Columns > News of the WeirdNEWS OF THE WEIRD
The parents of wannabe singer-actor-celebrity Marissa Leigh, 16, of Scottsdale, Ariz., employ 10 people for her career development, according to an April Arizona Republic story, including manager; publicist; voice coach; two acting coaches; people to do makeup, hair and wardrobe; musical composer; photographer; and webmaster (plus, of course, an entourage of confidence-boosting friends).
“She’s spoiled,” said her mother, “but hopefully, it’s a grounded spoiled.” However, on her national TV debut, on MTV’s My Super Sweet 16 (a party which her parents spent $150,000 to stage), she was caught saying “I’m a princess,” and “I’m such a rock star that I can do this,” and “I always get exactly what I want.” Even after MTV cut the two songs she sang, she was optimistic: “(This show)’ll still put my name out there and stuff.”
The passive voice
In Yorktown, N.Y., in June, as often happens, one spouse who was roughed up by the other during a domestic eruption tried to talk police out of filing charges. However, the battering spouse this time was Emily Hanlon-Tarasov, a novelist, and the explanation of her husband (who was knocked unconscious when Hanlon-Tarasov angrily threw a book) was fittingly creative: “A few things began flying at the wall,” he said, “and one of them was a telephone book. And unfortunately, my head moved into the space that the book was flying (into).” Hanlon-Tarasov was nevertheless charged with assault.
Max Foster, 18, complained to a London Daily Telegraph reporter in June that two police officers in Bath, England, had told him they were under instructions not to pursue a man who had been spotted on Foster’s stolen moped, because the man was not wearing a helmet. According to Foster, the town’s rules of engagement for officers discourage such chases because the suspect might fall off the moped, hit his head and sue the police.
Jay and Laura Flynn of Lilburn, Ga., filed a $111 million lawsuit in June against Home Depot and the maker of Tile Perfect Stand’n Seal Grout Cleaner, charging that a defect caused toxic fumes that permanently destroyed half of Jay’s lung capacity, which, among other effects, according to Laura, ended the couple’s “extremely active love life.” She added, “I mean every day. But now that is over.”
Daughter Carriel Louah, 25, is suing her parents for at least $75,000 for the broken ankle she suffered in a fall on their property when she paid them an unexpected visit in Darlington, Wis., in 2005. The mother said she appreciated the surprise birthday visit, but denied any negligence. (A judge refused to toss out the lawsuit in July.)
Finally, Jaime Pinedo filed a lawsuit in Hackensack, N.J., in June against the estate of his late brother’s late girlfriend. Daniel Pinedo and Xiomara Ortiz were murdered in May 2004, execution style, by Ortiz’s jealous former boyfriend, and Jaime Pinedo alleges that that was Ortiz’s fault.
In July, former peace activist Christiaan Briggs, 30 (who had gone to Iraq in 2003 to protest the impending U.S. attack), was arrested in Islington, England, and charged with knocking a man out (leaving him in a coma) in a fight after he allegedly hit on the man’s girlfriend.
The British watchdog Environmental Agency, which prosecutes pollution violators, was fined nearly $14,000 in May for allowing toxic waste to flow from its monitoring station along the River Exe in Somerset.
In July, municipal officials in Provincetown, Mass., held a community meeting to air numerous complaints by heterosexuals that they are targets of hate speech by the town’s large gay and lesbian population.
Colin Watson, 63, one of Britain’s most notorious illegal collectors of rare bird eggs (having been convicted six times and having had nearly his entire collection confiscated by the government), fell to his death in May from a tree he had climbed in south Yorkshire to check out a nest.
In June, the Ministry of Higher Education of Saudi Arabia (home of 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers), along with the country’s civil aviation authority, jointly announced scholarships for Saudi men and women for bachelor’s and graduate-school study in the United States in such fields as “air traffic control,” “flight safety” and “other majors related to the airline transport industry.”
Strong maternal figure
British fitness trainer Liz Stuart conducts “powerpramming” classes for new mothers, the centerpiece of which is the women’s use of their own infants as weights for bicep curls and chest presses (adding a kiss to each rep), as well as resistance in “power walks,” according to a May Reuters dispatch from London. Said one mother, of her newfound quality time with her babies, “If I had to go to the gym and put the twins into a [nursery], it would cost me a fortune.”