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News of the Weird



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On October 17 the federal government announced that it would reduce funding for food banks and other programs that feed poverty-stricken Americans by $55 million and that it was making $47 million in new funds available for make-work jobs and job training for the reviled Haitian police force.

Undignified Deaths

After an evening of drinking with friends in October, Christopher Millwood, 20, was found dead with his head, shoulders, and upper body wedged into a Federal Express drop box in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Police, who knew of no motive for the incident, said Millwood suffocated when his head got caught.


Atlanta police detective Chris Brown, commenting in July on a hapless bank robber who walks with the aid of a cane and who gave himself up without resisting immediately after the dye pack in the money bag he'd been given exploded outside the bank: "I don't think he had a plan."

Mike McElroy, explaining to the West Lake Hills, Texas, city council in August why he ought to be allowed to keep his pet donkey, Pearl, at his home despite regulations against it: "[This] is a great opportunity for our kids and other kids who come to see us to be able to recognize and identify manure, which will help them in the future. Children need, at an early age, to be able to identify manure."

Adoption-agency official Mary Graves testified in August in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, that a girl who'd been taken from her father after her mother passed away should be allowed to stay with the family that adopted her. Graves said that if she stayed with her father, "She would have none of the benefits but all of the disadvantages of a mother who is dead."

A New York City Transit Authority spokesman, describing in August how his agency would handle female toplessness in subways after a state court ruled that women had the same public-nudity rights as men: "If [the topless females] were violating any other rules, like sitting on a subway bench topless smoking a cigarette, then we would take action."

James A. Kowalski, following his conviction on child-sexual-molestation charges in Prince Frederick, Maryland, in July: "I can't help myself. If I could stop, I would. It's no fun being the slimy underbelly of human sexuality."

In a July article the Daily Oklahoman newspaper reported that state senator John Monks had once defended the "sport" of cockfighting by saying, "The first thing the communists do when they take over a country is to outlaw cockfighting."

One issue on the ballot in San Francisco this year was an initiative on whether a subway station should be constructed inside the San Francisco International Airport or just outside the airport boundary. In April a local judge rejected a complaint about the poor taste of an ad the "inside" advocates created, which included the line "Taking [the train] almost into the airport is like not coming."

Columnist Emil Guillermo, writing in Filipinas magazine last fall, urged Philippine Americans to come out of the closet regarding their appetite for dog meat: "Whether you have eaten it or not, deep down you know you'd eat it. Yet that restrictive idea of "when in America, do as Americans do' prevents us from outright declaring, "Mmm, I prefer my German shepherd baked and my cocker spaniel sauteed."'

Chicagoan Christine McKatherine, 43, who sat in her car staging a 24-hour protest in August after the car was immobilized with a Denver boot for having 115 unpaid parking tickets: "I'm tired of people getting harassed in Chicago."

In a prepared statement released in September the British firm Proteus International, manufacturer of a new chemical neutering drug for animals, said the product works by stopping sperm production. "It also shrinks the testicles," the statement continued, "but arguably it is better to have shrunken testicles than no testicles at all."

Senator Bob Packwood, describing his experience with girls as a teenager: "I'd ask girls out and they'd turn me down, and so finally it got to the point where you didn't want to be rejected. And so you just didn't ask."

The Weirdo-American Community

In September in Pittsburgh, Dewitt Smith, 46, received a five-to-ten-year sentence for aggravated assault for a 1992 incident in which he broke away from courtroom marshals and bit his judge, Walter R. Little, in the face, sending him to the hospital for stitches. Smith said he didn't understand what he was doing because he was hearing voices.

Least Competent Criminals

According to the sheriff in Martin, Ohio, two or more burglars unsuccessfully attempted to break into the safe at W&W Custom Applicators Inc. at four o'clock one morning in October. They rolled the four-foot-high, concrete-lined safe outside and used a front-end loader to smash it against the side of a building. The safe crashed through the wall but didn't open. They smashed it against the side of a utility trailer with the same result. They then placed it on nearby railroad tracks so that a train could plow into it, but the Conrail train that came along simply pushed it out of sight along the tracks. The burglars fled, having managed only to loot the company's petty-cash box.

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

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