When the going gets tough the tough get going—off to the public water fountain, in this case. California resident, Tom Selleck, of previous Magnum PI fame and lately Blue Bloods, decided to tackle the drought conditions in a creative, if not arguably illegal manner and made use of a public water hydrant to irrigate his parched farm in Southern California.
Selleck owns a 60-acre ranch and avocado farm in nearby Hidden Valley. The drought, which has been ongoing for the past four years, is likely decimating his crops. While there could well be a lot of other people in the same boat, who either didn’t come up with idea or didn’t have the funds or balls to pull it off, Selleck did, and it didn’t go unnoticed.
What exactly did he do? He hired a commercial water tanker to fill up from a public hydrant in Thousand Oaks, CA, at least a dozen times over a two year period. Nice. All this water poaching began in 2013, apparently.
It is, or was, a very wild-west kind of move on Selleck’s part. Or maybe it’s just called looking after your own a$$. However you want to call it, officials hit him with a lawsuit accusing him of pilfering water from a public hydrant to irrigate his farm.
According to the civil complaint filed by the Calleguas Municipal Water District in Ventura County Superior Court, the District documented seven separate occasions when a water tanker showed up, filled up and left. The complaint stated that the water was taken to “the Hidden Valley area, where the Selleck property is located,” between Sept. 20, 2013, and Oct. 3, 2013.
The district sent a cease-and-desist letter to Selleck and his wife, Jillie Mack, on Nov. 26, 2013, but all for nought, as the same truck again siphoned water on Dec. 16, 2013, according to the lawsuit. Ok, that takes some cojones. And not in a good way.
According to officials, Selleck’s ranch is located outside the Calleguas district, so he should be using his own groundwater supply. I’m betting he already thought of that.
Weirdly, the lawsuit is not about the money, apparently. The value of the water was next to nothing, that is in the eyes of the district. The actual cash value the district could reportedly sell 325,000 gallons of water for is as low as $1,200, according to Eric Bergh, manager of resources for the Calleguas Municipal district. The district was asking Selleck to pay $21,685.55 for investigators it hired and court costs. So, effectively, he got away with taking the water?
But low and behold—they’ve reached a settlement. I’m guessing it’s got something to do with the publicity—not the kind anyone wants, let alone a 70–year old actor—who plays a good guy on TV.
Interestingly, the local sheriff’s department investigated the claims but couldn’t establish that a crime had taken place, according to Capt. John Reilly. So stealing public property isn’t a crime? According to Bergh, “It’s about equity and fairness and protecting the resources for the people who are paying for it.” Isn’t that why we have laws? Or am I missing something here…
Two Italian food joints—one a high end chain in Manhattan—The Cipriani Group—which includes Harry Cipriani Fifth Avenue in Midtown and other Cipriani Group establishments, and a mom and pop operation in Chicago—Cipriani’s Pasta and Sauce of Chicago Heights—have taken the gloves off and intend to duke it out in court over trademark infringement.
Cipriani’s Pasta and Sauce of Chicago Heights, owned by Annette Johnson, got hit with the $1 million plus lawsuit by Cirpirani Group over allegations that the little tomato is trying to profit off the big tomato—so to speak—by using the same name. Johnson says, well—you can guess. She has filed a countersuit.
The nuts and bolts—Johnson claims her food is better and it’s been around longer than Ciprianis in NYC. “The [Chicago] Ciprianis’ pasta was and continues to be made by hand and is air-dried naturally, which gives the pasta more character and flavor and results in a higher-quality product compared to commercial pasta which is heat-dried,” according to the lawsuit. She claims she has no desire to be associated with NYC outfit, and claims in her countersuit that the Cipriani Group’s trademarks dates only to 1985—“long after” Cipriani’s Pasta and Sauce opened a trademarked business. Her business began as a small Italian restaurant in Chicago Heights opened by John and Mary Cipriani in 1929, according to The New York Post. In 1955 the couple began selling their homemade pasta and sauces in regional stores, expanding their business, and decades later, sales went online. Johnson bought the business in 2004.
