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The bizarre story of the ‘Seven Sutherland Sisters’ girl group & their 37-feet of hair
06.19.2017
08:59 am
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A promotional photo of the Sutherland Sisters.
 
The Sutherland Sisters were all born sometime between 1845 and 1865 in a poor, rural farming community in Cambria, New York. The Sutherland family owned a turkey farm which the girls all worked on, though their barefoot farming days would be short-lived. After their mother passed away in 1867, their father, Fletcher Sutherland—a notoriously lazy and unmotivated man who had inherited the farm from his multi-talented father—would spend the rest of his life trying to get rich by pimping his daughters out in various ways including as a musical act. A huge part of the girl’s appeal was the fact that between the seven of them, they possessed 37-feet of hair—an incomprehensible number when, if you do the math quickly in your head, would translate to each sister having at least five feet of hair on her head. Their musical performances would always conclude with their father commanding them to “Let down your hair!’ which they did to the delight of their legions of fans.

While I’m on the topic of the girls’ somewhat disturbing amount of hair, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention their dear mother’s homemade hair tonic which apparently helped her daughters grow hair like weeds. While she was still alive, Mrs. Sutherland would apply her unique “hair growth” tonic (which was made up of bay rum, witch hazel, salt, magnesia and hydrochloric acid), to her daughters’ luxurious hair. Apparently, the crazy concoction Mrs. Sutherland Frankensteined together in her kitchen smelled horrific, and this led to the girls being treated as social outcasts at school. There may have been a sense of collective relief between the sisters after their mother passed as it meant that the mysterious hair tonic, went to the grave along with her.

The shortest hair of all of the siblings belonged to the oldest sister, Sarah whose dark mane measured three feet in length. The record for the longest hair of the seven sisters would go to Victoria who quite literally had to drag seven-feet of hair along with her at all times. The rest of the girls’ hair varied in length from four and a half to six-plus feet each, and their fantastic tresses would attract oglers from all over. As I mentioned, the Sutherland Sisters were also a musical act that performed together under the name of the “Seven Sutherland Sisters” and by all historical accounts were quite talented, though there is no doubt that the real reason that their musical performances played to packed venues was due people wanting to get a look at their storied, Rapunzel-esque locks.
 

A group photo of the ‘Seven Sutherland Sisters’ and their father Fletcher Sutherland (pictured third from the left).
 
The girls’ greedy, opportunistic patriarch quickly realized the cash potential of exploiting his daughters’ alarmingly-long hair and came up with a scheme that would make the family rich beyond their wildest dreams. The crafty Fletcher whipped up his late wife’s repulsive smelling hair tonic and marketed it as the “Greatest Hair Tonic on Earth.”  Fletcher sold over 2.5 million bottles of the tonic with the help of his daughters who embarked on a non-stop promotional tour across the country, which would draw throngs of curious onlookers as well as customers willing to shell out as much as $1.50 for a bottle of the fabled hair-growth tonic, a huge sum of money for anything, especially something that wasn’t considered a necessity, at the time. They were also popular attractions at circuses including Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth, where they were billed by P.T. Barnum as “The World’s Greatest, Most Pleasing Wonders.” The girls were often solicited by individuals who would make grandiose financial promises to them in exchange for some of their hair. But for the first time in their poverty-riddled lives, the Sutherland sisters didn’t need cash as the sale of the tonic and other hair products, which, by 1890 would earn them an astonishing three million dollars in less than five years time. But like a lot of stories that involve people who have hit the financial “jackpot” so-to-speak, the lives of the Sutherland sisters would soon embark on a slow, sad slide downhill.
 

An ad for the Sutherland Sisters ‘Hair and Scalp’ cleaner that included the astonishing measurements of each sister’s hair length.
 
After Fletcher passed away in 1888, the girls all moved back into a mansion that they had built on the very site where their old farmhouse once stood. No expense was spared when it came to the construction of their new home which had fourteen rooms filled with lavish European furniture and even running water, which was a bonafide luxury reserved for the wealthy at the time. Each sister had their own maid who was required to take the very best care of their world-famous hair. Before the construction of the mansion was complete, the sisters would suffer another loss—the death of sister Naomi. Though devasted by her passing, it wouldn’t stop the girls from continuing to live their chosen lifestyle, which now routinely included a steady diet of booze, drugs, non-stop parties and sex orgies which were in stark contrast to their church-going, good-girl images. Other rumors surrounding the girls included the notion that they actively practiced witchcraft—which while it wouldn’t exactly get you burned at the stake like the good-old-days—was still not considered a respectable pastime. Mary, the youngest, who had long suffered from profound psychological issues, became progressively worse and would often spend her days locked away in a room in the mansion before she was formally committed an insane asylum in Buffalo, New York.

