Weird, Wild Stuff

One of the best things about the media these days is that there is no shortage of material, and the news cycle in 2022 has manifested some of the most daffy detritus ever documented by humans living or dead, or both. Here, in this column, we offer you only the choicest AF nubbins of news, and the hardest part of the job is simply deciding what makes the cut.

As you can imagine, the workflow of a particular task depends on the nature of the task itself. In this case, as interesting items pop up, I send them to myself on Facebook and then, as the deadline approaches, I go back through them to see what stands out, what patterns may form, or even what patterns I can create out of thin air, just to advance the narrative. Sometimes, some things happen that are truly, exceptionally weird in some fresh new way, but more often it’s variations on themes, ironic juxtapositions, etc.

Despite our best efforts, it’s hard to describe this stuff succinctly while still doing justice to the spirit of the story. We want it to be funny, not mean. Many of these stories involve crimes, but hopefully nothing done with ill intent, no harm, no foul, etc. You will usually see four or five stories mentioned in each column, but that’s just a small percentage of what gets got each month, and man, it sucks having to skip over some of this stuff. (It was even worse when I was hosting trivia nights earlier this year because that only encouraged me.)

Last month’s column was written on June 30, a week earlier than usual, owing to the July 4 holiday, and wasn’t that weird, too? The column you’re reading now was written on Aug. 5. Here follows just some of the many morsels of LOL fodder to accumulate in just the past month.

Drunken rideshare drivers? Typical. Pro athletes using excessive force against the police? Boring. Planes landing on the highway, cars on roofs, idiots trying to rob people, only to end up being robbed by their intended victim? None of that is particularly noteworthy, but this is…

July 2: A 50-year-old man took police on a super-slow-speed chase through Branford, just 85 miles southwest of Jax, a chase that continued into the river, where his shorts fell off. He tried to swim away, but was eventually taken into custody, very carefully.

July 2: Climate activists representing Just Stop Oil literally glued their hands to the frame of Van Gogh’s 1889 painting “Peach Trees In Blossom” at the Courtauld Gallery in London. It was the summer’s second major glue-based political action, after actor James Cromwell, whose face you will instantly recognize, glued himself to the counter of a Starbucks in midtown Manhattan, in protest of price increases for nut-milks.

July 7: A glitch in the Doordash app allowed customers to briefly order food for free, and the internet abused it for all it was worth. One customer even exploited the glitch by adding a $21 million tip on their order. This didn’t work, but hundreds if not thousands of people did eat free that night, and there is no sign of retaliation by the DoorDash, which ate the losses on behalf of the restaurants. Of course, they will probably be flagged and dealt with later.

July 8: Speaking of food, Orlando Sentinel featured one of my favorite new businesses: Sean Ferrarro of Madison Avenue Pizza in Dunedin had the genius idea to start servicing water-sport aficionada using his own boat, selling to other boats, islands, sandbars and sometimes just random people swimming by. By making the pizzas at the restaurant in advance, he’s able to sell upwards of 50 pizzas

a day—brilliant. He takes cash and/or debit cards, but accepts no shells of any kind.

July 9: I’ve never heard of the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada, but apparently it’s lit, fam. The janitor was arrested after police found a pistol, three handguns, an AK-47, a cache of ammo, knives and a taser in a storage room, along with weed tokes and a reefer bong. But even more alarming, they also found his wife, who was a manager there, along with their two toddlers; they had all been living there after falling on hard times. The couple was fired, and that sucks, because they’ve given the place more publicity than it’s ever had.

July 11: A tourist (of course he was American) cheated death after falling while taking a vacation selfie. That is always dangerous, especially if you’re standing on the edge of goddam Mount Vesuvius, which he was, illegally. He dropped his phone into the crater, then went in for it, and fell even deeper. I don’t know if he found the phone, but I hope it was taken away.

July 25: A young boy in Moscow was playing chess against a robot but failed to move his hand fast enough, so the robot broke his finger. Also, a preacher in New York was robbed of $1 million in jewelry by armed robbers, while in the middle of a sermon, and the whole thing went down on the church’s livestream.

July 26: About $700,000 worth of jewelry, stolen from a safe, was pilfered from a parked car downtown at the Doubletree lot, by a Major League Baseball star on a rehab gig with our Jumbo Shrimp. It was of many vehicles violated by the same prolific pilferer, whose exploits were detailed just now, while writing the two sentences directly above. (Also, some dame was arrested for menacing people with a pitchfork at a Publix in Clearwater, but that is positively quotidian, by the lofty standards of #FloridaWoman, America’s true sweetheart.)

July 29: Everyone loves a good excuse to skip work, but an 18-year-old girl in Chicago had one of the worst ideas ever when she faked a mass-shooting threat (with anonymous texts, a fake Facebook account, etc.) in order to bypass her job working security at Lollapalooza.

August 3: Alberto Nonino saw his promising track career curtailed, briefly, after finishing last in a 400-meter  event in Cali, Colombia (where they take sports even more seriously than we do in #Florida), because his penis kept falling out of his shorts, on national television.

Please, bear in mind that this month’s selection is, in terms of both sheer volume and utter lunacy, not at all unusual. But as summer 2022 winds down, you can be absolutely certain that something will happen that’s so crazy, it eclipses everything else we’ve seen this year. Let’s all cross our fingers and pray none of us are there to see it in person, whatever it is.

About Shelton Hull

Shelton Hull has been writing for Folio Weekly since 1997, but his resume goes back even further. He has written for almost every newspaper, magazine and zine in Northeast Florida, as well as publications like Orlando Weekly, Narrow GNV, Creative Loafing Tampa, Charleston City Paper, Ink19 and The Atlantic. He currently writes the "Folio Weed" column, which he created in 2018; he remains one of the widest-read and most influential cannabis writers in the world today. He also compiles material for "Weird Wild Stuff" column, and he previously wrote the legendary "Money Jungle" column for Folio Weekly from 1999 to 2009. He is a regular contributor to "First Coast Connect" on WJCT, as well as the Jacksonville Music Experience. He is a co-host of "The Contrast Project" and the "Bold City Civics" podcast. He is also a co-founder of the record label Bold City Music Productions. He can be reached at [email protected]