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Grim postcards of executions and dead bodies from the Mexican Revolution 1910-17

The Mexican Revolution began as a middle-class protest against the oppressive dictatorship of the country’s President Porfirio Diaz (1876-1911). In 1910, wealthy landowner Francisco I. Madero (1873-1913) stood against Diaz in the presidential election. The election was rigged by Diaz and his cronies who then attempted to have Madero arrested and imprisoned. Madero escaped to San Antonio, Texas, where he wrote Plan de San Luis (Plan of San Luis de Potosí), a political pamphlet that denounced Diaz explaining why he should no longer be president.

Madero’s Plan was a rallying cry that asked the Mexican people to rise up against Diaz on Sunday, November 20, 1910, at 6:00 pm and overthrow his government. This is how the Mexican Revolution began. What followed was a bloody and ferocious civil war and one of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century. An estimated 1.5 million people died. Two-hundred-thousand were made refugees.

During the revolution (1910-20) hundreds of commercial and amateur photographers documented the events on both sides of the war.

Using glass plate cameras and early cut film cameras, primitive by today’s standards, the photographers faced injury and death to obtain negatives which would be printed on postcard stock and sold to the soldiers and general public on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. Some of the views were obviously posed, and others showed the death and destruction resulting from the violence of a nation involved in a bloody civil war.

The following postcards are part of a collection held by the Southern Methodist University archive.
More postcards from the Mexican Revolution, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Bodily Fluids: A Visual Guide to Embalming from 1897
09:44 am



I attended a lot of funerals when I was a kid. A consequence of coming from a large extended Catholic family. My father was the eldest of nine children—he outlived them all. During my childhood, his brothers and sisters, and a few of their cousins and kin, died within a very short time of each other. My mother came from a small Protestant family. Her parents, uncles and aunts lived longer than my father’s kin, but when they died they fell within a year or two of each other.

At most of these funerals the body of the deceased was displayed in an open casket—either in a chapel of rest or at home where the family said decades of the rosary around the coffin. Seeing a corpse never seemed strange—death was part of life. The only thing that did seem odd was the strange almost pained expressions on the faces of the deceased. I put this down to their being embalmed—but never quite understood what this entailed or how the undertakers managed to keep the deceased’s eyes closed or their mouths shut.

When my beloved great aunt died, the undertaker left a few startling clues to the secret processes of making a corpse presentable.

Although she wore little make-up, someone had rendered her as an embarrassed spinster ashamed for causing such an unnecessary to-do. Her cheeks were flaming red, her lips fuchsia pink and her eyelids a cheapening smear of blue. This was a portrait of my great aunt by a Sunday painter overly influenced by Henri Matisse—it was garish and bright. Her eyes seemed wrong—flat and squint. I later found out eyelids are glued closed or covered with a flesh-colored plastic skin. Her mouth was pursed and I saw a telltale crimson thread with which her lips (her jaw) had been sewn or looped shut. Her hair was flat, as if she had been sleeping on her side. It wasn’t how my great aunt—ever meticulous and precise in her presentation—would have wanted to be remembered.

Embalming has been carried out by humans for some 5,000 to 6,000 years. The Egyptians made the greatest use of it—believing the preservation of a body somehow empowered the spirit after death. The brain and vital organs were scooped out and stored in jars. The interior of the corpse rubbed with herbs and preservatives before being wrapped in layers of linen cloth. Similar methods of embalming were carried out across Africa, Europe and China.

The modern methods of embalming developed as a result of discoveries made by the English physician William Harvey in the 1600s. Harvey determined the process of blood circulation by injecting fluids into corpses. Based on Harvey’s experimentation, two Scottish doctors William and John Hunter developed the process of embalming in the 1700s—offering their services to the public.

However, it was the slaughter caused during the American Civil War that led to embalming becoming popular with the public as families of soldiers killed on the battlefield wanted their loved ones’ bodies preserved for burial.

In 1897, Eliab Myers, M.D. and F. A. Sullivan wrote The Champion Text Book on Embalming. This book offered “Lecturers and Demonstrators in the Champion College of Embalming.” It was produced by the Champion Company from Springfield, Ohio, which manufacture equipment for use in embalming.

The Champion Text Book on Embalming gave the user a history of its subject and illustrated step-by-step guide to the process of successful embalming. From the draining of blood and bodily fluids to the dissection and removal of internal organs. The process explained in these atmospheric photographic plates is virtually the same as it is today.
Fig. 15 Raising the brachial artery.
Fig. 16 Injecting the arterial system through the radial artery.
Fig. 17 Aspirating blood from the heart.
More tips on dealing with corpses from 19th century embalming techniques, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Republican politician fatally shoots herself in the eye adjusting her bra holster

I really loathe the idea of “Darwin Awards.” In addition to being utterly corny (and scientifically inaccurate), I usually find the idea both smug and unkind. For who among us has not pulled a total boner move that may very well have ended our life, right then and there? This is not to say I’m above laughing at an absurd, untimely death. On the contrary, some people are so awful, they inspire a fuck-youlogy, and I’ll be damned if I deny myself that pleasure. I can’t think of a more deserving candidate than Christina Bond—biker, Evangelical and Republican Precinct Delegate for Saint Joseph Charter Precinct 1 in Michigan, who fatally shot herself in the eye recently, adjusting the gun in her bra-holster.

