The Odd Truth, April 25, 2003

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Goldfish Geezer

SCOTIA, N.Y. - A 17-year-old goldfish can swim again, thanks to a bunch of do-gooding humans.

Customers at the Sky Port diner near Schenectady came up with the idea of a creating a fish sling after Dick the goldfish fell ill in November and had difficulty swimming.

Patty Sherman, who owns the diner with her two sisters, Joanna Dewey and Mary Ann Parker, said Dick could barely move across the bottom of his fish tank located behind the counter.

A customer whose daughter is studying to be a veterinarian had his daughter research fish ailments. She reported back that Dick was likely suffering from swim bladder disease and prescribed a diet of cooked peas to be hand fed to Dick three times a day, Sherman said.

To remedy Dick's swimming problem, several customers devised a sling made up of fishing bobbers, drinking straws, gauze and string. When the 8-inch-long fish is placed in the sling, he's able to swim like normal.

Sherman said customers find it relaxing to sit at the counter and watch Dick in his tank.

"Everybody's rooting for him," she said Tuesday. "He's the topic of conversation at the Sky Port."

Suing In The Nude

SEATTLE - David Zaitzeff is suing the Seattle Police Department — for the right to let it all hang out. The suit seeks a court order barring police from busting naked people at the Solstice parade in June. He argues nudity is part of the festivities and people watching the parade expect it. Zaitzeff contends that because people wouldn't be shocked by the sight of all those bare bodies, the indecent exposure law doesn't apply. No comment yet from the Seattle Police Department.

Sex, Lies, And Lots Of Videotape

APPLETON, Wis. - The sex was voluntary — but not the homemade porno. Police in Appleton, Wisconsin, accuse Cecil Lewis of using a hidden video camera to record his sexual liaisons with dozens of women. Police say he secretly taped at least 50 women as they had sex with him. A police spokesman says the women met Lewis at local nightclubs. Officers say he was busted after one of the woman discovered the secret taping scheme and alerted authorities. Police are still trying to identify about 20 of the women. Lewis now faces two felony counts under Wisconsin's video voyeur law. He's being held on $75,000 bond.

Eiffel Lighting

PARIS - Question: What can you do with 25 mountain climbers and technicians, 20,000 light bulbs and about 25 miles of illuminated garlands?

Answer: light up the Eiffel Tower like a Christmas tree.

The tower's millennium lighting show that ran for 18 months until July 2001 was so spectacular that officials are bringing it back for 10 years, beginning this summer.

The project is massive.

Since February, climbers and technicians have been installing equipment to ready the 1,069-foot tower for its nightly light show, tower officials said Thursday.

Workers attached about 25 miles of garland to the tower's four sides, top to bottom. Their last step will be to screw on 20,000 sparkling lights by hand.

The display, at a cost of $5 million, will flash during the first ten minutes of each hour from nightfall until 2 a.m. in the summer and 1 a.m. in the winter. The work is expected to be finished by late June or early July.

Parking Ticket, Interrupted

LOS ANGELES - A 23-year-old Marine who had an outstanding parking ticket but couldn't pay it because he was fighting in Iraq has been cleared of the infraction, city officials said.

Brad Gaumont, a corporal from Saco, Maine, didn't bring his checkbook with him overseas but got a notice in his mail that said his overdue fine had increased from $45 to $100.

"Mom, I'm in kind of a bind here," he wrote home. "Can you tell them I'll pay for the ticket when I get back to the U.S.?"

Gaumont feared that nonpayment would hurt his chances to become a police officer. On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Mayor James Hahn's office said the ticket was forgiven and a confirmation letter is on the way.

"The Department of Transportation and the city decided that it was not handled in the manner consistent with the expectation of service," spokeswoman Angie Levine said.

Frozen In Time

BILLINGS, Mon. - It's a moment frozen in time — in the form of a long-closed grocery store. A Billings, Montana, auction house is selling the contents of the Fifth Avenue Grocery from the town of Roundup. The store closed in 1952, and the stuff has been locked away ever since. The items going on the auction block include an antique Coca-Cola display still in its wrapper and a souvenir scorecard from the 1929 World Series. The owners of the store have died and left most of their estate to charity. The Longhorn Auction Center says proceeds from the sale will benefit the Missionaries Charity founded by Mother Teresa.