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News of the Weird



Lead Story

Los Angeles talk-show host Joe Crummey has begun selling a 30-minute video of his recent brain surgery. The tape, made by Saint Vincent Medical Center staff, includes interviews with Crummey's doctors and station colleagues. It costs $22.50.

The Continuing Crisis

Pennsylvania's Lebanon Daily News reported in March that an ear-piercing establishment at a local mall had pierced the ears of an 11-month-old baby girl who was brought in by her 16-year-old mother, but had refused to do the mother's ears. The proprietor explained that the baby had her mother's permission, but the mother was under 18 and he needed her mother's permission.

In March in Alhambra, California, Robert C. Lewis, 52, was jailed for four days without possibility of bail after his unlicensed labrador-shepherd dog chased a cat into the street. And two weeks later in Clearwater, Florida, Michael C. Diana, 24, was also jailed for four days without possibility of bail after being convicted by a jury of publishing obscene comic books using a photocopy machine.

The Washington Post reported in September that at the third annual Fairfax County Slugfest "Slippery" beat out 49 other slugs in the Tour de Slug race. Also featured at the Virginia festival: slug face painting, a slime toss, and an official drink--green "slimeade." A 12-year-old boy demonstrated his skill at flicking his tongue in and out of his mouth with his slug Mickey attached. He said that despite washing Mickey several times with soap beforehand, "the slime [still] sticks between your teeth. I've still got some slime from yesterday."

According to the prosecutor, Antonio Mendez, 18, on trial last September in Milwaukee for a gang-related murder, told police at the time of his arrest: "You know, this is going to wreck my whole summer. I'm not going to be able to go to Summerfest. It's not like [the 15-year-old victim] was the president or anything. She's just a girl."

On Valentine's Day police in West Springfield, Massachusetts, chased away four women who claimed to be members of "Lesbian Avengers" and were passing out candy and leaflets near an elementary school. The leaflets, which proclaimed "Girls who love girls and women who love women are OK!!!" contained a telephone number for a lesbian and gay hot line that turned out to be a recording that advertised gay phone sex at $1.98 per minute.

In September the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Washington, D.C., announced that it had issued 60 citations and $90,000 in fines for unsafe workplace conditions at the Federal Building in Kansas City, Missouri, which is the regional OSHA office.

University of Massachusetts Professor Robert Malloy recently announced a plan to save the endangered African black rhinoceros from hunters who kill them for their horns. At a cost of about $2,000 per animal, officials would tranquilize the rhino, remove the horn, and attach an artificial one, using a technique similar to that used to affix dental crowns. The horn would be painted orange to discourage poachers. Namibia has rejected the proposal, preferring its own program to remove but not replace the horns. But Malloy maintains that an artificial horn is necessary for a rhino's social standing within the herd.

Great Art

In March performance artist Ron Athey stunned some audience members at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis by piercing parts of his body, then slicing into the back of accomplice Darryl Carlton, wiping that blood on towels, and sending the towels on a clothesline out over the audience. A Walker spokesperson said Athey has AIDS and the show was directed at an AIDS-phobic society, but that Athey's infected blood, which dripped onstage, posed no risk to audience members. Carlton said such erotic torture is "revered in Africa and feared in America."

From March 11 to May 1, in an area 25 feet from a restaurant, the Esbjerg Art Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark, featured an exhibit of six decomposing, beheaded pigs and a mirror covered in pig's blood. The artist, German sculptor Christian Lemmerz, said, "This is art that makes people think. They must take a stand on their own existence and face the reality of what happens to their bodies after death." Lemmerz said he would bag whatever was left of the exhibit on May 2 and expected to sell it to some collector for around $60,000.

In June at the Biennale art show in Venice, Italy, an animal activist filed abuse charges against Japanese artist Yukinori Yanagi, who'd used more than 200 ants in a labyrinth of colored sand dunes and tunnels designed to look like flags of various nations that he called "Can Art Change the World?" After the show Yanagi freed the ants.

In September three artists, funded in part by a $4,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, selected 70 cows near Boulder, Wyoming, and painted feminist poetry by early settler Phyllis Luman Metal on their hides. Said artist Sue Thornton, "Cows are great, and so are women. Their lives are about self-sacrifice and motherhood."

I Don't Think So

Sheriff's Lieutenant Armand Tiano, a candidate for Santa Clara County sheriff, apologized to voters in March when a recent photo of him with a motorcycle and three topless dancers surfaced. Tiano said he'd agreed to pose with the dancers only as a favor to a friend, adding, "If I had known they were going to [expose their breasts], I wouldn't have [done it]."

Undignified Death

A 45-year-old minister was electrocuted in February at the Christian Fellowship Church in Larose, Louisiana, as he was standing in a pool about to baptize a dozen people. According to the coroner's office, the cause was either the microphone he was holding or a faulty pool heater.

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

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