Category Archives: Babes in trouble
Chicago Defender, September 15, 1928. Even more than most dudes, Dr. Martin here should not have been stepping out on his wife. He’s the last word in gallant cavaliers, our Dr. Martin. My theory is that Dr. and Mrs. Martin were actually S&M buffs acting out some creepy, well-rehearsed power-exchange ritual. They probably went through a couple of school marms every year.
San Francisco Chronicle, October 30, 1904. This isn’t the only case of collateral damage through mistaken identity I’ve run across in my acid-throwing researches. The upside, I guess, is that the victim would henceforth never again be mistaken for anybody else. I’m curious about this charge against telegrapher Jack Austin. Is it a crime in Washington to send letters to waitresses? Anyway, why wouldn’t he have send a telegram?
Baltimore Afro-American, August 15, 1903. One wonders: was she expecting to find money in the negro’s trousers, or was the plan to fence them? In any case, I hasten to explain that, although Annie was a very handsome woman in her time, this story is otherwise pure bullshit. The hapless trouser thief was not the celebrated marksperson but a former burlesque ecdysiast fallen on even harder times. The real Annie Oakley brought 55 libel suits against various newspapers, 54 of which were successful. The Hearst papers were responsible for putting this counterfactual gem into circulation in the first place, and they tried to fight Oakley’s lawsuit by hiring a private dick to dig up some compromising dirt on her. They failed. The Hearst papers were always at the cutting edge of “human interest” journalism. As one Hearst reporter memorably put it, “A Hearst newspaper is like a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut.”
Chicago Tribune, January 18, 1921. Well, this scenario isn’t exactly as described in Mr. Kipling’s famous poem “The Vampire,” but the basic message is the same: Men are boobs, see?
The New York Amsterdam News, April 11, 1923. Here’s more anti-jazz moral panic from E. E. “Uneasy” Rawlins, M.D. Seems the good doctor had no Hippocratic scruples about recycling his prose from one year to the next. Tsk tsk! But this piece is actually a bit more shrill then its 1925 sequel. Basically he’s calling for God’s wrath (aka “History”) to punish a wicked jazz-besotted nation and bring it back to moral bedrock. By 1925 he’s saying “Safe–when used in moderation.”
Chicago Tribune, May 16, 1899. Forget about the Nineteenth Amendment or Roe v. Wade: this is where the trouble really started.
Washington Post, January 25, 1900. I wonder when Philadelphia’s last opium den ceased operations. It’s odd that Mary’s death is geographically attributed to “Chinatown,” but the arrested parties all have solidly Anglo names. I sort of respect the forthrightness of the assertion that this story matters inasmuch as the dead girl’s parents are “respectable.” The same principle governs drug-related reportage today, except no one owns up to it.
Detroit News. April 22, 1931. Beauty contests in the Twenties and Thirties were forthrightly about female nubility and pulchritude and thus had all the respectability of today’s wet t-shirt contests. They subsequently acquired a toehold in the mainstream during WWII, when beauty queens were recruited to sell war bonds and entertain the troops. By the 1950s, pageants had become as wholesome as apple pie and as hypocritical as Elmer Gantry. The conflicted, sanitizing urge to dilute, deny and obscure the fundamental and irreducible boy-I’d-like-to-fuck-her agenda of beauty pageants is what gives rise to agonized weirdness like
Detroit News, May 19, 1931. This is one happening couple by the standards of The Hope Chest. It’s the first time we’ve seen acid thrown by the jilter rather than the jilted. But then when she, the jilted, shot him in revenge, he still cared enough not to rat her out from his deathbed. Call us incurably romantic, but we think that with counseling these kids could have worked things out. At very least, the sex must have been epic.