“Aliens dressed as Elvis abduct nun.”
Ha! Read it didn’t you?
This is what’s known in the news business as the “silly season.” July and August are the months when (usually) not a lot of real news happens, and the columns are filled with “items” that normally would not make it into print.
Typically, Congress and most state legislatures recess during the summer months, and newshounds find themselves writing up some pretty bizarre tales in an effort to keep the ads from banging into each other. If you own a two-headed turtle, this is the time to seek your 15 minutes of fame.
It’s a shame, really, because these are often the best-read and most appealing stories available. When we post a story about Catherine Kieu, the Garden Grove woman convicted of cutting off her husband’s manhood and running it through the garbage disposal, the hits on the ggjournal.com website spike up, so to speak.
Years ago, when we ran a front-page story about Nicole Brown Simpson (a former G.G. resident) who was murdered by someone who may or may not have been a famous USC football star, every single copy was snatched up by readers.
So, clearly, the more lurid, bizarre, off-the-wall the story, the more appeal it has to many readers. and every journalist has his or her share of head-scratchers that make readers say “what were they thinking?”
My favorite involves a man who robbed a Westminster pharmacy. He walked in wearing a paper bag (with holes for his eyes and mouth) on his head and demanded money and drugs. When the clerk complied, the bandit decided he needed something to carry his loot in, so he pulled off his “mask” and used it as a satchel.
This genius then proceeded to hop on his motorcycle and put the bag behind him. But he soon noticed that the perforated sack was leaking drugs and cash all over Westminster Boulevard. When he turned his head to take a better look at that mishap, he also turned the handlebars on the bike, which meant the bike tumbled and flipped, sending him flying in the air. He landed, somewhat worse for the wear, 50 yards or so, down the street.
Police (who were headquartered about a quarter-mile away) and paramedics arrived and scraped the miscreant off the pavement. The cops estimate they were able to recover only about a third of the money reported taken because, you guessed, innocent bystanders failed to resist temptation and stuffed many dead presidents into their pockets and purses.
Crooks are usually the richest source of Stupid Human Tricks, because the very act of committing a crime is an act with such a poor cost/benefit ratio it is only undertaken (usually) by the flawed.
Case in point. A Garden Grove building burns to the ground. Investigators determine that it was arson committed for insurance money and arrest the owner.
Out on bail, this nimrod shows up at a meeting of the city council asking for the right to reconstruct the structure under the old, outdated building codes.
Advised that an exception would be made only when a building is destroyed by “the public enemy,” our Einstein tells the city attorney, “Well, aren’t I the public enemy?”
In Huntington Beach, a man is burglarizing a house one night. Almost done, he spots a kids’ piggy bank. He tries to pick it up, but finds that the kid has apparently nailed it to the bureau. Our burglar then proceeds to noisily try to pry the pig from its surface, an act accompanied by much banging and profanity.
The guy is so loud, in fact, that the neighbors are alerted, police are summoned and the man arrested. The HBPD gleefully inform the press that there was less than $7 inside the metal porker. Obviously a treasure worth going to state prison for.
Not all the silly season stories involve crooks, of course. There was the dog that climbed trees (really, an acrobatic German shepherd who could shinny up a tree like Bill Clinton eating a donut) and the elderly man who reported a “biker gang” terrorizing his neighborhood, which turned out to be a bunch of grade school kids riding those plastic “Big Wheel” tricycles.
That last one sort of made a bunch of sense. If you want to cops to show up and listen to your complaint, doesn’t “biker gang” sound more urgent than cheeky boys with noisy toys?
If not, the guy could have reported a UFO sighting. It might have worked, if it was during the silly season.