The folks over at Raw Story noted that her Facebook page was heavy on the Bible quotes and Republican boosterism, with some choice words against Obama and the protestors at Ferguson. Her status after winning the election spoke of needing “people involved in taking our country back,” though she failed to mention if “taking our country back” would require firearms.

An excerpt from her obituary:

Christina was born in Niles at Pawating Hospital on Oct. 8, 1959, to George Blake and Inez Brock. She was a member and administrator to Road to Life Church for 15 years. Christina left the safety of home and joined the United States Navy out of high school. She served two tours and was an active MP (military police) officer. As an active member of the Christian Motorcycle Association, Christina was “on fire for the Lord.” She often served at the Berrien County jail in ministry as well as being an active member on her church’s prayer team. Christina was recently elected as a precinct delegate for St. Joseph Charter Township Precinct 1. Always physically fit, Christina took home the 2013 Miss Michigan Figure Overall Championship. She was a light to the world and will be missed.

I added the link to her church for a point of cultural reference. The late Ms. Bond adhered to a pretty old-time religion; as someone who grow up around them, I can tell you that extreme conservatism and religious zealotry are pretty par for the course with Christian bikers. In fact, I feel quite the involuntary kinship with Bond—as if it was one of my very own dumb redneck aunts who shot herself in the eye. (She is not to be confused however, with my kind and reasonable redneck aunts, all of whom are perfectly delightful).

To be perfectly honest, I thought the biggest surprise in all of this is that she lasted this long—if she was stupid enough to keep a loaded gun in her tits, she probably didn’t wear a helmet either.
Via Raw Story

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Norma Bates: Woman slept with dead mother for five years
11:22 am



The emotional trauma caused by the death of a loved one can cause humans to grieve in some tragic and bizarre ways. I was once at a funeral where a distraught wife attempted to hurl herself on top of her husband’s coffin as it was lowered into the ground. This is nothing compared to the poor grief-stricken 55-year-old German woman who slept beside the mummified remains of her dead mother at their home in the suburb of Blumenau, Munich, for five years.

As The Local reports, neighbors became suspicious over the mother’s disappearance and contacted authorities. A local social worker then tried several times by telephone to arrange a visit to the daughter, but was fobbed off with various excuses. The social worker then decided to visit the apartment in person.

When the daughter wouldn’t open the door, he called the police. They and the fire service were able to get the door open and discovered the body inside in a double bed which the daughter had been sharing.

The daughter later admitted during questioning that her mother had died during March of 2009. She has been sent to a psychiatric institution.

An autopsy produced no evidence of foul play in the mother’s death.

Sleeping with the bodies of dead partners or relatives is not that uncommon. In 2013, New York police made a grim discovery when they visited the apartment of 28-year-old Chava Stirn, where they found the distraught young woman had been living with the skeletal remains of her dead mother. Stirn would sleep beside her mother’s remains she had placed on a chair. She would also lay the body on the table during meal times.
The body of Marcel H.
In 2013, Belgian police discovered a 69-year-old woman had been sleeping with the mummified remains of her dead 79-year-old husband, Marcel H. for almost a year. The woman had been too distraught to notify the authorities over her husband’s demise after an asthma attack and had kept him in bed. The police were only notified after the woman had failed to pay her rent.

Le Van, a 55-year-old Vietnamese man, exhumed his dead wife, wrapped her in a paper effigy, and slept with the corpse for five years.
Le Van and his dead wife.
In 2003, Xie Yuchen was found to have slept with his dead wife for eight years, after she died of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1995, while a woman in Argentina traveled to Mexico to sleep in the mausoleum of her dead husband. She told police:

“When you love someone, you do all sorts of things.”


H/T The Local.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
I’d kill for that dress: Gorgeously gothy mourning attire from 1815-1915
09:21 am



Evening dress suitable for late mourning, from around 1861
The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently announced a breathtaking new exhibit, “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire”—upper-class women’s widow couture, if you will. The clothing ranges from 1815 to 1915, when the death of a husband was met with strict social expectations among the English (and sometimes American) elite. During the Victorian era, a widow was expected to observe a year and a day of “full mourning,” during which she would refrain from “society” activities, veiled and wearing simple black dresses. After that, there was a nine-month period where she could drop the veil and incorporate small adornments, like jewelry or a trimmed hem. Then came “half-mourning,” where she could add grey, purple or a little white—this lasted three to six more months.