For their part, the Cipriani Group, who got the whole thing rolling, claim that Johnson and her Chicago-based business are attempting to profit off the reputation of their restaurants by making “a concerted effort to associate their inferior,” cheaper products with their goods. FYI—the Cipriani Group counts A-listers Kim Kardashian and Robert De Niro as customers.
It is a little confusing, however, that both businesses sell Cipriani-branded products in grocery stores, supermarkets and online.
It is just possible that the big guns may have bitten off more than can chew on this one. In her court filings, Johnson says that if anyone is deceiving customers, it’s the Cipriani Group — causing Midwesterners to believe its products are affiliated with her popular local enterprise. As the best defense is a good offense… she’s seeking a court order to stop the Cipriani Group from selling its products in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin—the heart of pasta-eating country (?). Since the Cipriani Group operates restaurants, banquet halls and other businesses around the world—maybe they could concede the Midwest—it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But there’s a principle at stake here!
Johnson also wants the Cipriani Group to stop “doing any other act likely to confuse, mislead or deceive others into believing that CGI or its products and services are affiliated with, connected with, sponsored by, approved by CP&S or its products,’’ according to the papers.
FYI—Harry Cipriani Fifth Avenue in Midtown and other Cipriani Group establishments are an offshoot of Harry’s Bar, a famous Venice, Italy, tavern opened in the 1930s by Giuseppe Cipriani.
Let the tomatoes fall where they will.
Residents of a luxury New York apartment block on the upper east side are suing their tenant, a ground-floor high-end greasy spoon—not for noise violations, not for late night closings—but for stinking the building out. There is such a thing as too much garlic, it seems.
Just for context, three bedroom condos in The Isis (maybe they should sue for a name change while they’re at it, eh?) on East 77th go for $2.8 million. Not exactly chump change. But included in that price, now, is eau du steak et frites avec garlic, eau du boeuf burger avec garlic, and eau du garlic avec garlic, courtesy of the French-Italian bistro, Vella, the alleged tenant-from-hell on the ground floor.
Members of the board of The Isis, apparently thought they were getting an odor-restrained wine bar when they rented out the unit in 2012. No cooking, just reheating with menu items that involve nothing more complicated than a hotplate (sounds like my kitchen). At least that’s what they’re claiming in their lawsuit.
The Vella started serving hamburgers, chicken and bacon without proper venting or fire-safety devices, the lawsuit states. Wonder if they’re serving fish…now that could get ugly.
According to the lawsuit, “The prohibited cooking is causing strong odors that permeate the entire Isis building and is a nuisance to the residential-unit owners of the condominium.” Dr. Yariv Houvras, 44, who lives with his wife and three children on the third floor, said the stink of garlic and roasted meat has saturated their apartment. “Imagine your closet full of clothes smelling like really, really pungent garlicky food,” he said. Oh yeah baby! Nothing like putting on your best suit and knocking people out with panache and the stale smells of yesterday’s blue plate.
Marc Landis, who represents the Isis residents, said, “The restaurant owner should not be allowed to conduct its business so irresponsibly. Our clients and their families have the right to enjoy their homes, free of noxious smells, unreasonable noise and risk of fire.” Oh yes—risk of fire—forgot about that one.
Stuart Shaw, an attorney for the commercial unit’s owner, 168 Madison Ave. LLC, said there are no violations and a study by the board found that there isn’t an actual odor issue. And the manager of Vella, Pavel Srbecky said, “We’re all up to code. We didn’t breach anything.” I’m not sure being up to code negates violating people’s air space with noxious fumes, but the judge hearing the suit turfed the Isis board’s emergency bid to shut down Vella’s kitchen. He did, however, leave the suit for $50,000 in damages against the restaurant and the commercial unit’s owner standing.
In case you’re in the area and fancy a nibble—or are just plain curious, The Yorkville eatery serves a $31 filet mignon with gratin potato and $24 braised short ribs with seasoned mixed vegetables.
