follow us in feedly
Talking Heads: Max Headroom interviews Sting and David Byrne


 
Max Headroom, now there was a weird-ass experiment. In hindsight the digital character is the very definition of a “curio.” It takes only a few seconds of watching Max to remember just how irritating he was, a stuttering, condescending, smarmy non-entity (literally) who is devoid of content (making him a natural pitchman for Coca Cola, which he was for several national advertising campaigns). Watching authentic artists like Sting and David Byrne interact with Max is a little painful. 

Before the narrative sci-fi show Max Headroom descended on U.S. shores in 1987, British audiences had been “enjoying” The Max Headroom Show, which featured interviews and music videos, throughout 1985 and 1986. In the first clip, Sting is promoting The Dream of the Blue Turtles as well as The Bride, his first movie after Dune, so it must be 1985. True to Max’s essential vapidity, they discuss shoes for most of the interview. The strategy of intersplicing unmotivated stock footage resembles nothing so much as a short film by Lelaina Pierce as recut by Michael Grates, to invoke the Winona Ryder and Ben Stiller characters from Reality Bites.
 

 
Of course Sting is inherently annoying—check out his shades—but it’s really not his fault in this case; David Byrne’s naturally distanced temperament works a lot better. Unfortunately, the clip, put up by the official Talking Heads YouTube account, gets badly out of sync after a couple of minutes, but given that it’s Max Headroom, it hardly matters. Byrne is there to promote True Stories, his only directorial feature, so it must be about a year later than the Sting interview.

The Max Headroom Show, not to be confused with the narrative show Max Headroom, was the original Short Attention Span Theater. As many have noted, it was the perfect plastic entertainment for the Reagan era, so much so that Garry Trudeau in Doonesbury turned the sitting president into an unfunny imitation called Ron Headrest.

In retrospect what’s interesting is that the technology was so evidently driving the car—the technical feat of an electronic Matt Frewer cackling at Sting is actually impressive, but the form was miles ahead of the content. Space Ghost Coast to Coast, which hit in the 1990s, evened the scales a bit more successfully.
 
Max Headroom interviews Sting:

 
Max’s interview with David Byrne after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Hey baby: Woman walks around NYC for 10 hours, is harassed 100 times, the supercut
10.28.2014
12:56 pm

Topics:
Feminism

Tags:
NYC
street harassment


 
I think a lot of women in New York (or any dense urban area, really) fantasize about walking around with a hidden camera. Sometimes the shit that men feel entitled to say to you is so baffling, you feel like you need an audio-visual record of it for people (well, other men, really) to believe it. There is no response that will assuredly get you out of this unwanted situation. Something as formal as a brief nod in their direction might inspire them to follow you up the street, but ignoring them can be just as bad, since a certain kind of guy is terrifyingly infuriated by being ignored—it’s a very short trip from “hey baby” to “fuck you, bitch!” and you’re never sure what kind of a dude you’re dealing with.

I see a lot of guys in the comment section of this video defending the men who are just rattling off the more seemingly-innocuous greetings, so let me relay to you my best/worst New York City cat-calling story.

One morning, when I was walking to work, I was about ten feet behind a guy on the sidewalk. Across the street was a woman struggling with two very full grocery bags in her arms, and a very tired-looking child. The guy was eyeing her, slowing down as she slowed down, waiting for an opportunity to say something to her, but she was obviously very busy. At one point, she looks back at her sleepy kid (who was maybe about four), says something and he nods. She then sets down her bags and purse. Her kid lifts up his shirt, and his mother pulls out a needle—this is all plainly visible.

The man then stops, and yells, “Hey baby! You got a man at home?!?” as she is administering insulin to her child on the street!

So for those of you protesting, “Oh that guy is just saying ‘hello!’—please keep in mind that it’s pretty difficult to enjoy a friendly greeting from a strange man after god-knows-how-much bullshit we may have already heard earlier that day. At the very least, save it for the bars—or better yet, join a dating service.

