In separate incidents over a three-day period in July, three cousins in northern California's Shasta County ran into traffic or lay down on Highway 89, apparently on purpose, but there was no evidence of suicidal intent. According to the Redding Record Searchlight, "Authorities are baffled...and fear more members of the large family may partake in [this] odd behavior." Killed was Lance Wilson, 19; seriously injured were Mark Wilson, 20, and Lee Alex Gonzalez, 18.
In August Sony announced it would modify its Handycam video camera after a Japanese magazine revealed that a $7 filter, used with the lens's infrared feature, enabled users to see through light clothing. An Associated Press reporter likened the effect to seeing a body through a thin curtain, but that didn't prevent a brief run on the cameras before Sony's announcement.
Milwaukee's Blood Sport
In June in Milwaukee Dawn Chapman, 25, allegedly tried to run down a woman in a Target parking lot whom she had just accused of butting in to the checkout line. Two months earlier Etharine Pettigrew, 41, had been arrested in Milwaukee after allegedly trying to run down a 27-year-old woman in the parking lot of a Kohl's food store. Pettigrew had taken offense when a cashier waved the victim into the express checkout line even though she had more than ten items. Both victims required hospitalization.
You Can Imagine What the Biology Course Was
In June the New York City Board of Education revoked the diplomas of 61 Brooklyn high school students and was reviewing the records of 113 more. Principal Marcia Brevot had waved them through with full credit for "interdisciplinary" courses such as Wiffle-ball theory (for the physical education requirement), flower arranging (botany), and sports rotisserie leagues (math).
In May the Associated Press reported that the "dog culture" in New York adds about $500 million to the city's economy every year. The city is home to 19 upscale restaurants that cater to dogs, featured in a July New York Times review; dog psychics; a limo service for dogs; a workshop for dog actors; an automated dog wash; and an upscale dog-fashion industry, which sells tuxedos, wedding dresses, kilts, blazers, and lingerie designed to hold diapers.
More Cool Things You Can Say
The Virginia Supreme Court ruled in February that the Virginia Tech student newspaper had not slandered a school administrator when it referred to her as "Director of Butt-Licking" because the term could not be taken literally. A dissenting judge said he understood that the name connoted "a lack of integrity." And in May the equal opportunity commission in Perth, Australia, rejected a claim of racial harassment by American Jon Debellis, 41, who said he had been forced into psychotherapy because his coworkers constantly called him "the Yank" and "the fucking Yank."
In April a California court of appeals upheld an $80,000 judgment for a disabled person against the El Torito restaurant in Burlingame because the customer, who could not access the restaurant's second-floor rest room, was denied entry to an employees-only ground-floor toilet. The restaurant's owner claimed that it could not permit customers to go through the kitchen to use the employee rest room because they might steal food.
In March Diane Guiles, 43, complained to a judge in New Britain, Connecticut, that her ex-boyfriend Clarence Lloyd, 41, was bothering her despite the restraining order against him. However, when the judge questioned her, she reluctantly admitted that Lloyd still had the key to her house and that he "snuck" in every night. Judge: "Let me get to the bottom of this. Does he sleep with you?" Guiles: "I got me two foldout beds." Judge: "You didn't answer my question." Guiles (after a pause): "Against my will, yes....But I keep a big pillow between us."
Eleven men from a Hutterite religious community near Calgary, Alberta, ranging in age from 17 to 62, were charged in May with sexual assault and incest. Among them was a 31-year-old man who had had relations with his daughter and another woman and who attributed his behavior to a feeling of excessive confidence after having been made boss of the community's pig barn.
Least Competent Criminals
Two men were arrested in Lynnwood, Washington, in July and charged with robbing a local bank. The robbers made their getaway in a motor home one of them owned, which became ensnarled in noontime traffic several blocks from the bank and was overtaken by police on foot.
In 1991 and 1997 News of the Weird reported on Milwaukee's Gary Arthur Medrow, who is obsessed with telephoning women at random and persuading them through various ruses to lift another woman and carry her around. Police have filed more than 50 charges against him in the last 30 years, mostly for impersonating a police officer--his favorite method of persuasion--and he has spent a total of about five years in prison. In June a judge committed him to a state mental hospital, even though a court-appointed psychologist said he has no idea why Medrow does what he does.
Just Field-Testing His Theory
Kenneth E. Kartman Jr., 39, was charged with attempted murder in Menomonie, Wisconsin, in July after he allegedly swung a hatchet at his father's head twice, hitting it once. According to court records, the younger Kartman had just spent four days with little sleep working on a graduate school thesis; police said that his work included a theory that a person could kill another and be reunited with him and that Kartman apparently set out to prove it.
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 by Shawn Belshwender.