A Final Note from Chuck


(1) It took a while, but I believe I'm up to date (so far) on the notes of kindness y'all have sent over the past two weeks. It was especially moving to have heard from those who had hung with NotW for much of the entire run. In fact, I feel much worse, in some ways, because the high-IQ reader base was so affable, yet I was so, umm, uncommunicative. Should've had more pen pals. Missed opportunities. I'm very sorry. (Plus, if I had imagined how warmly you regarded NotW, I could've saved a lot on those pesky co-pays for SSRIs.)

(2) However, I must-must acknowledge the people most instrumental in helping NotW through the years, even though I'm already sad at having to leave out so many others--not even counting the more than 300 acknowledged by name in my five NotW paperbacks (published during 1988-1996) nor the 27 who finished out serving on my Board of Editorial Advisors. But I could not possibly have done NotW, especially early on, without the help of novelist Paul DiFilippo of Providence, R.I. ("Stand back--I'm about to clip weird news"), Barbara McDonald of Columbia, Mo., Myra Linden in Albuquerque, Jim Sweeney in Washington, D.C., and the professor Paul Music in Oklahoma. Also, Geoff Egan of Edmonton, Alberta, Chip Rogers of Athens, Ohio, Ivan Katz in New Haven, the great Kenneth Anger, his protegee Barbara Tyger, my paperback co-authors John J. Kohut and the late Roland Sweet, and the wordsmith Christine Van Lenten. Universal UClick editor Sue Roush saved my kiester on numerous occasions. The savant-journalist Jack Shafer midwifed the column. News of the Weird's DNA was shaped and formed by the 1970's-era sage, Bob Maslow.

(3) A brief history:

When I worked for the feds in the 1970s in Washington, D.C., I had (like many people) an office door that "branded" me cool--taped clippings of "weird" news from the daily papers. My brand also included Gary Larson's "The Far Side" and Hustler's Dwaine Tinsley, with a bit of The New Yorker's Jack Ziegler and Playboy's Gahan Wilson. So--what if I collected these clippings, offset-printed them, and sent them out, several times a year (violating all sorts of copyrights), to my cultivated list of (far too many) acquaintances and colleagues?

The result was a "zine" (View from the Ledge), which eventually caught on big-time. The Atlantic Monthly profiled me (as did lesser-gods of media), and the local alternative newsweekly (Washington's City Paper) syndicated me to others. Then, big-time hit: I signed on with top-of-the-line Universal Press Syndicate (which, synchronicically, also syndicated "The Far Side," thus making me a "colleague" of Gary Larson!).

A "weird news era" had earlier been created by the National Lampoon True Facts--but with the departure of its creator, P. J. O'Rourke, it was foundering, and, in 1988, in stepped News of the Weird. Yr Editor was in demand--TV, magazines, newspapers, radio, everybody!

However, initial greetings were ominous. Matt Groening, in his 'toon "Life in Hell," listed "weird" as one of the "forbidden words" of 1991; in 1993, Jay Leno debuted "Headlines" on "The Tonight Show"; and that same year, Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband's schlong . . . which had been done by others before, of course, but not within the news-service area of the Pulitzer-celebrated Washington Post, which made it front page news and gave cover to a thousand daily newspapers previously timid about "penis" stories above the fold. Thus, "weird news," or at least underground "weird news," died in 1993. After that--mainstream! Along came the Internet--Fark.com, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and who knows what's next.

Fortunately, I (thanks to Universal Press Syndicate) had quite a few clients who had become accustomed to having News of the Weird in their pages, and I continued to make a nice living off of it (and would have, longer)--except I ran out of brain cells and now "retire" at age 72 . . . to live in Florida, where I aspire, of course, to keep out of the way of the many left-tail'ers who live here--avoiding them long enough to proudly depart this life on the very day that the Atlantic and the Gulf swallow the state! Yes!

weirdnews at earthlink dot net (through 2017); P. O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 (permanent)
     Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jul 02, 2017

Thank you, Chuck, for all you've done. Your work has been a weekly staple of amusement and bemusement for myself, as with so many others, for years.

I hope we hear from you again on occasion, but I hope we don't hear of you anytime soon, particularly not in a piece that begins "Former weird news columnist Chuck Shepherd died today in a freak accident, when he was struck by a flying giraffe..."

Enjoy your retirement.


