Monday, July 29, 2002

Public school defender

East Hampton, N.Y. � Cynthia Nixon is worried about white flight from New York City's public schools.

The "Sex And The City" actress was honored Saturday by Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation for her fight to get more government aid to the city's schools. The actress was arrested in May while protesting school budget cuts.

As she accepted her award, she said too many white parents send their children to private schools, and "I don't like what it's doing to New York." New York's public schools are predominantly black and Hispanic.

"When I grew up in New York and when I went to school, it was a lot more integrated than it was now," said Nixon, whose 5-year-old daughter attends a public school in Manhattan.

Shockingly bad taste

San Jose, Calif. � A San Jose radio personality was suspended after joking about the kidnapping of a 7-year-old Philadelphia girl who escaped her kidnappers by chewing through duct tape.

After a sidekick read the news item Wednesday about the girl, shock jock "Mikey" Esparza of KSJO-FM said, "That's why I don't use duct tape. That's why I use nylon rope."

Esparza also suggested that kidnappers buy tarps and use lye to dispose of murder victims.

The station suspended Esparza on Thursday for a week and broadcast a formal apology. His show, "The Mikey Show" is also heard in San Diego and Dallas.

A super comeback

Denver � Margot Kidder, the "Superman" star who is now a 54-year-old grandmother, considers herself a "poster child for mental health."

Six years after a nationally publicized breakdown that left her wandering the streets of Los Angeles, Kidder says her "periodic bungee jumps into craziness" are a thing of the past.

"For me, the solution was finally getting away from psychiatric drugs and actually healing my body so I wouldn't have the symptoms that are called mental illness," Kidder said.

Getting medieval on rock

Tallinn, Estonia � Some classic heavy metal tunes are making a classical comeback with a medieval makeover.

An Estonian record company has released an album of Black Sabbath songs played by a quintet specializing in music from the Middle Ages and singing in the main literary language of that era, Latin.

"If you take away the massive wall of sound from many Sabbath songs, what you have is pure 14th century music," producer Mihkel Raud claimed Friday. "Really."

The 12-track album � called "Sabbatum," Latin for "sabbath" � includes "Wheels of Confusion" ("Rotae Confusionis") and "War Pigs" ("Verres Militares") in slow, minimalist versions that wouldn't seem out of place in the Sistine Chapel.

The 33-year-old producer has loved the hard rock group since the 1970s when this Baltic Sea coast nation of 1.4 million was still a Soviet republic and lead singer Ozzy Osbourne was notorious for performance antics like biting the head off a bat.