Chuck Shepherd - Weekender Wire Services

News of the weird: Nude dining experience, tick racing and a heart in a backpack

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Getting fannies in the seats

The Bunyadi opened in London in June for a three-month run as the world’s newest nude-dining experience, and now has a reservation waiting list of 40,000 (since it only seats 42). Besides the nakedness, the Bunyadi creates “true liberation” (said its founder) by serving only food “from nature,” cooked over fire (no electricity). Waiters are nude, as well, except for minimal concessions to seated diners addressing standing servers. Tokyo’s Amrita nude eatery, opening in July, is a bit more playful, with best-body male waiters and an optional floor show — and no “overweight” patrons allowed. Both restaurants provide some sort of derriere-cover for sitting, and require diners to check their cellphones at the door.

Cultural diversity

Milwaukee’s WITI-TV, in an on-the-scene report from Loretta, Wisconsin, in May, described the town’s baffling fascination with “Wood Tick Racing,” held annually, provided someone finds enough wood ticks to place in a circle so that townspeople can wager on which one hops out first. The “races” began 37 years ago, and this year “Howard” was declared the winner. (According to the organizers, at the end of the day, all contestants, except Howard, were to be smashed with a mallet.)

Government in action

The Department of Veterans Affairs revealed in May that, between 2007 and last year, nearly 25,000 vets examined for traumatic brain injury at 40 VA facilities were not seen by medical personnel qualified to render the diagnosis — which may account for the result that, according to veterans’ activists, very few of them were ever referred for treatment.

The entrepreneurial spirit

Basking in its “record high” in venture-capital funding, the Chinese Jiedaibao website put its business model into practice recently: facilitating offers of “jumbo” personal loans (two to five times the normal limit) to female students who submit nude photos. The student agrees that if the loan is not repaid on time (at exorbitant interest rates), the lender can release the photos online. (The business has been heavily criticized, but the company’s headquarters said the privately negotiated contracts are beyond its control.)


1. For the last 17 months, Stan Larkin, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, has gone about his business (even playing pickup basketball) without a functional heart in his body — carrying around in a backpack the “organ” that pumps his blood. Larkin, 25, was born with a dangerous heart arrhythmia, and was kept alive for a while with a defibrillator and then by hooking him up to a washing- machine-sized heart pump, leaving him barely mobile — but then came the miraculous SynCardia Freedom Total Artificial Heart, weighing 13 pounds and improving Larkin’s quality of life as he endured the almost-interminable wait for a heart transplant (which he finally received in May). (An average of 22 people a day die awaiting organ transplants in the U.S.)

2. An ordinary green tree frog recently injured in a “lawn-mowing accident” in Australia’s Outback was flown about 600 miles from Mount Isa to the Cairns Frog Hospital. CFH president Deborah Pergolotti spoke despairingly to Australian Broadcasting Corp. News in June about how society underregards the poor frogs when it comes to rescue and rehab — suggesting that “there’s almost a glass ceiling” between them and the cuter animals.

3. News You Can Use: When they were starting out, the band Guns N’ Roses practiced and “lived” in a storage unit in Los Angeles, according to a book-review essay in the May 2016 Harper’s magazine, and “became resourceful,” wrote the essayist. Wrote bass player Duff McKagan in one of the books reviewed: “You could get dirt-cheap antibiotics — intended for use in aquariums — at pet stores. Turned out tetracycline wasn’t just good for tail rot and gill disease. It also did great with syphilis.”


News updates from Kim Jong Un’s North Korea: In March, a South Korean ecology organization reported the traditional winter migration of vultures from China was, unusually, skipping over North Korea, headed directly for the South — apparently because of the paucity of animal corpses (according to reports, a major food source for millions of North Koreans). And in June, the Global Nutrition Report (which criticized the U.S. and 13 other countries for alarming obesity rates) praised North Korea for its “progress” in having fewer adults with “body mass index” over 30).

Recurring themes

1. The super-painful “Ilizarov procedure” enables petite women to make themselves taller. (A surgeon breaks bones in the shins or thighs, then adjusts special leg braces four times daily that pull the bones slightly apart, awaiting them to slowly grow back and fuse together, usually taking at least six months. As News of the Weird reported in 2002, a 5-foot-tall woman, aiming for 5-4, gushed about “a better job, a better boyfriend … a better husband. It’s a long-term investment.” Now, India’s “medical tourism” industry offers Ilizarovs cut-rate — but (according to a May dispatch in The Guardian) unregulated and, so far, not yet even taught in India’s medical schools. Leading practitioner Dr. Amar Sarin of Delhi (who claims “hundreds” of successes) admits there’s a “madness” to patients’ dissatisfactions with the way they look.

Least competent criminals

1. Damian Shaw, 43, was sentenced in England’s Chester Crown Court in June after an April raid revealed he had established a “sophisticated” cannabis-growing operation (160 plants) in a building about 50 yards from the front door of the Cheshire Police headquarters.

2. Northern Ireland’s Belfast Telegraph reported in April that a man was hospitalized after throwing bricks at the front windows of a PIPS office (Public Initiative for Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm). As has happened to a few others in News of the Weird’s reporting, he was injured by brick-bounceback, off the shatterproof glass.

Armed and clumsy (All-new!)

More people (all are males, as usual) who accidentally shot themselves recently: Age 37, Augusta, Kansas, while adjusting his “sock gun” at a high school graduation. Age 28, Panama City, Florida, a jail guard “preparing” for a job interview. An unidentified man in Union, South Carolina, who, emerging from a shower, sat on his gun. The sheriff of Des Moines County, Iowa, who shot his hand while cleaning his gun. A movie-goer adjusting in his seat in Salina, Kansas, shot himself during the feature (three months after acquiring a no-test-required concealed-carry permit). Age 43, Miami, demonstrating to a relative how to clean a gun. A teenager, Overland, Missouri, trying to take a selfie holding a gun. (The last two people are no longer with us.)

News of the Weird classic (June 2012)

Collections of comically poor translations are legion, but the Beijing Municipal government, in sympathy with English-speaking restaurant-goers, published a helpful guidebook recently of what the restaurateurs were trying, though inartfully, to say. In an interview with the authors, NBC News learned the actual contents of “Hand Shredded A$$ Meat” (sic) (merely donkey meat) and other baffling dishes (all taken from actual menus), such as “Cowboy Leg,” “Red-Burned Lion Head,” “Blow-up Flatfish with No Result,” and the very unhelpful “Strange Flavor Noodles” and “Tofu Made By Woman With Freckles.”

Reach Weekender at [email protected] Read more weird news at; send items to WeirdNews, and P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Florida, 33679.

Chuck Shepherd

Weekender Wire Services


Reach Weekender at [email protected] Read more weird news at; send items to WeirdNews, and P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Florida, 33679.