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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

The barbaric Gotmaar Festival continues in Pandhurna, India, despite the village's increasing modernization (10,000 TV sets among its 45,000 people): Each year, after a full moon in September, all village activity stops for a day and the males divide into two groups to gather rocks. They spend the rest of the day throwing them at each other, attempting to kill or injure as many opponents as they can. At sunset, they stop, nurse the wounded, and return to normal life. This year, 4 were killed and 612 wounded.

The Litigious Society

Joseph Lasorsa, 29, filed a $1 million slander suit in San Jose, California, against the Gilbert Zapps Bar in August after a bartender there told him, "Everybody here hates you 'cause you're short and ugly." Lasorsa denied the characterization, pointing out that he had a "nice-looking girlfriend."

Thelma Weasenforth Lunaas of Houston filed a lawsuit against the United States in July for nearly $100 billion, as repayment of a $450,000 loan that her ancestor, Jacob De Haven, made in cash and supplies to General George Washington in 1777, when the Continental Congress issued a call for assistance.

Paul Britton, 42, filed a lawsuit in Syracuse recently for half of his late girlfriend's $10,000 life-insurance policy. Britton pleaded guilty in February to criminal negligence in her death; he admitted slapping her two days before she died of a head injury.

The Hell's Angels filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit in Los Angeles in October, claiming their "good name" was harmed in the 1988 movie "Nam Angels." The Hell's Angels Corporation objects to the movie's portrayal of its members as disloyal to each other.

Smooth Reactions

Daniel Hannan, 30, was charged with shooting hospital clerk Richard LaPinto in Pittsburgh in June when he was presented with a $3,300 bill he says he did not owe. Hannan asked for and received an explanation from LaPinto, thanked him, walked to the door, and then suddenly turned and shot LaPinto. According to the police report, LaPinto then told Hannan he wouldn't have to pay the bill.

Steven G. Rollins, already serving 32 years for killing a prison inmate in 1974 and charged with rape in July while on parole in Providence, Rhode Island, became dissatisfied with his lawyer's defense tactics and began to beat him with his fists in the courtroom, causing a concussion before he was restrained.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, Evangelyn Smith and 12 friends were sentenced to jail in July for beating three women who had allegedly had sex with Smith's husband, a pastor. One victim testified that the women ripped her bra and shorts off, held her legs, beat her, washed her body (because Reverend Smith had sinned there), and threatened to cut out her tongue if she reported them.

In a September boxing match in Southampton, England, after hometown favorite Steve McCarthy knocked down Tony Wilson, Wilson's mother climbed into the ring and clubbed McCarthy with her spike-heeled shoe, opening a blood-gushing wound that forced McCarthy to concede the match.

Frederick H. Yerger, a police detective in Berks County, Pennsylvania, was fired in October after he destroyed the office TV. While watching a soap opera in the squad room and overhearing another officer say that a certain character in the show should be shot, he had pulled out his gun, aimed at the actor, and fired.

Things You Thought Didn't Happen

Larry Nixon was the leading money-winner in the professional bass-fishing tour in 1988, earning $208,000.

According to a recent book, former North Carolina State basketball player Chris Washburn, answering a tutor's questions, identified the country directly north of the U.S. as "England" and the country directly south (after being prompted that Spanish is spoken there) as "Spain."

According to a recent book on crocodiles by Hugh Edwards, New Guinea tribesmen deliberately place their mothers-in-law at the stern of their boats, the spot most vulnerable to attack.

According to Robert W. Funk, head of a California theology think tank, a September project report concludes that Jesus Christ was not celibate and did not advocate celibacy. He was also "a party animal, somewhat shiftless, and disrespectful of the fifth commandment (honor your father and mother)."

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

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