Posted by Justin S. on 07/02/17 at 02:24 PM
Chuck, thanks for a long run of humor, head shaking, a deeper appreciation of what an amusingly odd world we live in and an innate distrust of people whose middle name is "Wayne".

Enjoy the retirement, you've earned it.
Posted by PupTentacle on 07/02/17 at 05:00 PM
Chuck, you have my eternal gratitude for all your gatherings of weirdness. Enjoy your retirement. I am retired at 70, and having spent most of my life in the Tampa Bay area, am much happier 3500 miles away in Oregon. A different kind of weird here, and it's also far from Trump country. Added bonus, I don't sweat near as much.
Posted by Muddyvalley on 07/02/17 at 05:08 PM
An idea I would find super interesting: for people like me who discovered WU very late (about 1y ago), why don't you "rewind" the newsletter into an automatic system that would resend it from the first edition on, over whatever period of time it originally ran? This is not particularly time sensitive content, and there should be a system allowing you to send the newsletter onto some kind of infinite loop. I would sure subscribe and be super happy to see the content, then when the "loop" reaches when I joined I'd unsub. I'm sure a lot of people would love to still get one weird news a day! And then the emails could be signed by a robot bearing your name and you'd reach some kind of cyber-immortality that is philosophically very interesting 😉 !
Posted by Laurent Haug on 07/03/17 at 08:31 AM
Thank you!
You have the knack of putting colour into this sometimes drab black and white world.

@Laurent: Stupidity and bad luck have no 'Expiry Date'.
Posted by BMN on 07/03/17 at 12:54 PM
To Florida, eh? Do make sure, Chuck, that we don't find you in NotW soon!
Posted by Richard Bos on 07/04/17 at 01:00 AM
We all retire at some point or another to do something else. I used to post printed copies of NOW on my office door in the governmental office and often had a following who would arrive to read it. One of my clueless bosses demanded I take it down because it was false. I simply reminded him the truth is often stranger then fiction and he need to check the sources. Perhaps you need to start finding weird stories on our current countries Great Beloved Leader and engage in a twitter battle. You will drive him mad and he might nuke Florida.

Enjoyed you take on the real world, I'm sure your underlings will continue.

Gator Guy.
Posted by Gator Guy on 07/04/17 at 08:35 AM
I've sent many stories to Chuck over the years, several of which he has included on NOTW. Where can I send them now? Is there some way of getting them posted in WU?
Posted by ges on 07/04/17 at 09:45 AM
Never have I so looked forward to retirement, the way you describe it, Chuck. Definitely going to miss all the weird stuff you found and that's not just News. You were also Music of the Weird, Books of the Weird and Old Ads of the Weird, for which, we will NEVER find a suitable replacement.

All things must come to an end, unless they're in that damned Moebius strip.
Posted by Greg on 07/04/17 at 09:45 AM
From someone with the Classic Middle Name but, as yet, no murders committed (at least, not that I am aware of or recall), thanks for something that has been part of my weekly ritual for many years. I'll miss the NoTW, it was a great run.
Posted by Thomas W. N. on 07/04/17 at 12:21 PM
Enjoy the surroundings! Movin' "down town" to wacky ol Wayneville.
Posted by John the opal finder on 07/05/17 at 12:57 AM
Dear Mr. Shepherd,

I don't know if you will get this or not, but I wanted to thank you for the many years of News of the Weird. I have been amazed and amused by it each week! I am very sad NOTW has come to an end but understand all things must. Thank you, thank you, you have made the world a far more entertaining and astonishing place.

Sandy Warf
Seal Beach, CA
Posted by Sandy Warf on 07/06/17 at 03:07 PM
PeeWee Herman once said, "I don't make monkeys, I just train 'em." Without knowing what that means, it feels an apt description of your influence. Hopefully, all monkeys can continue flying in formation as the years go by, full of wistful remembrance of a column at once insightful and insane; the embodiment of a sad and beautiful world.
Posted by Ribald D. Rappa on 07/06/17 at 03:44 PM
Thanks for your service to your country. Enjoy your retirement...nothing weird in FL!
Posted by Will on 07/13/17 at 06:42 AM
Sorry to hear that you are going Chuck but I do appreciate your weird news and have enjoyed it for so many years. Thank you and good luck in your next stage of life.
Posted by Madd Maxx on 08/12/17 at 06:25 PM
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