Lead Stories

According to a May report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, recent art auctions in New York City fetched $30,000 for Tom Friedman’s Untitled (a coffee-stained Styrofoam cup pinned to a piece of wood along with a ladybug), nearly $500,000 for Robert Gober’s Untitled (Broom Sink) (a fancifully constructed washbasin), and $5.6 million for Jeff Koons’s life-size ceramic sculpture Michael Jackson and Bubbles (the chimp).

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that golfers in Germany are not allowed to play on courses without a license, which requires them to pass a written test and a skills test in putting, chipping, and driving. Golf association officials say the licensing weeds out slow-playing novices.

Last month a 29-year-old rape victim in Saint Petersburg, Florida, still wearing a hospital gown after being treated, was arrested and jailed after a routine check revealed that she had three outstanding judicial warrants (for failure to pay a traffic fine, failure to pay an unlicensed-dog fine, and allowing her young daughters to miss school)…. That same month, Justice James Canfield of New York’s Supreme Court performed the wedding of Robert Gorghan to his girlfriend, Cheryl, in Albany only minutes after Gorghan had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the serial sexual assault of Cheryl’s daughter over a 13-year period. (Canfield is notorious for marrying the recently convicted, which he says reduces the likelihood of homosexual encounters in prison.)

More Good News for Breasts

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the BRAVA Breast Enhancement and Shaping System, involving a two-domed vacuum device whose gentle suction can supposedly increase a woman’s cup size by stimulating tissue growth. Doctors have begun offering the $2,500 treatment as a safer alternative to breast-enlargement surgery….A researcher in Melbourne, Australia, told a recent meeting of surgeons that he had grown breast tissue in rats, mice, and rabbits, pioneering a procedure that might one day allow women to grow larger breasts….And a 31-year-old woman in Frankenmuth, Michigan, reported last month that her “liquid-curved” Maidenform bra deflected a nail that flew up from her lawn mower’s blade and could have penetrated her heart; she said “a higher power” had told her to wear the bra that day.

Compelling Explanations

In March the Yakima Indian Nation performed two rain ceremonies (ancient rituals involving fruits and berries) in the Washington mountains to bring an end to the drought plaguing the northwest. After a slight increase in rainfall, the Yakima billed the Bonneville Power Administration for $32,000 in expenses, an invoice the BPA has declined to pay.

In March psychic healer Terence Wood of Leeds, England, drew an 18-month prison term for sexual molestation. Testifying in his own defense, Wood admitted that he might have put his hands inside the clothing of his clients but claimed he was unaware of doing wrong: “When I’m healing, I’m in an altered state, and I just go where the spirit tells me the pain is. I close my eyes. My hand becomes very, very hot.”

In April, Saint Louis couple Tom and Suzi Wahl were convicted of prostitution for engaging in fellatio and cunnilingus during one of the paid sex-education “seminars” they offered to the public. In his closing argument, their defense attorney had likened them to a golf pro trying to teach a duffer the proper stroke; doing so would be not actual golf but a demonstration of technique.

In May, 43-year-old Richard M. Young filed a federal lawsuit against his ex-employer, Ohio Casualty Insurance of Denver, for firing him after an incident in which he wielded a gun in the parking lot of a shopping center, threatened to kill himself, and kept sheriff’s deputies at bay for six hours. Young says he is mentally ill, a condition Ohio Casualty must accommodate under federal law, and he wants to continue his duties as regional manager of litigation.

Fountains of Wayne

Arrested for murder: Andrew Wayne Toler, 21 (Houston, May); Christopher Wayne Scarber, 25 (Independence, Kentucky, February); Kenneth Wayne Jackson, 32 (Balch Springs, Texas, May)….Requesting a new trial: convicted murderer Jack Wayne Napier, 48 (Lexington, Kentucky, March)…. Granted a new trial: convicted murderer Anthony Wayne Walker, 39 (Cincinnati, September 2000)…. Acquitted of murder after five years on death row: Gary Wayne Drinkard, 45 (Decatur, Alabama, May).

People Different From Us

In May, 38-year-old Frank T. Singer pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of a 36-year-old man in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, that resulted from consensual bondage play between the two men in a motel room last year. According to news reports, the younger man, wearing a sauna suit, was found duct-taped and handcuffed to a chair; he had apparently choked to death after being force-fed two and a half pounds of peanut butter.

Least Justifiable Homicides

In January, a 34-year-old man was shot to death in Atlanta over a piece of sweet potato pie….In March, a man was stabbed to death in Martinez, California, allegedly by his girlfriend, after bringing home a McDonald’s ham, egg, and cheese bagel instead of the two Egg McMuffins she’d requested….In April, a 48-year-old man was shot to death in Orlando, allegedly by his wife, after a fight over their satellite-TV controls….And in May, a 37-year-old Dallas man was beaten to death, allegedly by his roommate, in a dispute over the thermostat setting.

In the Last Month

Soldiers in China, enduring one of the worst droughts in the country’s history, were ordered to open fire on any clouds they see, to bring rain….Prison inmates in Pasco County, Florida, complained about having to wear new black-and-white-striped uniforms during their work details. One man protested, “It makes us look like convicts!”…Vineyard owners in southern France began selling powdered wine extract to pharmaceutical houses in the U.S., to be used in wine pills that will provide health benefits without causing hangovers….And a couple in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, filed suit against a county building inspector who failed to tell them that the attic of the house they were buying contained a half ton of raccoon droppings.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611 or to weird@compuserve.com.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.