Police called to a supermarket in Yardley, Pennsylvania, in January arrested Samuel Feldman, 37. Though he was charged with just one count of criminal mischief, authorities suspect he is the person who for three years has been squeezing, smashing, and poking packages of bread and cookies in area supermarkets, ruining more than $8,000 worth of goods. After the squeezer had struck more than 100 times in the area, the supermarket installed a hidden camera and police arrested Feldman after he was caught squeezing bread on three separate occasions.
"I may be homeless," said former nurse Chester Goode to a Miami Herald reporter in April, "but I'm the most stylish homeless person you'll ever meet." Goode, 46, was interviewed amid framed impressionist prints, potted palms, fluted vases, decorative baskets, a crystal decanter, and an unconnected faux-antique phone in a space in the woods off 18th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale that he's closed off with black fabric walls and a tarpaulin roof. Goode says he is driven by the need for quiet: "Boom boxes, teenage children, I just can't handle them."
People With Too Much Money
In December, Graham Gund started a third version of his multimillion-dollar house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, tearing out the foundation for the second time after deciding that he really wanted the house to look like the first version, which he had bulldozed eight months earlier when it was nearly completed. And in January, a Newfoundland company announced it was taking reservations, at $35,000 (U.S.) a seat, for a 12-hour sight-seeing tour in three-person submarines to the site of the sunken Titanic.
Among the February reform recommendations submitted to the British government by the gay-rights organization OutRage was a proposal urging that the government legalize sex in public rest-room cubicles.
In March the New Haven Register reported on Tufts University student Carl Sciortino Jr.'s recent campaign to persuade the school to allow gays and lesbians to have roommates of the opposite sex. According to Sciortino, gays could develop romantic feelings toward their same-sex roommates, which might interfere with their schoolwork. Some local gay and lesbian leaders do not support Sciortino, fearing that his argument undermines the contention that gays should serve openly in the military.
According to a December Orange County Register story, Mark W. Dziga of Long Beach had just filed an employment-discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, Boeing, for firing him because he was working in the nude at the office on Thanksgiving Day 1998 when he thought he was alone. A security guard turned him in for violating the company's dress code, and Dziga charged that his subsequent termination was illegal because Boeing should have provided "reasonable accommodation" for his religion, shamanism.
The Connecticut supreme court ruled in October that workers have the right to express themselves on public issues but that Sikorsky Aircraft was justified in firing employee Gonzalo Cotto, who had objected to Sikorsky's show of support for the gulf war by stomping on a U.S. flag displayed at the company and blowing his nose in it. And in November, Liz Anderson filed a federal discrimination complaint against her employer, USF Logistics in Indianapolis, after the company ordered her to stop telling coworkers to "have a blessed day."
Jealousy with a flair: In December the wife of a Cambodian undersecretary of state was accused of dumping five liters of acid on her husband's 18-year-old girlfriend. And in October a 43-year-old woman in Lake Ronkon-koma, New York, was charged with assault for allegedly using a samurai sword to slash off two fingertips of a woman she found in bed with her husband.
Latest rages. Elevator-etiquette rage: in January an engineering student in Siracha, Thailand, knocked a lecturer unconscious after she objected to his pushing elevator buttons with his feet. Cigarette-ash rage: in Raver, India, in November 100 people were arrested for stoning police during a religious protest that started when one man's ash accidentally landed on another man. Anglophobe rage: in Hull, Quebec, in March a man was fined about $700 (U.S.) for punching another man because he addressed a postal clerk in English rather than French.
In December a 36-year-old man in Pontiac, Michigan, originally questioned by police because his stereo was too loud but then arrested on an outstanding DUI warrant, snapped his handcuffs off and used a jagged edge to cut a hole in his stomach so he could pull his organs out to throw at authorities. "Reaching in and then tugging on stuff, and I mean tugging," is how sheriff's sergeant Matt Norman described the man's attempts.
In February prominent French chef Jean Bardet saw his restaurant in Tours eliminated from the respected Michelin guide, in part due to charges that wines he claimed were superior regional vintages were just cheap supermarket stuff. Also in February, Quebec inspectors temporarily shut down the Comme Chez Soi restaurant in Granby after it was caught reusing customers' discarded tartar sauce, coleslaw, bread, and fondue, and not just from the restaurant but from take-out food left behind in a motel owned by the restaurateur.
British artist Tracey Emin, 37, first made News of the Weird in 1996 with a show in Minneapolis featuring a tent embroidered with the names of everybody she had ever slept with, which included not only lovers but relatives and bedmates from childhood pajama parties. In December of last year she nearly won the prestigious Turner Prize with My Bed, an actual unmade bed stained with urine and littered with panties, condoms, pillboxes, and empty vodka bottles, supposedly inspired by a suicidal period. One fussy observer at London's Tate Gallery, apparently believing that a vandal had struck, tried to tidy up.
Least Justifiable Homicides
In Canton, Texas, a 13-year-old boy was sentenced to 25 years in prison in December for killing his parents in retaliation for not letting him go on a church field trip. And in Grand Haven, Michigan, a 23-year-old man obsessed with the film The Blair Witch Project pleaded guilty in January to strangling his girlfriend because she insisted the movie was fiction.
In the Last Month
A town council in Oslo allowed Muslim prayers to be broadcast on loudspeakers on Fridays provided atheists had a chance to shout "God does not exist." Protesting women in Sydney formed a group called "Menstrual Avengers" to challenge a tax that covers feminine hygiene products but not condoms, sunscreen, or incontinence pads. In Hayward, California, a police officer who hurt himself punching a wall while arguing with his boss was ruled eligible for workers' compensation. In Johannesburg a baby was born with a bullet wound on her bottom hours after her mother was shot in the abdomen during a carjacking. In Istanbul a British woman with six pounds of heroin strapped to her chest was arrested at an airport after her body piercing (in an "intimate" location) tripped a metal detector.
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.