French artist Abraham Poincheval told reporters in February that in his upcoming performance, he will entomb himself for a week in a limestone boulder at a Paris museum, and then, at the conclusion, sit on a dozen bird eggs until they hatch. He called this “an inner journey to find out what the world is.” In previous efforts, he spent two weeks inside a stuffed bear and floated down the Rhone River inside a giant corked bottle. He told reporters the super-snug boulder tomb has been thoroughly accessorized, providing for breathing, eating, a heart monitor and emergency phone.
— John Haskew, who told investigators he was “self-taught on the banking industry,” evidently thought he could make bogus wire transfers to himself from a large national bank in the amount of $7 billion. He pleaded guilty in February in Lakeland, Fla. He said he thought he “deserved” the money.
— When Katherine Kempson, 49, decided to “pay cash” for a $1.2-million home, she forged a “proof of funds” letter from the Members 1st Credit Union. Several attempted closings were halted when her money kept not showing up. One deputy told a reporter, “I’m guessing that she probably didn’t think it through.”
— The highest bail ever ordered in the U.S. — $4 billion for murder suspect Antonio Willis — was briefly set in Killeen, Texas, by Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown. Bail was reduced 10 days later to $150,000 by a district court judge. This prompted Brown to acknowledge she set the $4-billion bail to call attention to Texas’ lack of bail standards, which punishes indigent arrestees with little hope of raising even modest amounts when they’re accused of minor crimes.
The Weirdo-American Community
Stephen Reed, the former mayor of Harrisburg, Pa., pleaded guilty to corruption counts stemming from his purchase of 10,000 items of Wild West and Americana artifacts with public funds. During his 28 years in office, he used public money to buy $8 million dollars’ worth of the artifacts. He was apparently obsessed with creating a local cowboy museum. He had purchased such items as a stagecoach, stagecoach harnesses, a Billy the Kid wanted poster, a wagon wheel and a totem pole. As he left office after being voted out in 2009, he explained that the items he had purchased on behalf of Harrisburg had “somehow” migrated into his personal belongings.
After the North Dakota House of Representatives voted to retain the state’s “blue laws,” which prohibit shopping on Sundays, Rep. Bernie Satrom explained to a reporter: “Spending time with your wife, your husband; making him breakfast; bringing it to him in bed” is better than going shopping.
The ex-wife of Deputy Sheriff Corey King of Washington County, Ga., filed a federal lawsuit against King after he arrested her on a charge of making a snarky comment about him on Facebook. King allegedly conspired with a friendly local magistrate on the arrest. Though the prosecutor refused the case, King warned the ex-wife that he would arrest her again if she made “the mistake of going to Facebook with your little mess to fuss about.”
News That Sounds Like A Joke
Ex-Colombo family mobster and accused hitman “Tommy Shots” Gioeli, 64, recently filed a federal court lawsuit over a 2013 injury at the Metropolitan Detention Center in New York City. He fell and broke a kneecap while he was playing ping-pong while waiting for sentencing for conspiracy to commit murder. He said he slipped on water on the floor. The New York Post noted that the “portly” Gioeli, who was later sentenced to 18 years, was quite a sight at trial, carrying his “man purse” each day.
The Passing Parade
— “I grew up fishing with my dad,” Alabaman Bart Lindsey told a reporter. That might explain why he became so good at the phenomenon of “fantasy fishing,” picking the top eight competitors in the Fishing League Worldwide Tour event on Lake Guntersville. “It can be tricky,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of research.”
— Nelson Foyle, 93, is believed to be the person who’s frequented the same British pub the longest. He’s a regular at the Dog and Gun in Salisbury, England. Fellow drinkers recently bought him an honorary lordship title to mark his 80th year on the establishment’s barstools.
— For a two-week run in January, an art collective in a Los Angeles storefront re-created a retro video store that featured only boxed VHS editions of the movie Jerry Maguire. A total of 14,000 copies of the film were displayed.
Unclear on the Concept
— Gemma Badley was convicted in England’s Teesside Magistrates’ Court of impersonating British psychic Sally Morgan on Facebook, selling her readings as if they were Morgan’s. In other words, Badley is the illegal con artist, Morgan the legal one.
