Archive for March, 2013

Madonna’s Homeless Brother: She “Doesn’t Give a Sh– If I’m Dead or Alive”

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

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Madonna‘s brother, Anthony Ciccone, is an alcoholic who’s living on the streets of Traverse City, Mich., and he says that his family couldn’t care less whether he lives or dies.

“Madonna doesn’t give a sh– if I’m dead or alive,” Ciccone tells Britain’s Daily Mail. “She lives in her own world.”

Of their father, Tony – who often drives around town to bring food to Ciccone, according to the Mail – he adds: “He doesn’t want to be bothered. … He thinks the way I live is intentional. … My father would be very happy if I died of hypothermia and then he would not have to worry about it anymore.”

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Ciccone, 56, insists that he’d rather be working and is homeless as a result of “where the chips fell” in his family, but the Mail reports that he once lost a job at the family vineyard after he was discovered drinking wine from the vats. He also recently spent a month in jail after being arrested for public intoxication in a church, where he was allegedly swearing in front of children, the Mail reports. Still, Ciccone maintains that he does not have a drinking problem.

Ciccone, the oldest of eight siblings, says that he and Madonna, 54, were “enemies” growing up. Both Madonna and her father, Tony, have paid for Anthony to go to rehab on several occasions, but he now refuses to go back, according to the Mail. Their other siblings have also tried to reach out.

“I’ve never asked my sister for anything,” Ciccone insists. “She don’t owe me nothing. That’s her sh–, man. She made her money, she worked for it, I’ve got no beef. If she wants to live that way, that’s her thing.”

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When Madonna performed at the Super Bowl last year, Ciccone and a group of other homeless men listened from a van in the parking lot, in a stunt organized by a local radio station, the Mail reports.

It’s not the first time Ciccone has lashed out at the Queen of Pop. In 2011, he came forward with similar claims.


Celeb marriage left me $4M in debt

Friday, March 29th, 2013

I will never forget the moment that my soon-to-be ex-husband and I sat in our mediator’s office as he illustrated our finances on a chalkboard.

“There really aren’t any assets,” he told us. But there was $4 million of debt — from bad investments, lawsuits and failed business deals that I knew nothing about.

I left the room sobbing, feeling like I’d been punched in the stomach. How could I not have known that we owed so much? How — over the 14 years that we’d been together, and through the birth of two sons — had I been so unaware?

Financially blind — over love

I met my ex-husband when I was just 25 years old. He walked into a New York City gallery where I was working, and I recognized him immediately: He was a famous comedian (I can’t disclose his name for legal reasons) who was then at the peak of his career.

My life changed overnight: We went hot-air ballooning in Italy, on a safari in Africa and out every night in his limousine for extravagant dinners. You name it, we did it. And when he decided to move to Aspen a few years into our relationship, I gave up my job to join him.

But our romance had one caveat: I would never have a say in the finances. Since I believed we would be forever, it was never an issue. Plus, he didn’t handle the money, either. His businesspeople did, while he spent whatever he pleased. He had monthly meetings with his business manager, who’d offer advice, but then my ex would just go down his own path. He refused to listen to anything about saving or budgeting, figuring that since he was earning the money, no one was going to tell him what to do with it.

We didn’t marry for 12 years, but as soon as we did, things began to go south — primarily because of finances.

My ex had extreme control issues around money that stemmed from a rough childhood. His parents were poor, and he helped to support them from a young age. Because of this, he always needed to “feel rich.” For him, this meant eating out constantly and carrying around rolls of $100 bills. On a trip to Florence, he once took me into a high-end clothing store and said, “You have 15 minutes to get anything you want.” I remember standing in the dressing room as a clerk threw clothing over the door for me to try on as fast as possible.

How we reached the breaking point

As my ex-husband got older, his career started to level off — he was headlining fewer shows and bringing in less money. We’d scaled back the way we lived to some degree, but then the credit cards started being declined. I’d call our business manager and hear things like, “Hopefully there will be money next month.”

After enough of these calls, I finally woke up to the fact that I was in my late 30s — with two small children, no savings, no retirement plan and a husband whose career was clearly going downhill. I started to freak out and ask questions: How were we providing for our sons? Did we have retirement accounts? I broke the rule and insisted on being involved in our finances. Not only did he refuse to discuss it, but he also refused any kind of counseling.

When I left, he felt personally betrayed, which translated into a very contentious divorce. I got a minimal amount of child support, plus alimony for one year, since we were technically married for only two. There were no assets, and due to the unmanageable debt, both of us were urged to declare bankruptcy. Because California law splits a couple’s assets and debts 50-50, I inherited a decade’s worth of debt after just a little over a year of marriage. I remember my ex’s creditors constantly calling before I filed, looking for payments I couldn’t afford.