I assure you, you’ll make a better impression.
 

 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Breathtaking photos of Elizabeth Taylor’s 1976 trip to Iran
10.28.2014
11:58 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
Elizabeth Taylor
Iran


 
In 1976, Iran Air organized a Persian vacation for none other than Elizabeth Taylor. The trip was shot by Iranian-American photographer Firooz Zahedi—friend to Taylor and cousin of her then-boyfriend Ardeshir Zahedi, the Iranian Ambassador to the US. This was three years before the (US-facilitated) Iranian Revolution and the installment of a theocratic constitution, so these photos were taken during the ultra-cosmopolitan years of pre-revolutionary Iranian chicness. Nonetheless, Taylor looks perfectly at home in both modern and ancient settings, including Persepolis, Shiraz and Isfahan

There are references to more conservative Iranian religious traditions in the shoot. In a scene outside of a Mosque, you can see Liz in a chador, which would have been expected of a woman coming to worship or pray, but was at the time generally eschewed as daily wear (outside of small villages) in favor of “Western” clothing. On the opposite end of the spectrum we see Taylor above, costumed in tribal garments, posed as an Odalisque (female slave or concubine), at the Tehran Hilton Hotel. Now of course, there would be backlash against the cultural appropriation of such a photo, but you can’t deny the captivating beauty of the staging, or Taylor herself.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Charles Bukowski, Jeff Spicoli & Lester Bangs on PCP’: Origins of ‘The Derek Tape’ revealed!


 

“Hey, did you get the boot off?”

“Dude, mission accomplished! Gnarly.”


Greetings exchanged, so begins “The Derek Tape,” a fascinating phone conversation between a very relaxed record store clerk (Kurt) and a full-time hesher (Derek) in Los Angeles circa 1992. If it sounds familiar, you’ve likely heard it before. Derek does most of the talking (there’s a good reason it’s not called “The Kurt Tape”), much of which concerns Derek’s reasons for wanting to put his neighbor, Terry, in the hospital, and his intention to do just that. Once the conversation turns to metal lore, though, and Derek’s enthusiasm kicks into high gear, it is hard not to get carried away with him as he talks about the important things in life: the occult significance of Morbid Angel guitarist Trey Azagthoth’s name; the distinction between “tripping” and “flipping” on acid; the relative merits of guitarists Robin Trower, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, and Ritchie Blackmore; and the comparative belief systems of Deicide, Mercyful Fate, Morbid Angel and the Grateful Dead. If only going to the theater could be more like listening to this.

Once jealously guarded and traded among initiates, the tape has taken on a life of its own on the internet. Recently, it’s even been serialized and animated, as you can see at the bottom of this post. I had an inkling that my friend Sean Kelly—whose great old band, Tight Bro’s From Way Back When, was named after a memorable phrase of Derek’s—might be able to give me a clue to the origins of this tape. As it turns out, Sean knows more about the origins of the recording than anyone on Earth, other than Derek and Kurt themselves.
 

Bassist Sean Kelly, second from left

When did you first hear this tape? How did you get a copy?

I moved to LA in the early 90s chasing the obligatory teenage rock stardom dream and ended up playing in a band with a bunch of misfit weirdo drug casualties, one of whom was the now legendary “Kurt” (his name really IS Kurt, but he’s become so mythical to me at this point that quotation marks seem necessary). Shortly thereafter, and after one too many life-threateningly self-destructive episodes, I found myself transplanted to San Francisco, but still remained in contact with Kurt. On one very fateful occasion he came up from LA for a visit and happened to bring along a rare gem that will henceforth and forever be known as “The Derek Tape.”