Frederick Castlemaine, a French nobleman and noted opium and morphine addict who was pursuing Dora Sutherland (the “pretty” sister), would end up dumping poor Dora and instead would propose to her older sister Isabella and her six feet of hair. The unstable, drug-addled Castlemaine would later commit suicide during one of the sisters’ promotional tours. Victoria Sutherland, who during good times would adorn her nails with diamonds, was evicted from the home by her siblings in disgust after she married a nineteen-year-old suitor who was nearly 30-years her junior. Sarah Sutherland would pass away in 1919 and Dora would be killed in a car accident near Hollywood that same year while her remaining sisters were trying to entice a movie studio into making a film based on their remarkable lives. The advent of the uber-stylish hairdo known as the “Bob” in 1920 would deliver the final death-blow to the family as their long hair was now considered completely out of vogue. The sisters would all die penniless including Grace who, along with her five feet of hair, outlived all of her siblings, and would end up being buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave after passing away at the age of 92.

I’ve posted some photos of the Sutherland Sisters below as well as some other historical artifacts associated with their mythical hair below.
 

Dora Sutherland.
 

Grace Sutherland.
 

Mary Sutherland.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.19.2017
08:59 am
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‘The Modern Antiquarian’: Julian Cope’s guided tour of the megaliths of Britain
06.16.2017
12:07 pm
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Sure, everyone knows about Stonehenge, but it might not be quite as widely known that stone rings and megaliths dating back several thousand years, well before the birth of Christ, are quite common in Europe and especially Great Britain. Julian Cope, formerly of the Teardrop Explodes, set out to remedy that with his stupendously informative books The Modern Antiquarian: A Pre-Millennial Odyssey Through Megalithic Britain (1998) and The Megalithic European: The 21st Century Traveller in Prehistoric Europe (2004).

One of Cope’s pet tropes is the concept of “moving forward,” an idea strong enough to yoke his original clan in the postpunk movement and his country’s forebears of the Neolithic era (4500-2000 B.C.), as in his opening salvo, which runs, “Rock and roll didn’t start off as an excuse for sloth. It started off because people were forward-thinking mofos.” Amusingly, at one point Cope compares the druids responsible for a given megalith as exhibiting the same mentality as “glam rockers.” This theme would find even deeper expression in Cope’s sprawling 2012 book Copendium.
 

  
Cope’s enthusiasm is undeniably infectious, whether in his survey of Krautrock, his investigation into Japanese rock, or his obsession with megalithic stone circles. In 2000, between the publication of the two books, the BBC aired an hour-long program called The Modern Antiquarian in which Cope drives all around Britain for two weeks in order to visit the many remarkable hill forts, monuments, stone circles, and barrows, especially in the west and far north of Britain.

Stonehenge and Avebury are the two best-known sites, but to his credit Cope does not emphasize them much, opting instead to show off locales such as the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney, Scotland, which may well be the oldest henge site in the British Isles; Long Meg and Her Daughters in Cumbria, the sixth-largest stone circle in Britain; and the Callanish Stones in the Outer Hebrides, which was possibly a prehistoric lunar observatory.
 

Section of the Ring of Brodgar, in Orkney, Scotland
 
It’s difficult to look at the meticulously arranged stones and not wonder what it could all have been about. This is far from the often hoax-y realm of crop circles—after all, this may be the earliest tangible evidence of religious or scientific feeling in ancient peoples. Cope penetratingly points out that any of these constructs suggests the existence of “free time,” in that a culture that was scrapping for mere survival could never have undertaken such projects.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.16.2017
12:07 pm
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War Games: A 15th-century guide to violent combat
06.15.2017
09:58 am
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So, you want to learn how to fight like one of the world’s great duelists? Or maybe like a warrior from Game of Thrones? How about Jaime Lannister? Or, Brienne of Tarth? Or, maybe Bron or Ser Arthur Dayne, or even like the “Hound” Sandor Clegane? Well, you could do no better than seek some useful advice from one of the world’s oldest fencing manuals Flower of Battle (Fior di Battaglia, Flos Duellatorum) published in 1409 and written by the legendary Italian fencing master Fiore Furlano de Cividale d’Austria, delli Liberi da Premariacco or Fiore dei Liberi for short.

