Friday, May 13, 2005

Riding Out the Crisis

News that President Bush was out biking Wednesday during the red alert left Washington residents wondering: Can I skip out of work on a weekday afternoon to ride my bike? And if I do, might I see the president tooling around on a trail somewhere, an army of Secret Service agents frantically trying to protect him from traffic?

Turns out the Secret Service had it relatively easy Wednesday: Bush bikes in a private section of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Reserve in Maryland normally open to researchers and closed to the public, a reserve source tells The Post's Hanna Rosin.

While we're on the topic of Bush's leisure time, anyone intent on criticizing the president for taking an hour and a half out of his day to mountain-bike should take the following as proof that he is indeed a busy man: In a photo taken just after the ride, Bush is holding what appears to be a copy of "I Am Charlotte Simmons," the Tom Wolfe novel about debauchery on a college campus. In early February, Bush told reporters he was reading that same book -- which, if he is almost done, averages to about seven pages a day.

Jackson's Surrogate Strategy

Slow day at the Michael Jackson trial yesterday, but for this tidbit: In unused footage from the Martin Bashir documentary taped in 2002, Jackson revealed that he used a surrogate mother to bear his third child, Prince Michael II , whom he calls Blanket.

Jackson said he does not know the mother's identity, and she doesn't know his. But "my own sperm cells" were used, Jackson said. He said that he never saw a photo of the surrogate, and that her ethnicity "didn't matter to me, as long as she was healthy . . . and intellect was good," The Post's Tamara Jones reports.

Jackson maintained to Bashir that his two older children, Paris and Prince Michael I , were conceived naturally with ex-wife Debbie Rowe. "You had sex with Debbie?" Bashir asked. "Yes," Jackson replied. He said two divorces had left him gun-shy of marrying. "I'm married to my fans. I'm married to God. I'm married to my children," he told Bashir, adding, "I would like to have more children, of course."

Meanwhile, testimony by former Jackson attorney David LeGrand of Las Vegas revealed that the cash-strapped Jackson has considered hawking a variety of products to bring home some bacon. Among projects discussed: Michael Jackson slot machines in Nevada, Michael Jackson perfume and a partnership with Apple computers.

Precious Stones Tickets: $532

Remember the old-fashioned rock star fan club? Pay a modest membership fee, get a glossy photo, a newsletter, maybe a CD, and first dibs on the best concert seats -- a reward for your unfettered loyalty. These days, you don't necessarily need to be loyal if you're just after the best seats.

For the general public, tickets to the Oct. 3 Rolling Stones concert at MCI Center go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. But Rolling Stones fan club members could've begun buying tickets last Tuesday. Yesterday at 9 a.m., however, the fan club opened up its presale on to anyone willing to shell out $100 for an instant membership, reports The Post's Bill Brubaker.

"This is the first band to offer instant membership into their fan club," says Sheila Francis, MCI Center's public relations director.

Stones fans looking for satisfaction on the Ticketmaster Web site yesterday could even view their seat numbers before deciding whether joining the club was worth it. Best seats were going for $403, plus a $29.45 Ticketmaster "convenience charge" and the $100 membership fee -- for a grand total of $532.45.

Of course, the $403 ticket is the priciest in MCI Center history, right? Nope. The Three Tenors' top ticket sold for $603, according to Francis.

-- Compiled by Anne Schroeder from staff and wire reports

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