Over the course of a decade, from around 1965 to 1975, Joseph Feldman managed to steal 15,000 books from the New York Public Library. He was caught when firemen entered his Greenwich Village apartment while responding to an alarm in his building and discovered all the books, piled up everywhere. When asked why he had taken them all, Feldman responded, “I like to read.”
Arizona Daily Star - Sep 27, 1975
In the 21st century, playwright Erika Mijlin was inspired to write a play, Feldman and the Infinite, about the incident. It was first performed in 2008. Her description of it:
In 1975, Feldman, a 58-year-old lawyer in New York City, was discovered to have stolen 15,000 books from the New York Public Library. He had rented two or three apartments in the West Village specifically to store these books, and it took 20 men, 7 truckloads over 3 days to remove them all. Feldman and the Infinite is a play that ultimately invents Feldman’s motives, and speculates about the universality of his quest - seeking knowledge and enlightenment, and finding what appears to be randomness and chaos.
With over 35,000 items, ranging from beer cans to cocktail napkins, matchbook covers to letterheads and many other tchotchkes, the Tavern Trove site provides many happy hours of browsing into the weird niches of the liquor biz.
After the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in June, 1968, the Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corp. rushed out with a commemmorative, 55-card set of RFK bubble gum cards. It presented "the story of Robert F. Kennedy... with bubble gum."
Kids must have been rushing out to get these.
The cards seem to have appreciated reasonably well in price. Individual cards now range from $3 to $26 in price. You can get an unopened pack for about $65.
Whenever I come across stories about collectors of unusual items, I always wonder what happened to their collection after they died. They went to all that trouble to collect it, and then usually relatives end up tossing it all.
The Extra Miler Club is a group of people whose goal is to visit every county (and equivalent jurisdiction) in every state of the United States. That's 3,143 counties. Indian reservations don't count, although some visit them anyway. Parishes do count, as do independent cities.
Between the 1930s and 1970s, employees at Merriam-Webster created a massive "backward index." It was a card catalog, containing all the words in its dictionary typed backwards. It eventually included around 315,000 index cards.
The reason for creating this thing was to allow the company to find words with similar endings. Such as all words ending in 'ological'. It also helped them create a rhyming dictionary.
Computers made the backward index obsolete, but it still sits in the basement of the company's headquarters.
In 1994, Jennifer Bornstein appeared on a local LA cable access program that featured ordinary people and their collections. Bornstein showed off her collection of zip-lock bags, coffee bar merchandise, fast-food containers, potato chips, and breath mints. She had carefully framed and archived all of it.
It would have been funnier if it was a genuine collection, but I think it was actually intended as an artistic statement on how "any worthless mass-market products can be turned into coveted objects via absurd relations and vice versa" (according to Kadist.org). So she was essentially pranking the show.
Although she looks quite young in the pictures, Bornstein was at the time a 24-year-old grad student at UCLA. And she's still an LA-based artist.
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
Who We Are
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.