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News of the Weird

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German romanticism professor Jukka Ammondt, 45, of Finland's University of Jyvaskyla, ended a two-week singing tour in the U.S. in October by performing Elvis Presley songs in Latin at the Finnish embassy in Washington, D.C. According to a Washington Post report, Ammondt sang versions of "It's Now or Never" ("Nunc hic aut numquam") and "Love Me Tender" ("Tenere me, suaviter") among other songs.

Great Art

A sculpture show in May in New York City featured artist Wenda Gu's traylike device that's filled with glued together hair from people of many nationalities, symbolizing the American melting pot. Gu's future plans are to collect enough human hair from around the world to build a 2,000-"brick" wall and carpet a McDonald's in Barcelona.

Maryland's National Library of Poetry named Clifford Olson a semifinalist in its 1995 North American Open Poetry Contest, but disqualified him after it was revealed that he's a serial killer. Olson, who was convicted of 11 murders in 1982 in Canada, wrote Success, which ends with the line "A life that is clean, a heart that is true, and doing your best, that's success."

Shown at London's Serpentine Gallery during September was The Maybe, which consists of the artist, Tilda Swinton, sleeping on a mattress on a shelf in the center of the room for eight hours a day.

Newsweek reported in June that a group of Parisian artists trying to shame people for their habitual failure to curb their dogs drew chalk circles around about 200 piles of dog poop on the street, then placed real flatware and glasses next to the "plates" and dumped real food, such as spaghetti, next to the poop.

Sotheby's New York City auction house reported in June that Drains, a sculpture of a sink stopper by Robert Gober, sold for more than $55,000. Gober said it represented "a window onto another world."

An Ace Contemporary Exhibitions show in Los Angeles earlier this year included 50 pieces that painter Keith Boadwee created over seven months by giving himself enemas of egg tempura paints and capturing the expulsions on canvas. Above the paintings in the gallery were videos of Boadwee's artistic process, including his squatting nude over canvases. Said Boadwee, "I wanted to prove that I can make just as good a painting as [the abstract expressionists] can, with my butt hole."

The four finalists for the 1995 prestigious Turner Prize, awarded this month in London, include Damien Hirst, who's exhibited skinned cattle in formaldehyde arranged in copulating positions, and Mona Hatoum, who's created a video of the insides of her mouth and other orifices.

Actor Larry Hagman said in August just after his liver transplant that he'd donate his removed gallstones to New York artist Barton Benes for use in a sculpture. Hagman reportedly has been collecting Benes's work for more than 30 years.

In New York City in August French director Veronique Guillaud held a "peeping Tom" exhibition near Lincoln Center, in which several hundred art patrons on the street look through binoculars into 40 windows of the Radisson Empire Hotel and see a variety of staged scenes. Said one peeper, "You say, "What will they think of next?' and then they come up with [this]."

Weird Science

The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine reported in a recent issue that observation of ten patients whose wounds wouldn't heal with the help of antibiotics showed a weekly 20 percent improvement when maggots were placed on the wound. Maggots ate the dead skin tissue and the bacteria around the cut. And leech farmer Roy Sawyer announced he'd open a leech museum in Charleston, South Carolina, next year to herald leeches' medical uses, which include sucking blood to restore circulation in weak or clotted veins.

Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario reported in August that pigs fed up to 30 percent chocolate "waste" appeared no worse off than pigs fed traditional corn foods, which cost much more. (Pigs are usually slaughtered long before they'd suffer the consequences of chocolate's fat.)

A forensic entomologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia made a public appeal in May for discarded underwear for her experiment on how bugs feast on homicide victim corpses. The corpses should be wearing clothes for accuracy, according to researcher Gail Anderson, since most of the victims are.

Geographic Centers of Weird

Gallup, New Mexico: Former Gallup school principal Fred David Johnson, 64, was sentenced in October to 28 years in prison for kidnapping an 11-year-old boy and sucking his toes. Another former Gallup school principal, Charles Edwin Johnson, 54, has been charged with child-sex crimes. The two Johnsons are not related, but police said a homemade computer-disk manual on how to seduce kids, written by Fred David Johnson, was found in Charles Edwin Johnson's home when he was arrested.

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

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