I went from a life of excess to saving every penny I earned from selling my own artwork. When my sons were bored, I said, “No movies, but we can make a cool fort out of cardboard boxes!”

At the same time, I was trying to recover from declaring bankruptcy. Luckily, I’d rented my new home before the filing went through. And thank goodness I also had a car because my destroyed credit made it impossible to get a loan or a credit card with a reasonable rate. I never wanted to use them again anyway. (My credit is now in the low 700’s, and it took years to build back up to that number.)

Though I had a place to live, I had no resources to furnish it — or replace all of the things that were full of memories from my marriage. I didn’t want to sleep on the sheets we’d shared, but I couldn’t afford to replace them. So I dyed them to make them look “new.”

One day, I happened to dye a piece of suede, which turned out beautiful. I borrowed $100 from my parents, bought and dyed pieces of suede from the local leather shop, and then hand-stitched them together to make shawls. When a friend who owned a shop in a mall saw them, she said, “These aren’t shawls — you’re making skirts, and I’d like two dozen for the store.”

Before I knew it, I was dressing celebrities like Farrah Fawcett and Bonnie Raitt, and selling my creations in upmarket stores in major cities, the kind of boutiques I’d shopped in when I had money.

I quickly needed a larger space to run my business, so I took $10,000 from an art sale and borrowed another $10,000 from my parents. I knew nothing about managing a business, so I brought in a partner to handle the finances — at least that’s what I thought she’d do. It had taken me only three months to get “angel investor” funding — and within 12, the money was gone. I was so busy with my creative role, on top of being a single mom, that I didn’t pay close enough attention to what my partner was doing. It was clearly my mistake.

If I had to pick a low point, this was it. My marriage was over, my business had failed, and I was completely broke. There were weeks when I was so paralyzed with fear that I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t figure out how I’d messed up my life so badly.

Looking back, I know exactly how it happened: My parents never taught me about money, and while I had graduated college, I hadn’t been required to take business classes. But hitting bottom was actually a huge blessing because it made me realize something: With my life stripped down to nothing, I really had everything — my sons, my health and myself. Eventually, with emotional support from my parents and friends, I began to forgive myself.

How I finally turned my life around

I had finally wised up. I was on a mission for financial stability. I got a job in marketing — and got serious about budgeting.

I worked with an attorney to finally get my business accounts in order — everything from contracts to trademarks and licensing deals. More importantly, he pushed me into taking a lot of it on myself, so that I could pursue projects as a fully engaged, responsible grown-up.

I also discovered the Women’s Institute for Financial Education (WIFE). My CPA had recommended checking them out, and when I saw their slogan — “A Man Is Not a Financial Plan” — I had to know them.

Besides basics like budgeting, WIFE has taught me to plan for the future and depend on myself. I learned the hard way that you need to save, plan ahead and create a stable foundation in order to have the freedom to be entrepreneurial — and successful.

Today, my approach to money today is on steroids. I love knowing where every cent is, and I’m proud of the way I educate my kids to be financially savvy. I now have emergency funds, insurance for the future and retirement accounts. Now, instead of avoiding bills, I actually get excited when my bank statements hit my inbox.

It’s a long way from being $4 million in debt.


Dying teen is too ill to attend prom, so prom comes to her.

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Katelyn Norman entering her prom (© Michael Dayah,

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Katelyn Norman entering her prom. (All photos by Michael Dayah.)

Dying teen is too ill to attend prom, so it comes to her hospital bed

6 hrs ago

Fourteen-year-old Katelyn Norman doesn’t have much time left. Doctors say osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, will soon take the Tennessee teen’s life. But it hasn’t stolen all her chances to experience the joys of being young — including the prom. Katelyn hoped she’d be well enough to attend a personalized prom at her school Tuesday night, but that afternoon she had trouble breathing and had to be hospitalized. Her friends and family rallied, bringing the event to her hospital room, where her date presented her with a corsage and a “Prom Queen” sash. Katelyn insisted that the prom at school proceed without her: “She contacted me and said prom must go on — that’s her, and you can’t help but feed off that energy, that life,” said the organizer.


$5 ‘Just Looking’ Fee: Grocer Causes Stir, Aims to End Showrooming.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

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Shoppers are familiar with the old You Break, You Buy adage. But now, some of them will also be shelling out the bucks…to browse.

Celiac Supplies in Australia has just launched what could end up being a popular practice for other scorned retailers. The gluten-free grocer posted a notice for customers on its door which reads, “As of the first of February, this store will be charging people a $5 fee per person for ‘just looking.’ The $5 fee will be deducted when goods are purchased.”

