Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird
Updating "The Smell of Napalm in the Morning": A cosmetics company in the Gaza Strip recently began selling a fragrance dedicated to victory over Israel and named after the signature M-75 missile that Hamas has been firing across the border. “The fragrance is pleasant and attractive,” said the company owner, "like the missiles of the Palestinian resistance," and comes in masculine and feminine varieties at premium prices (over, presumably, the prices of ordinary fragrances in Gaza). Sympathizers can splash on victory, he said, from anywhere in the world.
Government in Action
■ One principal recommendation following the Sept. 11 attacks was that emergency and rescue personnel have one secure radio frequency so all agencies that merged into the Department of Homeland Security can communicate more effectively. In November, the department's inspector general revealed that, despite $430 million allotted to build and operate the frequency in the last nine years, it remains almost useless to DHS' 123,000 employees. The report surveyed 479 workers, but found only one who knew how to find the frequency, and 72 percent did not even know one existed (and half the department's radios couldn't have accessed it even if employees knew where to look).
■ Remember Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere"?: In November, the Anchorage Daily News reported the Army Corps of Engineers is building a harbor on the Aleutian native community's island of Akutan, even though there is no road leading to the nearest town. Thus, reported KUCB Radio, the only way to get into or out of the harbor is by boat. Any connector road to the only town on the island is "likely years in the future," according to the Daily News.
In October, Austrian artist Alexander Riegler installed a one-way mirror in the ladies' room at a café in Vienna to allow men's room users to peer inside (in the name of "art," of course). Riegler said he wanted to start a "discussion of voyeurism and surveillance." Men could see only the faces of women standing at the bathroom mirror and Riegler would like to reverse the process in January to allow women to peer into the men's rooms. The cafe has posted a sign advising restroom users that they would be part of an "art" project.
■ Philadelphia man Anthony Johnson, 49, was convicted in October in Hartford, Conn., of stealing an improbably large amount of money—as much as $70,000 a weekend, off and on for five years—by crawling on the floor of darkened theaters and lifting credit cards from purses that movie-watching women had set down. Johnson was careful to pick films likely to engross female viewers so that he could operate freely. He was often able to finish up, leave the theater and make cash-advance withdrawals from ATMs before the movie had ended.
People With Issues
Justin Jedlica, 32, of New York City, bills himself as the "human Ken doll" after a 10-year odyssey of cosmetic surgery (90 procedures) to achieve the "perfect" body. "I love to metamorphosize myself, and the stranger the surgery, the better," he told ABC News in October, even though the amount of silicone in his body, say doctors (when told of Jedlica's various implants), has reached a dangerous level. He dismisses actually "earning" the body through gym workouts, describing exercise as just "not exciting, not glamorous." (Of course, the "perfect" body is never perfect, Jedlica acknowledged, as illustrated by his recollection of his first surgery—to get a perfect nose—which is still not done after four follow-ups.)
This, the 1,300th edition of News of the Weird, marks birthday No. 25. So, what was happening in 1988 in that first batch of stories published by that first adventurous editor? Well, there was the Alton, Ill., woman who died with a will specifying that her husband, who was an enthusiastic transvestite, was to receive not a penny of her $82,000 cash estate—but all of her dresses and accessories. And there was Hal Warden, the Tennessee 16-year-old who was granted a divorce from his wife, 13. Hal had previously been married at age 12 to a 14-year-old, who divorced Hal because, she told the judge, "He was acting like a 10-year-old."
©2012 CHUCK SHEPHERD