News of the Weird

Week of July 24, 2011

WEEK OF JULY 24, 2011


The New York Yankees' Derek Jeter achieved his milestone 3,000th major league hit in July, and Steiner Sports Marketing of New Rochelle, N.Y., was ready (in partnership with the Yankees and Major League Baseball). Dozens of items from the game were offered to collectors, including the bases ($7,500 each), 30 balls used during the game ($2,000 each, unsigned), and even Jeter's sweaty socks ($1,000). Steiner had also collected five gallons of dirt (under supervision, to assure authenticity), and uberfans can buy half-ounce containers of clay walked upon by Jeter during the game (from the shortstop area and the right-hand batter's box) -- for a not-dirt-cheap $250 each.

Compelling Explanations

-- Military veteran Joshua Price, 26, was arrested in March after police in a Chicago suburb found child pornography and 1,700 photos of dismembered women on his computer, but at a court hearing in May, Price explained that his photographs were a necessary escape from war-related trauma. In fact, Price told prosecutors that were it not for the distracting photos, his stress disorder would surely have caused him to kill his wife and two daughters. (Prosecutors accepted that Price's crime was a "cry for help," but the judge, less impressed, quadrupled Price's bail, to $1 million.)

-- Unclear on the Concept: (1) The initial explanation by Melvin Jackson, 48, upon his arrest in June for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in Kansas City, Mo., was to deny that he would ever do such a thing. Rather, he said, "I thought the lady was dead." (2) The initial explanation by Thomas O'Neil, 47, upon his arrest in Wausau, Wis., in June for criminal damage to property (breaking into a neighbor's garage and defecating on the floor) was to claim that he thought he was in his own garage.

Democracy in Action!

Emerging democracies typically exhibit growing pains as they develop stability. For example, in July in Afghanistan's parliament, one female legislator attacked another with her shoe (and then dodged the second lady's flying water bottle before colleagues separated them). Older democracies, however, act more maturely -- except perhaps in California, where in June, an Italian-American legislator got into a shoving match with a colleague whom he thought had made a "Sopranos"-type slur about recent legislation. And in the mature democracy of Wisconsin in June, one state Supreme Court justice was accused of roughing up another (though who started it is in dispute) as the justices privately discussed a case.


-- Budget cuts forced the closure of two of the three firehouses in Chillicothe, Ohio (pop. 22,000), and even that station failed a state fire marshal's inspection in March. Because the station's own alarm system was broken, the chief was required, until the new system is installed, to assign one firefighter per shift to be on full-time patrol at the station, walking around the grounds constantly, upstairs, downstairs, looking for fires. -- Run That by Me Again: (1) In New Orleans in July, Thomas Sanders, 53, pleaded guilty to murdering a 12-year-old girl. According to the neighboring state of Mississippi, Sanders has been dead for 17 years (having been ruled deceased in 1994 on petition of his parents, brother and ex-wife). (2) In July, the city of Daytona Beach Shores, Fla., agreed to pay $195,000 to settle a lawsuit in which six people claim they were strip-searched unlawfully by police. Four of the six were strip-searched during a raid at the Biggins Gentleman's Club, where they work as strippers.

Easily Offended

-- Norris Sydnor III's $200,000 lawsuit against Rich's Nail Salon of Landover, Md., for "humiliate(ing)" him last December is scheduled for trial as News of the Weird goes to press. Sydnor was upset that males have to pay $10 for a manicure but females only $9.

-- John Luckett filed lawsuits on 11 different complaints earlier this year against the Las Vegas arcade Pinball Hall of Fame, claiming that he was wrongfully barred from the premises for obnoxiously complaining about out-of-service machines, especially "Xenon," which he says he has mastered so well that he can play almost indefinitely on an initial 50 cents. Among the damages requested, Luckett is demanding $300 for each "therapy" session he might have to undergo to overcome the trauma of being ejected. Luckett has filed more than 40 lawsuits in his role of, as he put it, avenging people's attempts to "screw" him.

Should've Kept Their Mouths Shut

-- According to a bailiff, convicted car thief Thomas Done, 33, spent almost a half-hour at his June sentencing "shucking and jiving" Ogden, Utah, Judge Michael Lyon before finally finagling probation (instead of 15 years in prison) -- by expressing parental love for his young daughter and blaming his recidivist criminality on his girlfriend's infidelity. However, literally seconds after Judge Lyon announced probation, Done, noticing his girlfriend in the courtroom, made a gun-triggering motion with his thumb and fingers and said, "Boom, bitch." A bailiff reported the gesture to the judge, who declared Done in violation of his brand-new probation and ordered him re-sentenced.

-- Initially, all Jay Rodgers wanted was for the fellow Atlanta gas station customer to say "thank you" when Rodgers held the door for him, but the man remained silent, and Rodgers pressed the issue, confronting him and even following the man out to his car -- where the man pulled a gun and shot Rodgers in the abdomen, sending him to the hospital for nine days. (Interviewed on WSB-TV in May, Rodgers resumed nagging the man, urging him to "do the right thing" by turning himself in.)

Recurring Themes

It is not the most popular fetish, but a few men do don raincoats and climb down into public outhouse pits. Luke Chrisco, 30, was apprehended by police in June in a portable toilet at the Hanuman Yoga Festival in Boulder, Colo. Chrisco actually "slipped" away from police, but was arrested the next day in nearby Vail. According to his Facebook and YouTube pages (reported by The Smoking Gun), Chrisco offered himself as a male escort (sample rate: $620 for seven days) and recalled in one video that, on the road in April, he once avoided sleeping overnight at a Greyhound Bus station because it "smelled weird."


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has become an increasingly larger and more permanent part of the ocean -- plastic and other floatables, along with concentrations of chemical sludge, estimated to measure from 0.4 percent to 8 percent of the entire Pacific and responsible for disruptions of the food chain affecting various species of aquatic life. Now, thanks to the March tsunami near Japan, the estimated 25 million tons of debris from cars, homes, appliances, shipping containers, chemicals, etc., from coastal Fukushima that washed back out to sea will soon be caught in the same Pacific swirls, in what a French environmental group forecast would be a pair of ocean-navigating journeys that will last at least 10 years, gradually breaking off and joining (thus substantially enlarging) the two distinct legs of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

A News of the Weird Classic (May 1992)

Bruce Damon, attempting to work a plea bargain in February (1992) to charges that he knocked off a bank in Whitman, Mass., argued to the judge that the 8- to 15-year term suggested by the prosecutor was way too long. Damon cited an article from the Brockton Enterprise newspaper showing that the bank had enjoyed record earnings in the months after the robbery and expected to continue doing well. Said Damon, "I didn't hurt this bank at all." (When the judge asked Damon if he would rob banks again if he were free, Damon replied, "I'd like to plead the Fifth Amendment on that.")

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