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News of the Weird

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Nudity in the news in February: police in Richmond, Texas, charged two teenagers with aggravated robbery; as a ruse to keep from being identified, they'd removed their clothes and walked around the neighborhood pretending to be carjacking victims who'd been robbed and stripped. Virginia legislator Robert E. Nelms was arrested for indecent exposure in a Richmond park; he explained only that "the rushing river had its effect on my bladder." And 40 people attended the first Christian Nudist Conference in Longwood, North Carolina, where both robed and unrobed ministers distributed communion and naked karaoke was the featured distraction.

The Democratic Process

In the middle of a cabinet meeting in Accra in December the president of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings, 49, brawled with vice president Nkensen Arkaah, 68. According to Arkaah, Rawlings punched him to the floor and then repeatedly kicked him in the groin during a policy dispute.

Mort Hurst, who in 1991 ate 16 double-deck Moon Pies in ten minutes and 38 eggs in 29 seconds (he then had a stroke), announced in January that he would run for secretary of state of North Carolina against Richard Petty, a famous race car driver. Asked if he was intimidated by Petty's name, Hurst said no: "I been on Paul Harvey's [radio] show; I don't think Petty has."

The candidates for the Oregon Senate include Democrat Thomas Wilde, who, if he wins the primary in May, will face his wife, Republican Melinda Wilde, in the general election. (Thomas started out as Melinda's campaign manager but discovered that the two hardly agree on anything.) And running for the senate in Missouri are Democrat Al Hanson and his Republican wife Janette Hanson, who both face challengers in the August primary.

The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill in February that would make bear wrestling--a bar sport in which men fight small, declawed bears--illegal. The maximum penalty for bear wrestling would be $5,000. Senator Penny Williams successfully introduced an unrelated amendment to the bill that raised the fine for abusing a former or current spouse. She could only get agreement to raise that fine to $2,000.

Not a single person in Tulsa's 25th Precinct voted in the city council primary in February. The county believes no one has lived in the precinct for 20 years, but operates the polling place every election day because if someone wants to vote and can't the entire election could be negated.

Florida state representative Marvin Couch resigned in February, a week after he was arrested on three misdemeanor sex charges. He was caught by police in his car in a shopping center parking lot receiving oral sex from a prostitute. Couch was a member of a legislators' prayer group that called itself the God Squad.

Seeds of Our Destruction

Assistant secretary of state Richard Holbrooke helped defuse a tense situation in February between Greece and Turkey. The two nations had amassed troops and warships for full-scale battle over the isle of Imia, a ten-acre rock in the Aegean Sea, completely uninhabited except by a few goats.

In January 600 blind masseurs and masseuses came to Seoul from all over South Korea to protest a TV program that suggested they were prostitutes. (The profession is limited to blind people to give them an enhanced opportunity to work.) About 100 of the men lined up along a wall of the TV station at midday and urinated on it in protest.

In sociologist Reginald Bibby's 15 poll of a cross section of Canadians, 76 percent of those asked to name Canada's greatest living person either responded "no one comes to mind" or declined to answer. More recently, Toronto's Maclean's magazine concluded that Canada's most famous person is Pamela Anderson of Baywatch.

In February the village council of Bruntingthorpe in England began considering an elaborate plan to reduce the amount of dog poop in the town of 200 people and 30 dogs. The village would give DNA tests to the dogs and keep the results on file. DNA samples from unscooped dog poop lying around the village would be compared with those on file to identify scofflaws.

Included in the marriage vows exchanged in February by Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his bride, lawyer Mildred Trouillot: "When you [Mildred] see this ring, think of me and remember that you are the attorney of the Haitian people." Mildred responded that Aristide should think of his ring as both a symbol of her love and a reminder that it was better to fail by the side of his countrymen than to succeed alone.

Rolando Sanchez, the Tampa, Florida, surgeon who amputated the wrong foot of a diabetic patient last year, filed a claim against the city in March over a recent jogging accident in which he fell into a hole for a sprinkler system and broke his arm.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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

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