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Shirtless runner Ethan Renoe is interviewed on WGN in December
Shirtless runner Ethan Renoe is interviewed on WGN in December

The weirdest Chicago news stories of 2015

Mysterious black ooze, a woman who thinks she's a bike and more of the weirdest news stories in Chicago this year

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long
Clayton Guse

What a long, strange trip 2015 has been for Chicagoans. Within the past year, we've experienced 60-degree weather in December, a nail-biting Chicago Cubs playoff run and the opening of a Taco Bell where you can get drunk. Buried beneath all of the headlines were some of the weirdest new stories to ever come out of Chicago (and yes, some are even stranger than the weird stuff that happened in 2014). We combed through our archives and assembled a list of the wackiest stories that we wrote about this year.

RECOMMENDED: The best of 2015

The weirdest news stories of 2015

A woman insists that she's a bike

1. A woman insists that she's a bike

Chicago is a city of dreamers. Some people want to be the world’s next big comedians. Others want to be finance big shots. But in October, one Chicago woman wanted to be a bicycle. She sat atop the bike rack of a #44 Wallace-Racine CTA bus and claimed, “I’m a bike,” despite the fact that she was clearly a human. A video of her effort went viral, and people around the world had the chance to share in her dream of being a pedal-driven, single-track vehicle. —Clayton Guse
Billy Corgan starts a car blog

2. Billy Corgan starts a car blog

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan wears many hats these days. He’s a musician, a father, the owner of Madame Zuzu’s tea shop in Highland Park, a senior producer for TNA Impact Wrestling and one of the most famous cover models for Paws Chicago magazine. Most recently, Corgan shut down his Twitter account and started a blog called People and Their Cars. Recent posts have focused on vintage Disneyland photos and cat food advertisements—chalk it up to the ever-changing whims of Mr. Corgan. —Zach Long
A man named Randy Pizza Candy

3. A man named Randy Pizza Candy

In April, a judge at the Circuit Court of Cook County in Skokie heard a rather unusual case. A man formerly known as Randall John Esche filed a petition to change his name to Randy Pizza Candy—and he succeeded. The 36-year-old man performs body modifications at Pink Rhino Tattoo & Body Piercing in Boystown. He has tattoos on virtually every part of his body, including his face. He has more piercings than one can count and silicone pieces implanted into his arms and hands. The kicker: He’s a new father to a son with an equally outlandish name: Vlad Dracula Raiden Candy. —CG
A Jeep escapes a Lincoln Towing truck

4. A Jeep escapes a Lincoln Towing truck

We all know Lincoln Towing engages in shady practices, which is why we let out a collective cheer when one of the company’s victims took matters into his own hands. Victor Jaime parked his Jeep in a River North lot while he grabbed some food at Portillo’s, but when he exited the restaurant, he found his vehicle in the clutches of a Lincoln Towing truck. The truck's driver ignored his protests, so he hopped in the Jeep and drove it off the back of the truck to safety. Why the heroics? It turns out that Jaime’s dog was trapped in the car. —ZL
Wrestling restaurant smackdown

5. Wrestling restaurant smackdown

Only an idiot brings a gun into a restaurant, but only a complete idiot brings a gun into a wrestling-themed restaurant staffed by a bunch of ripped dudes. TMZ obtained security footage of an incident at the Squared Circle in Lincoln Park, where a teenager toting a weapon was subdued by owner Lee Varon. When Varon realized the kid was packing heat, he calmly picked him up, took him into the kitchen, disarmed him and body-slammed him to the floor until police arrived. —ZL
Chicago plastic bag "ban"

6. Chicago plastic bag "ban"

In August, Chicago joined the likes of Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Seattle by forbidding chain stores of 10,000 square feet or more from handing out single-use, wispy plastic bags to customers. The regulation was presented as a plastic bag ban, but instead the City Council had the brilliant idea of requiring stores to give out even thicker plastic bags that can hold up to 22 pounds and may be reused 125 times. The idea was for shoppers to reuse the bags, but it’s instead led to more plastic trash being thrown about town. Hooray for short-sighted regulation! —CG
Black ooze invades Union Station

7. Black ooze invades Union Station

The evening commute at Union Station got a little messier than usual earlier this year when a pipe burst in the ceiling and a mysterious black liquid began leaking onto the floor. Union Station representatives told reporters that the unidentified substance originated from the facility’s sprinkler system, but we’re (still) convinced that a transdimensional wormhole briefly opened and squirted radioactive alien ooze into our city. —ZL
Taking the piss out of Cubs fans

8. Taking the piss out of Cubs fans

Last April’s opening night at Wrigley Field brought the Cubs a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, but that was the least of the worries for fans attending the game. With renovations on the stadium underway, there weren’t nearly enough bathrooms to accommodate the full bladders of the North Side faithful. Instead of waiting 45 minutes in line for a toilet, attendees turned to the next most reasonable option: peeing in cups. Photos shared on social media made it clear that Cubs fans need to drink more water—their urine is brighter than a brand-new school bus. —CG
A total hunk takes a shirtless run in December

9. A total hunk takes a shirtless run in December

December was unusually warm, especially compared to the previous two years. On a rainy Sunday night, a shirtless jogger ran into a live weather report on WGN and made the entire Internet swoon. The man, who looks like the love child of Ryan Reynolds and Jake Arrieta, is Ethan Renoe, and he used to live in Chicago (he currently resides in Colorado). But don’t start thinking you’ll be able to rub oil all over his charming chest hair—it turns out the man is a devout Evangelical Christian who offered “free prayers” outside of Chicago bars on behalf of the Moody Bible Institute in 2013. —CG
Mayor Emanuel's streaking bounty
Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

10. Mayor Emanuel's streaking bounty

Just two months after Rahm Emanuel got re-elected as mayor, a strange bounty was placed on his head. Greek billionaire Alki David went on 97.9's Mancow Morning Show in late June to announce that he would give away $250,000 to anyone who streaked in front of the mayor (it was all a part of a promotion for a new documentary about David titled Lord of the Freaks). It turned out the streaker needed to have written on their body and scream “battlecam” twice in front of the mayor in order to win the prize. This fine print was something that a Chicago woman was not aware of before she streaked in front of Rahm at the Pride Parade. —CG
A robber holds up a Subway to pay for Potbelly

11. A robber holds up a Subway to pay for Potbelly

You know how the tired idiom goes: Sometimes you have to rob Subway to pay Potbelly. That’s exactly what occurred earlier this year in Rogers Park, where a man held up a cashier at a Subway restaurant with a knife, according to DNAinfo Chicago. After he grabbed some cash from the Subway’s register, the man promptly walked across the street to a nearby Potbelly, where he bought a sandwich and sat down to eat it. Police found him finishing his meal when he was arrested and charged with armed robbery. —ZL
Squirrelly ads on the CTA

12. Squirrelly ads on the CTA

During the first few months of 2015, you might have noticed some strange ads on CTA cars. Aside from the usual offers to take experimental drugs or jump-start your career at the Illinois Center for Broadcasting was a campaign called “#SquirrelTruth.” The ads were born from a Kickstarter campaign launched by local comedian Ben Larrison and sarcastically accused squirrels of being dangerous creatures. "FACT: Statistically speaking, at least one 'person' on this train is actually 7 squirrels wearing a human suit. Don't be a victim," read one of the ads. Thanks for making our commute a little weirder. —CG

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