News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Distrust of modern medicine has led to the increasing popularity of therapeutic self-trepanning (drilling a hole in the skull), according to a June Chicago Tribune story. Trepanning activist Peter Halvorson said that drilling into his own skull 25 years ago brought him "a heightened, childlike sense of awareness" and a permanent state of higher consciousness. Neurosurgeons interviewed were "amazed" and "stunned."

*David Weinlick, age 28, married Elizabeth Runz, age 28, in Bloomington, Minnesota, in June after a courtship that consisted of merely a brief conversation. Weinlick had asked friends to make a national search for a bride and he promised to marry the woman they chose. Friends interviewed 30 women at a "bridal candidate mixer," then voted. After one candidate had won 60 percent, the wedding began. Said campaign coordinator Steve Fletcher: "This may be an idea that spreads."

Formerly Weird, Now a Syndrome
*A Humane Society official told the Washington Post in April that the number of "animal-collector syndrome" cases is increasing and that there may now be several thousand people in the United States who accumulate many more pets than they can care for, such as Doris Romeo, who ran a "Pets for Life" rescue mission last year in Los Angeles. When health inspectors raided her headquarters, they found 589 cats, many emaciated and infected, with countertops and floors covered in feces and giving off "a smell you never forgot," according to the city's chief veterinarian. When Romeo arrived during the inspectors' visit, she apologized for the condition of the house, saying the cleaning people hadn't been there in "three days."

Poor Sense of Smell
*In February narcotics officers in Lone Star, Texas, detained a driver and his eighteen-wheeler when their dogs "detected something." After unloading the truck they discovered it contained nothing but twenty tons of broccoli. And in June a thief drove away from a truck stop in West Plains, Montana, in another eighteen-wheeler but abandoned the truck after about an hour, apparently when he discovered that it contained only twenty tons of liver.

And van Gogh Died Broke
*In May the students in Leeds (England) University's fine arts program, funded by school and private grants of about $2000, created a class project they said was "designed to challenge people's perception of art." The project consisted of thirteen students taking a holiday on Spain's Costa del Sol. They said that among the issues raised by their oeuvre would be whether there was any limit to what could be described as art. Most of the sponsors demanded refunds.

*In June an auction of "conceptual" and "minimalist" art from the past 30 years at Christie's in New York City exceeded sales goals, led by masterpieces such as Bruce Nauman's concrete block with a tape recorder inside playing a woman screaming ($288,000); Sigmar Polke's four canvases containing only incorrect math equations ($882,000); and On Kawara's seven canvases featuring only the dates May 1 through 7, 1971 ($574,000).

*San Francisco sculptor Joe Mangrum, hoping to avoid paying $1480 in parking tickets he had accumulated with his 1986 Mazda, persuaded the city art commission in March to let him disassemble the car in the middle of the Justin Herman Plaza; he called the sculpture Transmission '98 and collected a $2000 artist's fee from the city. A spokesperson said the art commission was unaware of Mangrum's tickets.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd