Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009

News of the Weird

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Times Square Toilet Fun

As a promotion for Charmin bath tissue, Procter & Gamble announced in October that it would once again create and host a public restroom for the holiday season in New York City’s Times Square. Last year’s installation included specially outfitted toilet facilities, but this year Proctor & Gamble will upgrade the event by hiring five bloggers ("Charmin Ambassadors") to "interact" with the expected "hundreds of thousands of bathroom guests" and write about their experiences with Charmin tissue on the company's Web site, which will include "family-friendly" videos. Proctor & Gamble is calling the campaign "Enjoy the Go."

Least Competent Criminals

  • Michael Spagnola, 38, of Colden, N.Y., was charged with DUI in October after a sheriff's deputy stopped Spagnola's car and noticed the man climbing from the driver's seat into the back seat. Spagnola then told the deputy (from the back seat) that, though he had been drinking, he was not the one driving. However, the deputy noted, there was no one else in the car.
  • Cesar Lopez, 29, was arrested at the Turkey Hill Minit Market in Lebanon, Pa., in October when he emerged from a restroom looking for something inside the baseball cap he was carrying. A police officer, noting that a small baggie was stuck to the top of Lopez's forehead, speculated that Lopez had stowed the baggie (found later to contain marijuana) inside the sweatband of the cap. But when he removed the cap in the restroom, the baggie remained stuck to his head.

Compelling Explanations

  • Robin Magee, a law professor at Minnesota's Hamline University, was charged with state income tax evasion in September for failing to file in 2007 and for filing returns for 2004, 2005 and 2006 only very recently. Magee told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that she was "unable" to file on time because she has "extreme" attention-deficit disorder. Among the lapses of attention, according to prosecutors, was Magee's claim of eight tax exemptions, even though she is single and has no dependents.
  • Parenting Made Simple: A 13-year-old boy in Manchester, England, is about to become a father. The boy’s own father told reporters in October that the kid "will make a good father" and "is taking his responsibilities very seriously. … He is mature for a 13-year-old and knows what he's about." The new dad said he plans to quit school and work full-time to support the child and the 16-year-old mother, though the earning power of a 13-year-old is uncertain.

Leadership in Action

New Jersey's Least-Savvy Politician: In a New Jersey courtroom in October, Atlantic City Councilman (and Baptist minister) Eugene Robinson, 67, explained that he had no intention of having sex that night in November 2006 when a prostitute tricked him into a motel tryst (as a setup by his political enemies). "I was waiting for God to send me the (woman) that's (destined) to be my Christian wife," he said, and since he “hadn't had sex since 1989,” he said he thought this was the chosen woman. Robinson, now in poor health, did not run for re-election.

Something in the Water?

During a three-week period in September and October, three couples in the area of Darwin, Australia, aroused police attention for having uninhibited sex in public. On Sept. 13, a 29-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman were fully engaged in their vehicle (a stolen vehicle, according to police) at a gas station in full view of passers-by. They persisted even when a police officer ordered them to stop. Two weeks later, an intoxicated couple taken into custody by police was seen having sex by a motorist following directly behind the police paddy wagon. On Oct. 6, 25 miles south of Darwin, a 33-year-old man was charged with reckless driving after he crashed his car into a concrete drain while having sex with a 34-year-old woman in the front seat. (The woman later denied the charge, in earthy language, to a reporter from the Northern Territory News.)

No Longer Weird

Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but which now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: (91) The apparently irresistible urge of curious men to tinker in workshops with live ammunition, such as the attempt by a 57-year-old man in Charleston, W.Va., in August to drill through a bullet in order to make a keychain ornament. (The resulting explosion tore up his left hand, but he was not expected to lose it.)

A News of the Weird Classic

The New York Times disclosed in June 1999 that about 2,000 obsolete, nonfunctioning fire hydrants remain in place in New York City, each dry for almost 20 years. Apparently, the only purpose of the hydrants is to allow the city to collect fines from motorists who park too close to them. Supposedly, a contractor will begin removing them soon, but since that costs about $6 million, the project may be delayed.

2009 Chuck Shepherd