In September an LA Weekly writer spent several days at Disneyland with Benji Breitbart, Doug Marsh, and other “Disneyana enthusiasts,” all of whom visit the park five or six times a week. (One woman, whose special obsession is the Indiana Jones Adventure, received a crystal bowl from its staff to commemorate her 1,000th ride.) They have encyclopedic knowledge of Disneyland’s history and culture, fervently collect memorabilia (including limited-edition napkins from Disney cafes), and hold forth passionately about features of today’s park that Walt would not have condoned. Many wear exclusively Disney-themed clothes on their visits, and use the pronoun “we” when discussing the park (“We’re reopening the Electric Parade”). When the reporter compared Disneyana enthusiasts to the cult surrounding Star Trek, Marsh bristled: “Trekkies are devoted to some stupid pop-culture fad,” he said, but “Disney fans believe in the magic.”
Can’t Possibly Be True
In September in Cleveland, Ohio, 49-year-old James Black dragged a naked, bloodied corpse out of his apartment house in broad daylight and left it on the lawn within feet of two dumbfounded maintenance workers. He looked at the men, then went back inside and emerged with a mop, which he used to swab the blood from the sidewalk outside his door. The workers immediately called police, who arrested Black (he was later charged with aggravated murder).
In July in Tbilisi (capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia), an amateur wrestling match between Georgy Bibilauri (112 pounds, four feet tall) and Dzhambulat Khotokhov (123 pounds, three foot eleven) ended in a draw, after which both wrestlers broke training briefly to celebrate Bibilauri’s birthday with ice cream and chocolate. Bibilauri had just turned five years old; Khotokhov is four.
In September in Leesburg, Virginia, a man applying for a driver’s license at the motor vehicles office handed the DMV clerk a photo postcard depicting a banana being shot by a bullet and bearing the caption “banana = DMV.” He made no threats and left peacefully, but when several employees followed him outside (hoping to copy down his license plate number) they found bananas strewn around the parking lot. The man’s phone is disconnected, and authorities continue to search for him. Said the town’s police chief, “This is a different one.”
In August, after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge, FBI agent John Hanson III paid $12,517 in restitution to the Barbary Coast hotel in Las Vegas for damaging its walk-in cooler–for a reason he has yet to make public, Hanson fired two rounds from his service weapon into the cooler, apparently at a live lobster. It was late at night, so no one else was in the area, but Hanson was taped by a surveillance camera. He’d been in Vegas for an accounting seminar.
In April in Elmira, New York, 45-year-old Kevin French pleaded guilty to second-degree assault after shooting his neighbor in the head with a high-powered pellet gun, apparently because the man mowed his lawn too often. In July several Canadian papers reported that an inmate at a psychiatric prison in Abbottford, British Columbia, went into a violent rage and took a therapist hostage after other prisoners laughed at his attempt to draw “toilet paper” in a game of Pictionary. And in August in Bedford, Kentucky, 46-year-old Danny Ginn was arrested for commandeering a garbage truck at gunpoint because he was tired of it using his driveway to turn around.
Least Competent People
In Illawarma, Australia, a 26-year-old man will remain hospitalized for several months as a result of an August accident that may have been inspired by the movie Jackass. He was apparently walking with a lit firecracker between his buttocks when he slipped and fell backward; the floor directed the blast upward into the man’s body, resulting in trauma his doctor compared to “a war injury”–a fractured pelvis, severe genital burns, torn internal muscles, and a ruptured urethra, all of which has left him incontinent and sexually dysfunctional.
Good News for the Rodent Community
Japanese scientists based at Yokohama City University announced in September that they had created genetically modified nerve stem cells that could reverse the progress of Parkinson’s disease in rats. In April, Wake Forest University researchers said they had bred a colony of 700 mice that could survive the repeated transplantation of virulent cancer cells into their bodies. Also in April, University of Pittsburgh researchers, working with rats who had been systematically injured to mimic the effects of prostate removal surgery, announced that they had developed a gene therapy that could protect and restore the nerves needed to produce erections. Unfortunately, none of these three techniques has been successfully applied to humans.
In the Last Month
In Nicolet, Quebec, Canadian military police seized almost 1,000 marijuana plants being grown on a fenced-in, 17-square-mile artillery range. In the Philippines, a citizens’ group kicked off a campaign to expose government officials who spend public funds on their mistresses; on the first day its hotline received more than 500 tips. And the New York Post revealed that the fourth highest paid New York City municipal employee last year–making more than the deputy mayor–was a Brooklyn gym teacher earning over $180,000.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.