Lead Stories

The national pastime: In Los Angeles Regina Anne Chatien, 43, and Melvin Maurice Hoffman, 53, were fined $1,000 in April for engaging in oral sex during a Dodgers game last season, while in attendance with their four children. And in May a couple had sex in a Toronto SkyDome Hotel room, the inside of which is easily visible from the field and the stands, during a Blue Jays baseball game. (Said one Blue Jay, “It’s a good thing they finished before the game ended, or I don’t think anyone would have seen the game.”)

In May at a hearing in New Haven, Connecticut, lawyers argued whether wives could sue husbands under the 1994 federal Violence Against Women Act. In the case at hand a woman said that during an 18-month period from 1993 to 1995 her husband imprisoned her in their home, beat her daily, forced her to lay out his clothes for more than 50 of his extramarital liaisons, and forced her to wash and blow-dry a girlfriend’s dog. (The husband’s lawyer denied everything.)

In May a federal judge in Beaumont, Texas, issued a permanent injunction against the Quadro Corporation of Harleyville, South Carolina, which had been selling a device for finding illegal drugs to government agencies and schools for up to $8,000 each. FBI tests determined that the device was merely a piece of plastic with an antenna on it and was incapable of detecting drugs or anything else. However, several law enforcement officers and school principals swore to the judge that the gadget worked for them.


In May freelance accident-scene photographer Peter Nicholas, 61, was charged by Massachusetts state police with leaving the scene of a fatal accident that he’d photographed for $25 for the Middlesex News in Framingham. Police believe that that particular accident was inadvertently caused by Nicholas, who then jumped out of his car and began snapping photos.

After a four-day trial in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in March, Sarah M. Milliken, 48, lost her lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. She claimed she was suffering from lingering back injuries from an accident in 1991 in which her car skidded out of control on an icy spot in the road. She was done in by a videotape supplied by her now-estranged husband, which showed her a year after the accident wrestling with another woman in a vat of coleslaw during Biker Week in Daytona Beach.

In October a jury in Alameda County, California, ruled against Greg Franklin in his lawsuit against the local water district. According to Franklin it was the judge’s fault. Franklin, who is black, said that Judge Jacqueline Taber at one point referred to him in front of the jury as “Mr. Simpson.”

In January Deborah Zangara Mulhern, a police officer in Buffalo, New York, returned to work on desk duty after more than six years of sick leave because of a back injury incurred when her patrol car was rear-ended. Three hours into her first shift Mulhern leaned back in her chair, fell over, and had to be taken to the hospital.

Writers in the News

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that Brazilian Ryoki Inoue had just written his 1,039th novel for the benefit of the reporter. Inoue started the book around 10 PM. By 5:30 AM he’d put the finishing touches on a 195-page story about drug traffickers and corrupt cops.

According to a Seattle Times feature in March, Robert Shields, 77, of Dayton, Washington, is the author of perhaps the longest personal diary in history–nearly 38 million words stored in 81 cardboard boxes. The diary covers 24 years in five-minute increments, with entries like “July 25, 1993, 7 AM: I cleaned out the tub and scraped my feet with my fingernails to remove layers of dead skin. 7:05 AM: Passed a large, firm stool, and a pint of urine. Used 5 sheets of paper.”

Cultural Diversity: Iran

In May militant Muslims attacked the director of the Chitgar sports center outside Tehran and ransacked the grounds protesting the center’s policy of allowing women to ride bicycles on the premises. The militants believe women should not cycle in public because it’s provocative.

Two days later about 60 Muslim activists wrecked a Tehran theater that was showing the Iranian film Indian Souvenir, which features a four-minute scene of little girls dancing at a wedding. (The militants believe females should dance only in the company of females.)

In October Iran–which has long struggled with the effects of technology on fundamental Islamic values (in 1994 the country banned satellite dishes because they were bringing in Western television)–announced through the government-run television station that it was developing computer and video games to teach Islamic moral values.

Well Put

In January the Texas court of criminal appeals rejected a defendant’s argument that a particular piece of evidence against him at trial should not have been admitted. The trial court had permitted testimony from a police officer that the defendant, upon his arrest for sexual assault, had defecated in his pants; the prosecutor had argued that the information was properly admitted under the traditional doctrine of admitting a defendant’s “excited utterances.”


Mikey Sproul made News of the Weird in 1993 when at age three he smashed up the family car and two others with a late-night drive near Tampa and then accidentally burned down the family home. He was a reporter’s delight, saying “I go zoom” and “Now I have no more house.” In April 1996 Mikey, now 6, accidentally burned his mother’s new house, resulting in $45,000 in damages. This time he had no statement for the press.

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/Shawn Belschwender.