Lead Stories

Devotees of the widely discredited psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) convened in upstate Maine in July to exchange papers on his most famous work, his “discovery” of the cosmic life force produced by sexual orgasms. The highlights of the conference were the presentations of more than a dozen variations of Reich’s “orgone accumulator,” blankets or boxes made partially of metal, that a person wraps around the body to rid it of excess sexuality, preventing the neuroses allegedly caused by the energy that wells up from a lack of orgasms.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing that animal carcasses with cancers, tumors, or open sores be deemed safe for human consumption as long as the offending part is cut away. The period that the public can comment on the proposal, which is part of a general loosening of slaughterhouse inspection standards, ends August 29. The proposal also suggests clearing meat tainted with glandular swellings, infectious arthritis, and diseases caused by intestinal worms. One critic said she did not want to “eat pus from a chicken that has pneumonia.”

Things Not Supposed to Happen Anymore

David W. Bolton, 45, was charged in July with assault for hitting a fellow boardinghouse resident in Clarkstown, New York, after first trying to drive a wooden stake through the man’s heart with a hammer. Police said Bolton told them he was acting on “instructions from a higher authority.” Two weeks later in San Francisco, hitchhiker Eric David Knight was arrested for assaulting a 28-year-old driver who had picked him up; Knight allegedly bit the driver in the neck and sucked his blood after thanking him for the ride and later told police, “I need the cure. I need blood.”

Latest Rights

After a promotional hot dog machine called the Blaster, which was supposed to shoot wieners into the stands at Toronto’s SkyDome during baseball games, went awry in April, pulverizing the franks and spraying fragments on fans, a vegetarian Blue Jays fan told the National Post she would have sued if she had got spritzed: “What if I had my mouth open and a piece of hot dog landed in my mouth?”

In March, to bolster his client’s defense that a surreptitious police station videotape (which caught a constable taking something from a room) violated his right to privacy, Ontario lawyer Clayton Ruby pointed out that the tape later caught another male officer in the same room receiving oral sex from a female police employee. Obviously, reasoned Ruby, police officers who used that particular room had a legitimate expectation of privacy.

In May Quebec’s superior court and its administrative tribunal ruled that Alain Desbiens had the right to have his tattoo removed at government expense because the tattoo adversely affects his psychological well-being. The cost of erasing the blue-and-gray caricature of a death’s head above Desbiens’ right bicep was estimated at $2,000 to $3,000.

Felicia Vitale, 41, told reporters in February that she would sue the New York Police Department for wrongly arresting her after she walked away from a sting operation at Staten Island Mall carrying a planted purse containing $2. She admitted that the purse did not belong to her but denied she intended to steal it, pointing out that she suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and must go through a list of tasks in a certain order every day and that she simply had many other things to do before she could return the purse.

An April Seattle Times story reported on the Great Ape Legal Project, headed by a Seattle lawyer, which plans to demonstrate within the next decade that chimpanzees should have some of the same legal rights as humans–“to [becoming] people with rights to life and liberty and perhaps even the pursuit of happiness,” according to the Times. Though it would be possible for a chimp to sue his guardian, a reassuring spokesperson said animals such as cockroaches and ants “will never be eligible for any kind of rights.”

In Their Own Words

Hubert Penrod Jr. on why the May promotion he had scheduled for his Huge Hooter Haven strip club in Nashville failed to attract men who had come to town for the Billy Graham Crusade that weekend: “I know all the porn stars, but I don’t exactly keep up with preachers. Hell, I thought Billy Graham was some singer or something. It never entered my mind that some preacher was filling up the football stadium.”

Recurring Themes

Just three months ago News of the Weird reported on an Australian dentist hauled before the licensing board for the unauthorized practice of relieving facial pain by administering ozone through patients’ rectums. Two weeks after that issue of News of the Weird appeared, a jury in Scranton, Pennsylvania, convicted Richard Harley and his wife, Jacqueline Kube, of defrauding investors in their company, which offered to treat AIDS patients by pumping a mixture of ozone and oxygen into the rectum, at $250 per session, sometimes prescribed for 30 days at a time.

Least Competent Criminals

Police in Inman, South Carolina, arrested Donald W. Melton, 29, in July and charged him with robbing a bank. He was easily tracked down because he had failed to get a bag to carry the money and had to stuff it all into his pants and socks. Enough of the currency came loose that residents along his escape route called police every few minutes to report that another bill had been spotted. Within 40 minutes of the robbery, Melton was in handcuffs.

In the Last Month

In Ghir, Iran, a judge jailed a man for ogling the judge’s wife, but hundreds rioted in support of the man, who they said is merely cross-eyed. The Centers for Disease Control found that people who go on-line to look for sex partners are more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases than those who do not look for sex on-line. In Arkansas, where 12 percent of the population live in mobile homes, the governor and his wife moved into a triple-wide manufactured home next to the governor’s mansion, which is undergoing repairs. A robber in Miami saved his own life by forgetting to load his gun before holding up a pawnshop; the clerk wrestled it away from him and pulled the trigger, and the crook escaped.

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.