National City Bank wants its customers to feel special. So says its impossible-to-get-out-of-your-head jingle: "I'm special, so special!"
But the bank has a curious way of extending its love to Keith Kimmel: It's threatening to sue him.
Kimmel is no ordinary customer. He's the creator of FuckNationalCity.com, a cyber-clearinghouse for complaints about the bank. The website includes his rants as well as bulletin boards -- with forums like "Tell Your Horror Story" -- overflowing with customers and employees bitching.
Now, the Cleveland bank is threatening to sue for trademark infringement. Apparently its ability to screw you into paying overdrafts is proprietary information.
"National City, like many dumb and uneducated corporations before them, thinks that they will shut me up . . ." he writes. "Well, I have news for them: such actions will only highlight what this website has talked about for a long time -- National City feels they can push anyone around whenever they want."
Consider yourself highlighted, Keith.
Tri-C's tattered savior
As president of Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois, Chip Chapdelaine was the Big Man to Hate on campus. The college has a $45 million annual budget, but somehow Chapdelaine managed to run up a whopping $62-million construction deficit during his seven-year tenure.
He built a $12-million theater with a star-shaped, retractable roof ($4.6 million over budget). He also built a $7.9-million support-services building ($1.7 million over budget) and a $7-million student center ($1.5 million over budget). All this on a campus with 9,200 students and only 14 buildings.
Chapdelaine was also widely considered a jerk. Faculty and staff accused him of acting like a petty emperor, ignoring concerns about his spending spree and sowing dissent in the ranks. When Chapdelaine's ballooning deficit forced the college to hike tuition, students gathered 1,000 signatures in protest, a rare moment of activism for a commuter college. Faculty threatened to strike after Chapdelaine announced plans for layoffs, and all three of the college's employee groups overwhelmingly passed "no confidence" votes against the president.
Finally, in January, the college's board voted unanimously to fire Chapdelaine, two years before his contract was up. The board was in such a hurry to get rid of him that it agreed to pay Chapdelaine a $149,700 severance, $62,000 more than his contract provided, as long as he left without suing.
So what did Cuyahoga Community College do when they discovered Chapdelaine's abysmal record? They hired him, naturally.
Chapdelaine will receive $135,000 a year to become the new president of Tri-C's eastern campus. Members of the search committee "were very aware of the circumstances of his departure from Rock Valley," says spokeswoman Claire Rosacco. "They hired him on his accomplishments, and they're excited that he's coming."
Chapdelaine admits that his last job offered a teachable moment. Lesson: Don't spend like a crack whore, and try not to be an asshole.
"I think there could have been tighter control on spending," he says. "And I learned that I have to be more inclusive."
Dave Stann, badass celebrity
In the world of high-stakes blackjack, nobody's more feared than Dave Stann. He won $30,000 at the World Series of Blackjack by bringing psychological warfare to the table. When one guy sitting next to him was playing too well, Stann leaned over to him and casually asked, "What hand do you masturbate with?" The competitor busted shortly thereafter.
Due to his notoriety, the Game Show Network courted him to be the wise-cracking dealer for the weekly series Celebrity Blackjack. Now, he gets to taunt people like Andy Dick for living. It's a noble job. "That's dumb," Stann will say when a celeb hits on 17. "Why would you do that?"
But it's not the life he intended. When Stann left Kent State with a theater degree in 2000, he headed west with hopes of becoming the next Bruce Willis. He ended up waiting tables instead. "I got sick of the whole restaurant thing," he says. "But then I started making a ton of money counting cards in Vegas."
It just so happens that the MENSA member has a Rain Man's ability to count several decks of cards at once. His winning streaks became legendary, securing him an invite to the World Series of Blackjack, where he finished second. His new gig gets him closer to Hollywood, and he's making some new friends. "Camryn Manheim made the mistake of inviting me to her home poker game," he says. "I'll be glad to take her and all her rich friends' money."
To aspiring actors with a mean streak back in Cleveland, he offers this tip: "Get on a game show. I got $9,200 for Friend or Foe. It's the easiest thing in the world. I fucked [my opponent] over so hard."
The naked girl next door
Avon Lake's Carmella DeCesare, the 2004 Playmate of the Year, advanced to the final round of World Wrestling Entertainment's Raw Diva contest by playing the nice -- though barely clothed -- girl next door. During the question-and-answer period, which could never be confused for a round of Jeopardy!, DeCesare, dressed in a barely-there bikini, told WWE star Randy Orton that she won't make out with another woman in public. But if Orton so deigned, she'd be glad to plant one on him.
The answer brought a slight flush to the 245-pound wrestler's cheek, and it was good enough to get her to the final round. Now DeCesare needs your help to win the Raw Diva crown. You can log onto divasearch.wwe.com to cast your vote. And if your boss happens to catch you ogling pictures of the finalists, remind him that voting is your civic duty.
A crown that fits
In a poll by the ESPN2 show Cold Pizza, Cleveland was named the Most Tortured Sports City in America. The competition wasn't even close.
Philadelphia, the second-most-tortured city, has enjoyed four titles in recent memory. For Cleveland to rival that figure, we'd have to include the Battle of Lake Erie and the Civil War.
"Cleveland was pretty much the consensus No. 1 pick," says Kieran Darcy, who authored a list of our 10 greatest moments of shame for ESPN.com. Among the classics: The Shot (No. 5), The Move (No. 4), The Fumble (No. 3), and The Drive (No. 2). Jose Mesa took top honors with his blown save in the '97 World Series.
In an accompanying story, Graham Hays chronicled the 10 Most Painful Moments of Cleveland's next 100 years. The hypothetical flogging includes Tim Couch engineering a Super Bowl-winning drive against the Browns and a LeBron buzzer-beater that leads the Lakers to an NBA title over the Cavs.