News of the Weird

Mar. 15, 2010
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Bubble Burst

In February, the trade group Mortgage Bankers Association—which has been critical of homeowners struggling to make payments on bad real-estate investments—announced the sale of its Washington, D.C., headquarters for $41 million. The association had purchased the building in 2007, at the peak of the real estate bubble, for $79 million.

Compelling Explanations

  • (1) Glenn Armstrong, 47, had a defense ready when police accused him of taking photographs of naked boys in Brisbane, Australia, in January. He said he was having an ongoing debate with his wife and was gathering proof that most boys are not circumcised. (2) Sheriff's deputies in Austin, Texas, arrested Anthony Gigliotti, 17, after complaints that the teen was annoying women by following them around in public and snapping photographs of them. Gigliotti told one deputy that he needed the photos because the sex education at his high school was inadequate.
  • Fredrick Federley, a member of the Swedish Parliament, said that he has always campaigned as someone who does not take gifts from those he is responsible for regulating. In February, however, the newspaper Aftonbladet called him out for having accepted a free travel holiday from an airline. Federley denied that "he" accepted the trip. He reminded reporters that he is a notorious, flamboyant cross-dresser, and thus that it was his alter ego "Ursula" who received the free holiday.
  • At first it looked like Rev. Fred Armfield's arrest for patronizing a prostitute in Greenwood, S.C., in January would be uncontroversial. Armfield allegedly confessed that he had bargained Melinda "Truck Stop" Robinson down from $10 to $5 for oral sex. Several days later, however, Armfield formally disputed the arrest, calling himself a "descendant of the original Moro-Pithecus Disoch, Kenyapithecus and Afro Pithecus," a "flesh and blood being with sovereign status," and someone who, based on his character and community standing, should not be prosecuted. Also, he claimed that any payment to "Truck Stop" Robinson with Federal Reserve notes (such as the $1 bills he allegedly used) did not legally constitute a purchase, but rather represented only a promise to pay later.

Least Competent Criminals

(1) Myesha Williams, 20, and a female friend stopped by a police station in DeLand, Fla., in January and demanded to know why their photos appeared in a local news story on TV. Following questioning, police decided that Williams was the woman seen on surveillance video robbing a beauty shop. She was arrested (since the friend had left before the actual robbery, however, she was not charged). (2) The burglar who stole already-filled prescription orders from the West Main Pharmacy in Medford, Ore., in January puzzlingly limited his take to the pickup-ready packages filed under "O." Police guessed that the burglar must have been after the commonly stolen "oxycodone" and was unaware that outgoing prescriptions are filed by customers' last names, not their medications.

Recurring Themes

(1) Last May, a 13-year-old boy in Galt, Calif., became the most recent beneficiary of foolish behavior. Acting on a dare, the boy chugged eight shots of tequila and lost consciousness. A routine CT scan at the hospital exposed an until-then-unrevealed brain tumor, and the boy is slowly recovering from his arduous but lifesaving surgery. (2) In January, James Shimsky, 50, became the most recent priest in the Catholic Diocese of Scranton, Pa., to be arrested for wayward behavior (with several recent instances reported in a January edition of “News of the Weird”). Shimsky was arrested on a Philadelphia street for allegedly buying cocaine.

Pampered Pets

(1) A February St. Petersburg Times report found several local people who regularly cook gourmet meals for their dogs (the story also revealed some of the dogs’ favorite recipes). "Veggie Cookies for Dogs," for example, requires whole-wheat flour, dried basil, dried cilantro, dried oregano, chopped carrot, green beans, tomato paste, canola oil and garlic. As one person put it: Why feed "man's best friend" what you wouldn't eat yourself? (2) A day spa for dogs ("Wag Style") in Tokyo offers sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, supposedly to ease doggy arthritis, heal wounds and halt aging. (An academic researcher told a writer that evidence of such benefits is "anecdotal.")

A News of the Weird Classic

As many as 10% of Japanese youths may be living in "epic sulks" essentially as hermits, according to a March 2005 Taipei Times dispatch from Tokyo. This represents no improvement in the already alarming problem that was described in a News of the Weird report in 2000, which estimated that 1 million young professionals were then afflicted. Many of those affected still live in their parents' homes and never leave their bedrooms except to gather food. Among the speculation as to cause: school bullying, academic pressure, poor social skills, excessive video-game playing, inaccessible father figures and an education system that suppresses a sense of adventure in children.

2010 Chuck Shepherd


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