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8/31/2006

Columns > News of the Weird

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

 

Life’s cheap in Florida

Eduardo Gonzalez, 18, was arrested and charged as the one who shot an Orlando, Fla., man to death in March for spilling beer on him in a bar. In August, the price of life went down even further when, according to police, Gonzalez put out hit contracts on five witnesses to the original shooting, which would have brought the total to six dead over one spilled beer, except (as is often the case) the “hit man” was an undercover cop.

And a 34-year-old man was killed in Hollywood, Fla., in June after refusing to pay $80 for a $78 towing bill (he demanded $2 change, which the driver did not have), then jumping on the truck to challenge the driver and eventually falling underneath it to his death.

Doggy ’do

Boutique wigmaker Ruth Regina of Miami is readying a line of hairpieces for “teacup” dogs and other over-pampered canines, at prices that range into the hundreds of dollars. Most promising include the “Yappy Hour” (a fluff of curls) and the “Peek a Bow Wow,” which (according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in August) “fall(s) down over part of a dog’s face, giving a glamorous look reminiscent of 1940s movie star Veronica Lake.” It’s for dogs that feel sexy, said Regina. “There (are) some dogs that have the come-hither look.”

Art Brut

Inmate Donny Johnson, serving three life terms in solitary confinement at the Pelican Bay State Prison in California, was the beneficiary of a showing of his acclaimed paintings at a gallery in the Mexican tourist village of San Miguel de Allende, according to a July New York Times report. Because of Johnson’s isolation, his only “brush” is made from strands of his own hair; his “canvases” consist of blank postcards; and his medium is colors from melted M&M candies. Nonetheless, at least six of the paintings, which the Times reporter called “powerful,” have sold for $500 each.

Martin Creed, a one-time winner of Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize, told the Guardian in July that his latest work, titled “Sick Film,” would open in London in October and that it includes 19 scenes of people vomiting on camera. Creed spoke to the Guardian from Los Angeles, where he is working on the next, similar project, entitled “Shit Film,” and has already been able to line up 15 “performers,” perhaps, he said, “because LA represents the extreme edge of the world.”

The safety dance

Undercover investigators for the Government Accountability Office reported in July that they were able to purchase, on the open market from Pentagon contractors, surplus body armor, mounts for shoulder-fired missiles, and missile radar test devices. Nearly 2,700 “sensitive” military items had been bought by 79 other buyers.

And an FBI computer consultant, who said he was frustrated by bureaucratic delays in obtaining legitimate access to certain bureau files, was able to hack into the files surreptitiously via the FBI director’s secret password, which the consultant figured out using software found on the Internet.

Finally, Indiana state homeland security officials told Vermillion County officials in July to stop using the special emergency-only highway message boards to advertise their charity fish fries and spaghetti dinners.

Police blotter

From an Atlanta police report, summarized in a July issue of the weekly Creative Loafing: A man working on a house on Smith Street was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital with serious injuries to his posterior. He happened to be bending over next to a wall that, unknown to him, a worker on the other side was drilling into, and the drill bit entered his “anal cavity.”

And four New York City police were called to an apartment house in July in the Bronx concerning a landlord-tenant dispute, but were distracted by a teenager in the hallway smoking marijuana and started to chase him, when a pit bull attacked the officers. The toll, 26 bullets later: one dead dog, one bitten officer, three other officers wounded by each other’s gunshots.

Vegetable plot

Beijing News reported in July that the city intends to assign tracking numbers to every single cabbage, carrot and pea pod in preparation for the 2008 Olympics, to identify their origins and improve food safety. Five thousand tons of vegetables may be eaten during the Olympics, and Chinese farming has been criticized by Greenpeace for using banned pesticides and other soil pollutants.

Rise again

In July, just after New Jersey’s governor and legislature resolved a government-closing stalemate over spending in that heavily taxed state, the government announced it would reinstate its discontinued policy of paying for “erectile dysfunction” drugs for Medicaid recipients.

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