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The art of the matter



In recent New York City art auctions, according to a May report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tom Friedman's "Untitled" (a Styrofoam cup of evaporated-coffee stains, pinned to a piece of wood along with a ladybug) went for $30,000 at Phillips Auctioneers; Robert Gober's "Broom Sink" (a fancifully constructed wash basin) earned nearly $500,000; and Jeff Koons' life-sized ceramic "Michael Jackson and Bubbles" (the chimp) sold for $5.6 million.

Slow burn

Slow burn

Golfers cannot play on courses in Germany without a license, which applicants must earn by passing a written test and a skills test in putting, chipping and driving, said a June dispatch in The Wall Street Journal. Golf association officials defend the requirement for keeping away slow-playing novices, but they estimate it might take about $800 or more for lessons and classes just to get the certificate.

Courting trouble

In St. Petersburg, in June, a 29-year-old rape victim, still shaken up and in a hospital gown after being treated, was arrested and ushered off to jail when a routine check revealed she had three outstanding judicial warrants (failure to pay a traffic fine, failure to pay an unlicensed-dog fine, and allowing her young daughters to miss school). Also in June, in Albany, N.Y., Supreme Court Justice James Canfield performed the wedding of Robert Gorghan to his girlfriend, Cheryl, only minutes after Gorghan had been sentenced in another courtroom to 25 years in prison for the serial sexual assault of Cheryl's daughter over a 13-year period. Canfield is notorious for marrying the just-convicted, which he said reduces the likelihood they will engage in homosexual sex in prison.

Power lift

Power lift

Following recent FDA approval and as an alternative to surgery, doctors have begun offering the $2,500 Brava Breast Enhancement vacuum device that its developer says can increase cup size by stimulating tissue growth, although the contraption must be worn for 10 hours every day for 10 weeks, pulling tissue gently inside its vacuum domes. And a researcher in Melbourne, Australia, told a recent meeting of surgeons that he had grown breast tissue in rats, mice and rabbits, and that, if it could be done for humans, it would allow women to grow larger breasts. And a 31-year-old woman in Frankenmuth, Mich., reported in June that a nail that flew up from her lawn mower's blade and which could have penetrated her heart was deflected by her "liquid-curved" Maidenform bra; she said that "a higher power" had told her that day to wear a bra for lawn-mowing.

Soaking the government

In March, the Yakima Indian Nation performed two rain ceremonies (ancient rituals involving fruits and berries) in the Washington mountains to bring an end to the drought plaguing the Northwest and then sent the bill for expenses ($32,000) to the region's electricity provider, Bonneville Power Administration, pointing out the (slight) increase in rainfall afterward. Bonneville declined to pay.

Warm to the touch

Testifying at his sexual molestation trial in Leeds, England, in March, psychic healer Terence Wood, 41, admitted that he might have put his hands inside the clothing of the four complaining females but that he was unaware he was doing anything wrong: "When I'm healing, I'm in an altered state, and I just go where the spirit tells me the pain is. I close my eyes. My hand becomes very, very hot."

Taking a swing

Tom Wahl and his wife, Suzi, were convicted in St. Louis in April of "prostitution," in that a jury found they had engaged in sex for money, even though they were having sex only with each other, at paid sex-education "seminars" the couple ran. Their lawyer's unsuccessful closing argument compared the Wahls to a golf pro trying to teach duffers the proper techniques for swinging a club. That would not be "golf," said the lawyer; it would be a demonstration of techniques, and thus, a demonstration of sex techniques would not be "sex."

Test case

Test case

In May in Denver, Richard M. Young, 43, filed a federal lawsuit against his ex-employer, Ohio Casualty Insurance, for firing him after an incident in which he kept sheriff's deputies at bay for six hours while wielding a gun in a parking lot, threatening to kill himself. Young said he has a mental illness, which the company is required to "accommodate" under federal law, and that just because he wanted to kill himself doesn't mean he doesn't want to continue working for Ohio Casualty. Young's job at the company was regional manager of litigation.

Middle men

Middle men

Arrested for murder: Andrew Wayne Toler, 21 (Houston, in May); Christopher Wayne Scarber, 25 (Independence, Ky., February); Kenneth Wayne Jackson, 32 (Balch Springs, Texas, May). Filed for a new trial: convicted murderer Jack Wayne Napier, 48 (Lexington, Ky., March). Acquitted of murder after five years on death row: Gary Wayne Drinkard, 45 (Decatur, Ala., May 2001).

Fool. Proof.

In the past month ... In China, which is enduring one of its worst droughts in history, soldiers were ordered to open fire on any clouds they see, to bring rain. And jail inmates in Pasco County, Fla., complained at having to wear the new black-and-white-striped uniforms on outside work details, with one man protesting, "It makes us look like convicts."

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