Del Liberi was an itinerant knight of the late 14th and early 15th-centuries, a man of action, an occasional diplomat, and a highly respected fencing master. He traveled across Italy, France and Germany training young condottieri in the art of swordsmanship and dueling. He was very particular in his choice of pupils and only taught those he considered to be worthy of his knowledge. On at least five separate occasions he fought duels of honor against those he refused to teach. Unsurprisingly, he always won. Though I’m sure his opponents would have picked up a few tricks from their humiliation.

It is not known when exactly del Liberi was born, though an estimate suggests he was born in Italy circa 1350. This is solely based on his introduction to the Flower of Battle where stated he had been training as a swordsman for “forty years or more.” As most swordsmen started learning their craft around the age of ten, this would make del Liberi in his fifties when he first started work on his combat manual Flower of Battle in the early 1400s.

Flower of Battle is a beautifully illustrated guide book split into several different sections explaining the intricacies of combat. These include top tips on wrestling, defenses against an enemy using a dagger, fighting with daggers (and not getting stabbed), fighting with a one-handed sword (and not getting killed), fighting with a two-handed sword (and not getting a hernia), as well as fighting in armor (without falling over), how to use a poleax (and win!), fighting with a longsword (and verily smite your enemies), and jousting and combat with a lance and spear (without falling off your horse). The teacher is identified with a gold crown on his head. The first set of illustrations in each section shows how to attack, the second how to defend.

The manual is believed to have been written for the wealthy nobleman Niccolò III d’Este who wanted his sons schooled in the art of combat—something that was essential for maintaining power in the tumultuous 15th-century. Only four editions of del Liberi’s Flower of Battle are known to exist. This one (in the public domain) is kept at the Getty where a full English translation of the book can also be found. Now that Canada has made dueling legal once again, it may be time to learn how to duel like the Italian master Fiore dei Liberi or at least like Jon Snow or Arya Stark.
 
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Hone up on your combat skills, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.15.2017
09:58 am
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‘The Nuclear War Fun Book’: Morbid laffs from the end of the world
06.14.2017
12:26 pm
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The prospect of catastrophic nuclear war has an interesting effect on the human psyche. My dad used to work for a man named Herman Kahn, who became famous in the early 1960s for writing a book called Thinking About the Unthinkable, which sought to analyze outcomes in which some portion of humanity survived the conflict more or less normally. Kahn’s reward for this was being savagely caricatured in the form of the Groeteschele character played by Walter Matthau in Sidney Lumet’s 1964 drama Fail-Safe. (Just a few months earlier, Kahn, along with Wernher von Braun, John von Neumann, and Edward Teller, became one of the quartet of people that went into the creation of Peter Sellers’ delirious eponym in Stanely Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.)

The Reagan years were an interesting time to be terrified of a war between the Russians and the Americans. For whatever reason the year 1983 was the, er, “ground zero” for the trope in pop culture. You had the absolute non plus ultra of “event TV” in ABC’s televised movie The Day After, which on November 20, 1983, imagined a nuclear warhead taking out Lawrence, Kansas. The same year saw the release of the grim Jane Alexander movie Testament and the sprightly hacker fantasy WarGames, both of which drew narrative oomph from the prospect of mushroom clouds over America. And of course the Wolverines of Red Dawn would beat the Russians guerrilla style a year later.

In 1982, however, a delicious and peculiar bit of black comedy hit the bookshelves, a parody of a children’s activity book that was executed almost too well—squint, and you just might mistake it for an earnest and actual fun book for the Armageddon to come. Which might be a backhanded way of saying the book isn’t really all that funny. But it sure is interesting.

The book was written by Victor Langer and Walter Thomas. You have to give them credit, they really nailed the tone they were going after, from the earnest assurance that some “prewar” activities have been included so that kids don’t have to wait until nuclear disaster strikes to begin having fun, to the bleak and vivid prospect of a “paper doll nuclear wardrobe,” which enables you to dress up mom and dad in a bodybag.

I don’t know much about the two authors, except that parodies such as this was Langer’s stock in trade for a while there—other titles included The IRS Coloring Book, Surviving Your Baby and Child, and a parody of The Whole Earth Catalog under the title The Whole Whog Catalog that somehow featured an introduction by none other than Chevy Chase.

Now that we’re annoyed at the Russians again, this book weirdly seems very much of our own time somehow, which might account for the startling prices the book is fetching on Amazon.
 

 

 
More from this remarkable little book after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.14.2017
12:26 pm
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Gay Japanese erotica from the 17th-19th centuries (NSFW)
06.14.2017
10:22 am
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Miyagawa Chōshun (1683-1753) - scenes from ‘A Rare and Important Nanshoku Shunga Handscroll.’
 
