News of the Weird

Week of March 6, 2005

LEAD STORY

-- Homaro Cantu (described by one customer as Chicago's "mad-scientist" gourmet chef) creates his signature dishes with the help of cutting-edge technology, such as fishless sushi made with edible, fish-flavored paper containing designs produced on an inkjet printer. Among the projects planned for his Moto restaurant: baking with a "class IV" laser (the kind used in welding and surgery) that will cook the center but not the outside; using helium and superconductors to make food levitate; and developing edible utensils, tables and chairs. Said Cantu, to a New York Times reporter in February, "Gastronomy has to catch up to the evolution in technology."

In Their Own Words

"This is so embarrassing. We had never done that before, and now she's in the hospital, and my cat's dead" (said a name-withheld New York City man in January, after he and a neighbor decided to have sex but then accidentally ignited a comforter with a candle, starting a major fire in his apartment). And, said Elaine Edwards of Mink, La., one of the last remaining places in the country to be without telephone service, until lines were installed in January: "It wasn't 15 minutes after that phone was in before a telemarketer called me."

More Scenes of the Surreal

(1) In January, Felipe Rose, a member of the Village People musical group and who is part Lakota Sioux, said he felt so remorseful at missing the opening last year of the National Museum of the American Indian that he donated his gold record the group received for the 1978 song "Y.M.C.A.," which is ostensibly about gay men looking for sex in the big city. (2) In late 2004, officials of the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris said they were forced to cordon off the statue of 19th-century journalist Victor Noir (who was reputed to be quite a ladies' man) because too many visitors were rubbing Noir's clothed crotch for good luck.

Can't Possibly Be True

-- Harvey Kash, 69, and Carl Lanzisera, 65, were arrested while standing in line at the courthouse in Hempstead, N.Y., in January, only because, said court officials, they were telling anti-lawyer jokes, to the irritation of a lawyer within earshot. Charges against Lanzisera were dropped, but prosecutors actually referred Kash's case to a grand jury, which, three weeks later, refused to indict him. (Said Kash's attorney, "Crime must be at a record low in Nassau County for the grand jury to have time for this.")

-- In January, the Fox TV network, concerned about an FCC crackdown on "indecency," voluntarily blurred out the unclothed rear end of a cartoon character on the adult program "Family Guy" (even though the network had run the same image, intact, five years earlier). Also in January, the Design Review Board of Snohomish, Wash., rejected the mural planned for the side of the BBQ Shack restaurant, in part, reported the owner, because its five pink pigs were naked.

-- In a stroke of luck, the defense case file of Florida death-row inmate Curtis Beasley, 56, turned up after having been virtually abandoned in a commercial storage locker rented by his court-appointed lawyer, Michael Giordano, who had failed to make payments and had become unreachable by state officials. If a storage employee hadn't called the Florida attorney general's office in December, the records might have been destroyed. The incident was reported in the Tampa Tribune's January coverage of state Supreme Court justice Raoul Cantero, who characterized the work of some court-appointed death-penalty attorneys as "some of the worst lawyering I've seen."

-- News of the Weird reported in September on Koko, the gorilla that knows about a thousand words in American Sign Language, and in February, she was back in the news at her home at the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, Calif. Two of Koko's female handlers filed a sex discrimination and wrongful discharge lawsuit against the foundation because its president, Francine Patterson, had allegedly pressured them to display their breasts to Koko in order to better "bond" with her. According to the lawsuit, Patterson herself had been bonding with Koko for quite some time and thought Koko needed a little variety.

Inexplicable

Wade Harris, 39, was arrested in Pittsburgh in December and charged with stealing at least 100 (maybe as many as 400) parking meters. According to detectives, a meter usually contains only $10 to $15 in coins but requires about 90 minutes "of hard work" to break into (and the job creates a risk from the noise made by the initial removal of the meter from the street).

Least Competent Criminals

-- Roy Allen Boothe Jr., 18, was arrested after allegedly attempting to rob a Delta One Shop convenience store near York, Pa., in January. When he threatened the two female clerks with a tire iron, the women started punching and kicking him, until he begged for them to stop. After a few minutes (but with police on the way), he managed to wiggle away and run (though one clerk slugged him with his own tire iron on the way out).

-- People Just Not Paying Attention: (1) In January, Daniel D. Salazar, 20, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for attempting to rob a Bank of America in Kansas City, Mo.; he first came to the attention of police when he called a station house and offered to turn in his partners in the crime in exchange for the $5,000 reward. (2) And in Hong Kong in October, Ho Heng-chau, 20, pleaded guilty to drug possession and was fined the equivalent of about US$500, on a day when he chose to show up in court wearing a T-shirt with "COCAINE" across the front.

Update

In November 2003, when last we left America's most uninhibited public gay basher, Topeka, Kan., preacher Fred Phelps, he was proposing a statue to celebrate the murder of a gay man. In December 2004, his Westboro Baptist Church issued a press release praising God for the "Tsunami & 2,000 dead Swedes!!!" after he assumed that Swedes were among the vacationers who drowned at resorts in Thailand. Phelps had denounced Sweden for jailing a gay-condemning preacher (Rev. Ake Green, since released). According to Phelps, the Swedish homosexuals who died were "vacationing on their fat expendable incomes without kids to bother with and spend money on."

Readers' Choice

On a July evening, two girls, ages 17 and 18, decided to bake cookies as a gesture of kindness for their neighbors and then to deliver them right away (with notes reading, "Have a great night!"). Their town of Durango, Colo., is small enough (population, 14,000) that nighttime visits can sometimes be made without creating anxiety, but apparently not at Wanda Renae Young's house. She was so traumatized by the 10:30 knocking at her door that she wound up in the hospital emergency room the next day, then sued the girls for that expense, and in January was awarded $900 by a judge, sending the girls into tears. (However, townspeople chipped in to pay the $900.)

The Continuing Crisis

-- The City Council of Sweetwater, Fla., decided to raise money by selling a dealer all the guns confiscated by its police, but the dealer chosen was Lou's Gun Shop in Hialeah, Fla., identified by authorities as the nation's leading retail source of the guns eventually used in crimes (January). And a committee of the New York State Bar Association proposed in January to expand the civic work lawyers could get professional credit for ("pro bono" activities) to include political lobbying, including lobbying to cut back on required pro-bono work.

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or WeirdNews@earthlink.net or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.)

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