News of the Weird
by Chuck Shepherd
• Despite Chicago’s recent crisis of gang-related street murders, the Roseland Community Hospital in a tough south-side neighborhood is on the verge of closing because of finances, and community groups have been energetically campaigning to keep it open. Joining civic leaders in the quest is the Black Disciples street gang, whose co-founder Don Acklin begged in June for the hospital to remain open, explaining, “It’s bad enough we’re out here harming each other.” Besides wounded gang members needing emergency care, said Acklin, closing would amount to “genocide” because of all the innocent people exposed to crossfire.
Government in Action
• Suspicions Confirmed: A warehouse in Landover, Md., maintained by a company working on contract for the US Environmental Protection Agency, contained “secret rooms” of furniture and equipment described as “man caves” for company employees. The EPA inspector general announced the discovery in May, and the government confiscated TVs, refrigerators, couches, personal photos, pinups, magazines, and videos that the contractor’s personnel brought in while ostensibly “working” on agency business.
• Scotland’s Parliament was revealed in May to be considering, as part of its Children and Young People Bill, guaranteeing that specific, named persons would be appointed for every Scottish child at birth, charged with overseeing that child’s welfare until adulthood. A Daily Telegraph story acknowledged that the bill is “remarkably vague” about the duties and powers of the designated persons and thus it is unclear how the law might affect typical parent-child relationships.
• Update: “(Supermodels) is the one exception (to US immigration policy) that we all scratch our heads about,” said a Brookings Institution policy analyst, speaking to Bloomberg Businessweek in May. Foreign-born sports stars and entertainers are fast-tracked with American work permits under one system, but supermodels were excluded from that and must thus compete (successfully, it turns out) with physicists and nuclear engineers to earn visas among the 65,000 slots available only to “skilled workers with college degrees.” As such, around 250 beauties are admitted every year. (The most recent attempt to get supermodels their own visa category was championed in 2005 and 2007 by, appropriately, then-US-Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York.)
• In Lytle, Texas, in May, just 33 people voted for candidates for three openings on the school board, including the only voter who cast a ballot in District 1. Christina Mercado was the 1-0 winner, but someone else voted for her. Mercado cannot vote for District 1 candidates because she does not live there, and neither does the one candidate who opposed her. However, according to Texas law, Mercado can legally represent District 1 on the school board.
• Rewarding the Breast Disguises: (1) An April crime report in San Francisco, noting that a female driver had rammed another car in a parking-space dispute, noted that the victim gave officers little help. The man could not tell officers the model car that hit him, and certainly not a license plate number, but he “was able to give a detailed description of the suspect’s cleavage.” No arrest was reported. (2) Colombian prisoner Giovanni Rebolledo was serving a 60-year sentence (as a member of the “Los Topos” gang charged with extortion, kidnapping and torture) when he escaped and decided on an extreme identity change in order to move about in the country. He became “Rosalinda,” complete with, according to Colombia Reports news service, “impressive” breast implants, but nonetheless was identified in May in a routine traffic stop and arrested.
• In Kobe, Japan, in May, an unemployed, 32-year-old man carried out a minor theft (stealing a wallet from a parked scooter) apparently just to be locked up in the world famous city. Besides being the home of Kobe beef, it is acclaimed for its French, Chinese and octopus cuisines, and in fact, Kobe’s Nagata Ward Precinct is renowned for the special gourmet boxed meals prepared by local bento shops, delivered daily to prisoners, which the thief said was foremost on his mind.
• More Time Needed on the Firing Range: In May, an Orlando Sentinel columnist demanded a federal investigation into the 2010 police killing of Torey Breedlove in Orlando’s Pine Hills neighborhood, noting that killing the unarmed Breedlove somehow required 137 shots, with cops missing on at least 115. The columnist added that the Justice Department is currently investigating a Cleveland, Ohio, case in which local police killed two unarmed men but coincidentally also required 137 shots. (In both cases, the officers were exonerated after local investigators determined the officers believed the suspects were armed.)
Creme de la Weird
• Whitby, UK, town councilman Simon Parkes, 58, confessed to a reporter in June that he had had an extramarital affair—in fact, an extraterrestrial extramarital affair—with the nine-foot-tall Cat Queen, and that she had born him a child. Parkes said the Cat Queen is biding her time until technology is available to bring her and the child to Earth. Said Parkes, “There are plenty of people in my position who don’t choose to come out and say it because they are terrified it will destroy their careers.” Parkes said his wife knows about his periodic meetings with the Cat Queen and is “very unhappy, clearly.”
• Least Competent Criminals: Shaun Paneral was questioned by police in Carlsbad, N.M., in May, on a loud-music complaint and, concerned that he already had an outstanding arrest warrant, gave his name as “Shaun Paul.” Paneral thus became the most recent perp to choose his alias badly. “Shaun Paul,” whoever he is, is also wanted by police in New Mexico, and Paneral was arrested for the false ID.
• It’s Good to Be a Dog in the First World: The British company Paw Seasons has created a holiday for dogs (surely to appeal to guilt-ridden owners who leave them behind on their own holidays) priced at the equivalent of $73,000, consisting of a private suite for two weeks, with dog-friendly Hollywood movies, trips to the beach, surfing “lessons,” spa and grooming treatment (including pedicure) by Harrod’s, outfits from Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, and Mulberry, and the piece de resistance—a personal dog house created in the image of the owner’s own house.
The Jesus and Mary World Tour (all-new!)
• Recent Public Appearances: Norwalk, Conn., in May (Jesus in an ink smear on a page of the newspaper The Hour). Saugus, Mass., March (Jesus on a drop cloth in a home). Bradenton, Fla., February (Jesus in profile on a carton of Corona beer). Halifax, Nova Scotia, March (Jesus in a knot of wood on furniture in a store). San Antonio, December (Jesus on a tortilla shell—an item on which he has appeared previously at other sites). Herne Bay, England, October (Jesus on a patch of mold behind a refrigerator). Phoenix, June (Jesus in a smudge on the floor at Sky Harbor International Airport). Northumberland, England, March (Jesus in the condensation on a windshield). Brooklyn, Ohio, February (Jesus in bird droppings on a windshield).
A News of the Weird Classic (August 2009)
• Donald Duck may be a lovable icon of comic mishap to American youngsters, but in Germany, he is wise and complicated and retains followers well past their childhoods. Using licensed Disney storylines and art, the legendary translator Erika Fuchs created an erudite Donald, who often “quotes from German literature, speaks in grammatically complex sentences, and is prone to philosophical musings,” according to a May Wall Street Journal dispatch. Though Donald and Uncle Scrooge (“Dagoberto”) speak in a lofty richness, nephews Tick, Trick and Track use the slang of youth. Recently in Stuttgart, academics gathered for the 32nd annual convention of the “German Organization for Non-Commercial Followers of Pure Donaldism,” with presentations on such topics as Duckburg’s solar system.blog comments powered by Disqus
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