPD charged him with reckless operation of a craft and towing in a reckless manner.

The New York tabloids didn't take a kind view of Riley's stunt, which might not have been a very bright thing to do in the post-9/11 environment. "SUB MORON," headlined the Post. "SUB-STANDARD BRAINS," blared the Daily News.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was somewhat less harsh, describing Riley's exploit as "marine mischief" and referring to him and two cohorts who were towing the mini-sub into position as "three adventuresome individuals."

As for Riley himself, he explained why he did it on his website in the following terms: "I profile the space where water meets the land, traditionally marking the periphery of urban society, what lies beyond rigid moral constructs, a sense of danger and possibility."

Uh, okay.

click to enlarge DJ Barisone, keepin' it funkay.
  • DJ Barisone, keepin' it funkay.
DJ Barisone, keepin' it funkay.Life After Grove Death

Things have been a little weird since downtown Bend's nightlife nucleus, The Grove, closed last month. Every once in a while, you'll see someone trying to order a maté mojito at the hot dog stand on Bond Street, or dancing like nobody's watching out in front of Bellatazza at 2am.

Anyway, all isn't lost. The eastside's 541 Lounge (featuring former Grove co-owner, Augustine Flores!) is getting more head-friendly by the minute - their website reports they've dropped their much-bemoaned dress code, at least for the summer.

Meanwhile, former regular Grove performers are spreading out and trying to keep the love flowing. DJ Barisone, hip hop MC Mr. Gone, DJ/artist Mark Räda and artist Chris Wu took a weeklong trip to Jackson, Wyoming just a day after the Grove closed, toting music, performance painting and goodwill straight from downtown Bend along with them.

Back home, Upfront hears mysterious intelligence (straight from another Grove regular, the illustrious DJ Lacuna) about plans to re-create the club's long-running Thursday night Ghett Down dance party at The Annex (part of the Midtown Music Hall complex). Stay tuned to the Source Weekly's clubs and live music calendars for details.

click to enlarge Not the real Oscar. But kinda scary.
  • Not the real Oscar. But kinda scary.
Not the real Oscar. But kinda scary.Oscar, the Kitty of Death

Even if you're a confirmed cat lover, you probably would feel a little uneasy if Oscar started rubbing up against your legs.

Oscar, a gray and white tabby who lives in a nursing home in Providence, RI, has an uncanny ability to predict when residents of the home are going to die, according to Dr. David Dosa, an assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.

The cat, adopted as a kitten two years ago by a worker at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, makes his rounds daily and will curl up by the beds of patients who he senses are about to die in a few hours, Dosa wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine. He's been right at least 25 times.

Oscar's behavior is all the more remarkable because he's normally a stand-offish sort, Dosa said: "This is not a cat that's friendly to people."

Dosa said patients are not upset by a visit from Oscar because they're in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease or dementia and don't understand what his presence means. As for family members, he said, many "take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one."

How does Oscar do it? Nobody knows.

Thomas Graves, chief of small animal medicine at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, said there's no evidence that cats can sense death, but he doesn't discount that possibility. "Those things are hard to study," he said. "I think probably dogs and cats can sense things we can't."

click to enlarge Road ragers.
  • Road ragers.
Road ragers.Pedal Power to the People

Upfront was too busy busting out our (patent)shoe leather reporting to break free last week for the Hybrid.Pedal, an awareness raising ride for Western conservation projects including Skyline Forest. But we're not too busy to give a shout out to the 27 riders who took part in the Sisters to Prineville leg last week. The intent of the larger ride that started in Portland and ends in Salt Lake City was to highlight more than half a dozen preservation projects funded in part by the Conservation Alliance, a group of outdoor products manufacturers including Ruff Wear. The group gave $25,000 to The Deschutes Basin Land Trust last year to finance the Trust's work at Skyline Forest.

Skyline Forest has been out of the headlines since the new owners announced a plan earlier this year to seek permission to lift development restrictions and build several thousand houses on a portion of the forest that sits between Bend and Sisters in exchange for a significant land donation to be managed for recreation and logging and habitat. Here's hoping the Land Trust raises a couple million more and heads off plans for housing subdivisions at Skyline.

Even if it means local riders pedaling from Sisters to, oh, say, South America, next year.

click to enlarge Needs new parents?
  • Needs new parents?
Needs new parents?Celebrity Beat Roundup

Lots of action on the celebrity scene last week, so to help you catch up, Upfront is offering a quick rundown of the high (but mostly low) spots.

Celebrities Behaving Badly: Sometime Paris Hilton sidekick Nicole Richie announced that she will serve a four-day sentence for DUI in the Los Angeles County Jail instead of a "pay to stay" municipal jail. Richie was busted Dec. 11 while driving the wrong way on a freeway in Burbank.

Meanwhile Lindsay Lohan, who also has had more than her share of driving problems, got some advice from Donald Trump. "Find what you love doing (other than drugs and alcohol), work hard, stay focused, get a new set of parents - then join me on Celebrity Apprentice, which is shooting soon - I'll keep you straight!" Trump wrote on the New York Post's blog.

Lindsay had no response, but her mother Dina really unloaded: "Donald, I'm really disappointed in the statement that was brought to my attention from the New York Post. I've always had a great admiration for your business sense and I've read all your books and learned from them! Your own brother died of alcoholism and you own Trump Vodka? You say Lindsay needs new parents? Such a rash statement without backing it with fact? I am a single mother of four children doing what I can during this difficult time! Do a background check of both parents and you will find the truth! Shame on you ... so many families suffer from this, yours included. We need solutions not opinions!"

Celebrities Behaving Weirdly: Over in Great Britain, Sir Elton John caused a dust-up by saying he'd like to see the Internet shut down.

Confessing he's a "Luddite" who doesn't have a cell phone or an iPod, Sir Elton claimed that the 'Net has "stopped people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff," causing them instead to "sit at home and make their own records, which is sometimes okay but it doesn't bode well for long-term artistic vision. ... I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole Internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span"

Sir Elton insisted his complaint had nothing to do with sales of his CDs sagging because of Web music downloads.

Celebrities Behaving Smartly: Also in Britain, Brian May, guitarist for the popular '70s, '80s and '90s group Queen, handed in his astronomy Ph.D. thesis - about 36 years late.

May, 60, abandoned his studies at Imperial College in London in 1971 to pursue his music career, but never gave up his dream of earning his doctorate. Last Thursday he finally turned in his 48,000-word thesis, entitled "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud," and will defend it before an examining board on Aug. 23.

"If I fail I will fail big time," May said. "It will be a very public failure with all this press."


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