In September Israel turned back its clocks an hour to accommodate Orthodox Jewish prayer schedules, resulting in the deaths of three Palestinian terrorist bombers, said Israeli security forces. At 5 PM on September 5, as the terrorists were en route to targets in Haifa and Tiberius, their bombs exploded in their cars. Security sources said the bomb makers in the Palestinian West Bank, where the time had not changed, had set the timers for 6 PM without taking the hour's difference into account.
In September, just after fighting broke out in East Timor, Indonesian defense minister General Wiranto dropped by a large party in Jakarta for retired members of the military, gave a moving speech defending the government's stand against East Timorese independence, and, to demonstrate his patriotism, sang the song "Feelings."
Child Porn as White-Collar Crime
Among those charged recently with possession of child pornography and now awaiting trial: Gerald Ackerman, former mayor of Port Huron, Michigan, in April; Warren Ernest Campbell, a chief of the fire department of Cannington, Ontario, in August; Jeremy Lacey, president of the University of Vermont's only alcohol-free fraternity, in August; George Edward Davis, former high school principal in Lonoke, Arkansas, in August; and pediatrician Jonathan I. Weinstein, of Herndon, Virginia, in May.
Berlin artist Anton Henning, 35, unveiled a work whose title translates as "Meatballs, Gherkins, Beetroot, Potatoes, Watermelon, Lemon Juice, and a Large Brownie," which will run through January at the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt. The title refers to what Henning ate to produce the work: excrement sealed with resin.
At a motorcycle exhibit in Stockholm in May, orchestra conductor Petter Sundkvist waved racetrack flags to guide 100 bikers revving their engines at different intensities to perform a five-minute piece called "Wrooom" by Swedish composer Staffan Mossenmark. One critic said the piece had a range from "ominous-and-loud to ominous-and-deafening."
In June, Agence France Presse accompanied its report on the second annual Fair of Edible Contemporary Art in Seville, Spain, with a photo of a model in a traditional Andalusian dress made entirely of ham.
Time magazine and the Tampa Tribune recently reported on the growing trend of skin branding. One technician said most devotees are people "intensely into their spirituality who are wishing to release some power." Branding guru Fakir Musafar teaches two techniques at his San Francisco school: the strike method, in which a design plate is heated and applied to the skin, and sketching, which is done with a 2,200-degree cauterizing scalpel. Branding produces a third-degree burn, takes at least three weeks to heal, and increases the risk of skin cancer.
In June German film director Christoph Schlingensief disclosed his plan to pay tribute to capitalism by tossing 100,000 marks (about $53,000) off the Reichstag in Berlin as part of a cultural show sponsored by Deutsche Bank. After it got wind of the plan, Deutsche Bank canceled the contract.
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
A man was arrested at the airport in Seville, Spain, in August after snatching a tourist's bag and attempting to flee; standing nearby were members of a U.S. track and field delegation, including Maurice Green (holder of the world record in the 100-meter dash), who easily ran down the perp. And a month earlier in Huddersfield, England, two men tried to steal a car from a driveway, but the car owner's father, Derek Ibbotson, a 67-year-old former world-record holder in the mile run, caught one of the men and grabbed the keys.
In March in Knoxville, Tennessee, hobo Lester Hurley, 51, was arrested when he emerged from a night's sleep in a boxcar just as a police press conference on cracking down on boxcar trespassing was breaking up a few yards away. And in August, Ricky Lynn Caudill, 43, was arrested when he attempted to rob a bank in Columbus, Ohio, just as police officer Duane Ward was briefing bank employees on what to do in case of a robbery.
A Resurgence of Interest in Farming
In August, Richard James McClean, 21, and David Delasantos, 22, were arrested in Petaluma, California, and charged with breaking into a home and stealing about a dozen marijuana plants. And two weeks earlier, in Kelowna, British Columbia, a gang of thieves broke into a police compound and stole about 250 recently seized marijuana plants.
A year ago News of the Weird reported that a jury in Westminster, California, had convicted Cal State-Long Beach engineering professor Elena Zagustin, 61, of severe health violations at her exceptionally messy home, where she substituted buckets for broken toilets. In September Zagustin sold the house for $301,500, which included a discount for its condition. When the buyers pried the door open, according to the Los Angeles Times, they found trash piled two feet high in every room, rotting vegetables, maggots, beds covered in garbage, flies everywhere, and still-broken toilets.
Least Competent Criminals
People who should have kept a lower profile: In July in Gifford, Florida, Brizella Mortimer, 29, was charged with burglary after a neighbor, who had noticed the disappearance of several items from her home, looked out her window and saw her favorite towel hanging from Mortimer's clothesline; a search of Mortimer's home turned up more of the items. And in July a thief in Salta, Argentina, gave himself away by showing up at a Catholic mass wearing clothes he had recently stolen from the priest officiating.
In the Last Month
A 38-year-old transsexual woman in Seattle climbed a downtown electrical tower during rush hour, danced topless, and breathed fire in protest of laws against female toplessness. A biologist told an academic conference in Sheffield, England, that it was an accident of nature that there are only two human genders, probably due to a bacterial infection two billion years ago.
To beat the statute of limitations, Milwaukee police filed an arrest warrant for an unknown rapist, identified only by five DNA markings. A bank robber in Round Rock, Texas, was caught as he raced his getaway truck back into the car lot from which he had taken it, supposedly for a test drive. In Midland, Texas, a graduate sued his high school for suspending him last year after he photographed his principal's car at the home of a teacher who was suspected of having an affair with the principal.
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.