Possibly the most expensive dates in the world could cost a self-proclaimed elite matchmaker his livelihood. And hey, maybe it should. Richard Easton, who appears to be bordering on the notorious, is facing a lawsuit brought by a 61-year old real estate maven—Audrey Ruden—who claims, essentially, that Easton defrauded her of a six figure fee for what amounted to two dates with a couple of deadbeats.
Admittedly, if Ruden had taken a quick poll of New Yorkers as to whether it was rational thinking on her part to spend six figures on finding a date—let alone husband material—the resounding response would be “No”. But, of course, we won’t focus here on the collective raised eyebrow we’re all shooting in Ruden’s direction at present; we’ll focus on the biz deal she apparently had with Easton…
Ruden, a top New York realtor, hired Easton (whose credits include a recent appearance on ‘Real Housewives of New York’) to help her find a husband. (Why does Shakespeare come to mind at this point…) The—are you sitting down—$100,000 fee, which incidentally exceeds the state’s Dating Services Law preventing “purveyors of social referral services” from charging above $1,000 per client, wasn’t enough to produce the goods, according to the lawsuit. Ok, really? Easton could have hired a few well qualified escorts for that kind of dosh—and know exactly what she was getting. As it turned out, the Mensa members who were recruited to take her out on dates just wanted sex, now there’s a surprise.
Also not surprising, Ruden wants her money back. Ya think. On paper, Ruden appears to be quite a catch for some lucky guy- she’s a top Douglas Elliman broker, who has $500 million in luxury real estate sales to her credit (but sadly, no appearances on ‘Real Housewives of New York’—well, she does have the ‘New York’ part covered, but is still missing that ‘Housewife’ moniker…). So, she knows a thing or two about client satisfaction. In her lawsuit, she states Easton claimed to offer “personalized, sophisticated, thoughtful matchmaking services provided by highly trained experts.” (Trained in what?)
Ruden alleges “This is a lie.” She claims she was promised matches with “marriage-minded men,” the lawsuit states. (OK, that’s an oxymoron—what’s your first clue?)
Instead, she had two not terribly great dates with bachelors who only had an interest in short-term flings, according to court documents. One of the dates even questioned “why she was pursuing marriage,” the suit states. Well, that’s a reasonable question—but what’s the context?
According to court documents, Ruden, who lives on the Upper East Side, accuses Easton of hiring men “to create a false impression of performing the contracted-for services.” Wouldn’t be the first guy to do this—in fact one of his competitors—celebrity matchmaker Matt Titus—is also facing a lawsuit brought by a former teen model, who made similar allegations that she was set up with “fake” dates. Titus denied those claims, saying that the client was simply very demanding. Sounds familiar. In this case, Easton also blames his client for the failure of their husband hunting joint venture—the lawsuit states that the self-described “international playboy” belittled Ruden “in a condescending and sarcastic manner.”
It didn’t take long before Ruden realized Easton “had taken advantage of her intense desire to be in a committed relationship” and demanded her money back. But he refused, the lawsuit claims. (Ok, we said we’d refrain, but “intense desire”? Ouch! Lots of alarms going off there, eh?)
Easton does seem to be racking up the lawsuits. He’s also facing a little court action from his landlord who filed a lawsuit earlier this month, alleging Easton demanded oral sex from a housekeeper, ordered building staff to call him “Prince” and allowed his dog to defecate on the roof deck. Sounds like quite a catch himself—but I think you’d need a net for this one—and maybe a big white van.
Easton runs his matchmaking business out of an $11,500-a-month apartment. He has retaliated against his landlord by threatening a defamation suit. Now that should be entertaining.
Wow. So who’s gonna write the pilot for “Desperate Wannabe Wives of New York”? It just might be ready for prime time…
Kinda hard to think about this case—which we all knew would be coming down the pike—without thinking of the likes of RuPaul. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
South Carolina’s DMV is being sued by a boy and his mother over the 16-year old’s right to wear his “everyday” makeup for his driver’s licence photo. In her lawsuit, Teresa Culpepper alleges the SCDMV told her son to remove his mascara for the photo. When he refused, the SCDMV refused to take the photo, citing a policy that a driver’s license applicant cannot “purposely alter his/her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his/her identity.”