Kurt was a great collector of the funny and absurd—weird underground art, obscure music, prank call tapes, etc.—but I don’t think he realized how special the gift he created actually was. He just offhandedly gave me the tape and said “Oh hey, I recorded this—you should listen to it sometime—it’s pretty funny.” I don’t recall how long it took me to sit down and listen to it, but suffice to say, and using Derek parlance, “I was blown away just like everyone in the whole fuckin’ place was blown away.” I promptly proceeded to play it for the friends of mine who I thought would appreciate it and only one, really, my comrade Jason Traeger, realized the brilliance of it; most people that heard it were repulsed by what at first aural glance was the insane violent rant of a lunatic, and missed the mostly unintended, but genuine genius of this epic, absurd, comic, tragedy.

I don’t remember anyone but Jason and I listening to it in SF—it was very much our own private little thing that we obsessed over—but we DID make copies of the tape and gave it to the many bands that used to crash on our floors with a “Here’s a little something for you to listen to in the van on the rest of your tour,” and no explanation other than that. I’ve oftentimes been bewildered by how many people know about this thing (I certainly thought I had been keeping it in the family), but I suppose that’s how it got disseminated—the Johnny Appleseed-ism of touring punk bands! In fact, two of my oldest and best friends, Jon Quittner and David Wilcox, who along with Jason and I are equal custodians of the tape (I’d go as far as to call us scholars at this point—ha!), met each other and forged our friendships from different parts of the country over our mutual and rabid appreciation of the tape. I suppose on a smaller level my former band’s name, which is from a line in the tape, helped spread it around too. Kurt, as far as I can tell, had nothing to do with it getting spread around other than happening to put it my filthy mitts almost 25 years ago.
 

 
What else can you tell me about the scenario? They’re talking about the LA area.

Kurt used to work in a record store somewhere in LA (can’t remember where or which one but I’m sure it’s gone now) and Derek was a frequent customer, obviously, obsessed with death, black, and Satanic metal. Kurt was a collector of the weird and absurd and realized how amazing this guy’s obsession was with the genre. He hatched a plan to get him on the phone to talk about his favorite bands and record the conversation clandestinely to add to his collection of oddities. He had no idea that he was going to get the epic tale that ended up unfolding. You can even hear him on the tape periodically trying to get Derek back on the subject of music, not being fully aware of the magically maniacal saga that that was being hurled at him on the other end of the phone. That all being said, I never got the impression, despite the questionable ethics of recording someone without their knowledge, that Kurt was taking advantage of Derek or trying to make fun of him—I think he was genuinely fascinated by Derek’s passion and certainly never intended for it to become what it has—that appears to be entirely my fault! I’ve actually been in the room where it was recorded. Kurt was living there before I moved to SF. It’s in an apartment complex near Franklin and Cahuenga—I never drive by it without thinking that it all happened there!
 

 
Can you shed any light on these two characters?

Well, as far as Derek goes, I only know as much about him as anyone who’s listened to the recording does! Total and utter enigma. Kurt told me very little about Derek, mostly because I haven’t seen him since the day he gave me the tape and I never got the chance to follow up! As far as Kurt goes, I can tell you he was a really cool, sweet guy—very talented guitar player too—who wasn’t nearly as much of a ding-dong as he appears to be on the tape. I’m pretty sure that his conversational demeanor was dictated by a combination of him consciously being a foil to Derek’s madness, and almost certainly being profoundly and epically stoned at the time of the call!
 

 
What makes this thing so fascinating?

Oh man, where do I begin? I feel like this tape could be the source of a university-level psychology, sociology, or Underground Art of the American 20th century class! I could write a fucking dissertation at this point—ha!!

To begin with, it’s an absolutely amazing voyeuristic—and maddeningly finite—slice of the life of a completely unknown, quasi-brilliant American underground character, who basically lets us in on the epic saga of his insane life and all of his passions in a mere 45 minutes. While I stated above that I know nothing about Derek, which is strictly factual, I actually feel like I know EVERYTHING about him through his willingness to reveal so much in this conversation. Hearing this for me was like discovering an unknown mean streets of Los Angeles anti-hero who is the combination of Charles Bukowski, Jeff Spicoli, and Lester Bangs on a heavy dose of PCP. A true folk art discovery in my book. His use—or, more accurately perhaps, abuse—of the English language is extraordinary too. He absolutely creates his own lexicon through the sheer passion for what he’s expressing. I can’t even begin to tell you how many Derek-isms are part of my everyday conversation.

