In 1994, Jeff Goldstein, who described himself as a “semi-active pagan-Jewish minister,” got into trouble with the city of Madison, Wisconsin because he refused to mow his lawn. He claimed that to do so would violate his religious beliefs since he worshipped plants. He said he actually prayed to his lawn, and that to mow it would be a “holocaust against the green creatures.”
Goldstein explained that he had formed his beliefs after reading The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tomkins and Christopher Bird. I’ve read that book. If you like strange science, it’s a good read, full of plant-science weirdness. Though I didn't come away from it believing plants are sacred.
The court didn't buy Goldstein's argument, but I don't know if he ever ended up mowing the lawn.
Alex and I have just taken a step which I do not believe we have ever needed to take before in the long history of WEIRD UNIVERSE. We deleted someone's comment because it was nasty, rude, hostile and generally boorish. (And may I also say that the suffering longtime member of the community, the commenter to whom the insults were addressed, reacted with restraint, dignity, calm and a noble nature.)
Let me take this unfortunate occasion to remind everyone that WU has always been a landmark of collegiality and friendliness and acceptance, albeit happily flavored with irony, black humor and appreciation for the world's incredible stupidity. Especially in comparison to much of the internet, WU remains a happy place. Let's try to keep it that way.
Thanks, as always, for your attention, support and understanding.
In 2002, artist Tracey Emin's cat, Docket, went missing. So she put up 'missing cat' posters around her neighborhood. But since she was a famous artist, people immediately began taking the posters down and selling them. Reportedly, they fetched prices as high as £500 each.
This prompted a spokeswoman from Emin's gallery to issue a statement: "Tracey does deal with memorabilia, but the posters are not works of art, it's simply a notice of her missing cat to alert neighbours."
The Missing Cat posters are problematic because the moment they reach a public they are coopted by the poncif already set up by the artist, and as such they become arranged "as part of [her] oeuvre". They are readily coopted because Emin’s particular trademark is "near-absolute identification of the artist with her work": work that is characterized by confessional and subjective autobiographical content that the posters also supply. We might say that Emin has created a convincing, life-sized tableau of her life, and it is difficult to exclude from this tableau anything she does or produces.
In 1964, Jayne Mansfield recorded an album for MGM that featured her reading selections from the poetry of Shakespeare, Byron, Shelley, Yeats, and others, as Tchaikovsky's music played in the background. Apparently she hoped the record would show off the asset she was most proud of, her 164 IQ.
The album isn't available on CD or MP3, but you can pick up a copy of the original vinyl on eBay for around $30 or $40.
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.