News of the Weird 

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In July, six years after he briefly fled to Panama to avoid corruption charges, Abdala ("El Loco") Bucaram was elected president of Ecuador. Known for his Hitler-like mustache--which he blames on his incompetence at shaving--Bucaram sang in his campaign ads and reminded voters of his tenure as a moralistic police commissioner of Guayaquil in the 1980s, when he sometimes jumped off his motor scooter to rip the skirt hems of women who were showing too much leg.

In June WWAX FM in Hermantown, Minnesota, began an all-commercial format. Said general manager J. Thomas Lijewski, commercials are an "art form that deserves to be respected." Besides paid advertisements, the station will also air vintage ads, odd local and national ads, and bloopers.

In July, after winning an informal Bible-quoting contest in Dadeville, Alabama, Gabel Taylor, 38, was shot to death by the loser.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

In an April Associated Press story Dardanelles restaurant in Philadelphia was profiled not for its food but for its attitude. According to a sign in the window, the restaurant refuses to serve "negative people" (also referred to in the sign as "assholes.") Say the owners, Levent Yueksel and his wife Sherri Kane, this includes people who smoke, are rude, demand their food in a hurry, or want the music turned down. The owners say they insist on respect "for the people who feed you."

Reporting in late 1995 on the specialty-bra rage in Japan, Tokyo Weekender magazine cited the Triumph Company's "Body-Warmth Bra Two-Cup Ozeki." The bra's cup contains a waterproof pocket filled with sake and sealed with a cork stopper; the sake warms to body temperature in about an hour.

In Malaysia in April Gurcharan Singh announced that he was marketing a breakthrough "disposable circumcision device." Approved by Muslim religious authorities, the $40 tool resembles a corkscrew and is called the Tara Klamp.

Condom culture: Recently Budapest novelty shopkeeper Ferenc Kovacs, 45, introduced condoms that, when unrolled, play a tune--either "Arise, Ye Worker" or "You Sweet Little Dumbbell." Marc Snyder of Oakland, California, has marketed a $3.95 talking condom with message options--"You turn me on" or "I love you" or "Thank you for your business." And Dariusz Napierala, a food-company executive in Poland, announced in May that he will soon offer a "tourist survival kit" containing canned meat, plastic utensils, tea, and a condom.

Inexplicable

Earlier this year Michael J. Lewis Sr., serving time in Missouri for a gas-station robbery, called the county prosecutor's office just out of curiosity to find out why he had never been tried for a 1993 bank robbery with which he had been charged. The prosecutor discovered that the file had been misplaced and that only a few months remained before the statute of limitations would run out. In June Lewis, already serving ten years, agreed to a plea bargain of another ten.

In May African-American organizations and individuals filed a $5 million lawsuit against Club Med in New York City. Last year, at a Club Med reception for the African/African-American Summit Incorporated conference in Senegal, a riot nearly broke out after the resort staged a skit in which two white staff members appeared in blackface, painted white lips, garish clothes, and white gloves.

In March on a North Adams, Massachusetts, public-access cable-TV program about papier-mache masks, Royce Patton, 28, abruptly changed the subject and accused a former neighbor of allowing two of her kids to have sex. Patton named the family, ran a video of the woman's seven children, and used obscenities in describing them. The former neighbor said the dispute with Patton was really over loans and a bottle of suntan lotion.

In April a 17-year-old boy drowned in the indoor pool at the Henry VIII Hotel in a suburb of Saint Louis. The boy had jumped in with several others, but no one noticed that he had gone under because the pool's water was so murky that visibility was only three to four feet.

Well Put

A senior aide to Liberian factional leader Charles Taylor explaining to the New York Times in April why this year's civil war has been more civil than earlier ones: "In the past, fighters would rip out people's intestines and use them to string up roadblocks. This time there has been none of that."

Update

When News of the Weird first mentioned Corky Ra's Summum Incorporated in 1988, the Salt Lake City company had just started mummifying dead pets and had only dreamed of someday mummifying dead people, which Ra figured he could do for $7,000 each ($18,000 for a mummified bronzed statue). According to a June 1996 story in the San Jose Mercury-News, Ra has so far serviced three dozen dogs, cats, and birds and has a customer list of 137 humans (the oldest of which is 54) who want someday to be mummified. His chief associate supposedly has practiced on more than 2,000 roadkill animals and 30 cadavers purchased from a medical school. The price for humans now starts at $30,000, and bronzing could run into six figures.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration of Hitler look-alike rubbing nose on woman's leg, by Shawn Belschwender.

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