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News of the Weird

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In August Gary T. Williams, 38, pleaded guilty to forgery in Louisville, Kentucky, in a case involving checks totaling more than $4,800. Williams told the judge that he needed the money to pay off a man who lived in the group house in which he was staying and who had threatened his life. Williams said the trouble started when he fried some chicken gizzards using what he thought was flour; it was actually the other man's cocaine.

The Democratic Process

Hermosa Beach, California, city councilman Bob Benz this year helped organize the city's annual Fourth of July "Ironman" competition, in which participants run a mile, paddle a surfboard a mile, and then try to down a six-pack of beer without vomiting. Benz also coproduced a video of the event that aired on local cable TV and featured contestants for the "most picturesque vomiting" award. The competition was held on a public beach where drinking is illegal, and nearby home owners complained that contestants were urinating in public. Said Benz, "I had a great time."

Georgia state representative Jimmy Benefield, 52, admitted in August that he had brought a dildo onto the floor of the legislature, but he denied having shown it to the 14-year-old legislative assistant who had reported that someone had shown a dildo to him. According to two lobbyists, Benefield occasionally walked around the halls wearing the dildo under an apron over his suit and flashing it at passersby.

Among the winners in Russia's local elections in April was billionaire Kirsan Hyumzhinov, who was voted president of the republic of Kalmyk. One of his campaign promises was that he'd give the equivalent of $100 to every family in the republic.

A team from the North Carolina legislature scheduled a basketball game with a team from the South Carolina legislature in May to help decide the site in North Carolina for a nuclear-waste landfill. If the North Carolinians won, the landfill would be built close to the South Carolina border; if they lost, it would be located in the interior of the state. The South Carolinians played the game but renounced the stakes, which they said violated their state's antigambling laws.

Washington state representative Ron Jacobsen introduced a resolution in February calling for the appointment of a state poet laureate "to write poetry and lofty expressions to be read at appropriate state occasions." The state wine industry had agreed to pay a salary of 126 gallons of wine a year.

Woodruff Adams II, 36, the Republican candidate for mayor of Toledo, Ohio, told the press in July that he had never registered to vote before this year because candidates for jury duty are selected from voter-registration lists, and the obligations of his financial-consulting business required him to avoid jury duty.

A March Associated Press report on bills introduced in state legislatures included an attempt to outlaw electronic moose calls in Maine; a proposal to permit Minnesota tavern customers to roll dice (without violating antigambling laws) in deciding who pays the tab; and a Florida proposal that would require a man who has extramarital sex to register with the state in order to preserve parental rights to any offspring.

Texas lawmakers this term amended the state's unique marital-aids (such as artificial penises) law to permit health professionals to legally possess six or more. For other people possession of six or more is a felony, and still at issue under the state penal code is whether possession of even a single marital aid will continue to be treated as a misdemeanor.

Creme de la Weird

In a story on a human-branding demonstration at a downtown art gallery in August by "body artist" Steve Haworth, the Phoenix New Times reported that a 38-year-old woman had sought Haworth's services, intending to have her S & M master's three initials burned into her buttocks with stainless steel heated to 1,800 degrees Farenheit. However, after one initial, she called it off because of the pain, scrapped the second initial altogether, and said she'd add the last one if the couple stayed together a year.

Least Competent People

After a monthlong investigation police in Lakewood, Colorado, announced in August that the 100-plus gunshots that had frightened neighbors into believing that gangs were engaged in drive-by shootings in the area were actually caused by the poor aim of prison employees at the nearby federal prison's firing range. According to a prison spokesman, all employees, including clerical personnel, must be trained in firearms, and some apparently missed not only the targets but a hill that separates the range from the complaining neighborhood.

I Don't Think So

Wiley Davis Jr., 52, was sentenced to three years in prison for falsifying educational achievements on his resume in order to get a job as career development manager of the Durham, North Carolina, police department. According to a colleague interviewed by the Durham Herald-Sun, Davis said a "nationwide conspiracy" was responsible for deleting records of his having earned a high school diploma in Philadelphia and a college degree in College Park, Maryland, along with records of his other alleged achievements.

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

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