OK—so where does that leave all us lipstick-loving, hair-colored, false eyelash-wearing women? And what about wigs—how does that work? And what about women who wear trousers? Wow, what a can of worms…
The back story: earlier this year Chase Culpepper reportedly showed up for his DL photo wearing foundation, mascara, eye shadow, and lip gloss—you might have seen Chase’s pic splattered across the news at the time. Makeup’s everyday stuff for most women—part of the external persona. According to Chase’s mum, the makeup and androgynous gender performance are part of Chase’s identity. Although Chase was born male, he wears gender non-conforming clothes and makeup.
Teresa Culpepper states that her son passed his driving test and satisfied all other requirements for a license. The only obstacle was the interpretation of the SCDMV’s policy by an employee at the Anderson office of the DMV. Apparently, a DMV employee complimented Chase on his makeup, but said he would not be able to wear fake eyelashes in the picture. “C.C. [Chase Culpepper] and his mother informed her that his eye lashes were real,” Culpepper states in her complaint.
“The employee then said she needed to speak with a supervisor and left to do so. She returned and told C. C. that her supervisor had stated that he needed to ‘go home’ and ‘take off the makeup.’ C. C. and his mother informed the employee that C. C. wears makeup daily and that how he looked at the time is how he looks on a regular basis,” according to the complaint.
Tammy King, the manager of the SCDMV’s Anderson office and the named defendant, then allegedly told the Culpeppers that “C. C. could not take his driver’s license photograph while wearing his regular everyday makeup,” because “it was in her ‘discretion’ to not allow C. C. to have his driver’s license photo taken if she felt he was wearing a disguise.”
Wait a minute—hadn’t they just explained all this?
“C. C.’s mother asked defendant King if a female applicant seeking a driver’s license wearing makeup of the kind C. C. was wearing, i.e., foundation, mascara, eye shadow, and lip gloss, was required to remove her makeup prior to taking a photograph for a driver’s license.
“Defendant King did not respond to plaintiff’s question,” Culpepper says. No, probably because there is no answer.
Lots to ponder here, folks…If a woman wears makeup to look more feminine, it’s not gender-bending, right? But if a man wears makeup…? If RuPaul is highly established as a drag queen (ie, a man doing some gender-bending via cosmetics), which of his/her personas gets photographed at the DMV? Is it up to him/her? We’ve got a wealth of fodder right here for when you’re slow on conversation at your next cocktail party.
The complaint goes on: “There is no disputing, and the SCDMV has acknowledged, that C.C. wears makeup on a regular basis.
However, the SCDMV and its employees have interpreted the policy to prohibit a male applicant from wearing regular everyday makeup that they allow female applicants to wear under the same policy.”
Culpepper claims the defendants discriminated against her son because of “their preconceived notion of how males should and can look. This preconceived notion is a sex stereotype and does not constitute a legitimate state interest.” No shit Sherlock.
Predictably, I suppose, the SCDMV’s policy is vague and relies on an interpretation of what “misrepresenting his/her identity” means, leaving the interpretation up to the discretion to SCDMV employees, something that is not allowed in the private sector. So, you ask—what’s the exact policy? Well, there isn’t one. In their suit, the Culpeppers argue that the policy leaves applicants like Chase at the mercy of sex/gender discrimination and sex stereotyping.
As the complaint states: “Defendants impermissibly discriminated against C.C. based on his sex and their sex stereotype…They unconstitutionally restrained C. C.’s freedom of expression and compelled and continue to compel him to convey an ideological message of their design. And they deprived C.C. of his constitutionally protected liberty interest in his personal appearance. Moreover, defendants’ policy is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, enabling SCDMV personnel to make arbitrary and capricious decisions based on their perception of how a particular individual should look as male or female.” Amen to that.
So, Chase Culpepper, better put your best face on because could you could become the poster boy for DMV discrimination.
Gosh—I sure hope this doesn’t translate into a no make-up at all policy… passport photos are bad enough…