Most people default to the brilliance of this tape being his monologues on the ultimate truths about his favorite Satanic bands and the greatest guitar performances he’s witnessed, which are undeniably and endearingly hilarious, but I think what ultimately makes this recording so fascinating and enduring is the real life tragedy, pain, and suffering of a person struggling to get by in an unforgiving environment on display here, who in the end finds reprieve in his obsessive passion for the music he loves, and thank all the evil gods of the Necronomicon, he just happens to be an unintentional comic genius while delivering this LSD-fueled slice of profane pulp non-fiction!

While this is clearly Derek’s tour de force, it’s also undeniable how perfect a foil Kurt is for the proceedings. His peaceful, stoned counterpoint to Derek’s rabid verbal violence keeps everything in order and, most significantly, probably saved the life of the severely maligned and lazy Terry! Ha!
 

Anton LaVey and King Diamond: “tight bros from way back when”

If they’re still among us, what do you think Derek and Kurt are doing today?

Derek, again, I know absolutely nothing about, which to me makes his enigma so fascinating. It’s like he only existed on the planet for these 45 minutes and that’s all there ever was to him. For a long time I thought I wanted the back story, but now, no way. I love not knowing what he looked like, how old he is, what happened in Oklahoma City, or how he got his head wound! I would say it’s safe to assume, based only on the 45 minutes of his life that I’m aware of, that unless Derek had some sort of serious spiritual epiphany, things most likely didn’t end up too well for him. But then again, who the fuck knows!

About eight years ago I was working at Sub Pop in Seattle and, completely randomly, I heard Derek coming through the speakers of a co-worker’s computer. I was thoroughly and utterly stunned—there was no way I was aware of that could be happening—I certainly hadn’t given him the tape or even talked to anybody at SP about it, ever. Turns out WFMU in New York had gotten ahold of the tape and was streaming the death metal parts of the conversation on its website, and my buddy was listening to it online. That was the first instance I realized that it had sprouted up out of the underground, and almost simultaneously, people started contacting me inquiring about releasing it, as the word had got out that someone in Tight Bro’s From Way Back When had something to do with it and tracked me down.

Now, I’ve always felt VERY protective of the recording—it’s like a family heirloom to my friends and me—and I never intended to, and still have not attempted to, exploit it, but at the time it seemed inevitable that it was going to happen. So through the wonders of the internet, I actually tracked down Kurt after what would have been about thirteen years since the last time I had seen him, to let him know what was happening. He was living in SF at the time and doing well (walking dogs for a living, if I remember correctly) and totally blown away, to say the least, to hear from me and also to hear this very unexpected news about the tape. He was very interested in capitalizing on it, and we had a few conversations on how that might be possible and then we promptly fell out of contact again—haven’t heard from him since.

He did reveal one gem to me, though. Apparently he recorded another short conversation with Derek that the world has yet to hear, in which Derek muses on what he would say to God regarding his life if he encountered him in the afterlife:

“Well, that sucked!”

Below, the first episode of Found Magazine’s cartoon version of “The Derek Tape”:

 
And for purists like me, the original audio recording:

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Nasty notes and other ‘Hate Mail’ by Mr Bingo
10.28.2014
11:06 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art

Tags:

Mr. Bingo and his Hate Mail
 

I probably started taking risks when I was ten when I went to school dressed as a girl.

 
UK artist Mr Bingo has been working in the commercial illustration industry for over a decade. In 2011 he sent a postcard to a man named Jonathan Hopkins that said “Fuck you Jonathan, fuck you and fuck your shit legs’” and Mr Bingo’s “Hate Mail” was born.

