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Category Archives: Uxoricide

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).


Macon Weekly Telegraph and Messenger, October 3, 1884. “Nothing intelligent could be obtained” from him, huh? I wonder what sort of witty palaver were they expecting from Michael Shay.

When I find a local atrocity like this and an address is given, I look up the location of Google Maps just to see what the lay of the land is now. 409 Clark would seem be a construction site at the moment. Does the bad mojo from an event like this dissipate when the building it took place in is destroyed, or does it linger out of doors a while and then roll forward into the new premises?

Recently I finished reading a very interesting history of American popular music, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music by Elijah Wald. Both the title and the subtitle are sort of misleading, though in ways that are more amusing than off-putting once you’ve read the book. The Beatles don’t even show up until the last 20 pages, and what comes before that is actually a rigorously non-alternative history of popular music. By that I mean that the guy is interested in the dialectics of the stuff that was actually popular in its time as a opposed to what we venerate as cool now. 90% of such music has been dismissed as beneath notice if not contempt by the sort of people who write histories of popular music. Wald isn’t championing this stuff aesthetically, just proving its cultural significance while demonstrating the total bankruptcy of writing music history as a genealogy of one’s own superior taste.

It’s just a really smart book: The macro-arguments are persuasive, and the micro-details are fascinating. Among the many things I’ve learned as a consequence of reading it is that old Trinidadian calypso music is really fucking weird and bears virtually no resemblance to the pop music marketed under that name in the U.S. in the 1950s. (Notice how I didn’t say “real calypso music”?)

Take this awesome track by early calypso star Lord Executioner: It’s like the Hope Chest set to a Betty Boop cartoon score as interpreted by moonlighting brass players from the Portsmouth Sinfonia. Lately if I’m not singing this, it’s because I’m listening to it.

Haven’t been able to find out a damned thing about Lord Executioner except that the young Louis Farrakhan was apparently a big fan. (Did y’all know that Farrakhan started out as an entertainer, name of Calypso Gene, aka “The Charmer”? I did not, although I did know about the calypso backgrounds of such luminaries as Robert Mitchum and Maya Angelou. I wonder if the three of them ever jammed together?)

Anyway: here’s the song, plus the lyrics as best as I could make them out. If anyone can help with those blank spots in the last verse, I’d be grateful. Take it away, your Lordship!

Hideous discoveries and monstrous crime
Always happen at the Christmas time
Hideous discoveries and monstrous crime
Always happen at the Christmas time
For the old year murders and the tragedy
For the New Year serious calamity
What shocked Trinidad
Those seven skeletons that the workmen found in that yard

What marred the Christmas festivity
Was a New Year double catastrophe
When a man and a woman on the ground was found
With bloodstains upon the ground
The husband was arrested but they were too late
For the poison he drunk sent him to the gate
That shocked Trinidad
Those seven skeletons that the workmen found in that yard

In Saint James the population went wild
When in the savannah they found a child
The hair was auburn and complexion pink
Which placed the watchman in a mood to think
“How can a mother despise and scorn
A little angel that she has born?”
That was more sad
Than the seven skeletons that the workmen found in that yard

A lorry was speeding to Port of Spain
When it knocked down the cyclist into the drain
It was going as fast as the lightning flash
When the cyclist received the lash
The mother cried out in sorrows and pain
I am not going to see my boy-child again
That is more sad
Than the seven skeletons that the workmen found in that yard

While the workmen they were digging the ground
They [ ? ] all human beings they found
Feet together and head east and west
Number five was a watchman among the rest
Number six had the hands and the feet on the chest
And number seven [something "serious guest"?]
That shocked Trinidad
Those seven skeletons that the workmen found in that yard

Oh, and I really, really love that this is a Christmas song. I’ve long favored a comprehensive turnover of the Christmas musical canon (backed by force of law), and this gets my vote as the replacement for “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

National Gazette and Literary Register, August 4, 1825. Yeah, he sounds pretty genteel and agreeable in manners.

Ths Brattleboro, Vermont, Reporter, June 14, 1806. Hoo boy, heref a meffed-up ftory about a terrfically unhappy family. Bafically a confpiracy of children to kill their drunken, violent old man before he killed again. Gotta feel forry for the kidf, though my guess is the teenage murdereff probabaly fwung for thif. Read More »

whiskyKansas City Times, May 3, 1918. She was all like, “Single malts are for the birds,” and he was all like “To blend is to adulterate,” and things just escalated from there.

econChicago Tribune, November 10, 1867. Interesting thing here is the assertion that wife-beating “seldom attracts the special attention of the public.” As we’ve seen, the newspapers and especially judges were all over this issue and competing to be out in front as hardliners against wife-beaters. So too, as we’ll see, were politicians and clergymen. Read More »

shot wifeTrenton Times, February 13, 1909. It just wouldn’t be probative if the guy had said ‘pumpkin’ or ‘lemon meringue.’

perfect1Chicago Tribune, October 23, 1933. Resuming our series of “Till death does you into parts” domestic dramas, here’s a deluded dude who thought his familiarity with whodunnit fiction of the day would stand him in good stead with the law. This is even lamer than it sounds, given the tea-cozyish artificiality of what passed for a murder mystery in the so-called “Golden Age” of the genre (’20s and ’30s). There’s more practical criminal training in the opening credits of CSI: Miami then in all the combined works of S.S. Van Dine, Erle Stanley Gardner, Ellery Queen and Agatha Christie. Also: does a crime that culminates in living in a relief shelter even qualify as mediocre, never mind “perfect”? Read More »

LegsAChicago Tribune, September 4, 1933. It occurs to me that we’ve been a bit light on actual mayhem lately, so we’re running a special on post-marital dismemberments. “Roughly hacked” seems like a telling detail: “We’re looking for an amateur here, boys, someone with no finesse. Exclude all packing plant workers from your criminal canvass.” Read More »

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