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Small Town Noir: Mugshots and true crime stories from New Castle, Pennsylvania, 1930-60
08:33 am



The small town of New Castle, in western Pennsylvania, was once a boom town way back at the start of the twentieth century. Its population had tripled between 1890 and 1900, as immigrants from across Europe and America came to the town in search of employment in its tin plate mills, steel factories, ceramics works, foundries and paper mills.

The 1930’s Depression hit New Castle hard, but its manufacturing base was kept going by WWII and the Korean war. The population peaked in 1950 at 48,834. Since then it’s dropped to around 28,000 today. The boom years are long gone and the unemployment average in New Castle is twice America’s national jobless rate.

The site Small Town Noir curates the mugshots of petty criminals whose lives unraveled in sad, tragic, grim, bizarre and often disturbing ways within the boundaries of New Castle’s borders. Each entry is well-written and the biographical information has been painstakingly researched from various sources.

Small Town Noir is a fascinating place to visit, to while-away a few hours, as you get to know its citizens.

James Dagres, “B & E”, 28 April 1934

James Dagres was sixteen, when he was arrested for breaking an entering. Dagres, together with two chool friends James Cook, LeRoy Shoaff, removed various items from the house—tables, chairs, a gas heater, a clock, a world atlas—and sold them to second-hand dealers in town. They were caught when the owner of the house, a local teacher, passed by and saw them carrying furniture out of the place. All three boys were minors. There is no record of any sentence. When James left school, he got a job at American Cyanamid & Chemical. LeRoy Shoaff went on to become a colonel in the US army. There is no further record of Jack Cook.


Homer Chrisner, “Bank Holdup”, 7 Feb 1935

Homer Chrisner lost his business during the Depression. A respected figure, borough councilman and pigeon fancier, Chrisner decided to rob a bank in New Castle, as he reckoned it would be the easiest place to rob.

With his his accomplice Edward Scales, aka Jack of Diamonds, a Youngstown barman and numbers writer who had recently been released from prison after serving a sentence for the attempted rape of a minor. Together, they planned the details of the hold-up and enlisted the help of a woman called Nellie Sellers who would act as their getaway driver.

In February, 1935, Chrisner and Scales walked into the bank and held it up. Chrisner lost his nerve and the bank teller pulled his own gun on the pair. Chrisner and Scales absconded in a car driven by Sellers. They were chased and soon arrested. Homwer was jailed for five years.


David Clemons, “Dis. Cond”, 20 Sep 1936

David Clemons was a 28-year-old was arrested for disorderly behavior in 1936. Eight-years later Clemons murdered his father, Wilson Clemons, a minister in the Church of God in Christ, with an axe.

David had a mental age of nine and had recently been discharged from the army in the build-up to the D-Day Landings. Clemons killed his father after an argument over an alarm clock. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was moved to Fairview state hospital for the criminally insane, where he remained for the rest of his life.

More tales of New Castle’s criminals, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Polish prison tattoos preserved in formaldehyde
06:14 am



Fresh off the heels of my post on Frederik Ruysch’s creepy embalming art comes this disgusting/fascinating collection of preserved tattoos from Polish prisoners. Even before you get to the whole “stolen chunks of flesh” part of this collection, I’m always disturbed by the “poke-and-stick” kind of tattooing that most of these appear to be. I’ve seen poke-and-stick done with everything from glass shards to nails, and the “ink” could be anything from ash to a ball-point pen—there’s obviously a high risk of infection. (Not to be a snob, but I had my tattoos done like a respectable person—in a sterile environment by an old biker.)

It’s a crude, primitive art-form, but it’s hard for me to see these pieces, which were a part of some one’s actual body, completely removed from their former humanity. Still, the images are kind of fascinating. There’s basic old school flash, of course, but the juvenile, coarse pornographic images are even more interesting. Not all tattoos, even ones done in prison, represent some deeper meaning or cultural affiliation, but with some of these you have to wonder what possessed some one to risk infection for a dirty little doodle.



More tattoos after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Inside Out’: Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s wildly entertaining life on parole

It’s safe to say that for virtually every moment from the time that Wu-Tang Clan became prominent around 1993 until his sad death in 2004, Ol’ Dirty Bastard—“Russell Jones” to the law enforcement community—was in some kind of legal trouble. He was convicted of second degree assault in 1993 and was arrested for failure to pay child support in 1997. A year later, he pleaded guilty to attempted assault on his wife and was also arrested for shoplifting. It goes on from there. In 2000 he was assigned to a court-mandated drug treatment facility but escaped—as a fugitive he met up with RZA and spent some time in the studio. In Philadelphia he was eventually captured. (DM previously reported on his endlessly interesting FBI file, released in 2012.)

