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Lead Stories

According to a June New York Times feature on urban male sexual practices, Michael Segell, author of Standup Guy: Masculinity That Works, said he found various men in New York City who practice what he called "sexual payback": seducing a woman but pulling back on the verge of intercourse. As one man put it, "The only thing that's more enjoyable than having sex is making a girl want it and not giving it to her." Segell called this a passive-aggressive response to women's increasing sexual power.

In July office worker Beverley Lancaster, 44, of Birmingham, England, won about $110,000 in damages from the city because of job-related stress resulting from having been promoted against her will. Lancaster testified that she was not qualified for the higher-paying job but the city insisted she take it, offering her extra training. When she didn't get the training, she says she became severely depressed.

Leading Economic Indicators

The San Jose Mercury News reported in May that because of a housing shortage in Silicon Valley, people are renting attics, basements, and storage sheds to live in. Others pay as much as $200 a month just to sleep in a corner of someone's living room to avoid a lengthy commute from their homes. And in June the New York Times quoted a yakuza crime boss in Tokyo lamenting how his turf has been taken over by immigrant gangs from China: "The Japanese yakuza think of long-term business relationships, but the Chinese mafia thinks just of the short term. Their only goal is money, money, money."

Worst Investment

David Sanchez Hernandez, 18, was convicted in June in Punta Gorda, Florida, of egging two police officers walking their beats. Hernandez, who said he did it to win a $2 bet with his brother, was fined $750 and sentenced to 25 hours of community service.

Great Art!

In May installation artist Cosimo Cavallaro decorated room 114 of the Washington Jefferson Hotel in New York City with half a ton of various cheeses. He said his family owned a cheese shop in Canada and that he remembers the rush he once got by plastering his father's old armchair in mozzarella. Said former gallery owner Jules Feiler, "When I first talked to him, I thought he was just another in a series of nuts that have entered my life."

For his June exhibit in San Francisco, Yukinori Yanagi built a giant ant farm in which sand was dyed to create a finely detailed image of a $1 bill that the ants would modify by moving the sand around. A press release said Yanagi's work "is a dialogue about the fluency of boundaries in the 20th century and the dissemination of cultures through the expanding notions of globalism."

At an April show in San Francisco, performance artist Zhang Huan was to "explore the physical and psychological effects of human violence in modern society" by spreading pureed hot dogs on his naked posterior as he lay facedown on a cypress branch and having eight dogs enter the room. Immediately one dog bit Zhang on the butt, drawing blood. The show was suspended.

I Have My Rights!

In April Geraldine Batell filed a complaint against the American Stage in Saint Petersburg, Florida, saying actors smoking in the Noel Coward play Private Lives violated Florida's Clean Indoor Air Act. And in February Matthew and Amanda Parrish of Centerville, Utah, filed a lawsuit against their downstairs neighbor, saying they could smell his smoke when he lit up inside his own apartment.

In March six prison inmates in England and Wales were approved for transsexual surgery at government expense (about $18,000 each). And in April inmate Synthia Kavanagh, who has been repeatedly rejected for such government-subsidized surgery in Canada, announced she would plead her case before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Kavanagh is serving a life term for murdering a transvestite.

In April the Baduy tribe of Indonesia was granted the right to refrain from voting in the June elections after its leaders met with the government. For the last three decades Suharto's government forced the Baduy to vote despite their religion's ancient prohibition against participation in politics.

Human Cuisine in the News

In February authorities in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, found a bag of orderly arranged human bones and parts and surmised that a woman had been made into soup. Also in February Dorangel Vargas of Caracas, Venezuela, told a reporter about his preferences in human meat: men over women, and absolutely no hands, feet, or testicles. And in April a New York jury ruled that murderer and cannibal Albert Fentress was no longer a danger after 20 years of hospitalization and should be released. In June a state supreme court justice overturned the verdict.

Hugs in the News

A leader of a Colombian social-service organization described reportedly vicious, murderous guerilla leader Carlos Castano to a Boston Globe reporter in May: "I think he has a great need to be understood and even to be loved." And Robert Volpe, father of Justin, the New York City police officer convicted in May of brutalizing Haitian immigrant Abner Louima with a toilet plunger, described his son's depression at being in solitary confinement: "Justin has to get his five hugs a day. He's a people person."

Food Fights

Two female drivers stopped and fought on a street in Oakland, California, in May after one tossed a half-eaten burrito through the window at the other. And in separate incidents in June, two San Diego men were charged with assaulting people with large tunas, causing injuries both times.

In the Last Month

A 32-year-old man in Edmonton, Alberta, was convicted of breaking into women's apartments at night to watch them sleep. A 26-year-old man in Singapore missed the mandatory death penalty for heroin trafficking by 0.11 grams; he got 20 years and 20 lashes. In Dallas a seven-year-old boy accidentally killed his three-year-old brother while demonstrating pro wrestling's clothesline maneuver. In Chester, England, a bank's new push-button teller's security shield trapped a 33-year-old robber by the neck until firefighters freed him. And a Harvard study revealed that college students who go on drinking binges are twice as likely to own guns as those who drink more moderately.

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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