If a woman did not observe proper mourning etiquette (especially if she was still young and pretty), she would usually be considered not only gauche, but downright libidinous. Additionally, if the mourning attire was too flashy, she could also be judged as advertising her new singledom—scandalous! Widowers on the other hand, were just expected to wear dark clothes for an unofficial amount of time, and they could remarry in as little as a few months without fear of judgement.

If you can’t make it to the Met, you’re in luck! Almost all of their archives are searchable online, and I have compiled an exhibit for you right here. I even added some pieces that aren’t on display, including a dress worn by Queen Victoria herself. Kind of makes you long for the days when people died from a seasonal flu, huh?

1870, with veil

1880, not on view
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Bizarre Deaths from the Victorian era
10:01 am



In the 1800s and early 1900s, more people died at a younger age than today. Overcrowding and unsanitary conditions allowed disease to spread quickly and with devastating effects. This period, which the British term the Victorian era, also saw a high incidence of bizarre deaths, a selection of which have been listed by the BBC News Magazine:

1: Killed by a mouse

In 1875, at a factory in south London, England, a mouse dashed across a work table startling the employees. One worker made to grab the fleeing rodent, but the mouse escaped his grasp, and ran up the man’s sleeve, out through the neck of his shirt, and straight into the young man’s open mouth.

The Manchester Evening News reported:

“That a mouse can exist for a considerable time without much air has long been a popular belief and was unfortunately proved to be a fact in the present instance, for the mouse began to tear and bite inside the man’s throat and chest, and the result was that the unfortunate fellow died after a little time in horrible agony.”

2: Killed by a coffin

Henry Taylor was a pall bearer at London’s Kensal Green Cemetery. One day, whilst carrying out his duties at a funeral, Taylor tripped over a headstone and fell backwards on to the ground. As he fell, his fellow pall bearers let slip the coffin they were carrying, and it dropped directly on to the prone Taylor’s head.

The Illustrated Police News reported in November 1872:

“The greatest confusion was created amongst the mourners who witnessed the accident, and the widow of the person about to be buried nearly went into hysterics.”

3: Death by eating her own hair

The woman’s death was a mystery. Doctors could not fathom why, or even how, she had died. It was only after a post mortem that the cause of death was revealed. Inside the 30-year-old’s stomach was a solid lump of human hair, curled like a bird, and weighing two pounds.

The Liverpool Daily Post reported in 1869:

“This remarkable concretion had caused great thickening and ulceration of the stomach, and was the remote cause of her death. On inquiry, a sister stated that during the last twelve years she had known the deceased to be in the habit of eating her own hair.”

4: Killed as a zombie

At a funeral in rural Russia, the mourners were horrified when the coffin lid burst open, and the deceased climbed out.

The villagers ran in terror, locking themselves in their houses. The priest hid in the church. As the villagers armed themselves, the priest realized the deceased had most likely been in a coma, and had regained consciousness. One old woman failed to lock her door, and the suspected zombie staggered into her house. The woman’s screams alerted the villagers, who, now armed, were ready to dispatch the zombie. By the time the priest arrived to explain what had happened, the “zombie” was dead.

5: The man who laughed himself to death

Farmer Wesley Parsons was sharing a joke with friends in Laurel, Indiana, in 1893, when he began a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Nothing could stop Parsons horrifying attack of the giggles, and after two hours of non-stop laughing, he died of exhaustion.

Read more truly bizarre deaths here. Below, a collection of photographs of “The Victorian Book of the Dead.”

Via the BBC News Magazine

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
New crazy headline ‘Jacko Chimp Fingers Killer Doc’

The UK’s Daily Sport tabloid is on a roll - only a few weeks after delivering the now legendary leader “Gordon Ramsay Sex Dwarf Eaten By Badger” comes this beauty. But what I want to know is - did it hurt?

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Republican candidates answer the question: ‘Do you really believe that?’

I thought this was pretty powerful. If you agree, consider passing it on via Facebook, Google + and Twitter…

Via MoveOn

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Death, jazz, art: Dr. Jack Kevorkian, artist, musician when not assisting suicides
12:45 pm


Dr. Jack Kevorkian

By now you’ve probably heard that assisted suicide advocate, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, AKA “Dr. Death,” died this morning at the age of 83.

But what you might not know is that Kevorkian was an accomplished painter and jazz musician.

