In March Welsh artist Donald Jackson began hand lettering a 1,150-page Bible with specially pigmented ink that will produce glowing calligraphy and illustrations; the $3 million, six-year project is sponsored by Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. At the other end of the technology spectrum, in February Kentucky's Henderson Gleaner newspaper profiled retired bricklayer Truman Meredith, 64, who despite never having learned to read had just finished a yearlong project of neatly printing the entire text of the Bible onto 1,700 pages in 14 loose-leaf notebooks, with Jesus's quotes in red ink.
Even though they may be exactly the same product, prescription drugs suitable for both humans and animals are usually much more expensive for humans, according to a February report by the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform Committee. For example, Medrol, an arthritis remedy for humans, costs about one-fifth as much when sold as an anti-inflammatory for dogs. Critics say pharmaceutical companies charge more for humans because most sales are at least partially reimbursed by insurance.
At Norman Hardy Jr.'s booking on drug charges in December, police in Brattleboro, Vermont, asked him what his occupation was. Hardy answered defiantly, "Selling drugs." And at his booking in connection with a November carjacking, Rafael A. Jackson, 28, was asked his occupation by police in East Saint Louis, Illinois. He responded, "Homicide and robbery."
Can't Possibly Be True
In January, after a 35-year-old man came to an emergency room in Brunswick, Georgia, complaining of abdominal cramps, doctors removed 55 thin glass cocaine pipes (one of them four-and-a-half inches long) from his stomach; the man said he did not realize they were there and that he must have been high when he accidentally ingested them. In September, according to a newspaper in New Delhi, veterinary surgeons removed 100 pounds' worth of plastic bags and other litter from the stomach of a cow during a four-hour operation.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in October that Pennsylvania's lawsuit settlement with tobacco companies included a $42 million windfall for the two law firms chosen by the governor to represent the state (about $1,300 an hour per lawyer), even though the case's research and arguments were largely copied from other states' lawsuits and the negotiations were streamlined because the tobacco companies had begun settling those cases. Among the expenses: $62 to one lawyer for 12 minutes' work (reading the Wall Street Journal) and $290 to another for an hour he spent ordering books.
In December a court in Lusaka, Zambia, approved Dorothy Mapani's strategy to settle a dispute with her husband, Effas Ondya, over which of the two is more responsible for the couple's lack of a sex life. Ondya said he is uninterested because he believes Mapani is infertile, and Mapani has accepted Ondya's challenge to get pregnant by any man within 90 days.
Gay-club owner Keneth McKeigan was convicted in Toronto in December of running a bawdy house and sentenced to 100 hours of community service. McKeigan's crime was running a three-month promotion at the club during 1995 and 1996 called "Sperm Attack Mondays," in which male dancers would masturbate onstage for customers, some of whom donned raincoats.
An October New York Times report referred to the 75-mile stretch of I-95 between West Palm Beach and Miami (plus connecting freeways) as the "impalement capital" of the country because of the frequency with which unsecured cargo flies off of speeding trucks and cars. In three recent incidents metal rods skewered motorists' bodies, pinning them to the insides of their cars (though all survived). Drivers also complain of having to dodge flying car parts, surfboards, lawn mowers, and washing machines, among other things.
In December publisher Benedikt Taschen debuted a 480-page, 70-pound coffee-table book by renowned photographer Helmut Newton that is only available with its own stand, designed by Philippe Starck, for about $1,700.
In March the venerable San Francisco Art Institute disciplined student Jonathan Yegge, 24, for his ten-minute performance-art piece, which he said "explores Hegel's master-slave dialectic" and Kant's theories on freedom of thought and action. During the performance Yegge and a blindfolded volunteer engaged in oral sex, then Yegge administered an enema to both of them and the two men exchanged excreta. Complained Yegge, "They say you can do whatever you want as long as you can justify it artistically. I was given no chance to do that [before being disciplined]."
Parenting Licenses Revoked
In February, Dawn Marie Sprinkle, 29, was ordered by a judge in Helena, Montana, not to get pregnant for the next ten years; she had failed several drug tests after her conviction for giving birth to a girl with amphetamines in her system. And in February, Kathy Looney, 29, was ordered by a judge in Monroe, Louisiana, to choose between sterilization and ten years in prison following her conviction for beating three of her eight children (all of whom she has now been denied custody of) with extension cords.
Last June News of the Weird reported that Palestinian researcher (and 15-year U.S. resident) Mazen Al-Najjar had just completed his second year of federal incarceration in Bradenton, Florida, even though he had never been charged with a crime and never been told the evidence against him. In February of this year, the FBI's general counsel told a House immigration subcommittee that four other men are similarly incarcerated with no chance to present evidence favorable to them or to cross-examine witnesses against them. These exceptions to fundamental American rights are apparently permitted under a 1996 antiterrorism law even though the evidence of terrorism in the cases is known only to a few people in the U.S. government.
Thinning the Herd
A 24-year-old man accidentally shot himself to death in London, Ohio, in February while doing a scene with two friends in a rap video. In other horseplay tragedies, a 22-year-old man fell to his death after sliding backward down a banister at America West Arena during a Phoenix Suns basketball game on December 20, and a 26-year-old standout amateur wrestler fell to his death from a Las Vegas lamppost he had climbed during a New Year's Eve celebration.
In the Last Month
In Kansas City, Missouri, a land developer filed a lawsuit against a former city councilman for the return of the $25,000 bribe he paid (and for which both had gone to prison). A sixth-grader in Pittsburg, California, won a $1,500 judgment in small-claims court against his school, which lost his 161 Pokemon cards after confiscating them. Twenty-one mayors and more than 100 other officials lost their jobs when a new provincial law in Newfoundland took effect tossing out any officeholder who owes back taxes. In Hull, Quebec, a couple on a Valentine's Day holiday lit candles, accidentally setting a major fire in their hotel. Two teenage boys in Modesto, California, fled police in their car rather than stop for a minor equipment violation but were caught when they accidentally crashed into a police station.
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.