TIME Crime

Mystery White Flags on Brooklyn Bridge Provoke Social Media Frenzy

"We will not surrender"

The New York Police Department has removed a pair of white flags that mysteriously replaced the American stars and stripes on top of the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday morning.

While the unexplained security breach is under investigation by police, the incident has incited a slew of social media confusion and some conspiracy theories.

Has Brooklyn surrendered?

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams issued a statement that no, “We will not surrender our public safety to anyone, at any time.”

Were the flags in question actually American flags that had been whitewashed? Oren Yaniv of the Daily News said yes:

Even more suspiciously still, the police folded the flags in a ceremonial manner after taking them down:

While Adams is approaching the confusing stunt very seriously — “If flying a white flag atop the Brooklyn Bridge is someone’s idea of a joke, I’m not laughing. The public safety of our city is of paramount importance, particularly our landmarks and bridges that are already known to be high-risk targets.” — others online are taking a lighter approach.

It’s a marketing stunt for a little-remembered British singer of the 1990s:

Some thought it was a message from the borough on the other side of the bridge:

Others speculated what Brooklyn might be giving in to:

If it helps, public officials aren’t sure either. In the words of an NYPD Deputy Commission for Public Information officer to Business Insider, “We don’t know anything.”

TIME

George Harrison Memorial Tree Destroyed by Beetles

Peter Carrette Archive Collection
Musician and former member of 'The Beatles' George Harrison attends a press conference to launch the new book by Derek Taylor 'Fifty Years Adrift' at the Sydney Opera House on November 30, 1984 Peter Carrette Archive—Getty Images

Much to the delight of wordplay fans

In a terrible case of irony, a tree planted in memory of Beatles guitarist George Harrison in Los Angeles has been destroyed by literal beetles.

The pine tree was planted in Griffith Park in 2004 in honor of the musician and avid gardener, who resided in LA at the end of his life.

But don’t fret. According to the LA Times, “Except for the loss of tree life, Harrison likely would have been amused at the irony. He once said his biggest break in life was getting into the Beatles; his second biggest was getting out.”

No date has been set for the replanting of a new memorial tree.

[LA Times]

TIME Bizarre

3,000 Ping Pong Balls Accidentally Rain onto a Highway

Getty Images

They were supposed to be dropped on a waiting crowd

As video of hail the size of golf balls pelting a Siberian beach goes viral, 3,000 ping pong balls have pelted a highway in Idaho, the Associated Press reports via the Idaho State Journal.

A pilot was supposed to drop them over a crowd, but accidentally missed.

The ping pong balls were supposed to be redeemable for candy and $100 gift cards during an event called Blackfoot Pride Days, a periodic celebration of local pride.

The good news is that prizes were reportedly passed out anyway despite the mishap.

TIME Bizarre

This Shakespearean Statue Looks Exactly Like Ron Swanson

We're gonna just go ahead and keep believing it's Ron Swanson, actually

At Philly’s Walnut Street Theatre, you can find a marble statue that resembles Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman, known for playing the ultra-masculine, ultra-meat loving Ron Swanson. Behold:

As MTV News points out, this statue was actually erected in honor of Shakespearean actor Edwin Forrest, who began his career in 1820. Forrest does have some things in common with Swanson, though: a love of woodworking and a cantankerous demeanor, for example.

At this point, the theatre might as well just give in and tell people it’s Ron Swanson. Just put a plate of bacon and a bottle of whiskey beside it and it’s ready to go.

TIME Bizarre

Body Falls Out of a Coroner’s Car in the Middle of Traffic

“I thought someone was playing a prank," a local resident of Feasterville, Pa. said

Among the hazards to watch out for while driving in Pennsylvania: random dead bodies.

A corpse fell out of the back door of a coroner’s van and into the middle of traffic Friday following a car malfunction, according to the Bucks County Coroner’s Office. The unidentified driver was near a shopping center in Feasterville, Pa. on the way to the coroner’s office when the incident occurred around noon, the Bucks County Courier Times reports.

Local resident Jerry Bradley assisted the driver after he saw the body, which was covered in a body bag on a gurney, while waiting at a traffic light.

“I thought someone was playing a prank. Someone is pranking people,” Bradley told the paper Saturday night. “It was the most bizarre thing I’d ever seen.”

Bradley took a picture of the body in the middle of traffic before helping the driver quickly get it out of the street and back in the vehicle. The picture has been shared more than 1,900 times on Facebook.

“I have to keep going back to look at it to believe it happened,” Bradley said. “I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. If that was my loved one I’d be angry.”

County spokesman Chris Edwards directed questions to Coroner Dr. Joseph Campbell but said “care was taken to respect the deceased individual” in a statement.

“The Bucks County Coroner’s Office deeply regrets this incident and will take steps to ensure that it is not repeated in the future,” he said.

[Courier Times]

TIME Bizarre

Glass Door Knob Starts a House Fire Because Everything Is Terrible

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Getty Images

Sigh

One of the most benign, mundane objects of all time — a doorknob — is being blamed for causing a fire that destroyed part of a bedroom in a home in London.

Because the glass knob was in direct sunlight, it refracted rays onto a nearby robe, which then caught fire, the London Fire Brigade explained in a release. The house was empty at the time and no one was injured, but the room did withstand considerable damage.

Luckily, builders working next door eventually heard the fire alarm before the blaze could spread to the rest of the house. They alerted authorities, who identified the crystal doorknob as the catalyst.

