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Monthly Archives: August 2009

flourescineThe New York Times, September 14, 1914. Lemme get this straight: Upon the injection of this Lovecraftian substance into a freshly dead person, his or her eyes turn into “superb emeralds, set like jewels in their sockets,” and then it turns out no funeral is necessary after all. Could this “Icard” (transparent anagram for “I, Drac”) be any more brazen in his campaign to take over Marseilles with his private army of the undead?

Still, it would all make a great ad for the glossies. You’ve got this Lionel Atwill-type in a white lab coat brandishing a big hypodermic, see? He’s shooting the goo into the pallid arm of a young lovely whose charms are barely covered by her winding sheet. Her wide-open eyes are superb green emeralds, and nicely set off by the stainless steel mortuary table upon which she reposes, whose outline is isometric to the fireplug shape of the bottle containing your client’s naphtha-like beverage.

sex edLos Angeles Times, March 8, 1914. Yeah, that’s the ticket: Cops should be “great big missionaries” who teach “sex matters” to boys–“at least the rudiments.” Why was this forward-thinking plan never implemented?

Plain Dealer June 27 1948 Page 52Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 27, 1948. It’s great that the market responded to the needs of WWII vets who left limbs behind at Normandy and Iwo Jima, but there’s something unsettling about those two chipper “Hey Kids!!”-style exclamation marks. (A big Hope Chest thanks to David L. for sending this our way.)

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, May 21, 1927 (left) and August 21, 1929. Further to the Jazz Age prevalence of the phrase “banana oil.” Strip on the right is not so hot, but I needed more than one image to effect the fully-magnified gallery view of the one on the left, which is a lovely little jumble sale of forgotten slang. “Cracked ice!” “Not so dusty”! What do you say we all go back to talking like this, starting September 1st? It would be totally dusty. (Or “not so dusty.” Whichever means “good.”)

San Antonio Express, February 28, 1904. Flivver fun from the dawn of the automobile, when cars were still toys of the rich. It’s kind of weird, the extent to which cartoonists had a handle on what we were all getting into. Images pinched from a single page of the infinite and searchable funny papers of the American Historical Newspapers archive.

smell test 1Washington Post, October 20, 1912. This is the kind of science I can get behind. I’ve never understood the perfume thing. None of them smell good to me, and the urge to colonize other folks’ olfactories with a cocktail of floral essence, whale puke and volatile biological substances extracted from the buttholes of rodents strikes me as passive-aggressive or sociopathic, depending on the intensity of the pong. Never in my life have I gotten out of bed and said to myself, “Yes indeed, everybody’s gonna smell me coming and going today!” Maybe the notion made slightly better sense before the democratization of soap, hot water, flush toilets and other techno-hygienic blessings, but there’s just no excuse for it now. Anyway, it’s been shown to cause hysteria and neurasthenia. Read More »

laughter and beautyChicago Tribune, October 24, 1936.

murder 4 1 30

nazisWashington Post, January 7, 1944. Perhaps you thought the Third Reich was an enlightened society? Well forget about that.