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News of the Weird


Cult of Walt: For a September report, an LA Weekly writer hung out with Benji Breitbart, 20, Doug Marsh, and several other "Disneyana Enthusiasts," who spend hours nearly every single day at Disneyland; have almost total recall of the park's history and culture; rabidly collect memorabilia; and preach with intensity on which aspects of today's park Walt Disney would not have approved. DE's usually wear Disney-themed clothes, use the pronoun "we" as if the park were theirs, and are dismissive of "Star Trek." ("Trekkies are devoted to some stupid pop-culture fad," said Marsh. "[But] Disney fans believe in the magic.") Breitbart was asked why Disney was such a central force in his life? "I tried to figure that out. I just ended up with no answers."

Cleanliness is a priority: According to two maintenance workers on duty in Cleveland's Carver Park Estates in September, James Black, 49, either boldly or obliviously dragged a dead, bloody body out of his apartment house in broad daylight and laid it on the ground in plain sight of the two men, then calmly went back inside and emerged with a mop, which he used to swab blood from the sidewalk. The incredulous workers immediately called police, who arrested Black and the next day charged him with aggravated murder.

Bananas at the DMV: A man fled the motor vehicles office in Leesburg, Va., after a September incident in which he, silently and calmly, presented a DMV employee with a postcard photograph of a banana being shot by a bullet, and the legend "banana = DMV." The man then hurried out. And when several employees got to the parking lot in pursuit, there were bananas strewn around the lot, but no one in sight. Said the Leesburg police chief, "This [man] is a different [kind]."

Smooth reactions: Kevin French, 46, pleaded guilty to shooting his neighbor in the head with an air rifle because he mowed his lawn too often (Elmira, N.Y., April). ... An inmate (unnamed in an internal report by a psychiatric prison) went into a violent rage and took a therapist hostage after fellow prisoners laughed at his drawing of "toilet paper" in a game of Pictionary (Abbotsford, British Columbia, July). ... Walter Travis, 68, was arrested for shooting a neighbor several times after the neighbor's dog pooped on his lawn (Indianapolis, August). ... Danny Ginn, 46, was arrested for commandeering a garbage truck at gunpoint because he was tired of the truck's driver using Ginn's driveway to turn around in (Bedford, Ky., August).

Nice Kitty: In August, around the time the Ten Commandments monument was moved out of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery because of a federal judge's ruling that it was too much of a religious statement for government property, Blanca Castillo petitioned county commissioners in Fort Worth, Texas, to remove a statue in front of the county's administrative building because it was insulting of religion. The offending statue, of a sleeping panther, struck Castillo as too paganistically feline, and therefore "sinister." She recommended a statue of something else, such as a steer.

Children at play: The July amateur wrestling match in Tbilisi (former Soviet republic of Georgia), between Dzhambulat Khotokhov (123 pounds, from Russia) and Georgy Bibilauri (112 pounds, from Georgia) ended in a draw, and afterward, both wrestlers broke training briefly for ice cream and cake to celebrate Bibilauri's birthday. Bibilauri is now 5 years old; Khotokhov is 4.

Least competent people: A 26-year-old man will be hospitalized "for months" in Illawarra, Australia, following an August accident that authorities speculate might have been inspired by the film Jackass. The man was apparently walking across a room with a lighted firecracker between his posterior cheeks when he slipped and fell backward to the floor. The explosion resulted in a fractured pelvis, severe genital burns, hemorrhaging from the buttocks and ruptured urethra, leaving him incontinent and sexually dysfunctional.

Also in the last month: The New York Post revealed that among the 10 highest paid New York City municipal employees were three school psychiatrists and a gym teacher.

(c) 2003 Chuck Shepherd

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