Not all Japanese art is cherry blossoms, surging waves, and exotic birds, there is a whole world of shunga or erotica filed away among Japan’s beautiful canvases, silks, and scrolls kept by museums and in private collections.

Shunga’s popularity really started during the Edo Period 1603-1868 when the country was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate. This rise in popularity stemmed largely from the dominant male population which had massively increased as a result of the high number of samurai/retainers required to guard provincial lords and their estates and maintain law and order, and through the surge in agricultural laborers required to produce the food to feed this large population. To get an idea of what we’re talking about, the city of Edo—the former name for Tokyo—had a population of one million by 1721. This made Edo the largest city on the planet. But what’s more staggering is that seventy percent (70%) of the city’s population were male. This meant a lot of horny blokes looking for good wank material.

Apparently, the word shunga means “pictures of spring”—spring being a euphemism for erotica probably as in the English equivalent “the joys of spring.” (If you can’t figure that out, I’m not going to explain it for you.) Though shunga was predominantly used by men, it was very popular with the ladies, too. It was also considered very lucky or at least a bringer of good fortune to those who carried a shunga scroll on their person.

When it came to sex, the Japanese have always been far more liberated than most other countries. Indeed, homosexuality and lesbianism have a long history in Japan going way back to ancient times—long before people started documenting such pleasures. In fact, gay sex was AOK in Japan up until 1872 when sodomy was briefly outlawed. This was quickly repealed in 1880. However, as of 2000, sexual orientation is not protected by national civil rights laws which means the LGBT community do not have any recourse to legal protection against discriminations—so much for progress… I guess it’s a mixed bag there.

While most shunga is heterosexually oriented, there is a wealth of gay shunga featuring samurais and old Buddhist masters indulging in sex with young males—often dressed as geishas. These illustrations were called nanshoku or “male colors” a term used to describe the man-on-man action which depicted (usually) idealized pin-ups from the worlds of ancient myth, the military, religion, theater, class, and last but not least, prostitution.
 
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Miyagawa Chōshun - scenes from ‘A Rare and Important Nanshoku Shunga Handscroll.’
 
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Miyagawa Chōshun.
 
More gay Japanese erotica, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.14.2017
10:22 am
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A Billy Nicholls LP recently sold for $10,000, so, um, who the hell IS this guy???
06.13.2017
03:01 pm
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I have a pretty strict rule for record shopping. Anything that catches my fancy can go in the bag for any reason, but there’s a $30 per platter limit. Not $31.99, not $30.01, $30, period. This applies to new AND used vinyl, and it’s kept me on the terra firma side of some potentially stupid financial cliffs. The specific figure was a compromise I devised to let me possess an original copy of PiL’s 3X12” Metal Box so long as I got one VG+ for $90 or less (which wasn’t so difficult—in fact I landed one on a routine dig for $75), but to keep me from impulse-spending idiotic cash on rarities I would probably barely listen to and only keep around as useless trophies of successful hunts.

Hence, I find the very idea of a record worth thousands of dollars utterly absurd and even a bit sickening, especially when the CD version can be had for a buck or two—sorry “connoisseurs,” but if you care $1,000 more about the format than the song, you’re not a music lover, you’re a baseball card collector—but the obsession still fascinates me, because I know I’m a part of the pathology. The main difference is in the degree of restraint to which I hold myself, and not because I’ve such a strong and resolute character, but because I know I don’t.

So I’m always interested to read the blog posts on discogs.com running down the highest sale prices logged in its music media marketplace. Oftentimes such sought-after items are deep obscurities of genuine archival interest, but a lot of the time it’s some asshole who unaccountably blew over $1,600 (actual recent sale price) on an O.G. copy of Earth A.D. just because he could (and it’s invariably a “he”), even though multiple subsequent pressings are plentifully available in the $5-10 ballpark. But recently a staggering $10,300 became the new going rate for Would You Believe, the 1968 debut album by a British songwriter named Billy Nicholls.

Part of this is accounted for by the particular copy’s condition (excellent), and part by extreme scarcity—it was never actually released, so only about 100 copies exist, all of them promos, and one went for £7,312 (ballpark of $9,000 USD) in 2009. Nicholls himself isn’t exactly an unknown figure, in fact his decades-long career is still going. His “I Can’t Stop Loving You (Though I Try)” had been a hit in the ‘70s, ‘80s AND ‘oughts by artists as head-swimmingly diverse as Leo Sayer, The Outlaws, Phil Collins, and Keith Urban, and Nicholls has often collaborated with Pete Townshend.
 

