Chuck Shepherd

Upscale clothier Barneys New York recently introduced $585 "Distressed Superstar Sneakers" — from the high-end brand Golden Goose — that were purposely designed to look scuffed, well-worn and cobbled together, as if they were shoes recovered from a dumpster. The quintessential touch was the generous use of duct tape on the bottom trim. Critics were in abundance, accusing Barneys of mocking poverty.

Brewing up a tribute

British food artists Bompas & Parr are staging a tribute to the late writer Roald Dahl by brewing batches of beer using yeast swabbed and cultured from a chair Dahl used and which has been on display at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, England.

Government in action

The Drug Enforcement Administration has schemed for several years to pay airline and Amtrak employees for tips on passengers who might be traveling with large sums of cash, so that the DEA can interview them — with an eye toward seizing the cash under federal law if they merely "suspect" that the money is involved in illegal activity. A USA Today investigation, reported in August, revealed that the agency had seized $209 million in a decade, from 5,200 travelers who, even if no criminal charge results, hardly ever get all their money back (and, of 87 recent cash seizures, only two actually resulted in charges). One Amtrak employee was secretly paid $854,460 over a decade for snitching passenger information to the DEA.


• "Mr. L," 31, a Chinese tourist visiting Dulmen, Germany, in July, went to a police station to report his stolen wallet, but signed the wrong form and was logged in as requesting asylum, setting off a bureaucratic nightmare that left him confined for 12 days at a migrant hostel before the error was rectified.

• In August at a hospital in Shenyang, China, "Wang," 29, awaiting his wife's childbirth, was reported by People's Daily via to have allowed a nurse to wave him into a room for anesthesia and hemorrhoid surgery — a procedure that took 40 minutes. The hospital quickly offered to pay a settlement — but insisted that, no matter his purpose at the hospital, he in fact had hemorrhoids, and they were removed.

Permanent veggies

Vegetarian Deb Dusseau of Portland, Maine, celebrating her 10-year anniversary of "all vegetables, all the time," reported to a tattoo artist in August and now sports, on her right arm, wrist to shoulder, an eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, peas, greens, onions, a radish and multiple tomatoes — drawn in an "old seed catalog" motif.

Heck of a homer

Pro baseball player Brandon Thomas of the independent Frontier League's Gateway Grizzlies in St. Louis, Mo., hit a grand slam on Aug. 21 — over the fence and into the adjacent parking lot, where the ball smashed the windshield ... of his own car.

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