— Michigan is an “open carry” state, and any adult not otherwise disqualified under state law can pack heat in public. In February, an overly earnest Second Amendment fan, James Baker, and his pal Brandon Vreeland said they were within their rights when they walked into the Dearborn police station in full body armor and a ski mask with a semi-automatic pistol and a sawed-off rifle. Vreeland photographed officers’ reactions. Both were arrested.
— Wells Fargo Bank admitted last year that employees were pressured to fraudulently open new accounts for 2 million of the bank’s customers by forging their signatures. In an early lawsuit by a victim of the fraud (who had seven fraudulent accounts opened in his name), the bank argued — and the court agreed — that the lawsuit had to be handled by arbitration instead of a court of law because the customer had, in the original Wells Fargo contract, agreed to pay for arbitration for “all” disputes. A February Wells Fargo statement to Consumerist.com claimed that customers forgo legal rights for their own benefit in that arbitration is faster and less expensive than a court trial.
— Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville, Fla., was convicted and given a 20-year sentence in 2012 for firing a warning shot into a wall to fend off her abusive estranged husband. The charges against her were finally dropped in February. The persnickety trial judge had earlier determined that Florida’s notorious “Stand Your Ground” law did not apply in this case — even though the husband admitted that he was threatening to rough up Alexander and that she never aimed the gun at him. Without her defense, Alexander was doomed under Florida’s similarly notorious 20-year mandatory sentence for aggravated assault using a gun.
— Doris Payne, 86, was arrested for shoplifting at an upscale mall in an Atlanta suburb. According to a 2013 documentary, she has stolen more than $2 million in jewelry from high-end shops around the world. Her only regret, she says in the film, is “I regret getting caught.” Said her California-based lawyer, “Aside from her ‘activities,’ she is a wonderful person with a lot of fun stories.”
— Relief workers are often bogged down with useless donations when what they need is money. A January report by Australia’s principal relief organization noted Australian contributions of high heels, handbags, sports gear, wool clothing and canned goods — much of which will eventually go to landfills. Workers in Rwanda reported receiving prom gowns, wigs, tiger costumes, pumpkins and frostbite cream.
The beauty pageant each April at the Rattlesnake Round-up in Sweetwater, Texas, requires interview poise, evening-gown fashion and talent, but also some skill and inclination to milk and skin rattlers. High school senior Kyndra Vaught won the 2013 Miss Snake Charmer pageant. She wore jeweled boots one night for her country-western ballad, then Kevlar boots and camouflage chaps the next as she took on dozens of rattlers in the wooden snake pit. Vaught expertly held up one snake, offered its tail-end rattles for a baby to touch, then helped measure, milk and skin the serpent.
Time To Relocate
For the fifth time, Leonard Miller, 88, picked up the pieces of his Lanham, Md., home after a speeding car smashed into it.
Least Competent Criminals
— Alvin Neal, 56, is the most recent bank robber to begin the robbery after identifying himself to a teller by swiping his ATM card through a machine at the counter. He was sentenced in January.
— A group of men decided to snatch $1,200 from the Eastside Grillz tooth-jewelry shop in St. Paul, Minn., in February. When they fled, one left a mold of his teeth in the shop.
— Willie Anthony, 20, and Jamarqua Davis, 16, were arrested in Kannapolis, N.C., after they broke into a Rent-a-Center at 2 am and stole a big-screen TV. After loading the set into one car, they drove off in separate vehicles, but in their haste, smashed into each other in the parking lot. Both men subsequently drove the wrong way down South Cannon Boulevard. They then crashed into separate vehicles, allowing police to catch up to them.
Leading Economic Indicators
In a first-person profile for the Chicago Tribune, marketing consultant Peter Bender, 28, recalled how he worked to maximize his knowledge of the products of company client Hanes — including its Playtex and Maidenform brands. In an “empathy exercise,” Bender wore bras for three days. Bras were fitted at size 34A (or “less than A,” he said). “These things are difficult,” he wrote on a company blog. “The lacy one was itchy.”