-- In October, a California appeals court reinstated the 1997 jury verdict for Robert Cunningham against his Orange County homeowners' association for meddling. Over a two-year period, the association had ordered Cunningham to clean up not only an outside patio but also the inside of his unit, claiming that he had too many books and newspapers lying around, that his bed was too messy, and that piles of old clothing should be given to charity.
-- In November, Ten's World Class Cabaret (a strip joint) asked New York Supreme Court justice Stephen Crane to be exempt from New York City anti-nudity rules because it had begun to admit children to the premises and thus was no longer an "adult" establishment that the rules applied to. Shortly afterward, Crane ruled in favor of Ten's, which at press time at least twice had admitted children (accompanied by a parent, of course) for lunch, with dancers in the background.
According to a November New York Times report, Chinese soccer fans' new traditional yell to harass opposing teams is a word which is street slang for female genitals and which the press has dubbed the "Beijing curse." And in Lagos, Nigeria, in November, the star soccer player on the Cameroon female team, Gwimotoh Lilian, was disqualified from the championship series because, according to officials, "all" of her physical features are "male" (except for her female genitals).
A 12-year-old boy was let off with six months' probation in West Bloomfield Township, Mich., in October after he admitted urinating in his teacher's water bottle. Although she went to the hospital with nausea and stomach cramps, the boy's lawyer said, "The bottom line is, urine is not harmful to drink." And 10 days later in Tucson, Ariz., Caroline Gomez Maldonado, 42, was arrested and charged with chasing a reluctant 8-year-old stranger down the street in order to convince him to urinate into a cup so Maldonado could use it for an upcoming test as part of her probation on drug charges.
Jordan Locke, 5, was suspended from elementary school in Pittsburgh in October when he showed up in his Halloween firefighter costume that included a 5-inch plastic hatchet, which the school calls a "weapon" (though firefighters call it a "tool"). And in November, a Canoga Park, Calif., advertising agency was forced to pull ads for perfectly legal Alterna Hemp Shampoo from 106 bus-stop benches because an anti-drug group complained that "hemp" should not be portrayed favorably.
The Boston Globe reported in November on the upcoming trial in Richmond, Va., of Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard Barry Black, who was arrested for burning a cross in violation of a state hate-crimes law. His lawyer is a black man, David Baugh, who took the case without fee to defend Black's right to symbolic free speech, even though Black said, "I am not going to invite (Baugh) to my home to break bread with me because my Bible tells me that mixing leads to the destruction of my race." Black also said he believes Africa is still today the home of naked cannibals who, when sick, "are going to some witch doctor with a bone in their nose."
In November in Austin, Texas, Henry Benedict, owner of the under-renovation adult theater Cinema West, announced that he will defray renovation costs at a public celebration of the new building by selling the 500 seats from the old theater as souvenirs for $25 each.
-- In India, according to a May New York Times report, parents in several rural states continue the tradition of forcing their children into arranged marriages, at ages as young as 4, in violation of national laws setting the minimum age at 18. By contrast, in August in Annapolis, Md., in a perfectly legal ceremony under state law, Phillip Compton, 29, married Tina Akers, 13. (It was legal because Akers' parents consented and Akers was pregnant. On the other hand, Compton appeared to have violated the state law on statutory rape.)
-- In September, a judge in Chilton, Wis., sentenced Michael and Angeline Rogers to a year in jail, 39 years less than they could have gotten, for physically abusing four of their five children and imprisoning one of them several times overnight in a dog cage in their basement. Judge Steven Weinke said he was trying to show "compassion," which the parents had requested so as to improve their chances to begin the process of retaking custody of their kids.
-- In October in Kitchener, Ontario, a man was sentenced to six months' probation living away from his 15-year-old stepson, as punishment for growing 20 marijuana plants; he said he planted them so the boy would not be exposed to the "dangers of street drugs." And in November in Milwaukee, a man was convicted for supplying his 13-year-old virgin son with a prostitute, saying it was about time he learned.
-- Quality Time With the Kids: Baltimore police dispatcher Harry Gilmore Watts, 32, was arrested in August and charged with chauffeuring his son and a friend, both 15, to rob a Peoples Bank. And on the same day, in Medford, Ore., Cynthia Alice Lockinger, 40, pleaded guilty to robbing two banks while her three daughters waited in the back seat of the getaway car.
Kevin Johnson of Chesapeake, Va., was convicted in November of attempting to defraud a Lowe's Home Center store in a 1993 incident. According to the prosecutor, Johnson and a friend dropped cans of paint in an aisle in an attempt to make it look like the cans had cascaded from a high shelf and knocked Johnson unconscious. Johnson was taken to a hospital and later filed a lawsuit for $250,000. After the judge saw evidence that the open, strewn paint cans were undented and had come from different parts of the shelf so that they were unlikely to have hit Johnson, he dismissed the lawsuit, and prosecutors took over.
In 1996, News of the Weird reported on a new breeding of sheep that produces muscular flanks (in fact, it is named the "beautiful buttocks" strain) and 30 percent more meat. In November 1998, a scientist with England's Meat and Livestock Commission said the scheme has been abandoned because the resultant meat was invariably "tough as old boots," and the best food technologists have not been able to find a way to tenderize it.
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 8306, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33738, or Weird@compuserve.com. Chuck Shepherd's latest paperback, "The Concrete Enema and Other News of the Weird Classics," is now available at bookstores everywhere. To order it direct, call 1-800-642-6480 and mention this newspaper. The price is $6.95 plus $2 shipping.)