 
But enough about his behind-the-scenes bona fides, the story of Would You Believe is a quite captivating one. Nicholls’ talents were singled out by erstwhile Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham after his falling-out with that band, and like Chas Chandler going all in on Jimi Hendrix, Oldham devoted significant energies to making Nicholls a very big deal. From The Rising Storm:

The single [“Would You Believe”] has been described as “the most over-produced record of the sixties”, and with reason; a modest psych-pop love song, it’s swathed in overblown orchestration including baroque strings, harpsichord, banjo (!), tuba (!!), and demented answer-back vocals from Steve Marriott. A trifle late for the high tide of UK psych, it failed to trouble the charts. Unfazed, Oldham and Nicholls pressed on with the album, Nicholls providing a steady stream of similarly well-crafted ditties and a bevy of top-rated London session men providing the backings, thankfully with somewhat more subtlety than on the prototype cut. The album was ready for pressing just as the revelation of Oldham’s reckless financial overstretch brought about Immediate’s overnight demise, and only about a hundred copies ever made it to wax, most of which somehow surfaced in Sweden. The album became one of the mythical lost albums of the sixties, and original copies now fetch over a grand in GBP.

The record was intended by Oldham to be an acutely British answer to Pet Sounds—evidently nobody told him about Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band—and a look at the session details confirms that Oldham was NOT fucking around. Studio musicians for the sessions included members and future members of bands like The Small Faces, Humble Pie, and Led Zeppelin, plus Stones/Kinks pianist Nicky Hopkins. But not unlike The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, its Edwardian harpsichord whimsy, sunshiney loopiness, and baroque production saw a release date just a hair too late for the initial psych moment, after rock music had moved on to harder stuff, so it’s hard to say it would have done well even if it had been released (Village Green is rightly regarded as a classic NOW, but remember, it totally tanked in its day).

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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06.13.2017
03:01 pm
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Slave to Love: The strange fetishized romance between a Victorian Gentleman and a Servant

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Servant and Master: Hannah Cullwick and Arthur Munby.
 
Arthur Munby was a lawyer, civil servant, flâneur, and minor poet. Hannah Cullwick was a maid of all work—the lowliest of all servants. When they met each other by chance on Oxford Street, London in 1854, the pair began an obsessive and fetishistic relationship that lasted for over fifty years—until Hannah’s death in 1909.

Munby was a middle-class gentleman. He was therefore expected to perform his role as a gentleman by the class codes of Victorian society. Munby was respectable and seemingly decent but he had a dark secret—he was a voyeur who was deeply aroused by the appearance of grimy working-class women. He loved their hard, masculine shape. Their muscles, their scars, and deformities. He had one particular obsession for poor women who had lost their noses through accident or by disease. Munby photographed many of these women claiming it was part of his “studies” into working-class life.

Hannah was of yeoman stock. She started work as a servant girl at the age of fourteen. Her father had run several businesses which had failed. This meant Hannah was sent away to work as a drudge. But Hannah had a fetish for work. The dirtier, nastier, more degrading, the more she enjoyed it. She often stripped naked to clean out chimneys, sitting on a rafter high up in the chimney surrounded by and covered in hot smoldering soot.

It seemed this pair were somehow destined to meet.

There were two important events that pushed Hannah towards her relationship with Munby. She often read fortunes using tea leaves for her fellow servants. One day she saw the face of her future suitor—a respectable, bearded gentleman. It seemed highly unlikely that Hannah would ever enjoy a relationship with such a man, but she felt it might one day happen. The second event was when she attended a performance of the theatrical spectacle The Death of Sardanapalus. Based on the celebrated poem by Lord Byron, The Death of Sardanapalus tells the story of the love of a slave Myrrha for the weak king Sardanapalus:

Master, I am your slave! Man, I have loved!—
Loved you, I know not by what fatal weakness,
Although a Greek, and a born a foe to Monarchs—
A slave, and hating fetters—an Ionian,
And, therefore, when I love a stranger, more
Degraded by that passion than by chains!
Still I have loved you…

Hannah identified totally with Myrrha—who although a slave was free in her love.

On May 26th, 1854, Munby stopped Hannah on the street and quizzed her about her work as a servant. Hannah recognized Munby as the face she had seen foretold in her tea leaves. It was literally a love at first sight. Munby asked Hannah to write to him describing in exact detail every aspect of her work. Munby expressed an interested in the more degrading, demeaning, and physically dirty details—how Hannah’s skin would be smeared with soot and grime, how the work exhausted her.

