Chuck Shepherd's News of The Weird
■ The tax software company Vertex reported in March, via the Tax Foundation, that tax-hating American states have somehow organized themselves into nearly 10,000 sales/use-tax jurisdictions with distinct rules, coverages or exemptions. Ironically, states criticized as tax profligates sometimes have the simplest systems (for example, one set of rules covering the entire state, such as in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.) while states regarded as refuges from intrusive government often have the most complicated (such as the 310 different jurisdictions in Utah, 587 in Oklahoma, 994 in Iowa and 1,515 in Texas).
■ Formally asking a sweetheart to “please be my (boyfriend/girlfriend)” is said to be a traditional romantic milestone in Japanese relationships, and the town of Nagareyama in Chiba Prefecture now provides a government document to commemorate that big step (for a filing fee, of course). In fact, according to the news site rocketnews24.com, since only one party need file the document, the town hopes the form will become a strategic step to declare one’s love without the need for messy, face-to-face, rejection-risking confrontation (and also become a robust municipal-revenue producer).
■ British artist Millie Brown, 27, profiled in January in London’s Daily Mail, creates Jackson Pollock-style canvases by vomiting on them after ingesting colored soymilk. Brown (whose work hangs in London’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not! showcase) said she fasts for two days prior to public performances and, as the show starts, times her ingestions so that the proper hues don’t prematurely mix in her stomach. Her appearance, at work, in a Lady Gaga music video brought her a somewhat larger audience. Said the understated Brown, “I am able to challenge people's perceptions of beauty.”
■ Paris’ Hunting and Wildlife Museum hosted, from April 1-13, artist Abraham Poincheval’s real-time demonstration of “birth and rebirth”—his living completely inside a hollowed-out bear carcass the entire time, eating, drinking, reading, sleeping and relieving himself (down the bear’s legs) before a live camera, with a viewing window for spectators. Poincheval, who in a previous installation lived for a while in a hole, likened the experience merely to the cramped quarters of astronauts.
■ Petty Theft: (1) Although Douglas Lydic, 29, escaped from a patrol car in December in Commodore, Pa., while handcuffed (and was soon re-captured), prosecutors declined to charge him with fleeing since he was merely being “detained” at the time. However, they did charge Lydic with theft of the handcuffs. (2) Petty and Tacky: Dustin Bell, 25, wearing a police officer’s badge that had been stolen from the Sand Springs, Okla., department, apparently only casually considered how to wield his newly acquired “authority.” He was arrested in April after asking at a Tulsa tanning salon for a law-enforcement discount—to get a $34 session for $10.
■ Possibly DUI: (1) Michael Moore, 61, who had left home in a huff after his wife accused him of excessive drinking, was arrested later that night in Hobe Sound, Fla., after more drinking at a bar. He suggested to police that he knew he was drunk, but had taken the wheel to try to "drive it off." (2) Bryan Hill, 24, was arrested in Indianapolis in March, passed out in the driver’s seat of his car at 4 a.m. wearing only a T-shirt, underwear and one sock. The officer said Hill “did have pants on, but they were on his arms. Both arms were inserted into the legs of his jeans.”
Least Competent Criminals
Not Ready for Prime Time: Yafait Tadesse was sentenced in federal court in March to a year in jail for filing fraudulent tax returns for certain "Wal-Mart employees," from fictitious addresses, for 2012 and 2013. Among the fake returns that Tadesse apparently failed to double-check was that of supposed Georgia Wal-Mart employee “Eric Holder”—the U.S. attorney general.
© 2014 CHUCK SHEPHERD