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In White Plains, New York, letter carrier Martha Cherry, 49, was fired by the postal service in August after 18 years for walking her rounds too slowly. In an explanation to Cherry, a supervisor wrote, "At each step, the heel of your leading foot did not pass the toe of the trailing foot by more than one inch. As a result, you required 13 minutes longer than your demonstrated ability to deliver mail to this section of your route." Cherry has appealed to the customers on her route to help save her job.

In September a judge in Santa Monica, California, ruled that test-tube baby Jaycee Louise Buzzanca, 2, has no legal parents. She is the result of donor sperm fertilizing a donor egg in the womb of a surrogate mother. The judge said John and Luanne Buzzanca had been her adoptive parents only through the surrogacy contract, and since they divorced before Jaycee's birth, those rights were voided. John was happy with the decision because it saved him $386 a month in child support.

Protestant minister Hans Visser announced in August that he had lined up doctors, social workers, and drug dealers to begin a social program supplying heroin at a discount to hopeless addicts in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The program is aimed at keeping addicts away from crime and life-threatening cheap drugs. Said Visser, "I expect I will [soon] be having a chat with justice officials."

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

The New York Times reported in August that more than a third of all bottled water sold in the United States is merely filtered tap water and that several cities will soon begin selling their municipal water. "What comes out of the tap is truly excellent water," said the public works director of Houston. The Times reporter pronounced Houston's water "bold, full-bodied, provocative."

In August Bausch & Lomb Inc. agreed to pay $1.7 million to settle a multistate investigation in which the company was accused of fraud. It allegedly sold the very same disposable contact lenses under three different names for prices varying from $2.50 to $23 a pair. Said a New York investigator, "The lenses are the exact same physically--the only difference was their instructions for use."

Quorum International Ltd. announced in July its intention to build a $1.6 billion Holy Land theme park in Mesquite, Nevada, about 75 miles from Las Vegas. Plans for the park include a 33-story statue of Jesus and large re-creations of Noah's ark and the parting of the Red Sea.

In July the wine-making Lundarelli family of Udine, Italy, refused to bow to pressure and take its Fuehrer wine off the market. The label has a photo of Adolf Hitler and comes in two varieties, Sieg Heil and Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuehrer ("One People, One Empire, One Ruler"). The Lundarellis also sell wines called Guevara, Lenin, and Marx. And in June the liquor control board of Ontario took a smuggled Chinese wine that purportedly enhanced libido off local shelves. Authorities said Three-Penis Wine (deer, dolphin, and dog) had such foul ingredients they didn't even dump it in sewers.

An April article in The Economist, focusing on how Cuba's economy has driven professionals into the retail market, included as an example Norberto, a Moscow-trained engineer who illegally shows smuggled bootleg porno tapes to farmers on his VCR, which is powered by a car battery. According to The Economist, "He charges five pesos a head. When, at the end, they all clamor to see it again, he charges another five."

In August real estate firm Cornish & Carey, which has offices in California's Silicon Valley, added a bridal registry to the services it offers. The area has the highest median house prices in the country. Said the company president, "It's something for the generous gift giver." And in September Extreme Shopping debuted on the QVC network, offering mansions for sale to call-in TV viewers. First up was the home of Engelbert Humperdink, on the market for $3.95 million.

The Weirdo-American Community

Well-to-do plastic surgeon Lorin F. Busselberg, 54, of Frederick, Maryland, has been jailed since May for failing to pay $25,000 in child support. According to a July Washington Post story, he now denies ever being married to his wife, though they were divorced in 1995 after 20 years of marriage. Busselberg now maintains to officials that he is a different man, "Lorin Fred Busselberg." Busselberg told a judge in July that he had sold his practice for a million yen to a Japanese man, but no record exists of the sale.

In August a judge in Morris County, New Jersey, ordered Joseph Petracca, 61, to shut down his unlicensed kennel, in which he housed 100 German shepherds. Petracca admitted he had become "addicted" to them and had tried to breed the "perfect dog." Said the judge, "When you are addicted to dogs, alcohol, or drugs, you seek treatment."

In Topeka, Kansas, in August, state officials permitted a "common-law jury" to convene in a room in the capitol building, where they impeached U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten of Wichita. Among his crimes: by jailing a couple for nonpayment of taxes, he was guilty of kidnapping; he enforced land-regulation laws, whereas the jury called landowning a God-given right; he defended the IRS, which the jury claimed is an "offshore entity" and a racketeering conspiracy; he issued court documents that did not have a seal; he issued some orders as "Thomas Marten," without the "J."; he did not have a flag in his courtroom; and he allowed a clerk to have people sign documents in the middle of the signature line rather than flush left.

Feuds

Last year a court in Ontario decided to permit women to go shirtless in public, as long as they did not do so for sexual or commercial purposes. In June former best friends Heather Genereaux, 24, and Jennifer Fitzgibbon, 23, brawled in Kingston, Ontario, when Fitzgibbon decided to sunbathe topless in her backyard in view of Genereaux's ten-year-old son. Genereaux suffered a black eye; Fitzgibbon lost her bikini bottom.

In the midst of this summer's army sex scandals, generals at the Pentagon headed a quiet attempt to quash a battle between the military's commissarries, which sell mainly food, and its post or base exchanges, which are like department stores. The commissaries had started to sell flowers for gardens, and the exchanges, which thought they had the exclusive right to sell bedding flowers, started to sell food items. "This is war," said one official.

In August Shakeitha Hardee, 17 and five months pregnant by a guy named Keevin, was driving on Interstate 40 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when she spotted Keevin in the passenger seat of a car driven by Melody Carroll, 21, who was also five months pregnant by Keevin. The two women shouted at each other from their cars at 55 mph until the road narrowed to one lane because of construction, at which point neither would yield. The cars banged against each other for about 500 yards until Carroll's car hit the end of a guardrail and was totaled. Said Hardee's mother, "If [Keevin] would just let them know which one he wanted, you know?"

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 by Shawn Belshwender.

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