Hang on Honey, There's a Goatweed Leafwing in Your Veil
"I've seen people moved to tears!" exclaims salesman Rick Mikula. "If you order three dozen, you can actually hear their wings fluttering. It gets a lot of oohs and ahs." Unfortunately, Mikula's shipments of live butterflies are provoking blubbery outbursts from more than just weepy-eyed brides. With the spring wedding season just around the corner, entomologists are decrying the latest trend in nuptial fashion: toasting happy couples with swarms of monarchs and painted ladies express-mailed to the ceremony in cardboard boxes at $100 per dozen. "It's environmental terrorism, period," says Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association, which claims that Mikula and his colleagues are spreading diseases among butterflies, muddying the gene pool, and abusing the fragile lepidopterans. "I witnessed a release once, and all the butterflies were crippled," laments Glassberg. "They just plopped out of the container. It was kinda gross." To throw a net over the problem, Glassberg and company are going directly to the source: wedding coordinators. "A fair number of people selling butterflies don't know any better," he says. "But some do, and they sound like tobacco-company executives. They're in denial."
Alright, If You Guys Insist, I'll Win ...
Just after the Association of Surfing Professionals anointed him world champion at last December's Banzai Pipeline on Oahu, Kelly Slater offered up a rather strange victory pronouncement. "Everyone else losing," he declared, "was an indescribable relief." Odd, yes, but also appropriate. Slater, who hadn't won a single tour event since the previous March, entered the season's grand finale Pipe Masters languishing in third place. His only hope for victory: the unlikely possibility that Australian rivals Mick Campbell and Danny Wills would tank in the early rounds. Which, fortunately for Slater, they did — opening the door for his sixth world championship. In the wake of this nail-biting triumph, however, Slater may now opt to step down before experiencing the novel taste of defeat. "My goals are focused around things I haven't done before," he says, hinting — somewhat ambiguously — at perhaps sitting out part of next year's circuit. "It's getting harder to stoke the fire."
Mel Fisher, 1922-1998
"Mel was the P. T. Barnum of treasure salvors, and I mean that as a compliment," says Ole Varmer, an attorney with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Fisher, who died of cancer late last December at age 76, was arguably the most successful — and controversial — treasure hunter ever to scour the high seas. He achieved something akin to folk hero status among fellow Key Westers for his lucrative discoveries — the biggest being $400 million in gems and doubloons aboard a 16th-century galleon in 1985. And though Fisher also developed a reputation as an obsessive plunderer, those close to him insist that his incandescent optimism, rather than his glittery treasure or his environmental indiscretions, will be his most lasting legacy. "Mel always felt things would fall his way," says former spokesman Pat Clyne. "And usually, they did."
And Next Year, Lance Will Be Competing for the Nobel Prize in Literature ...
"I'm not showing up as some publicity stunt," claims 1993 World Champion road racer Lance Armstrong, who has decided there's more to life than a new bride, a remarkable recovery from testicular cancer, and a successful return to his sport. Last December, Armstrong, 27, announced that between the European spring cycling classics, the Tour de France, and October's World Championships, he'll somehow wedge in some single-track contests as a member of the Trek Volkswagen mountain-bike team. "I know what I'm going to whisper to Lance at the start of his opening race," says fellow crossover cyclist Bob Roll, who'll be on hand this May in Red Wing, Minnesota. "Be careful."