Since that fateful day, Mr Bingo (who never uses his real name in public, so I won’t be bringing it up here either) has sent more than 500 pissed off postcards to his “customers” that pay a small fee to be admonished by Mr Bingo via snail mail. So popular are the acidic communications that 100 of the artist’s favorites have been published in the 2013 book, “Hate Mail”.
 
Mr. Bingo's Hate Mail to Matt
 
Every year Mr Bingo opens up his “Hate Mail” request line for people to order a postcard to be delivered to themselves or a recipient of their choosing. According to his Twitter (highly recommend), “unless something goes wrong on the Internet”, “Hate Mail” will once again be open to the public starting on Monday, November 3rd. For now, the service which costs about forty quid (plus postage) is only available in the UK. When one of Mr Bingo’s prospective customers complained that the price for the service had gone up, Mr Bingo responded by posting the question and his response, “Fuck off you tight fisted cunt, this is still very affordable “art”.” to his FAQ page on his website. Well done, Mr Bingo. Well done.

The best of the worst of Mr Bingos’ “Hate Mail” correspondence (NSFW) follows.
 
Mr. Bingo lazer cats Hate Mail
 
Mr. Bingo You are Nothing Julian Hate Mail
 
Mr. Bingo Fuck You soup can Hate Mail
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Graveyard Rock: SICK SOUNDS from Intoxica Radio!
10.28.2014
08:28 am

Topics:
Music
Occult

Tags:
Halloween

jfjfidl
 
For all of you fellow rock and roll monsters, here’s my ninth annual Halloween radio show. It can be played or downloaded free or just press play below. I’ve spent my life collecting records and horror film memorabilia among tons of other pop culture items. The combination of horror, monsters and rock n roll is the ultimate for me and many thousands of creeps worldwide. This is the original insane punk music.

There is a big difference between some of this stuff and silly novelty music, which I also like and play on the show, but you won’t hear the “Monster Mash” here, ever. You will hear “Graveyard Rock” by Seattle’s answer to Vampira, the Tarantula Ghoul, and many other crazy 45’s by horror hosts from TV across fifties and sixties America. You’ll also hear teenage garage bands, rockabilly lunatics and wild ads for old live spook shows, horror movies and monstrous toys. I even speak into an echo machine. This is something I do every week, not just on Halloween, hahaha), but THIS is the most special show of the year. Enjoy it!

The show’s basic description is this:

Howie Pyro plays the weird stuff… 50’s and 60’s rock and roll, psycho surf, garage, rockabilly, hillbilly horrors, voodoo R & B, insane instrumentals, religious nuts, teenage hell music, vintage global garbage, peppered with bizarre old movie ads & radio clips & general echo-fied screaming….wild, unhinged primitive 50’s and 60’s rock n roll played every Tuesday at 9PM (California time) from original 45 RPM records at Luxuria Music—Running wild since 2006!

 
dkfhgkd
 
Past guests include Kid Congo Powers (Cramps, Gun Club, Nick Cave), Miriam Linna (Cramps, Norton Records, Kicks Books), , Kim Fowley, ? of the Mysterians, Thee Midniters, Sylvain Sylvain, Cheetah Chrome, Tim Warren (Crypt Records), Reverend Beat Man, Boyd Rice, El Vez, J.G.Thirlwell, Todd-O-Phonic Todd, Sweeney Todd, Lee Joseph, Haunted George, Richard Elfman, Thee Cormans, etc.
 

 
jfhfjsl
 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Party People: Vintage sixties home movie of grandma and grandpa getting *shitfaced*
10.28.2014
07:58 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
shitfaced
parties


 
What comes off as a long lost 1960s party scene from the film Office Space, is actually redditor’s Lesmullet husband’s silent vintage video footage of his grandparents’ “wild” party set to the tunes of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black And Yellow.”

It works.

As one redditor puts it:

“Ass grabbing, funky chicken, passing the bottle, grandpa drank too much, embarrassed grandma, half naked guy hugging people, milf doing sexy dance, chick rocking electric guitar, random kid, funny hats. Yep… They know how to party.”