Yep, it’s true. One day I was crate-digging in some record store in New York City and I came across his jazz CD, Kevorkian Suite: Very Still Life for a buck, so I bought it. The CD booklet has several full-color reproductions of his paintings, and as you can see in the video below, the subject matter of his paintings often pertained to rather macabre things, as I am sure will come as no surprise.  And yes, that’s his music, he’s playing flute and organ. Not bad, but it wouldn’t be the last thing I’d want to hear…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Adam Curtis on the death of Bin Laden

Regular DM readers will know by now that we are big fans of the documentary maker Adam Curtis. He deals with current events and how they fit into a broader scheme of social and political history. Just the other day Richard posted the trailer for his upcoming documentary “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace” which is to air on the BBC soon.

Curtis yesterday published an article through the Guardian about the death of Osama bin Laden, and what that means for the global political spin-machine. In it Curtis addresses the bogey-man status of Bin Laden and how his death will impact on the ongoing Western cultural narrative of “Goodies” vs “Baddies”:

Journalists, many of whom also yearned for the simplicity of the old days, grabbed at [the Bin Laden story]: from the outset, the reporting of the Islamist terror threat was distorted to reflect this dominant simplified narrative. And Bin Laden grabbed at it too. As the journalists who actually met him report, he was brilliant at publicity. All three – the neoconservatives, the “terror journalists”, and Bin Laden himself – effectively worked together to create a dramatically simple story of looming apocalypse. It wasn’t in any way a conspiracy. Each of them had stumbled in their different ways on a simplified fantasy that fitted with their own needs.

The power of this simple story propelled history forward. It allowed the neocons – and their liberal interventionist allies – to set out to try to remake the world and spread democracy. It allowed revolutionary Islamism, which throughout the 1990s had been failing dramatically to get the Arab people to rise up and follow its vision, to regain its authority. And it helped to sell a lot of newspapers.

But because we, and our leaders, retreated into a Manichean fantasy, we understood the new complexities of the real world even less. Which meant that we completely ignored what was really going on in the Arab world.

Curtis neatly sums up, in one statement, just why there is so much distrust for politics and the media in this day and age, be it from the right or the left, the fringe or the more mainstream:

One of the main functions of politicians – and journalists – is to simplify the world for us. But there comes a point when – however much they try – the bits of reality, the fragments of events, won’t fit into the old frame.

The article is highly recommended reading and you can view the whole thing here. I especially love Curtis’ work on the effect of the media in propagating certain cultural memes, particularly oldstream media, which tries to pretend it has no effect on politics and society even though it has a huge impact on how we think and function. If you’re not aware of Curtis’ work and his sharp insights (or even if you are) here’s a segment he produced for Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe on media and political paranoia:

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Rest in Perversity: Sebastian Horsley

Eight days after the West End premiere of the play based on his autobiography, Dandy in the Underworld, top-hatted London-based extreme artist and lifestylist Sebastian Horsley was found dead this morning at age 47 of an apparent heroin overdose.

Born to wealthy alcoholics, Horsley is best known for traveling to the Philippines to be crucified as part of his research for a set of paintings dealing with the topic. But besides his arcane fashion sense, penchant for whoring, and ability to make the scene—running with the likes of Nick Cave, Current 93, Coil and others—Horsley was an accomplished painter and writer, and a guy with a drawling accent who could hold court in a red velvet chair with the best of them.

The Soho Theatre cancelled tonight’s performance of Dandy…, but will continue on tomorrow. Our own Richard Metzger put it best when told the news: “How sad that the world has one less total pervert.”

Get: Dandy in the Underworld: An Unauthorized Autobiography (P.S.) [Book]


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Southern (Korean) Death Cult
12:34 am

Current Events


Fascinating article from today’s Los Angeles Times about an unusual new role-playing pop psychology craze that’s sweeping South Korea: participants, seeking deeper meaning in their lives, experience their own death and funeral.

Jung runs a seminar called the Coffin Academy, where, for $25 each, South Koreans can get a glimpse into the abyss. Over four hours, groups of a dozen or more tearfully write their letters of goodbye and tombstone epitaphs. Finally, they attend their own funerals and try the coffin on for size.

In a candle-lighted chapel, each climbs into one of the austere wooden caskets laid side by side on the floor. Lying face up, their arms crossed over their chests, they close their eyes. And there they rest, for 10 excruciating minutes.

“It’s a way to let go of certain things,” says Jung, a former insurance company lecturer. “Afterward, you feel refreshed. You’re ready to start your life all over again, this time with a clean slate.”

Across South Korea, a few entrepreneurs are conducting controversial forums designed to teach clients how to better appreciate life by simulating death. Equal parts Vincent Price and Dale Carnegie, they use mortality as a personal motivator for a variety of behaviors, from a healthier attitude toward work to getting along with family members.

Many firms here see the sessions as an inventive way to stimulate productivity. The Kyobo insurance company, for example, has required all 4,000 of its employees to attend fake funerals like those offered by Jung.

Read the entire article: South Koreans experience what it’s like to die—and live again (Los Angeles Times)


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment