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News of the Weird



Lead Stories

Last month the health ministry of the Netherlands debuted its glossy 32-page publication Mainline Lady. Resembling a newsstand fashion magazine, it's meant to help drug-addicted women feel better about their health and appearance, with articles on gaining weight, disguising needle marks with makeup, and rejuvenating heroin-ravaged skin. It also features an upbeat horoscope column tailored to the everyday problems of drug addicts.

9Last month Jewish Week reported on Max & Mina's, a kosher ice cream parlor in Flushing, New York, whose offbeat flavors include "Lox," "Corn on the Cob," "Horseradish," "Peanut Butter and Jelly," "Beer and Nuts," and "Campfire Delight" (which tastes like baked beans). The store has discontinued its broccoli-flavored ice cream.

First, Do No Harm

In January a jury in Spokane, Washington, awarded $2.1 million to a 30-year-old autistic man whose doctor, the late neuropsychiatrist Donald Dudley, had tried to erase part of the man's brain through chemotherapy and turn him into a trained killer....In June a medical board in Ontario found psychiatrist Raymond Danny Leibl guilty of "disgraceful" conduct in his treatment of a 53-year-old woman; a proponent of "reparenting," Leibl disciplined the woman as if she were a child, gave her sodium amytal with vodka to induce hypnosis, and instructed her to call him "Mommy-Daddy Ray."...And in May a medical board in Oklahoma revoked the license of Dr. Scott Gilbert after hearing allegations that the plastic surgeon used wood screws and Superglue on patients.

Can't Possibly Be True

According to a June report in Britain's Guardian, at least two public-school cafeterias in Belgium's Limburg province will begin serving low-alcohol beer in September as part of an effort to wean children ages three to fifteen from fruit juice and sugary soda.

9Last year the Washington state board that evaluates college degree programs approved a bachelor's and a master's curriculum in "astrological studies" at the Kepler College of Astrological Arts and Sciences in Seattle. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, only 20 of the 31 enrollees completed the first year. Says Kepler president Enid Newberg, "Most people weren't used to a college level of study."

At the Innovate 2001 expo in London last month, British inventor David Morrow introduced the "Consent Condom," designed to protect men from charges of date rape. Each condom is packaged with a tab of paper on which the man's partner can leave a fingerprint to acknowledge that the act is consensual. (Among the other offerings at the exhibition was the "Ice Baton," billed as a "natural way" to relieve hemorrhoids.)

The Straits Times of Singapore reported last month that the health office in Muar, Malaysia, had shut down a food stall and arrested its proprietor because he was boiling dirty underwear in pots with food. The proprietor claimed that, according to legend, this improved the taste of the food.

People Different From Us

Last month 51-year-old Greg Daniels complained to the Austin American-Statesman that the police have been towing away his legally parked cars as junk. Daniels owns about a dozen cars, which he parks on the street in front of his house and uses in rotation; he says he's not ready to settle down with just two or three favorites.

Least Competent Criminals

Charged with defrauding investors of $4.8 million, 44-year-old Richard S. Markey of Hartford, Connecticut, argued during his trial last year that he was not a "person" subject to the laws of the U.S. but a "sovereign" and that the case should be dismissed because the prosecutor had misspelled his name on the indictment, writing it in capitals instead of upper- and lower- case. Following his conviction, Markey wrote to U.S. marshals in April declaring that because he had presented a strong case for his innocence, he would not be reporting for prison on May 2 as scheduled but would be staying with a relative near Syracuse, New York. He was arrested and incarcerated shortly thereafter.

Recurring Themes

In 1997 News of the Weird reported on a nurse and a lawyer who had become "pet psychics," charging $40 per half hour to settle problems between pets and their owners by conversing directly with the animals. This past June the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiled 35-year-old Carol Schultz, who does paw readings and counsels traumatized pets. Among her patients were a three-legged cat suffering from feelings of inadequacy and a dog trapped inside a cat's body.

Thinning the Herd

In May a 22-year-old man in Columbus, Ohio, stopped his car in traffic, got out to reprimand the driver behind him, and was fatally hit by a car in the next lane....That same month a 19-year-old student at the University of Texas at Austin, notorious for playing fire-related pranks on his friends, was killed after apparently starting a fire in his apartment....And in June an 18-year-old man in Winnemucca, Nevada, was killed when the three sticks of dynamite he habitually carried around in his backpack exploded.

In the Last Month

In Detroit, three men and a woman hoisted a homeowner's metal two-car garage onto their pickup truck and attempted to drive off with it, but the structure broke and they left it in the street....A research team at Oklahoma State University said it would soon begin test-marketing sliced peanut butter that is wrapped in plastic sleeves like cheese....Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir, India, banned the word widow for fear it would further upset women whose husbands have died in recent separatist battles....In El Paso, Texas, a barroom gunfight was averted when a man waving a pellet gun in his prosthetic arm watched as the arm dislodged and fell to the floor.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611 or to

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

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