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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

South African KwaZulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi began his annual state-of-the-state address to the KwaZulu legislature on March 12, spoke continuously during weekday business hours, and finished on March 30--reading 427 pages of text and waiting for the translation from English to Zulu.

Inexplicable

In July in Elkton, Virginia, Jarrette Arlo Dean, 43, was hospitalized with severely swollen lips and tongue after he gnawed the head off a rattlesnake that had bitten him repeatedly on the hand while he was transporting it on his motorcycle. Dean had apparently retaliated by biting the snake's head.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Historical Association announced it is raising money this year by offering for sale Internal Revenue Service gift ornaments that commemorate the 80th anniversary of the 16th Amendment, which authorized the income tax. The $11 ornaments are "24-carat, gold-finished, three-dimensional" models of a 1913 income tax form.

In a June profile the New York Times reported that the New York City Sanitation Department's artist-in-residence Mierle Laderman Ukeles has accomplished the following: built an archway of gloves discarded by city employees and a structure from steel shavings from subway-car wheels; choreographed a dance for street-sweeping machines; and conducted a performance-art piece in which she shook hands with all 8,500 employees of the department. On the side, the self-described "maintenance artist" went to Pittsburgh and conducted a ballet of garbage barges.

Police in Gonzalez, Louisiana, arrested Garrick "Lucky" Lewis, 20, in April on the complaint of a 21-year-old woman. The woman said Lewis broke into her apartment, lectured her about the need to lock her windows and doors, and left. A half hour later Lewis broke in again and allegedly tried to rape her.

District of Columbia superior court judge John Bayly was forced to declare a mistrial in a child abuse case in July when the defendant's lawyer, Clayton J. Powell Jr., casually informed the judge in the middle of the trial that he was leaving on vacation that evening. Powell cited a commitment to his family and his nonrefundable airline tickets. Another lawyer in the case told reporters that Powell was committing "professional suicide."

The Hill and Cormier families of Kittery, Maine, have been feuding for years over the Cormiers' dogs, with the Hills complaining that the police never take action to stop their constant barking. In April the police issued the first summons in the feud--to the Hills' son, Henry Paradis, for creating a nuisance by barking back at the dogs.

First Things First

Former Hemet, California, high school quarterback A.T. Page, who had sex more than a hundred times with the wife of his coach, Randy Brown, in Brown's presence, said Brown called the encounters "astronaut training" and said that they would make Page a better football player. Said Page, "Just as [sex] would be going on with [Mrs. Brown], [the coach] would plug in a videotape of a scrimmage or a practice and say, 'Now this is what you're doing wrong, A.T.'"

Former Saint Joseph, Missouri, sheriff's deputy Tim Carder testified in June that convicted murderer John Ferguson had escaped from his custody during a physical-therapy session at a hospital in 1992 when Carder took a bathroom break. "I just got to the point where I had to go to the rest room," said Carder. "At that point, I didn't have any other choice."

In December at the University of Colorado three-hour final exams for French classes were canceled halfway through when women's basketball coach Ceal Barry commandeered the gym where the exam was being held for a team practice. Each of the 580 students received an A because of the inconvenience.

The Weirdo-American Community

Two Milwaukee Psychiatric Hospital doctors, reporting in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, described the case of a 44-year-old man who attempted suicide through an overdose of nicotine. After consuming a pot of strong coffee, he stuck seven nicotine patches to his chest and began smoking cigarettes, two at a time, hoping to induce a heart attack. After two hours he panicked and abandoned the attempt.

I Don't Think So

London housewife Julie Amiri, charged in July with shoplifting, sought leniency in court by having her psychologist testify that she can achieve orgasm only from the rush of a police arrest. Amiri said she had had her first orgasm at age 28 in the back of a police car, and the psychologist added that sirens, uniforms, and flashing blue lights heightened her arousal.

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

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