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In March, Michael Friend won his appeal of the IRS's denial of several 1980 deductions he had claimed in a joint return with his wife (involving her medical expenses and job-related education). Friend celebrated the news in a Kentucky prison, where he is serving time for having murdered his wife in 1981.

Least Competent People

Letter to the editor that ran in the Sunday Express (Saint John's, Newfoundland) of November 19, 1989, printed here in its entirety: "Dear Editor: I have never been compelled to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper before, but in light of recent events, I feel that I can keep quiet no longer. Yours sincerely, Les Holme, St. John's."

A 25-year-old professional violinist died in a fire at her apartment in Austin, Texas, in March. She smelled smoke and ran outside to escape, but then went back inside to call 911. Just before she picked up the phone, her boyfriend called, and before she could end the conversation, she was overcome by smoke.

From the "Police Beat" column of a Connecticut newspaper in March: A student at Darien's Hinsdale South High School, reporting a stolen purse, "left [her] purse by mistake outside [her] locker at the end of the school day, Wednesday, February 21, and left for vacation. When she returned March 9, it was gone."

Drug-possession defendant Christopher Plovie, on trial in March in Pontiac, Michigan, claimed he had been searched without a warrant. The prosecutor said the officer didn't need a warrant because a "bulge" in Plovie's jacket could have been a gun. Nonsense, said Plovie, who happened to be wearing the same jacket that day. He handed it over so the judge could see that its material did not make bulges, whereupon the judge discovered a packet of cocaine in the pocket (and laughed so hard that he required a five-minute recess to compose himself).

Viskase Corporation of Chicago has developed an edible casing for hot dogs that can be written on, creating a market for "personalized" hot dogs, gift wieners with corporate logos, and the selling of advertising space.

From a classified ad in a newspaper in Oxford, Maine: "Have box of Elvis 1978 bubble gum collectable cards, original box with 36 packages unopened, will swap for 40 to 50 acres of wild land."

Evan Snow, just out of jail in Florida and arrested ten times in the 1980s on auto-theft charges, recently introduced a $19.95 beginner's auto-theft kit, including a how-to booklet for General Motors cars, a flashlight, and a screwdriver.

Joseph White has started soliciting funds in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to build a monument to dogs that have served in the U.S. military since World War I. (An estimated 2,500 dogs served in Vietnam; half were killed.) A sponsor can pay $3 to make his or her dog a private and up to $300 to make it a four- star general.

West Virginia's commerce commissioner made a formal protest in April against a "Third World in America" tour, planned by Global Exchange Inc. of Los Angeles, that would take tourists to visit poor Appalachian areas in West Virginia and Tennessee (comparable to the group's tours of Haiti and Brazil).

Among the consequences of the freeing of the market between East and West Berlin: prostitutes in West Berlin have complained that those from East Berlin are naive, too eager to please, ignorant of disease (they don't force customers to wear condoms), and cheap, charging $12 instead of the going rate of $30.

In a recent price war on bananas between Twin Valu and Food 4 Less in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, the competitors repeatedly lowered prices, from 50 cents per pound, until Twin Valu began giving them away for free. Food 4 Less then began taping pennies to each bunch.

Well Put

Othal Brand, mayor of McAllen, Texas, and one of the state's largest vegetable farmers and a pending member of a state pesticide regulatory board, argued at a March hearing that chlordane should not be banned: "Sure, it's going to kill a lot of people, but they may be dying of something else anyway."

Tammy Faye Bakker, in a March sermon: "Love has no nose" because poor people "sometimes don't smell too good."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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