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Category Archives: Insanity

Harper’s Weekly, April 16, 1904.I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something subtly disturbing about this ad.

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).

Columbus Inquirer, July 28, 1908. We confront one of two probabilities here: Either Leppo was an early method man and very dedicated to staying in character, or else this carnival was exploiting a bona fide crazy person as its geek. more

Grand Forks Herald, November 28, 1909. Story anticipates what one researcher has identified as the world’s funniest joke.

Chicago Tribune, January 19, 1919. As we all know from Charles Bronson movies, shrinks and their natural allies, liberal judges, are soft on crime and that’s why the whole world has gone to hell in a gay, socialist, heroin-addicted handbasket. It wasn’t always thus, however: Here’s one tough-minded clinician who had the moral courage to advocate the wholesale execution of the violently insane. Okay, he wasn’t exactly advocating it so much as running it up the flagpole to see who saluted. Read more.

New York Times, June 16, 1858. Demented French brothers clad only in straw belts, dropping by in the wee small hours and claiming to have killed their sister: That does set the stage, doesn’t it? It would make a great cold open for an episode of Law & Order: Antebellum Michigan, “ripped from yesterday’s headlines.” Read more.

New York Times, April 26, 1871. This is kind of cool: an editorial devoted to the subject of journalistic coverage of wild man stories nationwide. That’s pretty much the same theme I was working when I gave my talk on stage the other night, except I was focusing on wild women exclusively. But it’s time to acknowledge that wilding was numerically a male-dominated field of endeavor. Read More »

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 6, 1890. It gives me the jibblies, the way some people shove religion down their kid’s throats.

Chicago Daily Tribune, October 31, 1889. Your average false arrest of a Bender suspect is a pretty prosaic affair: Some unlucky schmuck or schmuckess is in transit through a hick town, and a random resident of the latter spontaneously decides That’s John Bender! (sometimes senior, sometimes junior) and/or That’s Kate Bender! and/or That’s Almira Bender! An arrest or arrests ensue, and the newspapers triumphantly report that the long-sought criminal or criminals have been arrested at last and for sure this time, and no mistake about it. Often the coverage simply stops there until the next round, though sometimes there’s a sheepish follow-up item to the effect that, uh, perhaps the rock-solid Bender identification had been a bit premature after all. This one, however, is a bit more complicated. Read More »


Astute 1981 observation by Wild Man Fischer. My second favorite song in his oeuvre, after The Taster.

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