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The grocer isn’t the first to consider charging customers to look. Paying to peruse? Cha-ching just to check something out? There’s a reason behind the drastic move.

Celiac Supplies is not the only store to complain about customers coming in, browsing the aisles, looking merchandise over and even trying it out only to jump online to actually purchase the items for digital merchants.

“There has been high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere,” Celiac’s notice continues. “These people are unaware our prices are almost the same as the other stores plus we have products simply not available anywhere else.”

The owner of Celiac Supplies told the Australian Associated Press she has “had a gut full of working and not getting paid. I’m not here to dispense a charity service for Coles and Woolworths to make more money.”

Georgina, the owner who didn’t want her last name published, went on to say, “I can tell straight away who are the rat bags who are going to come in here and pick my brain and disappear.”

Georgina says her new approach to business has made some customers turn around while others are willing to pay to browse. Some area experts in the industry say the practice will likely do more at turning shoppers away, though.

Editor’s Note: Use This Single Loophole to Pay Zero Taxes. See Video

The new pay-to-browse concept has stirred up conversation in the Twittersphere. @Minus 777 tweets “I guess they’ll soon be out of business.” Nicole Jensen tweets, somewhat sarcastically, “This won’t be bad for business, at all, ever.”

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New sinkhole in same Fla. town where man was killed

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

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Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office

A new sinkhole has been found in Seffner between two houses.


By Brian Hamacher,

Just weeks after a sinkhole swallowed a Florida man, killing him in his sleep in his Seffner home, another sinkhole has opened between two houses in the same town.

The latest sinkhole appeared in the 1400 block of Lake Shore Ranch Drive around 7 p.m. Saturday. It’s estimated to be about 8 feet in diameter and 10 feet deep, according to WFLA.

Both homes on either side of the hole were evacuated as a precaution.

Seffner is the town where 37-year-old Jeff Bush was swallowed by a sinkhole that completely demolished his bedroom three weeks ago. Five others who were in the house escaped unharmed.

That sinkhole was estimated to be 20 feet wide and 20 feet deep. The house was later demolished.


Unsurprising rumor du jour: Lindsay Lohan is apparently still drinking

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

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You sitting down? Good, because it appears that Lindsay Lohan still might not be making solid life decisions. According to TMZ, she continues to drink, and even indulged at the bar of her Beverly Hills hotel on Monday, mere hours after she accepted a plea deal that will send her to a lockdown rehab facility for 90 days.

Her alleged cocktail of choice: vodka sodas. Cut to

Friday night, and LiLo supposedly surfaced at a San Diego club, where TMZ claims she ordered vodka on the rocks while seated at a VIP table.

Lohan, said to be sporting a hoodie and a Yankees cap, purportedly asked that the alcohol be served in a clear carafe so her table wouldn’t have a telltale bottle on it.

Sources tell TMZ that Lindsay “is adamant” that she has no substance-related issues and “doesn’t feel she needs professional help.”

Meanwhile, another insider tattles that Lohan is unhappy that she’ll spend her 27th birthday on July 2 in treatment. Seems she planned to throw a big party in New York.

As you’re flooded with sympathy, click on to see all six of Lindsay’s mugshots over the years


Thousands line up for Seattle’s St. Patrick’s Day Dash

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

By Seattle Party Bus Rentals

Thousands of people celebrated St. Patrick’s Day and the arrival  of spring by running or walking in the annual St. Patrick’s Day  Dash in Seattle on Sunday.

The 4-mile event began 28 years ago as a race between bars, and  as a training event for an Irish Olympian. Now it’s Seattle’s  largest single-distance run/walk, jog or crawl where the winners  cross the finish before the last person starts.

The Dash benefits the Detlef Schrempf Foundation in support of  Northwest children’s charities. The funds are directed to four  Northwest children’s organizations: Camp Fire USA Puget Sound  Council, Seattle Children’s Autism Center, Rise n’ Shine, and the  Healing Center.


106-year-old Ohio woman finally gets her high school diploma

Friday, March 15th, 2013

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — A 106-year-old central Ohio woman who completed classes but didn’t graduate in a dispute over a book has received her high school diploma.

The News Journal in Mansfield ( ) reports the Mount Vernon superintendent presented Reba Williams with the diploma Wednesday at her apartment in Columbus. She even got to wear a traditional graduation cap brought by the retired Mount Vernon English teacher who urged the school board to award the diploma.



Williams says she hopes current students realize that learning is important.

Williams has said she completed high school in Mount Vernon but was denied her diploma because she refused to read a final book assigned by a teacher. She’d read the book once and didn’t want to read it again.

Williams says she hopes current students realize that learning is important and that they probably shouldn’t follow her example.

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