Lead Stories

In October a California appeals court reinstated a 1997 jury verdict in favor of Robert Cunningham against his Orange County home owners’ association for meddling. Over a two-year period, the association had ordered Cunningham to clean up not only an outside patio but also the inside of his condo, claiming that he had too many books and newspapers lying around, that his bed was too messy, and that piles of old clothes should be given to charity.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in Alberta, Canada, announced in November that this year’s single permit to hunt one bighorn sheep was won by Sherwin Scott of Phoenix, who bid $405,000. The foundation will use the money for conservation. Asked about the cost, Scott said, “You can’t make sense out of this.”

In November Ten’s World Class Cabaret, a strip club, asked New York Supreme Court justice Stephen Crane for exemption from New York City antinudity laws because it had begun to admit children and thus was no longer an “adult” establishment. Shortly afterward, Crane ruled in favor of Ten’s, which at press time had admitted children (accompanied by a parent) at least twice for lunch.

Multiculturalism in Sports

According to a November New York Times report, Chinese soccer fans now harass opposing teams by yelling a word that is street slang for female genitals. The press has dubbed the yell the “Beijing curse.” And in Lagos, Nigeria, in November, the star player on the Cameroonian women’s soccer team, Gwimotoh Lilian, was disqualified from the championship series because all of her physical features are “male” except for her genitals, according to officials.

Number One in the News

A 12-year-old boy was let off with six months’ probation in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan, in October after he admitted to urinating in his teacher’s water bottle. She went to the hospital with nausea and stomach cramps, but the boy’s lawyer said, “The bottom line is, urine is not harmful to drink.” And ten days later in Tucson, Caroline Gomez Maldonado, 42, was arrested and charged with chasing an eight-year-old down the street and trying to convince him to urinate into a cup. Maldonado wanted the sample for her upcoming drug test, part of her probation for drug charges.

Grown-ups Who Take Things Literally

Jordan Locke, five, was suspended from elementary school in Pittsburgh in October when he showed up dressed for Halloween in a firefighter costume that included a five-inch plastic hatchet, which the school said was a weapon. And in November an advertising agency in Canoga Park, California, was forced to pull ads for Alterna Hemp Shampoo because an antidrug group complained that hemp should not be portrayed in a favorable light.

Strange Bedfellows

The Boston Globe reported in November on the upcoming trial in Richmond, Virginia, of Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard Barry Black, who was arrested for burning a cross, in violation of a state hate-crimes law. His lawyer, David Baugh, is an African-American who took the case without pay to defend Black’s right to symbolic free speech, even though Black said, “I am not going to invite [Baugh] to my home to break bread with me because my Bible tells me that mixing leads to the destruction of my race.” Black also said he believes Africa is the home of naked cannibals who “are going to some witch doctor with a bone in their nose.”

$25 Plus Major Dry-Cleaning Work

In November in Austin, Texas, Henry Benedict, owner of the adult theater Cinema West, announced that he will defray renovation costs by selling the 500 seats from the old theater as souvenirs for $25 each.

Family Values

In India, according to a May New York Times report, parents in several rural states continue the tradition of forcing their children into arranged marriages at ages as young as four, in violation of national laws setting the minimum age at 18. In contrast, in August in Annapolis, Maryland, Phillip Compton, 29, married Tina Akers, 13, who was pregnant, in a legal ceremony. Akers’s parents had given their consent.

In October in Kitchener, Ontario, a man was sentenced to six months’ probation and forced to live apart from his 15-year-old stepson as punishment for growing 20 marijuana plants; he said he had planted them so the boy would not be exposed to the “dangers of street drugs.” And in November in Milwaukee a man was convicted of soliciting a prostitute for his 13-year-old son, saying it was about time the boy learned.

Quality time with the kids: Baltimore police dispatcher Harry Gilmore Watts, 32, was arrested in August and charged with driving his son and a friend, both 15, to rob a bank. And on the same day in Medford, Oregon, Cynthia Alice Lockinger, 40, pleaded guilty to robbing two banks while her three daughters waited in the backseat of the getaway car.

Least Competent Criminals

Kevin Johnson of Chesapeake, Virginia, was convicted in November of attempting to defraud a Lowe’s Home Center store in 1993. According to the prosecutor, Johnson and a friend dropped cans of paint in an aisle to make it look like the cans had fallen from a shelf and knocked Johnson unconscious. Johnson was taken to a hospital and later filed a lawsuit for $250,000. After the judge noticed that the cans weren’t dented and had come from different parts of the shelf, he dismissed the lawsuit, and prosecutors took over.


In 1996 News of the Weird reported on a new breed of sheep with muscular flanks (called the “beautiful buttocks” strain) and 30 percent more meat. In November of this year, a scientist with England’s meat and livestock commission said the scheme has been abandoned because the meat was invariably “tough as old boots,” and the best food technologists have not been able to find a way to tenderize it.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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