Yep, they’re experts!

 
via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
follow us in feedly
KISS rocks out on ‘The Paul Lynde Halloween Special,’ 1976
10.28.2014
07:02 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Television

Tags:
Halloween
KISS
Paul Lynde


 
Nothing better exemplifies the “everything but the kitchen sink” entertainment mentality of the 1970s than “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special,” which includes the following components: swishy comedian Paul Lynde, Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch, Florence Henderson, Billy Bartie, Tim Conway, “Pinky” Tuscadero (no, not “Leather”), Donny and Marie, Betty White, Sid & Marty Krofft’s Witchiepoo, and ... KISS!
 

 
In addition to being Samatha’s campy Uncle Arthur on Bewitched, and supplying the voice for Templeton the Rat in Charlotte’s Web, Lynde was best known for being the “center square” on the Hollywood Squares, from which perch he would uncork as many double entendres as the format could sustain. He was gay and didn’t apparently seem to care if anyone knew about it, meaning that the home audience could be assumed to be pretty much clueless on the matter. (At the wrap party for Bye Bye Birdie early in his career, Lynde quipped in a toast, “Well, I guess I’m the only one here who doesn’t want to fuck Ann-Margret.”) In any case his jokes are super corny—only masochists will want to sit through the whole thing.
 

Ace Frehley hanging out with Billy Bartie
 
Apparently this was the first prime-time network appearance for KISS—anyone know?

Here’s the part you want to see—KISS doing “Detroit Rock City”:

 
The entire special after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Dario Argento’s horror classic ‘Suspiria’ and the most vicious murder scene ever filmed, 1977
10.28.2014
06:14 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Horror Films
Dario Argento
Violence

Suspiria poster
 
By now, it’s safe to say that those who really dig horror films recognize the brilliance that is Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977). Critics frequently include it in “best-of” lists in the horror genre, and the Italian production has also been cited as one of the greatest films of all time, period. There are many reasons Suspiria is revered, but one sequence in particular has been singled out for its noteworthiness: it’s the most brutal murder scene in the history of cinema.

Argento integrated a diverse set of influences into the making of Suspiria, including German Expressionism, the Technicolor vibrancy of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) (he saw the protagonist of Suspiria, Jessica Harper, as his Snow White), as well as psychoanalysis. He also played the music of the Italian group Goblin on set to create the necessary mood. The band had scored his previous picture, Profondo Rosso (a/k/a Deep Red), and they would also create, in collaboration with Argento, the unforgettable music for Suspiria. The director’s ultimate goal was to create a dream-like, unreality for the film.
 
The beauty of Suspiria
 
Set in a prominent dance academy in Germany, Suspiria stars Harper as an American student who transfers to the school and soon begins to suspect something within those hallowed walls is not quite right. She has only just arrived at the academy when another student is murdered. This is the killing Entertainment Weekly has called “the most vicious murder scene ever filmed.” Though cinemaphiles could debate this distinction endlessly, it is difficult to think of one more graphic. The imagery is so intense it had to be significantly edited before it could be released in US theaters. And it’s not just the on-screen violence that renders the sequence notable; like the rest of the film, it’s beautifully shot and fantastic, yet completely engaging, and with Goblin’s beyond unnerving score in place, totally terrifying.
 
Suspiria hanging
 
In European Nightmares: Horror Cinema in Europe Since 1945, author Anna Powell analyzes the director’s work and why Suspiria affects us the way it does (with references to the aforementioned scene):

Solid scarlet coats the outer walls of this house of blood [the dance academy], spreading inside via wallpaper and drapes in an expressive series: décor, wine, nail varnish, lipstick as well as its most potent source, human blood. Arterial red is complimented by venous blue with which it alternates by means of velvet curtains and wallpaper as well as lighting. Blue shades range from indigo to purple, at times shifting to sickly green. This Technicolor palette vibrates in us intensively, oppressing but at the same time arousing us.

