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Category Archives: Law enforcement

Idaho Avalanche, June 20, 1885. Does news get more general than this? I think it does not. Concerning that last item: Harassing the Salvation Army was once something of a national pastime, as the outfit was well-known in its early years to be an obnoxious and fanatical cult. Local law enforcement didn’t exactly knock themselves out to protect them. In fact, the Sally Anns also got into trouble with the law a lot, owing to their obnoxious and fanatical insistence that they didn’t need a municipal license or permit to preach and demonstrate in public. The case law that grew out of their legal troubles significantly helped broaden and strengthen the 1st Amendment. Also, their street bands were a significant influence on Tom Waits.
Placer mining is a hydraulic technique for separating gold from silt and soil—works sort of like mechanized panning. Often it was what you did with a claim once the big chunks had been removed with pick and shovel, and the yield was typically much lower. The Chinese specialized in these placer-mining clean-up operations, taking over claims that had been exhausted from the perspective of white miners. But then if a given claim turned out to be not so exhausted after all, they were prone to being displaced—it even happened in kinder, gentler Canada! They were well known to be an inferior and heathen race, so local law enforcement didn’t exactly knock themselves out to protect them.

The item about Senator Ransom signifies that he’s a bon vivant or a dandified sleazebag depending on the values you bring to the story.

Beats me what the English are doing with those $25 squirrels. In pairs.

Washington Post, August 17, 1929. Rehearsing for his act and doing a little advance publicity work too, I’ll warrant. If I’d been this guy’s counsel, I’d have thrown Leviticus 11:22 in the judge’s face: “Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.”
I’ve been delving into the circus wild man theme lately on a account of I just finished reading William Lindsay Gresham’s Nightmare Alley, which I heartily recommend though not to the timid. Sixty-four years after publication, it’s still a seriously disturbing toilet-crawl. Makes Jim Thompson look like Beatrix Potter.

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.

Baltimore Sun, February 27, 1893. Those wacky medical students are at it again! Read more.

Dallas Morning News, October 14, 1922. I’ve been invited to appear on This American Life again (yay!), this time to talk about the great Gland Larceny Panic that gripped Chicago and squeezed in 1922. While refreshing my acquaintance with the story, it struck me that I could have done a better job organizing and analyzing the available material, plus I never cross-posted any ‘nad theft stuff from the BNFTP annex at the Chicago Reader‘s site. Anyway, I’m going to give it another go. Read More »

Dallas Morning News, November 6, 1889. Time for some follow-up on that recovered memory-inflected FBAS (False Bender Arrest Syndrome) drama whereof we spake last month. Deviating from the journalistic norms of its day, the Dallas Morning News decided ahead of time that this story smells like bullshit. There can never be enough of this kind of skepticism, especially in journalism. Read More »

San Antonio Daily Express, July 7, 1873. Here is a singularly pitiable instance of FBAS (False Bender Arrest Syndrome). In the headline of the post that inaugurated this thread I made a casual comparison between FBAS and contemporary hysteria over blue gum negroes. The resemblance actually runs deeper than I’d deeply thought about: Both are basically semi-secularized versions of witchcraft panic. In this case, we have a bit of an overlap with the whole rural wild woman phenomenon too. Everything that plummets must converge, see? Read More »

Chicago Tribune, December 20, 1882. Hey, we’re back in business here at The Hope Chest. (And may I just thank the international service response team of the Hewlett-Packard corporation for fixing me up with working computer in just slightly more time than it would have taken for Rural Free Delivery to deliver me a can of Dapper Dan Pomade? Outstanding.) Read More »

Philadelphia Inquirer, November 26, 1895. I like the notion of a “surfeit of suicides.” It’s the opposite of a suicide shortage, I suppose. How do we know when we’re looking at a suicide sufficiency?
Anyway, as performer, this Wunner fellow strikes me as the art brut/outsider version of a more conceptually sophisticated chap we met last fall. I should have thought people would have seen what was coming next, given the prevalence of razor-based suicide at this time. Though maybe they did and approved: It doesn’t seem to have been a terribly refined audience. Nearly cutting your own head off is no mean feat. I tried to find some stats on suicide by razor, but all I found was this medical journal abstract: “Suicide by incising one’s own throat without hesitation marks remains a rare, and only few cases have been reported in the forensic literature.” Seems to be a word missing after “rare,” but what? “Treat?” I’m thinking office Curry may have been a tad bipolar.

Okay, so I’ve roughed out a provisional draft of alternate lyrics to “My Favorite Things” for our own Jackie of Finland to record, per our contractually-binding exchange in this comment thread. I’m also in negotiations to get the two surviving Seidlitz Brothers to dub some backing vocals, though according to their agent, Shlomo’s voice box is pretty much shot from three packs of Chesterfields a day since the McKinley administration. No matter: that’s why God made Pro Tools and the electrolarynx.

I’m kind of going back and forth on the first verse here, as it lacks the 100% concrete historicity that the other verses have. Though maybe I could fix that by nailing down concrete references to back it all up.

Barrel-clad hobos and window-ledge pastries
Irish patrolman and drunks with the DTs
Blackguards and maidens and oncoming trains
These are a few of my favorite thangs

Phials of acid in ex-lovers’ faces
Naked wild women in desolate places
Negroes with blue gums who kill when they bite
This is a load of my favorite shite

Mince pies for breakfast, and luncheon, and dinner
Corpses injected to make their eyes glimmer
Med school students defiling the dead
This sort of thing tends to fuck with my head

Cuckqueaned wives killing spinster cult leaders
Cats sold as rabbits to unwitting eaters
Show-offs igniting their cee-gars with bills
These are symptoms of society’s ills

When the dog brings
Dynamite back

When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I feel truly bad

Jackie: Far be it from me to impinge on your creative process, but I was thinking this would work best Lento assai and in a minor key.

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