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News of the Weird 

F-ing brilliant: The Federal Communications Commission ruled in October that the "F word," used as an adjective with the "ing" ending by U2 singer Bono during the live telecast of the Golden Globe awards ceremony in January, is not obscene language because Bono was not using it sexually but rather to enhance the word "brilliant." And two weeks later, Texas's 3rd Court of Appeals ruled that making the well-known middle-finger gesture is not illegal because it is not so provocative these days as to incite immediate violence.

So hard to be a student nowadays: Brandon Kivi, 15, was suspended from Caney Creek High (Conroe, Texas) in October for possibly saving the life of his girlfriend (a fellow classmate) by lending her his asthma inhaler after she had misplaced hers; that was delivery of a dangerous drug. And Raylee Montgomery, 13, was suspended from school in Duncanville, Texas, in September when her shirttail became untucked, a violation of the dress code (raising the number of dress-code-caused suspensions in her 3,500-student school to more than 700 in just five weeks).

Questionable judgments: In April, community activists and other volunteers established a "safe injection site" in Vancouver, British Columbia, so that addicts can bring their heroin, crystal meth or cocaine, and prepare and inject it with clean equipment and in an environment free of hassling by police, who have been reluctant to close the site down. Often, there is a volunteer registered nurse on duty to provide advice on injection technique. Marion, Ohio, inmate Willie Chapman got permission to delay his scheduled parole by one day until Aug. 12 so he could attend a prison meeting of the religious/personal-responsibility organization Promise Keepers. Chapman's inspirational decision made the newspapers, inadvertently alerting his manslaughter victim's family, who complained to the Ohio Parole Board that Chapman should not be free at all. Consequently, the board reconsidered Chapman's parole and delayed it 991 days, until May 1, 2006.

Police Blotter: In Knoxville, Tenn., in September, Thomas Martin McGouey, 51, apparently set on committing suicide, left a note and painted a bull's-eye on his body before arranging a standoff in which he pointed a gun at police officers so they would kill him in self-defense. McGouey's scheme failed because Knox County sheriff's deputies, who fired 28 shots at him, missed with 27 and only grazed his shoulder with the other. From recent newspaper police logs: 1) Wayne Leonard Hoffman, 45, was arrested for DUI (0.39 reading) at a gas station in Minnetonka, Minn., where he was "attempting to add air to his vehicle's tires using a vacuum cleaner hose" (Lakeshore Weekly News, July). 2) Two Wilson, Wyo., men were feuding over a parking space at a Kmart when one drove alongside the other and spit at him through his open window. According to the police report: "As (the victim) saw the projected body fluid traveling through the air, he dropped his jaw in shock, and the phlegm landed square in (his) mouth where he swallowed it in a gag reflex" (August, Jackson Hole News & Guide).

NYPD officers Paul Damore and Farrell Conroy were briefly suspended without pay in July for their conduct in the 45th Precinct station house in the Bronx, when they got into a fistfight over which one would get to be the driver of their patrol car.

Recurring themes: For many years, News of the Weird has covered charity-sponsored "cow patty bingo" competitions (a field divided into squares wagered on by contestants; a cow released to answer nature's call; the grand prize going to the owner of the lucky square), but in July, a variation called "Moulette" (sponsored by Dunlop Tires in Toronto) drew criticism because an actual 50-foot-long roulette board was to be used instead of a field. Critics charged that, despite the charitable aims of the contest, it was "cruel" to deprive a cow of the convenience of dirt and grass on which to conduct her business.

2003 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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