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Tales, strange but true

June 24, 2007|Mary Umberger | Chicago Tribune

In the spirit of "I'm not straining to interpret the greater meaning of existing-home sales," I root around for such things as these.

Demolition derby winner

Just about a year ago, New York physician Nicholas Bartha -- or, more specifically, his house -- made international news when he blew the place up in an apparent act of suicide rather than hand it over to his ex-wife in a financial dispute.

Bartha (a.k.a. "Dr. Boom" in certain New York media reports) turned on a gas valve and ignited the Upper East Side brownstone. He survived the blast, which injured 15 people, though he died several days later. New York being New York, the resulting vacant lot -- a rare commodity in the tony neighborhood -- set off a bit of a real estate frenzy.

Now a development company has announced that it will build a five-story mansion on the site, with an asking price of $30 million, according to the New York Daily News. The 8,000-square-foot trophy home will include a garden, underground pool and such eco-friendly features as a rainwater-harvesting system and geothermal pumping system to heat and cool the house.

A Hail Mary pass

If you buy a certain four-bedroom home in Jackson, Mich., the owner will throw in an autographed copy of Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy's soon-to-be-published book, "Quiet Strength." But wait, there's more -- the deal also includes an autographed photo of the winning Super Bowl coach. And a football autographed by Colts players.

The house happens to be Dungy's childhood home, and his sister, who owns it and is renting it out, plans to sell it and move to Indianapolis, according to the Jackson Citizen Patriot. You can't argue with the price $52,900 -- which is below the assessed tax value, the newspaper reports.

Or you could just pay $52,900 for the Colts memorabilia. "We'll throw in the house as a bonus, if they want to look at it that way," said agent DeAnn Gumbert.

Do you speak Canadian?

The right to bear ... clotheslines.

That's a proposal by a Nova Scotia politician, who has introduced a law that would allow the outdoor drying of garments in subdivisions that ban clotheslines in backyards.

Explaining that relying on the sun obviously is more energy-efficient than running a dryer, he acknowledged to Canadian reporters that small environmental gestures add up.

"Many a mickle makes a muckle, I think is how it goes," said legislator Howard Epstein.

He said that. He really did.

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mumberger@tribune.com

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