Weird news is forever, but this is my last "News of the Weird" column, as I am now exhausted after almost 30 years in the racket. However, my longtime editors will take over the reins and continue to bring you all the weirdness that's fit to print. In my final edition of "Weird," I remember a few of my favorites.
1995: Chesapeake, Va., inmate Robert Lee Brock filed a $5 million lawsuit against Robert Lee Brock — accusing himself of violating his religious beliefs and his civil rights by getting himself drunk enough that he could not avoid various criminal behaviors. He wrote: "I want to pay myself five million dollars (for this breach of rights), but ask the state to pay it in my behalf since I can't work and am a ward of the state." The lawsuit was dismissed.
2002: The Lane brothers of New York, Mr. Winner Lane, 44, and Mr. Loser Lane, 41 (their actual birth names), were profiled in a Newsday report — made more interesting by the fact that Loser is successful (a police detective in the South Bronx) and Winner is not (a history of petty crimes). A sister said she believes her parents selected "Winner" because their late father was a big baseball fan and "Loser" just to complete the pairing.
1996: A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Lamar, Mo., on Joyce Lehr's lawsuit against the county for injuries suffered in a 1993 fall in the icy, unplowed parking lot of the local high school. The Carthage Press reported that Lehr claimed damage to nearly everything in her body. According to her petition: "All the bones, organs, muscles, tendons, tissues, nerves, veins, arteries, ligaments ... discs, cartilages, and the joints of her body were fractured, broken, ruptured, punctured, compressed, dislocated, separated, bruised, contused, narrowed, abrased, lacerated, burned, cut, torn, wrenched, swollen, strained, sprained, inflamed, and infected."
1993: Landlord Todd Plaisted of Elk River, Minn., reported that tenant Kenneth Lane had fled the area, abandoning his rented farmhouse and leaving behind at least 400 tons of used carpeting, at least 10,000 plastic windows from Northwest Airlines planes, and rooms full of sofas, mattresses and washing machines, among other things. Lane told townspeople he ran a "recycling" company, but there was no evidence of sales. A deputy sheriff driving by the farmhouse the previous year saw Lane burying carpet with a tractor and said Lane merely muttered, "I don't know what to say. You got me. I can't even make up an excuse."
1992: The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the local "Silent Meeting Club," consisting of several people who gather at various spots around town and make it a point not to speak to each other. Founder John Hudak said his inspiration was his observation that people often feel obligated to talk when they really have nothing to say, such as at parties, and wondered how nice it would be "to have a group of people where you wouldn't have to talk."
1988: And, from the very first "News of the Weird" column came good ol' Hal Warden, the Tennessee 16-year-old who was married at 15 and granted a divorce from his wife, age 13. Hal had previously been married at age 12 to a 14-year-old (and fathered children with both), but the first wife divorced Hal because, as she told the judge, "He was acting like a 10-year-old."
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