News of the Weird

Week of August 20, 2000


-- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is actively proposing that animal carcasses with cancers, tumors or open sores be regarded merely as unaesthetic but safe for human consumption as long as the offending part is cut away. The proposal is part of a general loosening of slaughterhouse inspection standards, whose public comment period ends Aug. 29. One critic already weighed in, saying she did not want to "eat pus from a chicken that has pneumonia," but also included as benign by the proposal are glandular swellings, infectious arthritis and diseases caused by intestinal worms.

-- Devotees of the late, widely discredited psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) convened in upstate Maine in July to exchange papers on his most famous work, his "discovery" of the cosmic life force produced by sexual orgasm. The highlights of the conference were the presentations of more than a dozen variations of Reich's "orgone accumulator," which is a series of partially metal blankets or boxes in which a person wraps himself to attract the excess sexuality out of the body so as to prevent the neuroses caused by the energy that wells up from the lack of orgasm.

Things Not Supposed to Happen Anymore

David W. Bolton, 45, was charged in July with assault for hitting a fellow boardinghouse resident in Clarkstown, N.Y., after trying at first to drive a sharpened wooden stake through the man's heart with a hammer. (Police said Bolton told them he was acting on "instructions from a higher authority.") Two weeks later, in San Francisco, hitchhiker Eric David Knight was arrested for assaulting a 28-year-old driver who had picked him up; Knight had allegedly bit the driver in the neck and sucked his blood after thanking him for the ride, and had later told police, "I need the cure. I need blood." (San Francisco's 1998 "vampire killer" Joshua Rudiger had an alibi this time: He's in prison, serving 23 years to life.)

Latest Rights

-- After a Schneiders Hot Dog promotion machine (the Blaster, intended to shoot free wieners into the stands at Toronto's SkyDome during baseball games) went awry in April, pulverizing the franks and spraying fragments on fans, a vegetarian Blue Jays' fan told the National Post newspaper she would sue if she got spritzed. "What if I had my mouth open and a piece of hot dog landed in my mouth?"

-- Homeless man Dennis Downey, 42, complained to a Chicago Tribune reporter in March that the sprinkler system at a building on Lower Michigan Avenue was drenching him and some colleagues as they had settled in for the night. "They're trying to get rid of the homeless," said Downey. (The building manager said the sprinklers are necessary to clean the feces and urine left by the homeless who camp alongside the building at night.)

-- In March, to bolster his client's defense that a surreptitious police station videotape (which caught Constable Graham Hunt taking something from a room) violated his right of privacy, Ontario lawyer Clayton Ruby pointed out that later in the tape was another officer, caught receiving oral sex in the room from a female police employee. Obviously, reasoned Ruby, police officers who used that particular room had a legitimate "expectation of privacy" (beyond the reach of a surreptitious video) because, otherwise, why would the other two employees have gone in there for oral sex?

-- In May, the Quebec Superior Court and Quebec's Administrative Tribunal ruled that Alain Desbiens had the right to have his tattoo removed at government expense in that the tattoo adversely affects his psychological well-being. The estimated cost of erasing the blue and gray caricature of a death's head above his right bicep was estimated at $2,000 to $3,000.

-- Felicia Vitale, 41, told reporters in February that she would sue the New York Police Department for wrongly arresting her after she walked away from a sting operation at Staten Island Mall carrying a planted purse containing $2. She admitted that the purse did not belong to her but denied she intended to steal it and pointed out that she suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and thus must go through a list of tasks in rigid order every day and that she simply had many other things to do before she got around to returning the purse.

-- According to an April Seattle Times report, the Great Ape Legal Project, headed by a Seattle lawyer, is moving toward a goal of demonstrating, within the next decade, that chimpanzees should have some of the same legal rights as humans (beyond being mere property, according to the Times, "to (becoming) people with rights to life and liberty and perhaps even the pursuit of happiness"). Though it would be possible for a chimp to sue his guardian, a reassuring spokesperson said animals such as cockroaches and ants "will never be eligible for any kind of rights."

Recurring Themes

Just three months ago, in mentioning dental-office abuses, News of the Weird reported on the Australian dentist hauled before the licensing board for the unauthorized practice of relieving facial pain by administering ozone through the patient's rectum. The practice apparently is known in the United States, as well. Two weeks after that issue of News of the Weird appeared, a jury in Scranton, Pa., convicted Richard Harley and his wife, Jacqueline Kube, for defrauding investors in their company that offered to treat AIDS patients by pumping a mixture of ozone and oxygen into the rectum, at $250 per session, sometimes prescribed for 30 days at a time.

Least Competent Criminals

Inman, S.C., police arrested Donald W. Melton, 29, in July and charged him with robbing a CCB Bank. He was easily tracked down on his getaway because he had failed to ask for a bag at the bank to carry the money away in and thus was left to stuff it all into his pants and socks. The result was that enough of the currency came loose during his run that residents along his escape route called police every few minutes to report that another bill had been spotted, and within 40 minutes of the robbery, Melton was in handcuffs.

Also, in the Last Month ...

-- An Iranian judge jailed a man for ogling the judge's wife, but hundreds rioted in support of the man, who they said is merely cross-eyed (Ghir, Iran). Centers for Disease Control found that people who go online to look for sex partners are more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases than those who do not look for sex online. The governor of Arkansas (where 12 percent of the population live in mobile homes) and his wife moved into a triple-wide manufactured home next to the Governor's Mansion, which will be undergoing repairs for the next year. A holdup man saved his own life by forgetting to load his gun before robbing a pawnshop; the clerk wrestled it away from him and pulled the trigger, but the crook escaped (Miami, Fla.).

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or, or go to

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