News of the Weird
In July, Birmingham, England, office worker Beverley Lancaster, 44, won about $110,000 in damages from the city because of job-related stress based on her having been promoted to a better job against her will. Lancaster testified that the city insisted she take the higher-paying job, for which she was not qualified, by offering her extra training, which she said it did not deliver, causing her to become severely depressed.
In June, according to a New York Times feature on the decline of urban male sexuality, author Michael Segell said he found various New York City men who practiced what he called "sexual payback" (seducing a woman but then, on the verge of intercourse, abruptly becoming disinterested), or, as one man in a Segell focus group put it, "The only thing that's more enjoyable than having sex is making a girl want it and not giving it to her." Segell called this a passive-aggressive response to women's increasing sexual power.
In May, "installation artist" Cosimo Cavallaro outfitted Room 114 of the Washington Jefferson Hotel in New York City in a cheese motif, using a half-ton of various types from Muenster to Swiss, melted. His only explanation was that his family owned a cheese shop in Canada and that he remembers the rush of liberation he got one day by plastering his father's old armchair in mozzarella. Said former gallery owner Jules Feiler, "When I first talked to him, I thought he was just another in a series of nuts that have entered my life."
From a press release on a June San Francisco exhibit by Yukinori Yanagi, who built a giant ant farm in which sand was intricately dyed to create a finely detailed, 15-panel image of a large $1 bill visible through the glass and which the ants would redesign by moving the sand around: "(Yanagi's work) is a dialog about the fluency of boundaries in the 20th century and the dissemination of cultures through the expanding notions of globalism."
At an April show in San Francisco, performance artist Zhang Huan was to "explore the physical and psychological effects of human violence in modern society" by spreading puree of hot dogs on his naked posterior as he lay face down on a cypress branch and permitting eight dogs to enter the room. Immediately, one dog, Hercules, bit Zhang on the butt, drawing blood and causing the show to be suspended.
I Have My Rights!
In April, Geraldine Batell filed a complaint against the American Stage in St. Petersburg, Florida, because the characters in the Noel Coward play Private Lives were puffing cigarettes (as they were supposed to do), causing smoke to waft to her second-row seat and, she said, violating Florida's Clean Indoor Air Act. And in February, Matthew and Amanda Parrish of Centerville, Utah, filed a lawsuit against their downstairs condominium neighbor because they could somehow smell his smoke when he lit up inside his own apartment. (The local American Cancer Society said it would not support the Parrishes' lawsuit.)
By Chuck Shepherd
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