And No Early Check-Out

The Phoenician, the white elephant luxury resort convicted savings and loan swindler Charles Keating built in suburban Phoenix, has been advertising a bargain $62.50 per person special.

At that kind of rate, the government might be able to save taxpayer money (and contribute in a small way toward solving the prison overcrowding problem) by housing Keating in the hotel he once owned (and where he even named a nightclub after himself.)

Assuming that authorities could lock in that special rate, the cost to house Keating--who is expected to serve at least 10 years in prison for looting Lincoln Savings in Irvine--would come to $22,812.

That's less than the $25,000 annual operating cost per prison cell in California, and not too much more than the $20,803 per cell average operating cost for federal prisons (Keating was convicted on both state and federal counts.)

On top of that, consider that the average cost these days to build prison space is about $80,000 per cell.

Not Exactly Burt & Loni Stuff

Some of the more interesting reading from the National Enquirer these days comes from parent company Enquirer/Star Group's annual report sent to shareholders before the company's annual meeting next month.

The company, which also owns the The Star and Weekly World News tabloids, describes an army of 1,000 free-lance contributors who provide information that is "rewritten in National Enquirer style by a highly skilled team of writers."

The report also says that, as of June 15, the company was involved in five libel-related lawsuits. (The June 15 cutoff date missed one filed later in the month by Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford over a story alleging the couple used a bizarre artificial insemination technique.)

In the five years ended March 29, the report says the company paid $16.2 million in legal fees, libel insurance premiums and libel-related settlements. But, the report assures shareholders, the company has no trouble getting libel insurance.

Smells Like Teen Fad

For anyone who is wondering, the days of the "grunge" movement--marked by sloppy clothes and the music of such rock groups as Nirvana--are numbered.

The Trends Journal, which tracks trends for marketers, says that the grunge movement "will not develop beyond a niche" as "grunges" grow up.

The publication estimates that fewer than 9% of the people in the generation following baby boomers are grunges, with the rest "designer grunges" who wear Doc Marten shoes and designer caps turned backward.

Briefly . . .

Zorba the Artist: A Las Vegas gallery is promoting the "international premiere exhibition" to sell art from "painter, sculptor, renaissance man" Anthony Quinn. . . . "Make Money Watching Television!" reads an ad from a Coral Springs, Fla., company. . .Malibu Comics in Westlake Village has published a Jurassic Park parody called "Jurassic Jerk."

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