News of the Weird

Week of April 16, 2000

-- "I may be homeless," said former nurse Chester Goode, "but I'm the most stylish homeless person you'll ever meet." Goode, 46, was interviewed by a clearly impressed Miami Herald reporter in April, amidst the framed impressionist paintings, potted palms, fluted vases, decorative baskets, crystal decanter and a faux-antique phone (unconnected) in his classy, black-fabric-walled, tarpaulin-roofed space in the woods off 18th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. Goode says he is driven by the need for quiet: "Boom-boxes, teen-age children, I just can't handle them."

-- Police called to a Giant supermarket in Yardley, Pa., in January arrested Samuel Feldman, 37, and charged him with one count of criminal mischief but suspected he is the person responsible for a three-year spree of squeezing, smashing and poking packages of bread and cookies in various area supermarkets, ruining more than $8,000 worth of goods. After the squeezer had struck more than 100 times in the area, Giant installed a hidden camera and, according to police, when Feldman was seen squeezing bread on the third separate occasion, he was arrested.

People With Too Much Money

In December, Graham Gund started a third version of his new multimillion-dollar house in Cambridge, Mass., 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 down eight months earlier after 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 sightseeing tour in three-person submarines, 2 1/2 miles down to the sunken Titanic.

Latest Rights

-- Among the February reform recommendations submitted to the Home Office by the British gay rights organization OutRage (in its effort to end different treatment of heterosexuals and homosexuals) was a proposal urging that the government legalize sex in public restroom 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, forcing same-sex roommates on gays could lead them to develop romantic feelings toward their roommates, which would interfere with their schoolwork. Some local gay and lesbian leaders do not support Sciortino, fearing that his argument undermines the cause of gays' serving openly in the military.

-- According to a December Orange County Register story, Mark W. Dziga of Long Beach, Calif., had just filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against his former company, Boeing, for firing him because he chose to work 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 in that Boeing should have provided "reasonable accommodation" to his religion of 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 pro-Gulf War stance by stomping on a workplace U.S. flag and blowing his nose on it. And Liz Anderson filed a federal discrimination complaint against employer USF Logistics in Indianapolis in November after the company ordered her to stop telling co-workers to "have a blessed day."

Smooth Reactions

-- Jealousy With a Flair: In December, the wife of a Cambodian undersecretary of state was accused of dumping five liters of acid on top of the 18-year-old girlfriend of her husband. And in October, a 43-year-old woman in Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., was charged with assault for allegedly taking a samurai sword and slashing off two fingertips of a woman she found in bed with her husband.

-- Latest Rages: Elevator-Etiquette Rage: Engineering student knocked a lecturer unconscious after she objected to his pushing elevator buttons with his feet (Sriracha, Thailand, January). Cigarette-Ash Rage: 100 people were arrested for stoning police during a religious protest started when one man's ash accidentally landed on another man (Raver, India, November). Anglophobe Rage: One Quebec man was fined about $700 (U.S.) for punching another because he addressed a postal clerk in English rather than French (Hull, Quebec, March).

-- In December, a 36-year-old, 280-pound man in Pontiac, Mich., originally questioned by police because his stereo was too loud but then arrested on an outstanding DUI warrant, snapped his handcuffs off, creating a jagged edge, which he used to cut a hole in his stomach so he could pull his organs out to throw at rescue workers. "Reaching in and then tugging on stuff, and I mean tugging," is how Sheriff's Sgt. Matt Norman described the man's attempts.

No-Star Restaurants

In February, prominent French chef Jean Bardet had his restaurant in the city of Tours eliminated from the prominent Michelin Guide 2000 based on charges that his superior regional vintages were just cheap supermarket wine and that he had vastly inflated the uniqueness of his sea bass, veal, cheese and asparagus. Also in February, Quebec inspectors shut down the Comme Chez Soi restaurant in Granby temporarily after it was caught re-serving customers' discarded tartar sauce, coleslaw, bread and fondue, and not just from its own restaurant but from take-out food left behind in a motel owned by the restaurateur.

Update

British artist Tracey Emin, 37, first made News of the Weird in 1996 with a show in Minneapolis featuring a tent with the embroidered names of "Everybody I've Ever Slept With," which included not only lovers but relatives and pajama-party bedmates she had as a child. In December 1999, she nearly won the prestigious British Turner Prize with "My Bed," which was an actual unmade bed, stained with urine and littered with panties, condoms, pillboxes and empty vodka bottles, supposedly set during a suicidal period. (One fussy observer at London's Tate Gallery, apparently believing that a vandal had struck, tried to make the bed and tidy up.)

Least Justifiable Homicides

A 13-year-old boy was sentenced to 25 years in prison in December for killing his parents in retaliation for their not letting him go on a church field trip (Canton, Texas). And a 23-year-old man obsessed with the film "The Blair Witch Project" pled guilty in January to strangling his girlfriend because she insisted the movie was fiction (Grand Haven, Mich.).

Also, in the Last Month ...

A town council in Oslo, Norway, OK'd Muslim loudspeakered prayers on Fridays provided atheists had a separate chance to shout "God does not exist." Protesting women formed "Menstrual Avengers" to challenge a tax that covers feminine hygiene products but not condoms, sunscreen or incontinence pads (Sydney, Australia). A police officer who hurt himself punching a wall while arguing with his boss was ruled eligible for worker compensation (Hayward, Calif.). A baby was born with a bullet wound on her bottom hours after her mother was shot in the abdomen during a carjacking (Johannesburg, South Africa). A British woman with 6 pounds of heroin strapped to her chest was arrested at an airport after her body piercing (in an unidentified but "intimate" location) tripped a metal detector (Istanbul, Turkey).

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or Weird@compuserve.com, or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com/.)

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