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.
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.
Daily Picayune, February 18, 1881. Also known as a barrel organ, the hand organ was like a cross between a calliope and a music box. It opened up the busking trade to those without musical skills, but was not readily programmable, so some dudes just ground out a single melody throughout their careers as street entertainers.
“Star Spangled Banner” didn’t become the national anthem until 1931, and their was considerable controversy over the choice owing to the melody’s origins as a bawdy 18th-century British drinking song. It’d be interesting to know whether our patriotic sailor was serving in the U.S. Navy, as the latter, hard-drinking crew were early adopters of the song when the rest of the country still regarded “Hail, Columbia” as the patriotic default.
I’ve just published a piece about killer prof Amy Bishop at the Chicago Reader. Technically this is Bad News From the Present, I know. So sue me.
New Hampshire Sentinel, January 27, 1827. Gee, I wonder what their problem was?
Two items of apocalyptic import in this week’s Chicago Reader, here and here.
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
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.
Chicago Inter-Ocean, August 11, 1874. It was strongly talked of, see? It was not the passing subject of gay badinage and persiflage, nor something obliquely alluded to in a manner that went over the heads of most. The talk of lynching was strong.
Chicago Inter-Ocean, September 2, 1894. That bit from silent movies in which the bad guy ties his victim to the railway tracks before an oncoming train? That is totally Stuff People Actually Used To Do. Not just once or twice either. It seems to have been an enduring favorite in the Blackguard’s Playbook. Read More »
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 3, 1885. Ciboire de tabernac, il aime pas trop les gosses, ce dingue la.