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News of the Weird
by Chuck Shepherd
• Breakthroughs in Eye Hair: The pharmaceutical company Allergan has introduced eyelash-thickener Latisse, a $120 per month prescription “medication” to help a woman overcome feelings of inadequacy if she suffers from scrawny lashes. Alternatively, eyelash transplants are now available in the U.S. and Britain, originally developed to restore lashes for burn victims, but, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, now to market to women dissatisfied with their own (at about $6,000). And in May, Washington, D.C., resident Brian Peterkin-Vertanesian petitioned the Guinness Book to recognize “Wally,” his 6 3/8-inch eyebrow hair as the world’s longest, beating the current record by almost an inch.
The Continuing Crisis
• Juvenile disruptions by “Girls Gone Wild” video producer Joe Francis in two recent federal lawsuit depositions have apparently backfired on him. Under questioning by plaintiffs’ lawyers, Francis had persistently and solemnly claimed not to understand common words and, during one session, repeatedly passed gas. At another deposition, he appeared indignant when asked if he had paid two teenage girls to fondle him (“disgusting allegations (against) a man of my integrity”). One judge summarily ruled against him on a $3 million Las Vegas gambling debt, and the other judge was considering a similar course in a class-action lawsuit by some of Francis’ allegedly underage “models.”
• With no help from Verizon Wireless, law enforcement agencies managed to hunt down a disturbed, 62-year-old man sought in an 11-hour manhunt following a domestic violence call in Carrollton, Ohio, in May. Deputies had wanted to use the man’s cell phone signal to locate him, but the company had shut off his service over an unpaid $20 bill and refused to turn it on, even for a few minutes, unless deputies paid the $20. The sheriff was reluctantly about to pay when deputies found the man.
• Union Rules: (1) One subway line in Boston is still forced to employ two drivers per train when the other Boston lines, and most all subway systems worldwide, use only one. A June Boston Globe analysis estimated that the second driver, doing virtually nothing useful, costs the government $30 million annually. (2) At any one time, the New York City school system is forced to keep about 1,600 teachers on full salary and benefits (costing about $100 million per year) even though they cannot be required to work. Six hundred are in a multiyear arbitration process for terminable misconduct or incompetence, and 1,000 are long-term layoffs from shuttered schools but whom principals continually pass over for transfer.
• The New Torture: (1) In August, Glasgow hosted the sixth annual World Pipe Band Championship, with 200 bagpipe bands competing. (Professional piping often hits a sound level of 100 decibels and can go to 120, which is louder than a pneumatic drill.) (2) Two musician-beggars in the village of Moseley, England, were banned from performing in the area in August after a magistrate court heard complaints by desperate residents that the pair played only two songs (Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and George Michael’s “Faith”) over and over and over.
• Animals Gone Wild: (1) In July, scuba divers around San Diego were forced out of the water by the estimated 1 million human-sized Humboldt squid that infested the area. Usually deepwater dwellers, they swarmed near the shore for several weeks, flashing their “razor-sharp beaks and toothy tentacles,” according to a KABC-TV report. (2) In June, in Ana Lee Spray’s garage in Riverside County, Calif., a full-grown mountain lion was cornered and held at bay for 45 minutes by Spray’s three Chihuahuas, yapping at it relentlessly. Eventually, animal control officers arrived and removed the grateful lion.
• Agile Athletes: (1) Chicago Cubs’ pitcher Ryan Dempster missed a month with a broken toe suffered in July when he tripped on a railing while leaving the dugout to celebrate a victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. (2) Kansas City Royals’ Jose Guillen missed over a month after tearing a ligament in his knee while leaning over to put on a shin guard before his turn to bat in a July game. (3) Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards, a three-time All-American, was to miss the first month of the season after injuring his foot in August while mowing his lawn.
• In August, Democrat Michael Heagerty failed by one name to meet the ballot requirements to run for re-election to the city council in Syracuse, N.Y. He was credited with 334 of the 335 necessary signatures, but realized too late that he had forgotten to list his own name. (He said he would run for re-election, anyway, as an independent.)
People With Worse
Sex Lives Than You
• Danny Brawner, 46, was indicted in Albuquerque, N.M., in August for aggravated indecent exposure. A police officer and his 10-year-old son had seen Brawner with his pants down around his ankles, performing simulated sexual intercourse against the trunk of his car. The officer also said Brawner was shouting and swinging his arms, as if enjoying the real thing.
Least Competent Criminals
• Two home invaders in East St. Louis, Ill., holding 11 people hostage as police surrounded the house, were eventually tricked outside by the captives and arrested. The hostages, borrowing an idea from several movie scripts, convinced the invaders that their only shot at freedom was to change clothes to look less conspicuous and then to release everyone. The two would appear to be part of the hostage group, and the hostages “promised” to tell police that the home invaders had already escaped earlier. However, as everyone walked out, the captives merely pointed out to police the two invaders.
• For at least the third time in eight years, geography-challenged vacationers bought airline tickets for an Australian holiday but failed to notice (until they landed in “Sydney”) that their tickets took them to Sydney, Nova Scotia. Dutch man Joannes Rutten and his grandson appeared shocked when they de-planed in Canada, even though they had boarded an earlier connecting flight in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In December 2008, an Argentine woman made a similar mistake, and in August 2002, a young British couple, after realizing their error, decided to spend their holiday in Nova Scotia, after all.
• (1) In Torrington, Conn., in June, a teenage girl, hearing a woman she lived with screaming in another room, summoned four of her friends, who quickly arrived and beat up the 25-year-old man who was with the woman. It turns out that the couple were having consensual sex (and good sex, at that). The girl and three of the boys were charged with assault. (2) Keith Griffin, 48, was arrested in Martin County, Fla., in August for possessing child pornography on his computer. He tried to talk detectives out of the arrest by claiming that his cat often walks on the keyboard and must have stepped on some combination of keys that resulted in the downloading of about 1,000 images.
A News of the Weird Classic (March 1996)
• Postal worker Douglas C. Yee, 50, was indicted in February 1996 in San Mateo, Calif., for pulling off bulk-mail scams totaling $800,000. Found in Yee’s garbage were notes he had written to God expressing gratitude for his continued help in evading police detection. Read one, “Lord, I am having a difficult time myself seeing you as a God who hides crime, yet your Word says that it’s your privilege (or glory) to do just that.”blog comments powered by Disqus
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