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News of the Weird

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In July Bennie Casson filed a $100,000 lawsuit in Belleville, Illinois, against PT's Show Club in nearby Sauget for its negligence in allowing

a stripper to "slam" her breasts into his neck and head without his consent. Dancer Susan Sykes, aka "Busty Heart," claims show business's biggest chest (88 inches), which Casson said was responsible for his "bruised, contused, lacerated" neck.

Tysonism: British Labor Party politician Ken Brookman, 54, was fined $1,500 in July for picking a fight with a man on a train near Cardiff, Wales, and biting off part of his ear. And a week later in Saint Mary's County, Virginia, Judge Joseph Troisi, who had just been insulted by defendant Bill Witten, came down from the bench and allegedly jumped on Witten and bit him on the nose. A special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate Troisi, who said he is reflecting on the incident for "character growth and spiritual assessment."

Reuters News Service reported in April that more and more Chinese families along the border with North Korea are refusing to bury dead relatives until the bodies decompose. The families fear that famine-plagued North Koreans who cross the border foraging for food will dig up fresh bodies and eat them.

Latest Religious Messages

Virgin Mary world tour: Apparitions of Mary were reported in the plate-glass window of a finance company in Clearwater, Florida, and on a wall of a home in Lewis, Kansas, in December 1996; in April of this year on a roadside sign in Sunnyside, Washington; and in June she was spotted in a cluster of trees in Gradina, Croatia, as well as on the floor of a subway station in Mexico City.

In March the First Baptist Church of Berryville, Arkansas, closed its day-care center, declaring its purpose inconsistent with the teachings of the Bible. Church authorities claimed mothers wouldn't have to work if they did without "big TVs, a microwave, new clothes, eating out, and nice vacations." And in May a chief in northern Swaziland banned the use of condoms, citing the teachings of the Bible on the waste of reproductive fluids. He said contraceptive pills are OK.

In March the Amarillo Globe-News of Texas reported that service technician Eddie Golden, 28, attributes his recovery from brain surgery to divine intervention. In October 1996 Golden accidentally shot himself above the ear with a nail gun, embedding a one-and-one-fourth-inch brad in his skull and avoiding a fatal wound by about an eighth of an inch. After a doctor pulled it out he suggested an MRI to make sure there was no further damage. The MRI revealed a brain tumor, which has now been treated. Said Golden, "God's got a reason...or he wouldn't have put that nail in there."

In February the Houston Chronicle reported on the local Buddhist Temple of the Great Bodhisattva Washington, which founder Ong Dao Ton believes is the only congregation in the world to pray to both Buddha and George Washington. Ton says he has about 40 members and formed the temple because he believes the United States saved him from oppression in Vietnam twice, in 1954 and 1973.

Eddie Clyde Harris, 38, was sentenced to life in prison in March in Neosho, Missouri, for the attempted rape of a 57-year-old woman. According to a psychiatrist who testified at the trial, Harris believes he has a special gift from God that enables him to look at a woman and determine whether she is promiscuous, and that the victim passed the test.

In May Reverend Joe Bullard resigned from the Copper Ridge Baptist Church in Halls, Tennessee, ending what had been a months-long feud with many of the parishioners over whether he was pocketing the offerings of pilgrims who had come to see an apparition of a glowing cross in the church's windows. Police had been called several times to break up fistfights among the largely elderly congregation. And in December, during an ongoing feud over who had the authority to fire minister Marvin Hodge of the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Rembert, South Carolina, Hodge's detractors would regularly attend services and heckle and boo him while he preached.

Awesome! Duuude!

In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, driver Anthony Lowe, 16, allegedly rammed into a utility pole in February, cut it in half, and knocked out power to 7,000 customers just as a sleet storm began. News photos at the scene revealed a clearly pleased-with-himself Lowe, who suggested the headline "Anthony 1, Telephone Pole 0." Lowe had had his driver's license for less than three weeks and told police he "wasn't really paying attention" as he drove. When informed of the power outages, Lowe and his passenger allegedly responded in unison, "Cool!"

Latest handcuffed-behind-the-back escapes: David Thornton, 28, stopped for DUI in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in April, and Tommy Richards, 21, arrested for assault in Elmwood, Illinois, in May, allegedly stole their arresting officers' cruisers and drove several miles, using various parts of their bodies to steer and shift gears before being recaptured.

According to a May Advertising Age report, the rock group Motley Crue is promoting its latest album with a bright-blue-colored soft drink, Motley Brue, which leaves both the drinker's mouth and any concurrent excrement blue. The independent soft-drink company Eat Me Now says the beverage is "for people who are done with the whole drugs and alcohol thing, but still want to have fun."

Recent chain-link fence impalings: Shayne Henry, 22, was impaled by a section of pipe when he allegedly drove through a fence while horsing around a golf course at night in Edmonton, Alberta, in April; and also in April, Michael Brown, 29, was impaled by a ten-foot-long section of galvanized pipe on a fence when his mother accidentally drove through it while taking him to a job interview in Ripon, California.

Recent flying things: cars driven over embankments or ramps, landing on Rob Hasenwinkle's house in Kamloops, British Columbia, in February, in J.C. Warner's motel room in Grants Pass, Oregon, in March, and on an Amtrak train in Portland, Oregon, in July. A couch was tossed out a fourth-floor apartment in Edmonton, Alberta, in March, clipping a newspaper carrier and sending him to the hospital; and in July a one-ton bull fell from a cliff onto Elizabeth Hanks's car near Joseph, Oregon, and a 3,000-pound wrecking ball rolled off a truck onto a car near Shepherd, Montana.

Capital of Domestic Violence

One day apart in June, two men in Stafford County, Virginia, were charged with beating their wives during channel-changing disputes. Joseph W. During, 20, was charged with assault after punching his wife for changing radio stations in the car, and Edgar D. Colvin, 49, was charged with assault for roughing up his wife after she commandeered the remote control and changed channels with two minutes left in game five of the NBA championship series.

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.

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