Hannah wrote Munby every week. She also kept a diary, which she read to him when they met. Together they played out roles. She called Munby “Massa” and wore a dog’s collar to show she was his slave. He measured her biceps (fourteen inches) and hands (four inches) and allowed himself to be carried by her around his home as if he were a child or baby. Hannah also had a fetish for cleaning Munby’s shoes with her tongue—claiming she could tell where “Massa” had been by the taste of the soil on his soles.

Munby photographed Hannah in her various roles—as a maid, blacked-up as a chimney sweep, dressed as a man, and as a middle-class lady in a fine dress. Munby’s love for Hannah led to his proposing marriage. Hannah was at first against this suggestion as she felt it would finish her sense of empowerment over Munby. Eventually, she relented and the couple married in secret in 1873.

But Hannah was stifled by their marriage and the pleasure she had once found in being a servant, a slave to Munby was gone. She left their home and returned to work as a servant in the north of England. However, their secret, obsessive relationship continued well into old age with secret meetings and a flurry of letters sent between the two.

During one of their last meetings, Hannah prostrated herself in front of Munby and licked his boots clean. Munby was embarrassed and pulled Hannah up to kiss the “sweetness of her lips—her country lips which [had] the velvet touch.” Though they unquestionably loved each other, it seems unlikely that their relationship was ever consummated. Their sexual pleasure appears to have been solely derived from their role-playing and the strange power games of master and servant.

As Munby was a respectable middle-class man, and Hannah a lowly servant, their taboo relationship and their marriage remained secret throughout their lives. Hannah died exhausted and senile in 1909, Munby died the following year. At the reading of his will, the full story and extent of their love for each other was revealed. A box containing hundreds of photographs, letters, and diaries between husband and wife was offered to the British Museum who refused it on moral grounds. This box was then given to Trinity College, Cambridge, under the proviso it was not to be opened until 1950.
 
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Hannah cleaning boots.
 
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Hannah blacked-up from cleaning the soot from chimneys.
 
More photographs of Hannah Cullwick plus a short film, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.13.2017
09:54 am
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Grateful Dead seen in San Francisco local news footage at famous ‘Death of a Hippie’ ceremony, 1967
06.09.2017
12:57 pm
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In the spring of 1967 a tourist bus to transport curious gawkers through the new “hippie” district of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco sprang into existence. The bus actually drew a great deal of attention at the time, including derisive commentary from newspaper columnist Herb Caen and Hunter S. Thompson as mentioned in this DM article from two years ago. This was perhaps the most noteworthy manifestation of the media frenzy that descended on the city of San Francisco in 1967.

After the famous Summer of Love had come and gone and a reported 100,000 young people descended on the heart of Haight-Ashbury, the local residents began to tire of the hubbub. R. Crumb was exercising his usual skepticism of idealism but also probably simply reporting accurately when he commented:
 

The Haight-Ashbury was appealing. ... It was much more open than any other place. But the air was so thick with bullshit you could cut it with a knife. Guys were running around saying, “I’m you and you are me and everything is beautiful, so get down and suck my dick.” These young middle-class kids were just too dumb about it. It was just too silly. It had to be killed.

 
Thus it was that a group calling itself the Diggers arranged a mock wake and a mock funeral to mark the death of “Hippie, devoted son of Mass Media,” as the sardonic invitation had it. The event was scheduled for Friday, October 6, 1967.
 

 
As the Berkeley Barb reported just hours before the funeral, “Purpose of exorcism is to ‘free the boundaries of the Haight-Ashbury district’ and destroy the ‘we/they’ concept inherent in the idea of ‘hip’ community according to one member of the Committee for Community.”
 

 
It’s stated at the end there that Ron Thelin would also be closing the Psychedelic Bookshop “for good.” The Psychedelic Bookshop had been an important epicenter for the hippie movement, so the decision of Thelin and his brother Jay to shut down the store on the same day as the hippie funeral surely marked the end of an era.

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.09.2017
12:57 pm
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The Algiers Motel Incident: Detroit police play murderous ‘death game’ with teens during 1967 riot
06.08.2017
02:37 pm
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The Algiers Motel Incident
 
At 2:00 am on July 26th, 1967, the Detroit Police Department received a call: “At the Algiers Motel, check for dead persons.” When police arrived, they found the bodies of three black teenagers. It was Day 4 of rioting in the city, which would prove to be one of the most damaging community events in American history. What became known as “the Algiers Motel incident” is the most infamous episode to take place during the uprising.