After spending the next two and a half years in prison in New York, he was released on parole on May 1, 2003. Sensing an opportunity, ODB’s manager, Jarred Weisfeld, arranged for VH1 to have a crew follow ODB around for his release and the first few weeks out of jail. The end result was “Inside Out,” which can be viewed below. Actually, it’s a little unclear what this video is— lists the running time as 60 minutes over two episodes. This video isn’t that long, however. What I think this is is episode 1 of “Inside Out”—not sure there was an episode 2—followed by a brief remembrance section that likely doesn’t have anything to do with VH1. In any case, it’s wildly entertaining.
Ol' Dirty Bastard
The life of a mentally troubled rap star is as crazy as anything you’re likely to find. A stretch limo filled with family, friends, and business associates (of course these lines overlap) is there to meet him upon his release. He is immediately presented with a gift of 500 condoms. As the father of 13 children by multiple women, ODB sniffs out the subtext: “They don’t want me makin’ no more babies!” At his press conference the same day as his release, who shows up to take part? Of course, Mariah Carey.

Eventually ODB’s interest in the ladies alienates his sort-of ladyfriend Raquel, who promptly flees back to LA. Within days he’s photographing a silicone-enhanced Playboy model and hitting on women in the street. Meanwhile his new relationship with Roc-A-Fella records is proceeding with the usual complications. We see a few cordial encounters with RZA as well.

The special presents a glimpse of actual parole life that’s not often available on TV. We see ODB successfully pass a drug test and we’re told that, as messy as his life was, he was able to adhere to the 9pm curfew imposed on him. When he signs the paperwork before his release, he’s told that he’s agreeing that parole officers can visit his home more or less anytime, and sure enough, we get to see such a visit. All goes well, except for ODB’s lingering paranoia after the fact.

ODB never really got the psychological help he needed, but nobody could say that he lived an unfulfilled life. “Inside Out” is excellent evidence of both parts of that equation.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Someone is defacing hundreds of copies of Anne Frank’s Diary in Japanese libraries
06:58 am


Anne Frank

Anne Frank

Last month it was discovered that a total of 305 copies of the Japanese translation of The Diary of Anne Frank have been severely defaced—some most likely slashed with a knife, others with entire pages forcefully torn out—in a number of libraries across Tokyo, according to Asahi Shimbun, a major newspaper in Japan. The affected libraries, of which there are 31, have reported no other acts of vandalism or theft, leading authorities to regard the vandalism as the handiwork of a person or persons with a political motive.
The Diary of Anne Frank
The diary is one of the most moving and inspiring documents of the twentieth century. Anne Frank, of course, was a teenager hiding in Amsterdam with her family to evade detection from the Nazis during World War II. The diary covers the years 1942 through 1944, years during which Frank was 13 to 15 years old. In early 1945 she died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In 1947 her diary was published in the Netherlands to widespread acclaim under the title Het Achterhuis (The Annex); the English translation would follow five years later, under the title Diary of a Young Girl, although it is most commonly called simply The Diary of Anne Frank. As one of the best-known testimonies about the Holocaust, it has been widely read in Japan and many other countries.

Officials in Japan have commenced an investigation into the mysterious mutilation of hundreds of copies of the diary as well as other books related to her at public libraries across Tokyo. The motive for the mutilations are likely to reflect Japanese politics more than ordinary anti-Semitism per se. The New York Times made reference to vague conspiracies from the late 1970s incorrectly claiming that the name of the Enola Gay B-29 bomber that delivered the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima meant “Kill the Emperor” in Yiddish. Meanwhile, the election of right-wing politician Shinzo Abe as prime minister in 2012 (he had served in the post for a year spanning 2006 and 2007) has emboldened right-wing groups across Japan.
The Diary of Anne Frank
Some libraries have elected to remove materials relating to Anne Frank off the shelves, which means that a personal request will have to be made with a library employee to read them. Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga has expressed disappointment at the damage; “It is extremely regrettable and shameful,” he told reporters. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights group, has issued a statement expressing “shock and deep concern” over the vandalism: “Only people imbued with bigotry and hatred would seek to destroy Anne’s historic words of courage, hope and love in the face of impending doom.”

On a more hopeful note, an anonymous donor has already funded the replacement of 100 copies of The Diary of Anne Frank.

via RocketNews24

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Bullets to the head, arrows to the chest—a twisted new photo series by artist Jon Burgerman

NYC-based British illustrator Jon Burgerman has blogged a darkly hilarious series of digitally altered photos titled “Head Shots,” which depict him being murdered by movie and TV posters in the NYC Subway system, in an effort to call attention to the pervasiveness of violence in culture and entertainment. Via The Fox Is Black:

Jon describes the work as “interventions staged in public” and each image features a violent advertisement found in the New York subway. I’m particularly impressed by how simple and effective these images are at highlighting the violence that exists in ads. Most of us pass these types of images everyday and yet we never stop to notice just how violent they can be.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Swiss Cheese Pervert’ terrorizing women in Philadelphia
08:24 am


Swiss Cheese Pervert

According to Philadelphia magazine, police are on the hunt for a man they’ve coined the “Swiss Cheese Pervert.” Apparently this dude likes to drive around and show his junk to women with a slice of swiss cheese. Yep.


According to the group, the suspect, a heavyset white man estimated to be in his late 40s or early 50s, approaches women while driving a silver or black sedan with his genitals exposed. He then displays a piece of sliced Swiss cheese and offers to pay the women to put the cheese on his penis and perform sexual acts on him using it.


