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Category Archives: Broken hearts

Avon Paperback Original, 1956. Liberace, for the benefit of you young ‘uns, was a superstar pop pianist. And boy, was he ever heterosexual! Lana Turner, Sonja Henie, Shelly Winters, Mamie Van Doren, Judy Garland, and countless starlets whose names are long forgotten . . . It sez right here, he just knocked ‘em down like bowling pins.

Philadelphia Inquirer, March 30, 1890. Oog. A little bit of blood on the sheets was considered de rigueur, but this is beyond excessive. (Memo to self: Only 58 more shopping days until World Rabies Day).

Baltimore Sun, July 4, 1892. Lately I’m finding running across a lot of wild women whose exile from civilization is attributed to a past episode of seduction and heartbreak. But I’m half inclined to believe that these gals are actually Jungian archetypes on the hoof, especially since, like this one, they almost always reside in caves. And sure, sometimes a cave is just a cave, but only sometimes.

Grand Forks Herald, May 8, 1910. The Edwardian era had its garden variety libertines and seducers, but Oom the Omnipotent was operating on an entirely separate plane. Though it was also a pretty crowded plane, according to this reportage. Read more.

Miami Herald, August 29, 1914. That, my friends, is a world-historically beautiful opening sentence, belonging in the company of “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . .,” “Happy families are all alike. . .,” “It is a truth universally acknowledged. . . ,” and “A couple of days later the phone rang.” Read More »

burn munnyBoston Journal, December 2, 1905. It must be a bitter thing, having to pay alimony to someone that’s torched a bundle of bills and securities worth 15 large (and large it was, back then.*) “Collecting curios and antiques”–I wonder if that’s journalistic code for “invert.”

*I will never be smart enough to know what any of these mean, but here are various ways to translate $15K from 1905 into the strobing, intangible, virtual, Christian- Science dollars of this, our fantastical year of 2009:

$378,610.20 using the Consumer Price Index
$292,347.59 using the GDP deflator
$855,704.70 using the value of consumer bundle
$1,634,713.38 using the unskilled wage
$2,071,170.28 using the nominal GDP per capita
$7,524,679.49 using the relative share of GDP

So: somewhere between a quarter million and 8 million simoleons. A pretty serious chunk of change, whatever.

afireSalt Lake Telegram, June 3, 1922. Is it because Salt Lake City is a faraway foreign capital that I cannot make heads or tails of what should be a straightforward bit of scandal-mongering? afire2

She fainted while her underwear was on fire. Sheesh, what a mystery are the autonomous functions of the human body! But how odd that her dainties should catch fire and not the rest of her clothing. (Is silk particularly flammable, compared to other pre-synthetic fabrics?)
Then again, perhaps she was wearing only her underwear at the time–that would help explain their exclusive and limited combustion.
Or maybe she wasn’t wearing them at the time: She might have built a symbolic bonfire of her knickers on the hotel room floor before shooting the dude and herself.
The questions multiply the mysteries. . .
Anyway, I’m guessing “hotel attaches” are to house dicks as sanitary engineers are to garbagemen. Or maybe “attache” applies only to house dicks small enough to fit through transoms. But now let’s proceed to the intriguing literary aspects of the story.

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pest houseChicago Tribune, June 24, 1853. “Wilfully murdered”–yep, good call by that coroner’s jury. A pest house, by the by, is a quarantined warehouse for people with infectious diseases, e.g. cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis. It’s kind of classy on the part of Chicago to situate its pest house on the lake shore.

Chicago Tribune, March 7 and 8, 1914 [click on images to enlarge]. The cartoon is by John T. McCutcheon, same guy who drew this one. He seems to have had an enduring interest in the phenomenon of the unprosecutable female murder defendant. The defense attorney’s contention that a female jury would be easier and not harder on Stella C. is not supported by this previous posting on the subject. But who knows?

acid selfNew York Times, July 9, 1925. With all that acid flying around, it’s a given that some troubled souls would turn the acid-throwing impulse inward. This guy seems to been trying to expiate for stepping out on his wife, and undertook to do the throwing for her. By far the majority of acid attacks originate in romantic turbulence and jealousy. If you want to see a really compelling documentary related to this phenomenon, I heartily recommend Crazy Love (although technically it’s about the romantic fallout of a lye-throwing attack, and lye is a base rather than an acid).

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