“The focal length from the window was just the right distance and it became the same principle as when you try to set fire to paper with a magnifying glass when you are a child,” Charlie Pugsley, of the London Fire Brigade’s investigations unit, told The Telegraph.

So let this be a lesson: doorknobs are not so benign after all.

TIME Business

Pop Secret Ad Shows What It’s Like When Popcorn Goes to a Rave and Twerks

Warning: You might feel dizzy watching it

Pop Secret’s new ad exposes innocents to a popcorn sub-universe in which kernels pop in a pool of buttery-sweat to the tune of Electronic Dance Music in MicorRaves. (Get it? It’s like a microwave but with ecstasy.)

Adweek has a pretty good assessment of what the pitch meeting for this 60-second video — a promotion for Electric Daisy Carnival — sounded like:

“OK, we need to get millennials to like our popcorn. What are they into? What kind of ad would Miley make? You think we can get the popcorn to twerk?”

And after watching, we feel safe saying that the answer to the twerk question is an unfortunate yes. Given enough MDMA, popcorn can do just about anything.

Sorry, Orville Redenbacher. You might look the part, but your co-opt of the popcorn/rave scene has finally come to an end:

Popcorn King Orville Redenbacher Portrait Session
Popcorn King Orville Redenbacher playfully poses during a 1986 Los Angeles, California portrait session. George Rose—Getty Images

 

TIME Bizarre

A Boy Got Booted from a Restaurant Because He Had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shirt

Is nothing sacred?

A four-year-old boy was kicked out of a restaurant in Georgia for sporting a sleeveless Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt deemed in violation of the “Gentlemen’s Dress Code.”

Lewis Roberts—the reptile ninja in training—chose the outfit for lunch out with the family at the Tavern at Phipps in Atlanta, local news station 11 Alive reports.

The family was told Roberts’ shirt violated dress code and when they protested to the manager that the wee ninja was only four, the manager said the dress code applies to “gentlemen of all ages.”

After being contacted by local media, a spokesman for the restaurant issued a statement clarifying that the “Rule does not apply for children and ladies—for gentleman (sic) only. It was an embarrassing misunderstanding on our part. She’s a manager in training who had a gross misunderstanding of our policy. We apologize and are reaching out to the family.”

The Roberts family was happy to accept the apology and said they’ll dine at the restaurant again.

Turtle power.

[11 Alive]

TIME Crime

‘Cannibal Cop’ Conviction Overturned

Based on a lack of evidence

A federal judge overturned a former New York City police officer’s conviction for plotting gruesome crimes against women Monday night, based on a lack of evidence.

Gilberto Valle — given the moniker “cannibal cop” — was found guilty of plotting to kidnap, rape, kill, and then eat several women, including his wife, in 2013. His conviction was largely based on evidence found on fetish websites in which Valle openly discussed which women in his life would be easiest to kidnap and then butcher, sending online friends “blueprint” documents including real women’s names and photos. He also wrote about opening a restaurant that served human flesh.

According to the New York Times, Judge Paul G. Gardephe overturned the case because he did not believe that the evidence supported the conviction.

“The evidentiary record is such that it is more likely than not the case that all of Valle’s Internet communications about kidnapping are fantasy role-play,” Gardephe wrote in his opinion page. He continued that although the chats were “misogynistic… Despite the highly disturbing nature of Valle’s deviant and depraved sexual interests, his chats and emails about these interests are not sufficient — standing alone — to make out the elements of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.”

Valle has been in jail since his late 2012 arrest, and had faced a life sentence. During his time behind bars, he became a prison chef in what the New York Daily News called “the most ironic jail work assignment in recent memory.”

Valle’s mother told the NYDN that fellow inmates would joke, “Don’t stand too close to the oven, and that kind of thing.”

The judge upheld Valle’s conviction of illegally gaining access to a law enforcement database, which has a maximum sentence of a year in prison. A hearing will be held Tuesday to determine his status.

[NYT]

TIME Bizarre

World’s Worst Nanny Finally Agrees to Leave Family’s Home

The nanny from hell finally gave in, but only after being deprived of cable TV and access to the family's refrigerator

When a California family fired their live-in nanny three weeks ago for spending all day locked in her room (instead of, for example, watching the kids), the family of five presumably thought they had seen the last of their 64-year-old “nightmare nanny.”

Unfortunately, the Bracamontes’ nightmare had only just begun. Rather than packing up her things and finding work elsewhere, as just about any other nanny would, Diane Stretton adamantly refused to leave the family’s home.

According to People magazine, Marcella Bracamonte initially appreciated the extra care for her children, ages 11, 4 and 16 months. However, as the weeks went on, she found that Stretton “didn’t want to help out.” Eventually Stretton became so uncooperative that Marcella and her husband Ralph decided to fire the woman, not realizing that Stretton would be legally permitted to remain in their San Bernardino County home because of the terms of her employment.

In fact, a law requires the family to accommodate Stretton until she either decides to leave or is legally evicted, and if the Bracamontes try to force her out in the meantime, they could be stuck with a $1,000 fine for disturbing their “tenant.”

Luckily for the family, Stretton has relented and informed them that she will leave by July 4 (Independence Day indeed). But the Bracamontes remain understandably skeptical, fearing that their former nanny might lock them out of their own home while they are away for the national holiday.

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