The last pain to Clarksburg: The people of Clarksburg, West Virginia, must be feeling pretty good right about now. After all, they've survived 1995, the year their town was deluged with mail from an unwanted pen pal: one JT Colfax, a performance artist who picked the town as the odd object of his affections. But Clarksburg didn't always appreciate the attention--particularly since many of Colfax's missives, sent to people picked at random from the Clarksburg phone book--described his first gay experience in his hometown of Denver, as well as subsequent adventures in New York City and Los Angeles (where he occupied the slammer that was later home to O.J. Simpson).

Colfax--whose real name is James Thompson--moved back to Denver from NYC this fall. He's getting on with his life and giving up what he'd dubbed the "Clarksburg Project." In fact, he sent his farewells, including a "letter of resignation" as Town Crazy, to Mayor Tom Flynn on New Year's Eve. But although Colfax may be gone, Clarksburg won't be forgotten: Sean Mackey, a recent college grad living in Denver, has volunteered to pick up where Colfax left off. "My goal is to heal the wounds," Mackey told a wary West Virginia reporter. "I have no intention to berate them or to push a political agenda. I just want to tell stories."

Just say no-ho-ho: Santa Claus was caught red-handed on Christmas Eve in the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in Crowley. According to Department of Corrections investigator John "Smokey" Kurtz, an inmate dressed up as Santa was nabbed after his helper (another prisoner) passed him "a load of drugs--cocaine and marijuana."

"Nothing's sacred anymore," says a disillusioned Kurtz. "It was early Christmas Eve, and they called me at home to come in and test the drugs. I said, `Put him in segregation and we'll strip-search him to see if he has anything else.'" Calling Rudolph with his nose so bright!

Kurtz continues, "I told them, `I've already opened my presents, but unfortunately for you, Santa Claus is going to jail tonight.'"

At least he wasn't being clawed over at the Cat Care Society's Meow Mart, where shoppers were snapping up this season's most popular pet present: catnip-filled pouches with drawings of political figures on the front, so that owners could enjoy watching their pussies rip apart their enemies. Among the selection: Bill Clinton, Hillary, Rush Limbaugh, Phil Gramm and Bob Dole. The hottest ticket, though, was Newt Gingrich, who sold out fast.

You're telling us.
(Newt certainly fared better with cat owners than he did with the media. At an October Denver Press Club charity auction, an autographed copy of Gingrich's To Know America inspired no bids.)

That's prognostication, not procrastination: As befits an enterprise devoted to predicting trends, the thirteenth edition of the American Forecaster, is available not just in book form, not just on CD-Rom, but also on the hip, hyped World Wide Web.

Maybe. Just ten days before 1996 was to start, the web site still wasn't active. Author and trendwatcher Kim Long--the man who correctly predicted from his offices on Ogden Street the national rise of flavored martinis and the fall of high heels--took the snafu in stride. The technology was there; the service company wasn't.

Even in the futures business, some things never change.


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