There were a number of issues in the city of Detroit that led to the July 1967 rebellion (it’s still debated how the event should be categorized), but police brutality—namely the use of violence by the largely white police force against the city’s majority black residents—was front and center. During the early hours of July 23rd, police raided a blind pig located at 12th Street and Clairmount Avenue on the city’s near west-side. As rumors circulated that officers had beaten some of those arrested, a young black man threw a rock at a cop car. It wasn’t long before someone broke a store window and people began looting. Hundreds of fires were set over the next few days, as residents clashed with local and state police, and eventually the National Guard, while looting continued. On July 27th, order was restored and the disturbance officially ended. All told, they were over 7,000 arrests, nearly 1,200 injuries, and 43 people died. Many of those who lost their lives were killed because they were—mistakenly—thought to have been snipers.
 
12th Street, July 23rd, 1967
12th Street, July 23rd, 1967.

National Guardsmen and city residents
National Guardsmen, with weapons drawn, as city residents look on.

A National Guardsman watches for snipers
A National Guardsman watches for snipers amidst the chaos.

Not long after midnight on the morning of July 26th, sniper fire was reported coming from the area around the Algiers Motel—specifically the Algiers manor house, which was adjacent to the Woodward Avenue motel on Virginia Park Street. Police and National Guardsmen moved in quickly on the manor. By the time law enforcement left the scene, Aubrey Pollard, 19, Fred Temple, 18, and Carl Cooper, 17, were dead. Five days later, the Detroit News broke the story. In his 1968 book on the subject, The Algiers Motel Incident, author John Hersey noted what had become evident.

It is by now, on Monday, July 31, clear that the killings in the Algiers were not executions of snipers, looters, or arsonists caught red-handed in felonious crimes in the heat of a riot, but rather that they were murders embellished by racist abuse, indiscriminate vengeance, sexual jealousy, voyeurism, wanton blood-letting, and sadistic physical and mental tortures characterized by the tormentors as ‘a game.’

The Algiers Motel Incident was written quickly and was controversial upon release; Hersey received much in the way of criticism for its seemingly haphazard structure. Reading it nearly fifty years after it was published, I would argue that the narrative is purposeful, with often powerful results. Hersey interviewed everyone he could, including traumatized witnesses, distraught family members, and, incredibly, the security guard and three police officers suspected of wrongdoing. The book is undeniably harrowing and heartbreaking.
 
Aubrey Pollard's parents
Aubrey Pollard’s parents: Aubrey Pollard, Sr. and Rebecca Pollard. Their grief is palpable in the pages of ‘The Algiers Motel Incident.’

When I’m not writing for Dangerous Minds, I’m working as an archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library, which is a part of Wayne State University in Detroit. Danielle L. McGuire, an associate professor in the history department at Wayne State, has been conducting research at the Reuther for a book she is writing on the Algiers episode. Her essay, “Murder at the Algiers Motel,” has been included in the new anthology, Detroit 1967, published by Wayne State University Press. We have an excerpt from Danielle’s stirring account of the waking nightmare that was the Algiers Motel incident.

 
The Algiers Motel
View of the Algiers Motel, with the manor in the background, July 1967.

In the early-morning hours of July 26, 1967, a flurry of Detroit police officers, National Guardsmen, and state police officers, led by Senak and two of his colleagues, raided the Algiers Motel after hearing reports of heavy “sniper fire” nearby. The Algiers, a once-stately manor house in the Virginia Park neighborhood of central Detroit, was a relatively seedy place, what Hersey described as a “transient” hotel, with a reputation among police as a site for narcotics and prostitution. But that night, because of the uprising and citywide curfew, many people sought refuge at the Algiers, including two white runaways from Ohio, a returning Vietnam veteran, and the friends and members of the Dramatics, a doo-wop group who performed songs like “Inky Dinky Wang Dang Do” at the Swinging Time Revue, headlined by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, downtown at the Fox Theater.

According to one witness quoted in the Detroit News on August 2, it was a “night of horror and murder.” Just past midnight, police and soldiers tore through the motel’s tattered halls and run-down rooms with shotguns and rifles. They ransacked closets and drawers, turned over beds and tables, shot into walls and chairs, and brutalized motel guests in a desperate and vicious effort to find the “sniper.” At some point during this initial raid, David Senak and Patrolman Robert Paille encountered Fred Temple, a teen on the phone with his girlfriend. Senak and Paille barged into the room, startling Temple, who dropped the phone. According to Senak, quoted in Sidney Fine’s Violence in the Model City, he and Paille fired “almost simultaneously” at Temple, who crumpled to the ground in a pool of blood.

