That Was The Weird Year That Was
A big shout-out to the Associated Press and other Florida newspapers for this summary of weird news from 2019. Keep being weird, Florida.
In 2019, Florida Banana managed to eclipse Florida Man.
From alligator antics to naked people doing wacky things, Florida did not disappoint in the weird news department.
In December, a Miami couple spent more than $100,000 on the “unicorn of the art world” — a banana duct-taped to a wall — during the Art Basel show in Miami. The piece was widely copied and mocked on social media, and then someone at the art fair ripped it off the wall and ate it.
Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan sold three editions of the piece he called the “Comedian,” each in the $120,000 to $150,000 range.
“We are acutely aware of the blatant absurdity of the fact that Comedian is an otherwise inexpensive and perishable piece of produce and a couple of inches of duct tape,” one couple that purchased the banana said. “Ultimately we sense that Cattelan’s banana will become an iconic historical object.”
As they often do, alligators topped the list of odd stories in 2019. Perhaps the most visually interesting happened in October, when Paul Bedard, s contractor with the state’s nuisance alligator program, responded to a call of a gator in a swimming pool in Parkland. Bedard “played” with the 8-foot long reptile until it became tired. Then he lifted it out of the water and held it over his head for a photo.
“I haven’t had a good-sized gator in a swimming pool in probably a year, so I was kind of looking forward to this when I got the call,” he said. He said the alligator was moved to a wildlife park.
Humans tangled with gators in a multitude of other ways. One reptile bumped on a woman’s door the night before Thanksgiving in Fort Myers. In Martin County, two men poured Coors beer into an alligator’s mouth. They were arrested.
In other animal news: Alligators weren’t the only animals making headlines in Florida. In August, a restaurant in Stuart canceled its “Monkey Mondays” when a 9-month-old capuchin named JoJo bit a child’s finger. Also in August, a Lake Worth Beach man began feeding a kinkajou (a raccoon relative with a prehensile tail that’s native to Central and South America), but one day, it attacked his leg. “It was not a nice kinkajou. It was super aggressive,” the man’s girlfriend told The Palm Beach Post.
And a Labrador retriever somehow got behind the wheel of a car and did doughnuts in Port St. Lucie.
How do your protect your belongings in foul weather? Patrick Eldridge of Jacksonville parked his tiny Smart Car in his kitchen because he was worried it would blow away during Hurricane Dorian.
The owners of a Port Orange funeral home gave away a free cremation as part of its grand reopening. A toilet exploded in Port Charlotte (reported elsewhere in The Strange Files) when lightning struck the home’s septic tank. No one was injured, and homeowner Marylou Ward expressed relief: “I’m just glad none of us were on the toilet.”
Folks attacked one another with all manner of items, including (but not limited to): pancake batter, Pop-Tarts, a fake Christmas tree, swords, McDonald’s condiment packets and roach spray.
In Port Richey, two mayors were arrested in the span of 20 days — one on charges of obstruction of justice; the other, on allegations he was practicing medicine without a license in his home.
A number of people were nude, or partially nude, when they made the news. In Polk County in December, a Florida man was “buck naked” when he showed up to the front door of a home where an undercover sex sting operation was being conducted, sheriff’s officials said.
A naked Florida man burglarized an elementary school in Apopka and spread feces throughout the building. Police chased a lot of naked people through parking lots, swamps and stores. And in Miami in March, motorists captured on camera a nearly nude man wearing hot pink socks, sneakers, skimpy underwear and a pink headband, bicycling backwards down I-95.