'Fat Man' Loses Weight but

Needs to Make Time on Trek

Steve Vaught spent Memorial Day in the California desert. He spent the Fourth of July in the Arizona desert. And he will likely round out the summer this Labor Day on some lonely stretch of desert highway east of Albuquerque.

The self-proclaimed "Fat Man Walking" remains far behind schedule on the cross-country journey he began from his San Diego home in April, with the hopes of reaching New York in October. But he has made progress toward his goal of losing much of his 400 pounds -- at his last weigh-in three weeks ago, Vaught was down to 346. And having finally passed the Continental Divide, his journey for now is mostly downhill.

Vaught became something of a media sensation after The Washington Post wrote about him in July. He was featured on NBC's "Today" show and signed a book deal. His Web site -- www.thefatmanwalking.com -- crashed as people from around the world clamored for more details about his trip.

Most have left warm wishes, and a few fans even turned out to walk in western New Mexico. Others, though, have criticized Vaught for leaving behind his wife and two kids or for making too little progress. Last week, Vaught responded.

"This is a soul searching journey and not a circuit race," he wrote on the site. "My goal is to walk to New York. How or when I get there is the journey, however it unfolds."

-- Amy Argetsinger

Tornado Victims' Mementos

Are Not Gone with the Wind

After tornadoes tore through several Wisconsin counties on Aug. 18, residents of Waukesha County started seeing photos, bank records and other personal mementos and documents "falling from the sky," in the words of Waukesha County Det. Steven Pederson.

Though the tornadoes spared Waukesha, winds dumped debris ranging from slips of paper to Venetian blinds and scraps of metal carried from the hardest-hit areas.

So the Waukesha County Sheriff's office announced that it would serve as a collection-point for found items to be returned to their owners.

Within an hour, people brought in scores of things, including a 1929 photo and a refrigerator drawing titled "Ashley's Daddy."

Last week, the office sent hundreds of items to the city hall in Stoughton, 60 miles away from Waukesha. Stoughton was one of the hardest-hit places. Clerks are cataloguing the items and putting out photos for people to search.

"We feel confident most will be able to be returned," Pederson said.

"People's homes are absolutely destroyed. At least we can get a memento back to them that they thought was lost forever."

-- Kari Lydersen

Birthplace of Punk Rock

May Be Near Its Last Chord

CBGB, the grungy nest in the Lower East Side that is considered the birthplace of the American punk rock scene, has lost its lease after 32 years in business.

The Bowery Residents' Committee, the club's landlord, says it wants to double the monthly rent from its current $19,500.

Muzzy Rosenblatt, the committee's executive director, said in a written statement that the move was "in the best interest of our clients -- the homeless and neediest New Yorkers." The group says that by raising the rent, it will be able to get more funds to serve its clients.

CBGB won a civil lawsuit this year after the advocacy group accused it of owing $91,000 in rent and refused to renew the lease. Judge Joan M. Kenney said, "CBGB has had both a local and worldwide impact that continues to reverberate today."

Blondie and Public Enemy, along with acts that owe their start to owner Hilly Kristal's policy of letting just about anyone get a shot at the stage, performed a marathon concert Wednesday in support of the site. But it wasn't enough.

For now, bands will keep performing where the Ramones chanted, "Hey Ho, Let's Go . . . They're all revved up and ready to go!"

-- Michelle Garcia

For Steve Vaught, the journey is all.