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News of the Weird



Lead Story

On July 31 three magistrates in economically depressed Breathitt County, Kentucky, went to jail for contempt of the legislature rather than follow orders to raise local taxes. The magistrates had to serve the sentence in a neighboring county because Breathitt's jails had been shut down due to the budget shortage.

Great Art

Sculptor Janine Antoni's show at the Sandra Gering Gallery in New York City this spring featured a 600-pound cube of chocolate (price: $7,500) that she had gnawed on for three days to represent people's inability to control their weight. Said she, "[My gnawing and spitting out chocolate] is a metaphor for a society that's always after the binge, the fast fix."

In February Canadian sculptor Helen Chadwick, 38, offered her "Piss Flowers" creations--bronze casts of streams of urine--for around $2,000 each. The artist described the making of her work to England's Guardian: "I would build a mound of snow with a good density and then urinate in the middle of it. Then I would get a man to encircle my urine with a stream of his own. The shapes would be like petals with a series of droplets." She then made a plaster cast of the work, creating a series of 12 "flower" sculptures.

A jury in Buffalo, New York, ruled in June that sculptor Billie Lawless was not entitled to monetary damages in a suit he filed against the city when the mayor ordered his exhibit dismantled only five days after it was put on display in 1984. The work in question, "Green Lightning," featured dancing penises wearing top hats.

Artist Theodore Waddell, of Ryegate, Montana, known for making art from road kill, put a coyote carcass on display this winter at the Cheney Cowles Museum in Spokane, Washington. Soon afterward, fly larvae hatched in the carcass, forcing the museum to close until exterminators cleaned up.

The Josh Baer Gallery in New York City recently announced it would soon display part of Andrew Krasnow's "Flag Poll" sculpture--a U.S. flag made of human skin. Krasnow said he obtained the skin through legal means, including an eight-inch-square patch from his own buttocks.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Kevin Ray Goodrie, 29, was arrested in May after escaping from a prison in Bismarck, North Dakota, seven days earlier. Goodrie was found hiding out in the woods near Duluth, Minnesota, by sheriff's deputy James Peterson, who had gone into the woods looking for a fawn injured by a passing motorist.

A male and a female student at Frankfurt University in Germany slipped into a rest room on campus for a tryst one evening in April but were inadvertently locked in by the janitor. They figured their only way out was to activate the sprinkler system, which brought fire fighters to the rescue. The water damage (around $12,000) was billed to the students.

In New York City in April Jose Rodriguez, 69, mowed down nine pedestrians in midtown Manhattan at the height of rush hour. The car was parked at the curb, but a traffic officer ordered Rodriguez to move it. Rodriguez reluctantly obliged even though he did not know how to drive.

James V. Harris, 38, drowned in Columbia, Missouri, in July while hiding in a drainage ditch at an apartment complex. According to police, he was eluding security officers who had discovered him shoplifting at a Wal-Mart. Harris hid in the ditch just as an intense thunderstorm began, dumping an inch and a half of rain in only a few minutes.

A 29-year-old man from New Westminster, British Columbia, was charged with DUI in June after he rear-ended a van carrying several police officers who travel around the community urging people not to drink and drive.

In July Edward Amezquita, 31, died of smoke inhalation when he slept through a fire at his girlfriend's house in Norfolk, Virginia. His girlfriend said, "I hit him on the chest about three times and was screaming to him to wake up." She said he woke just long enough to tell her to leave him alone.

The Weirdo-American Community

San Antonio police, trying to piece together the circumstances surrounding the death of a 40-year-old man in July, released to the newspapers the following clues: in a closet in his apartment were numerous bars of six different brands of soap; bizarre messages were taped to various objects in the apartment; eight TV sets were placed in a semicircle; 40 half-dollars were found in the man's stomach.

Least Competent Person

In July Philip S. Whaley Sr. was captured after a 28-minute car chase around Syracuse, New York, and charged with grand larceny and several other crimes. The officer in the lead chase car later said that it was fairly easy to catch Whaley because despite many route changes during the chase Whaley never failed to signal a turn. Said the officer, "We knew exactly where he was going."

The Diminishing Value of Life

Tyvonne Watts was charged with the murder of bar deejay Michael Johnson in May in Danbury, Connecticut; police said Watts shot Johnson in the neck because he objected to various song dedications Johnson had announced.

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

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