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Jerry Berger gets the boot, Gant Bloom gets a green light, and Sammy Sosa's in a whiteout

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Sammy Sosa's Whiteout
Sammy Sosa wants everyone out there to know that, no matter what you may have heard, and despite seemingly incontrovertible photographic evidence to the contrary, he has not become a gay vampire.

No, Sosa is merely going through a skin rejuvenation process, and the lighting in the now-infamous photo was the real problem. Sure, he was a little pale compared to his usual skin tone, but more than anything, there were just problems with the light. 

He isn't Michael Jackson, nor is he some sort of self-hating racial climber trying to turn himself into someone a little less brown. And he certainly isn't the homosexual undead. I just cannot stress this enough. 

See, I knew there was a simple, rational explanation for all this. Sammy is just the victim of bad lighting. As someone who has himself been victimized many times in life by unflattering light, I can't tell you how easy it is for something like this to happen.

I remember my senior year of high school, the photographer got the lights wrong, just a shade too bright, and my pictures that year are of a tall, gaunt Ethiopian man. And don't even get me started on fluorescent light. Every single time I get near a fluorescent, it turns me into a giant spider.

So sure, it may look as if Sosa has become Nosferatu, but that's just your imagination. Oh, and the lighting. And sure, it may look as if he's become the sort of vampire who might be classified as, oh, a wee bit lavender, if you know what I mean, but that's also completely unfounded. 

Then again, if it wasn't the lighting, and Sammy has, in fact, begun to thirst for the blood of living interior designers, there isn't anything wrong with that. So maybe he was bitten by a gay vampire somewhere along the line. Hey, no big deal. Who hasn't? Why, I remember one time, while on a family vacation in the Carpathians, I met the nicest man in a little cape shop and for the rest of that trip... 

You know what? I don't think I'm going to tell you the rest of that story. What happened between Bruce the Impaler and me that summer is private. Ever since then, though, I've had an unnatural attraction to blood banks and Pet Shop Boys records. 

Either way, I believe Sosa. If he says he isn't whitening his skin, then he isn't whitening his skin. Just an acid peel and some bad lighting is all that's going on here. And hey, just because he's now ending all his public appearances by turning into a bat, that doesn't mean anything. Hell, he may be turning into a bat, but look at the bright side: At least this time we know the bat is getting corked. 

Cue rim shot.
—Aaron Schafer

Justice In Bloom
A Daily RFT post earlier this month about a St. Louis judge fighting his ticket from a red-light camera generated a great response from reader Gant Bloom.

His comment?

"I won my red-light ticket. Here's the transcript."

Yes, earlier this year the 38-year-old Bloom — an IT professional at the Washington University School of Law — became one of the first individuals in St. Louis who has demanded a trial after getting a ticket from a camera.

Bloom's case is even more special in that he defended himself (he's not an attorney) and won!

As Bloom tells RFT, he didn't know whether he or his girlfriend was driving his BMW last year when it ran a stoplight on Skinker Boulevard. The ticket he received for the offense only provided a photo of his car and not an image of the driver.

Bloom went to court maintaining his innocence. A traffic judge wasn't buying Bloom's argument, so he asked for a trial. In February of this year, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Hogan ruled Bloom not guilty after the defendant made a mockery of the cop and red-light camera representative who testified against him in court.

P.S. Bloom says he is now convinced that he was truly innocent of the traffic violation, as his girlfriend has received two red-light camera tickets over the past year.

P.P.S. Bloom's girlfriend is no longer allowed to drive his car because of those tickets.
—Chad Garrison

Post-Dispatch Kisses Off Jerry Berger
Former Post-Dispatch gossip columnist Jerry Berger has been banned from his old place of employment.

Berger — who retired from the St. Louis daily in 2004 and recently debuted his own online gossip column — has remained a somewhat regular fixture at the Post-Dispatch over the years, turning up in the newsroom every three or four weeks.

Recently, though, Berger's visits have gotten a bit — shall we say — touchy. Two weeks ago the paper sent the erstwhile employee a letter informing him he was forbidden to set foot inside the building at 900 North Tucker Boulevard. The reason?

"After a recent newsroom visit, we received several complaints from staff members about inappropriate behavior directed at them from Jerry," says P-D editor Arnie Robbins. "I love Jerry. We're friends. But we cannot tolerate that type of behavior in the newsroom."

Robbins declines to elaborate on the "inappropriate behavior," but Daily RFT has heard from one Post-Dispatch staffer who says he and several colleagues were the target of Berger's untoward advances.

The reporter, who asked not to be identified, says that he and three other staffers were interviewed by the Post-Dispatch HR department following complaints that Berger groped them or made lewd comments to them.

"There's no way," responds Berger. "I don't know where that came from. I've been in a monogamous relationship with someone for thirteen years."

Reached by phone, the 76-year-old Berger confirms he received the letter from the paper banning him from the building. He says he doesn't know why he has been deemed persona non grata and disputes allegations that he came on to anyone.

Berger, who speaks these days in a barely audible whisper as a result of having lost part of a lung to cancer, says he threw the letter away with his junk mail.

He adds that he customarily greets people with a kiss and speculates that some of his salutations may have been misinterpreted. "They're Hollywood kisses," says Berger. "They are without emotion. I kiss. I hug. I'm happy to be alive."

Soon after being contacted by Daily RFT, Berger provided his own spin on his banishment on his website.

Wrote Berger:

Went to visit my old friends in the newsroom at the P-D — just saying hello, reminiscing, a few smooches and hugs. Three weeks after my innocent visit, I received a letter from the Post banning me from the building!"

Berger says he's already received e-mails from several readers expressing shock that the paper would ban him from the building.

In recent weeks Berger has posted a few nuggets in his column that seemed to be aimed at embarrassing the Post-Dispatch, such as an item two weeks ago that the financially strapped company was considering doing away with water coolers in the break room as a cost-saving measure.

Berger suggests that perhaps the ban was a form of retaliation. "That has crossed my mind," he says.

Newsroom sources speculate that Berger targeted the Post because he knew he was about to be 86'ed. They cite another item from two weeks ago, in which Berger wrote that the paper's publisher spent thousands of dollars remodeling his office. That item, sources say, was old news.

Whatever the case, Berger says he can live with the ban. "So be it," he says. "I don't have to go down there. I can still get the information I need from my many moles."

He adds that his online column is doing great — to the tune of 100,000 hits per column.
—Chad Garrison

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