Wednesday, August 02, 2006

George: "I've always been a scrubber"

Boy George ordered to sweep up litter in dirtiest New York streets

Oliver Burkeman in New York

Tuesday August 1, 2006


The litter-clogged streets of New York's Chinatown, Little Italy and Lower East Side should be marginally cleaner by the end of the month, thanks to the personal efforts of Boy George. The singer, sentenced to community service after the discovery of cocaine at his Manhattan apartment, had originally hoped to fulfil his obligations with an Aids fundraising concert before resigning himself to what his lawyer last month predicted would be "raking leaves in Central Park".

But instead the former Culture Club frontman will be required to show up a week on Monday to receive a shovel, broom, gloves and plastic bags from the New York department of sanitation's district three offices.

The district includes some of the most heavily touristed parts of the city, along with fish markets and day-long commercial deliveries, exacerbated by stifling heat which is expected to reach 40C (104F) later this week.

Work often begins as early as 7am to spare litterpicking crews the worst of the afternoon heat, sanitation department spokesman Vito Turso said.

Boy George, whose real name is George Alan O'Dowd, struck the deal after falsely reporting a break-in at his apartment in lower Manhattan, an incident he has said he cannot explain. Police found no sign of a burglary, but did find 13 bags of cocaine. Drug charges were dropped in exchange for community service, a $1,000 fine, and the singer's agreement to undergo drug treatment in London.

At the time of his sentencing, Boy George argued that "it would have been more useful to make 30 grand with a concert, rather than be prancing around in a park". But he joked that he would tolerate the street cleaning, because he had "always been a scrubber". He has promised to show up in "something loud".

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

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