Customers starved for attention

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Cafe Ke'ilu ("Cafe Make Believe") opened in a trendy section of Tel Aviv, Israel, in April, with tables, chairs, plates, silverware, menus and servers, but no food or drink. Explained manager Nir Caspi (who calls the experience "conceptual dining"), people come to be seen and to meet people but not for the food. The menu, designed by top-rated chef (and owner) Phillipe Kaufman, lets diners order some of the world's most exquisite dishes "served" on elegant (but empty) platters.

Maternal in stink

An April Associated Press story from Decatur, Ala., reported on the severely reclusive mother and daughter, Evelyn and Marilyn Arnold, who died of natural causes within a week of each other in December. According to neighbors and relatives, Evelyn, 85, controlled every aspect of Marilyn's life, which may have deprived the daughter of the ability to survive after Evelyn's death. Among the pair's idiosyncrasies: Marilyn's abject fear of the telephone; Evelyn's need to record in a notebook every wrong-number telephone call she ever got; their disregarding the bathtub because they feared the previous owner's germs; and their use of a bucket instead of the toilet, even though the plumbing worked fine.

Open-and-shut case

In March, after four hours of questioning and waiting, police in Springfield, Ill., gave up and got a search warrant for the mouth of Mr. Eunice Husband, 27. Husband had stuffed three marble-size bags of crack cocaine in his mouth and refused to open up, though he continued to talk to officers through his clenched teeth. After getting the warrant, police took Husband to a hospital, where he was sedated and the bags removed.

Free expression

As the U.S.-Iraqi conflict heated up in February, two members of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors attempted to revive the pacifist sect's tradition of protest in Burnaby, British Columbia. They went on a 25-day hunger strike in jail, where they are serving two-year sentences for setting fires to their own homes, which they said Doukhobors frequently do to demonstrate sacrifice against long-standing evils, including taxation and public education. The other hallmark of Doukhobor protests is frequent public nudity, which it says shows a rejection of wealth and status.

Court defiling

Charles Collins III was indicted in Albany, N.Y., in April for his January protest at the state Court of Appeals building over a child custody case. Shortly before dawn, according to the indictment, he hooked a spray gun to a 55-gallon drum of chicken manure and covered the front of the building.

Alcoholic rage

According to a Chronicle of Higher Education roundup in May, students in at least six colleges in recent months have engaged in violent protests "not seen since the Vietnam war," involving attacks on local police over their "right" to drink in violation of local laws, including drinking even though underage. In all, more than 3,000 students participated at Michigan State, Washington State, University of Connecticut, University of Tennessee at Martin, Ohio University and Plymouth State (N.H.).

Out on a limb

In April, indictments were returned against New York City inmates Hector Muniz, Carlos Martinez and Troy Jennings for their alleged get-rich scheme at Rikers Island prison. Authorities said Muniz, who had a day job on the outside, smuggled a gun inside so that, at Jennings' direction, Martinez could shoot Jennings in the leg, which he did. The plan was that Jennings would sue the city for "millions" for negligence in allowing the gun inside and insist on the release of all three men as a condition of settlement.

Rhyme schemes

The latest British company to hire a poet-in-residence is the London Zoo. According to director-general Richard Burge, the poet's jobs will include writing guides in rhyme for visitors and "helping to interpret the lives of the animals." News of the Weird reported earlier this year that the large department store Marks & Spencer had hired a poet two days a week, and since then, the British Broadcasting Corp. and a professional soccer team have hired poets (although the soccer team is still in last place in the Premier League).

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