Sound techniques with an exaggerated, hyper-real echo are deployed as affective devices. The electronic chords and discords of the rock band Goblin create a rich sound texture in Suspiria. Whirring, sawing and hollow booming without any diegetic source [sound whose source is visible on the screen] grate on the spectator’s hearing mechanisms and stimulate anxiety, as in the jarring electronic chords before the first murder we witness that sound like the twittering of bats.

In Argento’s films, elaborate pursuit, torture and murder produce tactisigns [virtual sensations; i.e., we feel what the characters feel] to excruciating degrees. Inflicted by mostly invisible torturers, their affective potency is increased by the lack of any distancing subject/object split. This is further intensified by extreme close-up. Knife blades dominate the screen as they gash into flesh, and internal organs are torn loose and exposed.

 
Suspiria death
 
Okay, are you ready? If you’re a wine drinker, I suggest pouring yourself a glass of your favorite Italian red to have on hand to calm your nerves—trust me, you’re gonna need it.
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Portraits of the injured and maimed soldiers who survived the Civil War
10.27.2014
12:24 pm

Topics:
History

Tags:
Civil War


 
Pvt. Samuel H. Decker, Company I, 4th US artillery. Double amputation of the forearms for injury caused by the premature explosion of a gun on 8 October 1862, at the Battle of Perryville, KY. Shown with self-designed prosthetics.
 
Civil War deaths are estimated to be between 600,000 and 750,000, carnage that dwarfs all subsequent American wars by quite a wide margin. These numbers often eclipse the legions of surviving veterans who made it through the War, and often too, the crude battle-field medicine that offered little in the way of expertise or painkillers. Amputations were incredibly common, since conditions were usually filthy and it was safer to sever an arm or leg cleanly, rather than attempt to dress and redress a ragged gunshot wound.

All the pictures shown are from the National Museum of Health and Medicine’s Flickr, a fascinating archive, but perhaps not for the faint of heart. Some of them are professional portraits, while others were taken at hospitals for medical records. The handsome gentleman above is notable for his double-amputation and brilliant prosthetics of his own design. From their description:

He receives a pension of $300.00 per year, and is a doorkeeper at the House of Representatives… With the aid of his ingenious apparatus he is enabled to write legibly, to pick up any small objects, a pin for example, to carry packages of ordinary weight, to feed and clothe himself, and in one or two instances of disorder in the Congressional gallery has proved himself a formidable police officer.

Decker was anomalous, of course, as many injured soldiers came home to nothing but poverty.

I’ve tried to exclude any actual gore—some of the recorded injuries could be considered pretty disconcerting. Though most of the open wounds are obviously in monochrome, some are curiously hand-colored—I’m not sure if it’s more or less disturbing to see a gash of red painted onto a gangrenous sore. A few of the pictures are just amputated limbs, so tread carefully.

Some of the more fascinating afflictions aren’t even what we’d traditionally consider “war injures.” Peter Shrup, for example, looks incredibly malnourished, and appears to have a resulting case of Osteomalacia—notice the thin, “knock knees.” And Neil Wicks—one of about 180,000 black soldiers to fight in the Civil War, by the way—has an advanced case of scabies, a parasitic mite that flourishes in dense populations, causing a nearly unbearable rash by burrowing under the skin—it was actually an epidemic among Civil War troops.
 

Robert Fryer. Amputation of third, fourth, and fifth metacarpals. PVT, Company G, 52nd New York Volunteers. Wounded March 25, 1865 at the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, Virginia
 

Jason W. Joslyn. Excision of head & 4 inches of shaft femur, prosthesis in place. PVT, Company I, 7th New York Heavy Artillery. Injured at 1864 Battle of Cold Harbor
 

Hiram Williams. Amputation of leg and foot, shell wound. PVT, Company K, 98th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Injured at the 1865 Battle of Appomattox
 

Neil Wicks. Scabies of both legs, PVT, Company C, 4th US Colored Troops
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Page 4 of 1664 ‹ First  < 2 3 4 5 6 >  Last ›