Saturday, October 24, 2009

Our Weird American Cousin

When it comes to news of the weird, the BBC tends to draw upon its own "sceptered isle" and its abundance of British eccentrics from obscure little villages. Every now and then, however, they have to admit that our country can outdo all of their local talent. This was certainly the case for a story released on the BBC NEWS Web site this morning:

Police in the US state of Minnesota are planning to auction off a specially modified and motorised lounge chair whose owner crashed it while drunk.

Dennis LeRoy Anderson, 62, pleaded guilty last Monday to driving the La-Z-Boy while drunk in August last year.

The chair was impounded after he smashed into a parked car as he returned from a bar in Proctor.

The chair comes with a stereo, nitrous oxide booster, parachute and a "hell yeah it's fast" sticker.

Local police chief Walter Wobig told Agence France-Presse news agency the chair would be posted on eBay next week with no reserve price.

Minnesota police can auction off vehicles seized in drink-drive cases or keep them for official use.

The blue and black chair's other attractions include headlights and a steering wheel in the style of a drag-racer. It can reach up to 20mph (32km/h) with its lawnmower-powered engine.

Mr Anderson, who was not badly injured in the accident, was found to have three times the legal limit when arrested. He said he had drunk eight or nine beers.

Mr Anderson was sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended pending two years of probation.

The only problem I can see is that the author of this report failed to appreciate the geography of the situation. According to the map provided on the Web page, Proctor is significantly north of Minneapolis, right on the westernmost tip of Lake Superior. Thus, while trying to be thorough about all of this chair's features, the reporter neglected to mention whether or not it comes with a set of custom-made tire chains!

I was also amused that the police chief was interviewed by Agence France-Presse. For all I know, this was the only interview he gave. When other reporters approached the press liaison officer for the Proctor Police Department, they were all greeted with the same terse message, "Wobig gone!"

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