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News of the Weird



Lead Stories

Last month USA Today published a feature about the Lord's Gym, a fitness center in Greenacres, Florida, that caters to devout Christians (sales pitch: "Your body is a temple for Christ"). One mother interviewed for the story said she patronized the gym because her teenage daughter could work out there without being ogled by men. . . . At the opposite end of the cultural spectrum, Reuters carried a story in April about New York dominatrix Mistress Victoria, who puts clients through punishing fitness and weight-loss routines in her "Slavercise" class.

Leading Economic Indicators

Last month the New York restaurant Salon Mexico introduced a $45 burrito filled with truffles and filet mignon. . . . The founder of Paul Mitchell salon products recently launched a line of shampoos for dogs, joining Estee Lauder in the still-wide-open market for upscale pet hair-care products. . . . And at a New York legislative committee hearing in May, a Manhattan building owner revealed that he had paid former U.S. senator Alfonse D'Amato half a million dollars to make a single phone call on his behalf, to the chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The matter at issue was decided in favor of the building owner.

Least Competent Criminals

On Father's Day in Des Moines, Iowa, ten-year-old Brian Kline playfully handcuffed himself to his father, William Kline Jr. Because the key was lost, William had to call the police to remove the cuffs, and when his name was run through their database in a routine check, they found two outstanding warrants for his arrest and recuffed him. . . . And last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an alleged shoplifter was caught after he removed the security tags from some items of clothing, carried them past the electronic sensor, and set off the alarm--he had put the security tags in his pocket.


Last month at an isolated hospital in the Andes Mountains of Peru, Dr. Cesar Venero diagnosed patient Centeno Quispe with a brain injury, incurred during a street fight, and because Quispe could not be airlifted to a full-service hospital in time to save his life, Venero used pliers and an electric drill bought from a hardware store to remove the blood clots that were putting pressure on Quispe's brain.

Weird Labor News

In a story about strange summer jobs, Norway's VG newspaper reported that teenager Svein Tore Hauge works at Saerheim Plant Research following cattle around and catching their excrement before it can hit the ground. Because the waste is used for scientific study, it must be free of grass, dirt, foreign bacteria, etc.


In June a researcher from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia reported that men's underarm odor relieves stress in women....At the Venice International Art Biennale in June, Canadian video maker Jana Sterbak screened another chapter in her series on pain, this one starring a Jack Russell terrier named Stanley. Sterback strapped a camera to the dog, and the resulting video goes haywire when the dog's investigation of a porcupine provokes a quill attack....And the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled recently that convicted marijuana dealer Frederick R. James is not legally insane, despite the fact that he sent district judge Michael J. Reagan an invoice for $500,000 each time the judge uttered his name during trial. James says that Reagan owes him $151 million for copyright violations.

Seriously in Denial

Last month John Jamelske of Syracuse, New York, received a sentence of 18 years to life for holding women as sex slaves in a dungeon beneath his backyard. He told the judge that he thought of the women as his "buddies" and the dungeon as his "party room," and that he was not guilty of kidnapping because he had made no demands for ransom....And in May former pediatrician Alva Hartwright of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, received a prison sentence of 15 to 30 years for sexually abusing homeless teenage boys in his care. He insisted that the many enemas he gave them were "medically necessary" and that he maintained a huge cache of child pornography because he found the photos "aesthetically pleasing."

In the Last Month

In Cicero a man allegedly seeking a street-corner prostitute was arrested and had his vehicle confiscated, even though the vehicle in question was a municipal transit bus he was returning after a shift....A man fleeing police in a high-speed chase between Oak Ridge, Texas, and Lebanon, Oklahoma, kept calling 911 on his cell phone, asking the operators to tell police to stop chasing him....And in British Columbia the Cranbrook Daily Townsman ran a story about Irene Weller's cat, Patches, which nursed not only a litter of kittens but also two mice that Weller had recently ejected from the home.

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

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