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News of the Weird 

Lead Story

During a six-week period in March and April three naked men were involved in public incidents in Indiana. One man set a fire in a Michigan City outlet store; another pumped gasoline at a Lebanon station; and yet another, claiming to be a pizza deliverer, roamed an Indianapolis apartment complex (injuring his groin as he unsuccessfully attempted to leap a fence while fleeing the police). A fourth man left nude photos of himself in a Sullivan state park men's room. All but the gasoline pumper were apprehended.

New Rights

A recent semiofficial pamphlet written and distributed by a student organization at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, explained that freedom from discrimination includes gays' and lesbians' right not to have straights stand too far away when they're having a conversation and minority students' right not to have white students act surprised when a minority student performs a task well.

The Toronto Transit Commission voted in February to reinstate a 33-year-old man who'd been fired because he took time off from a rail-repairing job in the middle of the day to have sex with a prostitute in a nearby alley.

The Los Angeles Daily News reported in April that the city's department of building and safety had ordered an adult nightclub to remove its stage, a large shower where nude dancers would cavort for the customers' enjoyment. Authorities said the shower wasn't wheelchair accessible, although no one seemed to have heard of any disabled nude dancers.

The Wall Street Journal reported in April on a potential legal defense being considered by some well-to-do professionals who fail to file income tax returns: they should be excused because they suffer from an anxiety syndrome characterized by what a recent New York Law Journal article calls "an overall inability to act in [their] own interest." Victims are "highly ambitious, hypercritical, detail-oriented people," according to a psychiatry professor, and therefore can't relax, don't know how to delegate, and tend to procrastinate and become secretive.

The Washington Post reported in March that several employees of the Office of Thrift Supervision, which regulates the savings and loan industry, have threatened to sue the agency if they're disciplined for playing "fantasy sports" leagues (such as Rotisserie baseball) during working hours. Said one, if every such player at OTS were disciplined it would "clean out the agency."

Just Can't Stop Myself

In September Saint Paul, Minnesota, police stopped Jimmy Monk, 39, and confiscated from his car's roof a 20-foot ladder that had been reported missing. At the time he was awaiting sentencing on two other ladder thefts and was a suspect in about two dozen others. Said a police sergeant, "He just can't seem to walk past [a ladder] without taking it."

Susumu Suzuki, 45, was arrested in Takasaki, Japan, in July and charged with having made approximately 8,500 phone calls to city hall--as many as several hundred a day--and then hanging up without speaking. He cited as his motive for the harassing calls a snub by city hall when he applied for a job 20 years earlier. And in September, Mikiko Miyamoto, 43, was charged with having made as many as 100 similar phone calls a day for 12 years to a female acquaintance in Tokyo.

In Cincinnati in January Thomas David West was back in court on charges that he violated his probation by resuming his practice of impersonating doctors and lawyers. This time he was charged with posing as a lawyer for a Cincinnati firm; he'd been released last June from prison, where he'd served time for impersonating a doctor, among other things. When he took the witness stand at the probation hearing he said he was currently employed as chief fund-raiser for a Kentucky state-funded project; officials said the state had no such position.

In April in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Erin Prendergast, 20, pleaded guilty to 174 parking violations, with total fines reaching nearly $5,000. In January she'd pleaded guilty to 248 parking tickets totaling more than $7,000. Officials said still more violations against her were awaiting processing. When the judge asked how she could accumulate so many violations, Prendergast, who was described as "affable" by a Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter, said, "I don't know."

Vincent Corda, 64, was taken into custody at the Stratford, Connecticut, police station in February after refusing to heed numerous demands that he stop taking photographs of police officers and leave. He'd been at the station taking officers' photographs before, and the department had secured a restraining order to keep him away.

Most Dysfunctional Family

In April a jury in Canton, Ohio, convicted Estella Sexton, 47, of sexually abusing her 13-year-old daughter, one of her 11 children. According to the girl's brother, their father Eddie Sexton, who's now in jail in Florida, conducted satanic seances featuring cat carcasses and the spirits of dead relatives. Another daughter, Pixie Sexton-Good, recently pleaded guilty in Florida in the death of her infant son and agreed to testify against her father and another brother, who will soon stand trial for the death of Pixie's husband, Joel Good. According to other siblings, the dead infant was fathered by Eddie Sexton, but Eddie said one of Pixie's brothers had fathered it.

Least Competent People

In two April incidents Rogelio Aparicio, 46, in Manila and an unidentified man on the steps of the main police station in Durham, North Carolina, each pulled out a gun and fired two shots at his own head in an apparent suicide attempt, missing both times.

The "Director's Message" column of the March newsletter of the Florida chapter of Reverend Donald Wildmon's American Family Association referred 14 times to an inside group of "journalists, reporters and media mongers" by the term clique, which was misspelled each time as "click."

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

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