A police source yesterday confirmed that the Special Victims Unit is investigating the man after several women from the Mayfair area filed reports describing similar encounters with a man displaying what the source called a “major sexual cheese fetish.”

If any of our female readers in Philadelphia come in contact with this man and his “major sexual cheese fetish,” you should contact the authorities immediately.

UPDATE: Is this man the “Swiss Cheese Pervert”?


Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Zapruder speaks: Vintage interview with the man who shot the Kennedy assassination
08:24 am


John F. Kennedy
Abraham Zapruder

Abraham Zapruder shot the most famous home movie in history. He was the man whose 26 seconds of film footage captured the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963.

It is the only known film of the entire assassination.

In an interview with Jay Watson, program director with WFAA, an ABC news affiliate, Zapruder described the events he witnessed.

“As I was shooting, as the President was coming down from Houston Street making his turn, it was about a half-way down there, I heard a shot, and he slumped to the side, like this…

“Then I heard another shot or two, I couldn’t say, it was one or two, and I saw his head practically open up, all blood and everything, and I kept on shooting. That’s about all, I’m just sick, I can’t…”

Watson responded by saying that this “pretty well expresses the entire feelings of the whole world.”

The report moves on to videotape of the President’s body arriving at Parklands Hospital, after which a photograph of the Texas School Book Depository is shown and discussed in relation to the shooting. The report ends with news of the arrest of a suspect.

Here, in less than six minutes, is a concise distillation of the events that have obsessed America for 50 years.

H/T ABC News

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Folk singer Roy Harper accused of sexual assault on a child
09:35 am


Roy Harper

British folk singer Roy Harper, 72, has been charged with nine counts of sexual assault perpetrated on a girl from the age of twelve according to published reports.

On Monday, Harper is due at the Hereford Magistrates’ Court to answer the charges. Police in West Mercia have revealed that the alleged offenses were to have been committed between 1975 and 1977.

Harper lives in County Cork, Ireland. The summons was issued on October 16th, but Harper was first questioned about the matter at Heathrow Airport back in February.

Harper has performed with Pink Floyd (that’s his voice on “Have a Cigar”), recorded with Jimmy Page, and Led Zeppelin did a tribute to him, “Hats Off to Roy Harper.” He was having a late in life career resurgence and has just ended a sold-out tour. Harper was awarded MOJO magazine’s “Hero Award” in 2005 and fetted at a 70th birthday celebration at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 2011.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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John Lydon reveals Mick Jagger ‘secretly’ paid Sid Vicious’ legal fees
10:15 am


Mick Jagger
Sid Vicious
John Lydon

John Lydon may have said The Rolling Stones looked “silly” performing at Glastonbury earlier this year, but the former Sex Pistol and PiL frontman has only praise for Mick Jagger.

In an interview with the Daily Record, Lydon has revealed that Jagger ‘secretly’ paid Sid Vicious’ legal fees, after the Pistol’s bass player had been charged with the murder of girlfriend Nancy Spungen. As Lydon told journalist John Dingwall of the Record:

“Nancy Spungen was a hideous, awful person who killed herself because of the lifestyle and led to the destruction and subsequent death of Sid and the whole fiasco. I tried to help Sid through all of that and feel a certain responsibility because I brought him into the Pistols thinking he could handle the pressure. He couldn’t. The reason people take heroin is because they can’t handle pressure. Poor old Sid.

“Her death is all entangled in mystery. It’s no real mystery, though. If you are going to get yourself involved in drugs and narcotics in that way accidents are going to happen. Sid was a lost case. He was wrapped firmly in Malcolm’s shenanigans. It became ludicrous trying to talk to him through the drug haze because all you would hear was, ‘I’m the real star around here’. Great. Carry on. We all know how that’s going to end. Unfortunately, that is where it ended. I miss him very much. He was a great friend but when you are messing with heroin you’re not a human being. You change and you lose respect for yourself and everybody else.

“The only good news is that I heard Mick Jagger got in there and brought lawyers into it on Sid’s behalf because I don’t think Malcolm lifted a finger. He just didn’t know what to do. For that, I have a good liking of Mick Jagger. There was activity behind the scenes from Mick Jagger so I applaud him. He never used it to advance himself publicity-wise.”

Read the whole interview here.

Below, Sid Vicious near last TV appearance on Efrom Allen’s Underground NY Manhattan Cable show from September 18th, 1978. Vicious appeared alongside Nancy Spungen, Stiv Bators and Cynthia Ross (of The B Girls). Spungen was dead less than a month later.

Via the Daily Record

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Virtual child traps online pedophiles
10:14 am

Current Events

Terre des Hommes

Terre des Hommes—an international charity which concentrates on children’s rights based in the Netherlands—has created a virtual 10-year-old girl “from the Philippines” named “Sweetie.” 

Sweetie was designed to track down—and hopefully convict—online pedophiles who use “webcam child sex tourism.”

I’m not sure where Terre des Hommes got these numbers, but they state at any given moment there are least 750,000 pedophiles online. That’s a staggering number of nonces with webcams, IMO.

Warning: This video may be upsetting to some viewers.

Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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