Silly season is over, and now it’s the Season of the Weird


It was the late, great Hunter S. Thompson who observed that “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

And these days, it looks like we’ve got a whole passel of people looking to shed their amateur rags and exchange them for the flashy professional variety.

We have definitely entered the weird zone, people. For starters, I give you Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican and avowed prolifer, who recently suggested that the top executives of AIG ought to follow the Japanese tradition among Samurai who have failed their masters and commit seppuku, a ritual form of suicide that involves disembowelment.

I’ll let the weird senator speak for himself:

“The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them [is] if they would follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide,” Grassley told WMT radio, a station in his home state.

AIG has received about $180 billion of your tax dollars in bailout money and has been on the hot seat for giving out $165 million of that money in bonuses to company executives.

Wow, Senator, that’s curious coming from a pro-lifer. And pro-level weird.

As angry as I am about that $165 million in bonus money, it looks like we may get most of it back, since the House of Representatives last week approved a bill that would tax 90 percent of the bonuses.

But this whole bonus business has only served to distract the nation’s attention from where the rest of the $4.6165 trillion in bailout money is going. If people really want to get their shorts in a knot, they ought to start asking why so much of the bailout money went to companies who owed millions in back taxes. There was a story by The Associated Press last week that said 13 companies that received billions in bailout money owed more than $200 million in federal taxes. Two of those companies owed more than $100 million each, some of it going back to 2004.

So, are they going to use their bailout money to pay their taxes, or will that just be another bitter pill for taxpayers to swallow?

You tell me. My guess is that those companies will never pay their back taxes, but I could be wrong.

• • •

And while we’re in the weird zone, did you read the stories last week about New Jersey — the Nanny State — almost becoming the only state in the nation to prohibit salons from performing Brazilian waxes?

According to another Associate Press story, the state Board of Cosmetology and Hairstylingwas close to imposing a ban on genital waxing after two women reported being injured after getting Brazilian waxes at a local salon. After getting their waxes, the women were both hospitalized with infections, and one of them has filed a lawsuit. I’m not an expert on this, but it’s my understanding that a Brazilian wax is a lot more thorough than your runof the-mill bikini wax.

So of course, in the Nanny State, they thought they’d just outlaw the practice altogether. Then, late in the week, they came to their senses and said they’d think about it for a while before doing anything rash (Note to the humor impaired, that was a joke).

Good idea. Who would have enforced this ban? Would there be undercover cops lurking around salons to make sure that no illegal waxing is taking place? Would women have to start getting their waxes in back alleys? And if they start doing them at home, wouldn’t there be a whole lot more injuries? We’re talking hot wax here, after all, and if you think a cup of hot coffee burns if you spill it in your lap, you can imagine what a quart of boiling wax would do. It boggles the imagination. And doesn’t the rest of the country make enough fun of us already?

Now that they’ve come to their senses, we’ll miss the first “Live at Five” news segment of the perp walking out of a salon that was just busted. All those renegade women walking out (gingerly, because I’m told a Brazilian wax stings) with their coats over their heads so their neighbors won’t know they’ve been arrested for illegal waxing.

Come on, that would have been weird.

• • •

And in the area of personal weirdness, I wrote a few weeks ago about my home being invaded by brown marmorated stink bugs, and noted that this exotic bug is new to New Jersey, and Rutgers University is studying them. I heard from Rutgers after that column, and they say they’d like me to mail them a few of the bugs. They say empty pill bottles and film containers are good for that.

But I won’t be mailing any bugs to Rutgers. Can you imagine what the guys at the post office would say if the envelope opened and a pill bottle full of bugs dropped out? They’d probably call in a Homeland Security SWAT team.

Turns out my house was not the only one invaded, though. I heard from several readers who are beset by these noxious critters.

Here’s Susan: “Holy crap, you hit the nail on the head. I have been fighting those stink bugs for two years now. I hate them. I am in Freehold and I just had my siding redone and let me tell you, there was massive amounts of those bugs around my upstairs windows under the siding. Last year I found them on my pillow. I find them everywhere. There is no spray that kills them off and they are year-round bugs. So, rest assured, your house is not the only one. If you ever find out what can get rid of them for good, please let me know. Keep up the great stories and I’ll be reading.”

And Joyce: “Don’t imagine that you are the only lucky homeowner to host these things. I can boast a small collection of about 20 preserved in alcohol (the rubbing kind) in a medicine bottle. I was able to scoop them up and dump them in the bottle. I may send them to Rutgers, but I doubt they will even pay the postage.”

Well, they won’t pay the postage, Joyce. And if you mail them, put a lot of packing tape around the envelope so it doesn’t pop open in transit. Those SWAT guys have no sense of humor.

Gregory Bean is the former executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers. You can reach him at