Lead Story

In December Archie Johnston, 18, became the youngest person ever to head a Ku Klux Klan group when he took over as imperial wizard of the Independent Knights of the KKK in Orlando, Florida. He said that his dad “is totally against it,” but his mom “trusts” him to do a good job.

The Continuing Crisis

In November a Saint Louis judge accepted a guilty plea from rock star Axl Rose to settle assault and property-damage charges and gave him an unusual privilege for a convicted criminal: He would not be totally forbidden to associate with ex-felons. That provision was important to Rose because two of the other members of Guns N’ Roses are ex-felons.

In July three trained dolphins escaped from their performing pen at an exclusive resort in Key Largo, Florida, and swam away. They reappeared several days later in a lagoon by a golf course on Key Biscayne, where they performed tricks at 10 AM, 2 PM, and 4 PM (the same times as the Key Largo shows), apparently hoping to be fed.

Police in Portland, Maine, told the Associated Press in December that they have been unable to catch the person who over the last ten years has defaced about 2,000 cars by spraying them with acid. A crime analyst, noting that vandals usually escalate their attacks, wondered, “How could anyone do this for a decade and not get bored?”

In October Switzerland apologized to Liechtenstein for invading the country a few days earlier. Swiss army recruits on maneuvers asked a resident near the town of Triesenberg if they could set up an observation post in her garage, but later discovered that she lived just outside Swiss territory. The woman alerted local police, who asked the soldiers to move on.

Recently parents of a Colorado teenager announced they would sue the local school system for failing to alert them when their son’s creative writing papers revealed emotional problems. In one example cited by the Denver Post the boy wrote a story about a man’s vicious torture of a woman, concluding that now the man “was in control” and “had the power.” However, the teacher merely marked the paper “C-minus,” commenting, “No focus! . . . You’re missing the point of this.” Shortly after he submitted the paper, the boy sexually assaulted two of his stepbrothers.

Mr. M.K.O. Abiola, chief of Nigeria’s Yoruba tribe, answering a divorce lawsuit in a New York City courtroom in June, denied a woman’s claim that she was one of his 26 wives. He contended that he had only four wives and that she was one of his 18 concubines. The woman is represented by palimony lawyer Marvin Mitchelson.

Joseph W. Charles, 82, retired in October from his “job” as the Waving Man in Berkeley, California. He stationed himself in his front yard daily during morning rush hour for the last 30 years and waved to motorists.

The Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County, California, charged in October that the man who has portrayed Koo-Koo the Klown (“Kiddies’ Favorite Entertainer”) at birthday parties in the area for nearly 30 years routinely violates state law by refusing to rent apartments in the complex he owns to tenants with children.

Pacific News Service reported in June that female temperance patrols in India’s northeast state of Manipur have been successful in curtailing males’ drinking, which they say leads to wife beating and unemployment. The patrols destroy local stills and then capture men who are drinking, tie them naked to donkeys, and parade them through the local villages, where they are encouraged to promise never to drink again. The patrols now have 30,000 female members.

The Weirdo-American Community

Clare Cooper Marcus, an “environmental psychologist” at the University of California at Berkeley, recently started a counseling service for people who have difficult relationships with their houses. For $100 she will spend an hour conducting role-playing sessions between the client and his or her house. Dr. Marcus says that having the client voice anxieties to the house, and having the house respond, usually begins relieving the client’s stress within the first hour.

In Omaha Lela Schaecher gave birth to a girl on November 20, the same day her twin sister Lisa also gave birth to a girl. Both women married men named Schaecher, who are first cousins.

Least Competent People

In December near Mineral Wells, Texas, three men who were attempting to steal copper wire off live electrical lines were electrocuted. Copper wiring is a valuable scrap metal in Texas but is usually stolen from electric cables that are not being used.


At least 18 people were arrested around Manila in the Philippines on December 27 for deflating automobile tires for religious reasons. Followers of the “Reserved Manpower of the Good Wisdom for All Nations” religion said it was “God’s order” to let out the air. Said one, “Air is from God. This is the solution to the crisis in our country.”

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