News of the Weird

Week of April 3, 2005

LEAD STORY

Defensive back Randall Gay wore a New England Patriots jersey as a member of this year's Super Bowl-winning team, but when one of his former college professors tried to order a personalized jersey in tribute to Gay in mid-February, she was turned down. The National Football League's official online merchandiser, NFLshop.com, refused to imprint "Gay" on the back of a Patriots jersey because it was a "naughty" word, one of 1,159 the shop has banned. (Two weeks later, after the Web site Outsports.com picked up the story, the word was removed from the list.)

Government in Action

-- Public Servants in Action: (1) New Hampshire state Rep. Christopher Doyle, 26, was arrested in March and charged with slapping elections supervisor Gail Webster, 61, to the floor on election night after learning that he had lost his race for town selectman in Windham. (2) Shirley Martin, a member of the school board in West Orange, Texas, was convicted in February of disorderly conduct for threats against colleague Beth Wheeler. At a meeting, Martin had continued speaking after her colleagues had ruled her out of order, and subsequently Martin angrily told Wheeler, "I'm going to stomp a mud hole in your ass."

-- Despite state funding problems in health care and other areas, New York's Department of Transportation completed a $3.3 million beautification project in January in which intricately decorated "flora and fauna" designs of bronze were inlaid in two 2,400-square-foot granite wall coverings whose purpose was merely to decorate an underpass below New York City's Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. According to the New York Sun, the walls are beside an off-ramp that's across a pedestrian-unfriendly street from a Burger King, and the site was selected primarily because it is at the intersection of the jurisdictions of three community boards (thus making possible a seemingly always-desirable joint petition for funds).

-- The St. Petersburg Times, profiling retired pro basketball player Matt Geiger in February, described his $13 million, 28,000-square-foot, custom-built suburban mansion (whose 40 satellite-equipped TV sets include 18 wired together so he can play video games with his high school friends) and mentioned his 27 exotic animals that roam the grounds, earning him an unspecified "tax break" (although he told the Times he loves animals and would have them anyway).

-- According to a February Cox News Service dispatch from Mexico City, the government nearly killed its export market for the fabled mezcal, a liquor (similar to tequila) traditionally sold with a worm floating in the bottle. Bureaucrats had recently proposed to ban the worm because of its high fat content, even though as much as 70 percent of mezcal sales are based on the worm (with alleged sexual or hallucinatory powers), but changed their minds.

Great Art!

-- In 1992, News of the Weird reported that artist Janine Antoni carved huge blocks of chocolate and lard using her teeth, but at New York City's "LMAKprojects" gallery in February, artist Emily Katrencik gnawed sections of the drywall separating the gallery's exhibition space from the director's office, for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Katrencik said she concentrates on thinking of "the things in the wall that are good for me, like calcium and iron." But, she said, "I prefer cast concrete because it has a more metallic flavor."

-- The mother of all of those recreation-room paintings of dogs playing poker is the series of nine originals by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge in 1903, sponsored by a Minnesota advertising company, and in February, two of those masterpieces were sold by the Doyle New York auction house for a total of $590,400. Explaining the high price, Doyle's director of paintings pointed out that the auction coincided with both New York's Westminster Dog Show and the recent popularity of televised poker.

Unconventional Medical Care

(1) Sally Hampton, 64, testified in February against the man who hit her with a beer bottle in a brawl last year in Immokalee, Fla., sending him to a 12-year sentence, but in the interim, Hampton has been recovering from brain surgery. As doctors examined her after the attack, they discovered and treated an unrelated tumor that they would not have found in time had she not received the beer-bottle concussion. (2) In December, Bill DiPasquale unexpectedly came out of a two-week coma at Massachusetts General Hospital, five minutes after a friend whispered him a message from their boss, who had said, "You tell him to wake up, get out of bed, and get his ass back to work."

Thieves Who Think Big

Management at the Globe Hotel in Topsham, England, reported in February that a guest had dismantled and removed the entire shower unit out of his room. And Norwegian Arild Nicolaysen told reporters in February, after arriving at his mountain cabin for the weekend, that the in-ground swimming pool was missing (steel lining, plastic liner, filter, hoses and pipes). And in March, police in Lindale, Texas, arrested two men who they said had taken a house apart, brick by brick, board by board, over a three-month period and sold the materials for drugs.

Surreality

Tennessee state Sen. John Ford testified in a juvenile court hearing in January that his child support payments should be reduced, in accordance with a state law that he had introduced on behalf of fathers with many children. Ford owns two homes, lives part-time in one with his ex-wife and their three children (with another on the way), and lives part-time in the other with an ex-girlfriend and their two children. Hence, he said, he should have lesser payments to a third woman, who is the mother of his 10-year-old daughter.

Least Competent Criminals

In March, accused U.S. fugitive securities-swindler Frederick Gilliland, living on the lam in Canada, was tricked into coming back across the border, just for a free meal. A vengeful private investigator offered to buy Gilliland lunch at Brewster's in Point Roberts, Wash., and then alerted authorities, who intercepted the super-hungry Gilliland as he approached the restaurant.

Recurring Themes

The police report column in the March 16 Newton (Mass.) Tab newspaper listed a "hate crime" committed by someone who apparently left the familiar Nazi symbol on the dirty window of an SUV. The police report read: "On the rear hatch someone with their finger traced out 'wash me' and below that was a swatz sticker symbol." (The officer is not the only one unclear on Nazi history. In 1994, News of the Weird reported that a murder defendant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had asked a judge for permission to wear a Ku Klux Klan robe in court and to be addressed by the "honorable and respected name of Hi Hitler.")

Below the Fold

Apparently important to actor Robert Blake's acquittal on a murder charge in March was the lack of credibility of the prosecution's witnesses, including an alleged methamphetamine abuser who once thought his house was surrounded by large, horned animals and "people dressed like sagebrush or Joshua trees." To testify that drug users are unreliable witnesses, the defense presented a UCLA psychopharmacologist who revealed that in the course of his own drug use 25 years ago, he had once crawled into a cage of monkeys that were smoking crack cocaine.

(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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