The news isn’t always just good or bad. Sometimes it’s humorously in between, curious or just plain odd.
Before we turn the calendar to 2016, we wanted to take a spin back through some of the stranger events from the past year.
With that in mind, here’s a look back at 10 of the weirdest local news stories that took place in San Luis Obispo County in 2015.
No. 1: Porn over the PA
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“Bow chicka wow wow!” is not what one expects to hear when shopping for a new shirt, decorative pillow, cereal and toilet paper. But someone somehow managed to take over the SLO Target’s PA system in July and play an audio track of pornography. Target team members scrambled to get everyone out of the store while trying to turn off the explicit recording. Way to compete with the Internet, Target! Read more about the X-rated exploit »
No. 2: Bank robber eats poop in court
Can jail food really be that bad? Seriously, mass-produced mystery meat has got to be better than eating your own feces (gag). But that’s just what bank robber Andrew Gilbertson, 40, did in March while testifying during the sanity phase of his trial. In an apparent attempt to show that he was insane, Gilbertson reached into his pants, removed fecal matter (eww), and ate it while on the stand. It wasn’t the first time he’d eaten his own poop (why??). While meeting with a forensic psychiatrist at the County Jail, Gilbertson complained about the food and then ate his own feces. Neither the psychiatrist nor the jurors bought it, though, which means ingesting all that poo was for naught. Read more about the incident »
No. 3: Thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening
What is that falling from the sky?!?! Rain in California has been rare enough in recent years, and rain in July is even more unheard of. So when the clouds opened up in July and water and lightning came pounding down, SLO County residents couldn’t believe the sky was falling. Although the record rainfall didn’t do much to help the drought, the lightning did cause some problems — five days after the storm. A tree in Cambria was apparently so angry it was hit by lightning that it smoldered about it for days before finally exploding into a full-fledged fire. Luckily, firefighters got it under control quickly. Read more about the wacky weather »
No. 4: No three-hour tour
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip. It started from Morro Bay aboard this stolen ship. The mate was no sailin’ lad, the skipper wasn’t quite sure. The two homeless men set sail that day for a round-the-world tour. A round-the-world tour. The weather wasn’t really rough, but the ship still got tossed. Thanks to this clueless crew, the Good News could have been lost. The Good News could have been lost. But the ship got grounded just off shore on a shallow sand bar. The Harbor Patrol recovered the boat, the owner was notified, too. The two men were arrested and taken to County Jail. A story for “criminals fail!” Read more about the men’s misadventure »
No. 5: Takedown in the courtroom
Rumble in the Jungle. Thrilla in Manila. Row in SLO. Here’s the blow-by-blow of that last one: In one corner of the San Luis Obispo Superior Courtroom was state Deputy Attorney General Jennie Mariah Kelly. She was pretty fired up, “speaking loudly” to the opposing attorney. Not liking the smack talk, a bailiff decided to throw his hat in the ring. Let’s get ready to rumble! The two struggle briefly before the bailiff grabs Kelly and brings her to the ground. Total knockout! The fight went under review. Read more about the courtroom scuffle »
No. 6: Smelly Paso
Poor Paso Robles is the smelly city in the county. After the 2003 San Simeon Earthquake, the city’s long-contained sulfur hot springs bubbled up, making the town smell like rotten eggs for a while. After getting that embarrassing odor problem under control, Paso Robles felt like it could hang with the cool cities in the county again. And then came the yeast and grain and unseasonably warm temperatures in March. The rotten egg smell was back. People noticed. Paso again became very self-conscious. But two months and $1 million worth of deodorant later, the stench finally dissipated. Read more about what caused that horrible smell »
No. 7: Mean streets of Atascadero
Straight outta Atascadero come some of the biggest and baddest criminals this side of the inner city. Murder, forcible rape, armed robbery and aggravated assaults are a daily occurrence — that is, if you believe an East Coast website that ranked the sleepy North County town one of the “Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.” The site claimed Atascadero experienced 380 violent crimes in one year. The police chief disputed those statistics, which means it’s probably still safe to cruise El Camino Real at night. Read more about the dangers of Atascadero »
No. 8: All work and no play
After all that intense studying, most college students need some time to kick back and relax. But Cal Poly administrators may have been a little too concerned with the lounging around and decided to ban hammocks and slack lines on campus. Of course, officials said the real reason was possible injuries to both people and trees. Oh, and all those makeshift beds hanging around may have been too enticing for rabbitlike college kids, as one administrator said students had been seen “hammocking” (definition: having sex in hammocks). Many students protested the policy. Read more about the hammock ban »
No. 9: Oh beer
Quick: What do you think of when you hear the words “Cambria” and “alcohol”? If it’s not wine from Santa Maria, then you’re wrong. Jackson Family Farms, the parent company of Kendall-Jackson Estate Winery and the Cambria Estate Winery in Santa Maria, sent Cambria Beer Co. — actually located in Cambria — a cease-and-desist letter on New Year’s Eve last year. The winery, located 65 miles south of Cambria, owns the trademark Cambria. If someone tries to use the name along with some reference to alcohol, who knows what kind of confusion it will cause for all those hopeless consumers out there. Someone could wander into the brewery looking for a nice glass of pinot noir and end up with a pint of oatmeal stout! Read more about the trademark tussle »
No. 10: The dog that couldn’t catch
Fritz is on the fritz. While most golden retrievers excel at catching, poor Fritz lacks the eye-jaw coordination needed to catch tasty snacks out of the air. The Atascadero pup’s malfunctioning mouth made national headlines in March after his owner, Evan Ball, uploaded to YouTube a compilation video of Fritz trying — and failing — to catch a steak, taco, strawberry and more. The pooch even got to fly to New York City to appear on “Good Morning America.” Hot dog! Read more about the clumsy canine »