When Senak and Paille failed to find any weapons, Senak ordered all the guests against the wall in the first-floor lobby. One of the young black men at the hotel that night, seventeen-year-old Carl Cooper, rushed down the stairs and came face-to-face with a phalanx of heavily armed police and guardsmen. A witness, quoted in a report by Detective Inspector Albert Schwaller, heard Cooper say, “Man, take me to jail—I don’t have any weapon,” just before hearing the gunshot that tore through his chest.

Police herded the other guests, a group of young black men and two white women, past Cooper’s bloody corpse, into the gray and beige magnolia- papered lobby, and told them to face the east wall with their hands over their heads. Even though two young men were already dead, the lineup was the beginning of what Hersey called the “death game.”

The details of exactly what happened next are complicated and convoluted—clear memories forever lost to the chaos of the moment, the tricks of time, and the disparate recollections of the survivors traumatized by violence and terror. But this is the gist of what we know: three Detroit policemen, David Senak, Ronald August, and Robert Paille, and a private guard, Melvin Dismukes, took charge of the brutal interrogation. They wanted to know who had the gun, who was the sniper, and who was doing the shooting.

 
Federal conspiracy trial
L-R: Ronald August, Melvin Dismukes, Robert Paille and David Senak. Federal conspiracy trial, February 25th, 1970.

When the young men and women who were lined up against the wall denied shooting or having any weapons, the officers mercilessly beat them, leaving gashes and knots on the victims’ heads and backs. According to another witness interviewed by Schwaller, a police officer “struck [a] Negro boy so hard that it staggered [him] and almost sent him down to his knees.” A military policeman, part of the contingent of federal paratroopers and National Guardsmen sent to help restore order in Detroit, who arrived at the Algiers in the midst of the raid, is cited by Fine as seeing a Detroit patrolman “stick a shotgun between the legs of one male and threaten to ‘blow his testicles off.’” Senak and his colleagues raged against the two white women working as prostitutes at the Algiers, Karen Malloy and Juli Hysell, calling them “white niggers” and “nigger lovers.” Both women testified that police ripped off their dresses, pushed their faces against the wall, and smashed guns into the their temples and the small of their backs. Roderick Davis, the stocky Dramatics singer who sported a stylish conk and moustache, told Hersey that Senak sneered, “Why you got to fuck them? What’s wrong with us?” Another witness told Schwaller that he heard one of the cops say, “We’re going to get rid of all you pimps and whores.”

Then, the “death game” really began. The police pulled the unarmed men one by one into different rooms and interrogated them at gunpoint. Davis told Schwaller that Senak took him into a room, forced him to lie down, and then shot into the floor. “I’ll kill you if you move,” Senak said as he left the room and returned to the lobby.

 
Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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06.08.2017
02:37 pm
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Tijuana Bibles: Cheap, nasty, porno comic books featuring Mickey, Donald, Popeye, & more (Very NSFW)
06.06.2017
10:24 am
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Tijuana Bibles were eight-page, hand-sized comic books featuring well-known cartoon characters, sporting heroes, and Hollywood film stars in a sequence of hardcore sexual shenanigans. They first appeared sometime in the 1920s as illustrated dirty jokes featuring squeaky clean comic strip characters like Tillie the Toiler and Jiggs and Maggie from “Bringing Up Baby.” The more straightlaced the character, the more outrageous the smut.

Their instant success led to far more explicit hardcore tales featuring famous movie stars like Mae West, Robert Mitchum, Dorothy Lamour, Greta Garbo, even Laurel & Hardy, alongside such well-loved cartoon figures as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Popeye and Betty Boop porking the fuck out of everything that moved. They were cheap titillation intended to arouse and (in their own way) educate the virginal. They were subversive and offensively humorous.

The name “Tijuana Bible” came from the mistaken belief these comics were produced south of the border and smuggled into the USA. They were actually produced and printed in the States by local artists and independent businesses who hid behind fake publishing titles like “London Press” and “Tobasco Publishing Co.” They were sold under-the-counter in tobacco shops, bars, barbers and bowling alleys at 25 cents a pop. Their greatest popularity was during the Depression of the 1930s, eventually petering out with the arrival of real porn mags in the 1950s. Tijuana Bibles are now considered by many comic book historians to be among the very first underground comix. More importantly, these cheaply produced comic books helped unfetter sex and sexuality from the weight of societal and religious strictures of guilt and taboo by making sex seem fun, natural, and something to be greatly enjoyed.

A man called Quinn has scanned a whole selection of these “politically incorrect literary gems” which can be viewed here.
 
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More examples of Tijuana Bibles, after the jump..

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.06.2017
10:24 am
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