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‘The Inhibition,’ the ‘frozen’ dance Charles Manson taught Beach Boy Dennis Wilson in 1968
11.27.2017
09:06 am
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via Sunset Gunshots
 
I thought I had long ago digested every crumb of gossip about the Beach Boys-Manson family connection, but one of the Charlie obits I read this week brought a screaming headline from the December 21, 1968 issue of Record Mirror to my attention: “DENNIS WILSON: ‘I LIVE WITH 17 GIRLS.’”

In the interview, conducted the year before the Tate-LaBianca murders, Wilson muses about turning the Manson girls into a group called “the Family Gems,” and says he’s been writing songs with their guru, “a guy named Charlie who’d recently come out of jail after 12 years.” Charlie, Wilson says, also taught him a dance step called “the Inhibition,” a kind of visualization exercise. (Wouldn’t “Do the Inhibition” have made a boss A-side for the Family Gems’ first 45?) From the interview: 

I still believe in meditation and I’m not experimenting with tribal living. I live in the woods in California, near Death Valley, with 17 girls. They’re space ladies. And they’d make a great group. I’m thinking of launching them as the Family Gems.

How did you come to meet up with no less than 17 girls?

It happened strangely. I went up into the mountains with my houseboy to take an LSD trip. We met two girls hitchhiking. One of them was pregnant. We gave them a lift, and a purse was left in the car. About a month later, near Malibu, I saw the pregnant girl again, only this time she’d had her baby. I was overjoyed for her and it was through her that I met all the other girls. I told them about our involvement with the Maharishi and they told me they too had a guru, a guy named Charlie who’d recently come out of jail after 12 years. His mother was a hooker, his father was a gangster, he’d drifted into crime but when I met him I found he had great musical ideas. We’re writing together now. He’s dumb, in some ways, but I accept his approach and have learnt from him. He taught me a dance, The Inhibition. You have to imagine you’re a frozen man and the ice is thawing out. Start with your fingertips, then all the rest of you, then you extend it to a feeling that the whole universe is thawing out. . .

Are you supporting all these people?

No, if anything, they’re supporting me. I had all the rich status symbols—Rolls Royce, Ferrari, home after home. Then I woke up, gave away 50 to 60 per cent of my money. Now I live in one small room, with one candle, and I’m happy, finding myself.

Below, at 3:38, the Beach Boys play the Manson and Wilson-penned tune “Never Learn Not to Love” on The Mike Douglas Show.

Posted by Oliver Hall
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11.27.2017
09:06 am
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‘Charles Manson Superstar’: The underworld Pope is (finally) dead. May he rot in Hell
11.20.2017
09:13 am
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Joe Coleman’s portrait of Charles Manson

Here we are. Near the tail end of such an unsettling and horrific year, at least Charles Manson is dead. One of the nation’s most infamous criminals, Manson’s debated narrative has remained as one of America’s most controversial; that of a psychotic hippie cult leader who directed and guided the gruesome murders of at least seven people. A man who it is claimed single-handedly “ended the Sixties” and whose predicted race war presaged the revival of the white nationalism seen today. After 46 years behind bars, the madman has finally left the building. May he rot in Hell.

It was announced recently that Quentin Tarantino’s next film will focus on the infamous Manson Family murders of 1969. Sorry to spoil the questionably-tactless announcement, but there have been, like, dozens, possibly even hundreds of Manson films already made. Some are dramatizations, others pro-Manson conspiracy theories. My personal favorite is the loopy 1989 documentary titled Charles Manson: Superstar. Created by goofy occultnik Nikolas Schreck (author of The Manson File), Manson’s fragile psyche and fucked-up philosophy is presented through a rare and uncensored stream-of-consciousness interview taped at the San Quentin Penitentiary.

The film begins with an observation of the dates of Tate/Labianca murder dates, August 8-9th, described, in Schreck sprach as having “always been a magnet of savage purification.” Other grim and ironically coincident events that took place on these dates include the atomic bomb drop on Nagasaki, the first national congress of the Klu Klux Klan, the birthdate of the real-life inspiration for Psycho, the resignation of Richard Nixon, and even the opening of Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride. Could there be a correlation? Probably not, but just go with it.

One of four on-camera interviews that Manson gave in the 1980s, the 100-minute documentary displays the unfiltered and frankly nonsensical Charles Manson. Physically unbound from his shackles and momentarily free from the glare of the media, Manson attempts to describe his life’s details, his innocence, and his forever existence behind bars. Set to an eerie backing track (featuring several of your cult favorites), and masterfully edited to further enunciate the insanity, Schreck presents a bleak narration of Manson’s role in the world: that of a supposed visionary, a psychotic shaman and even a Satanic demon in human form. Other highlights include footage of a still-standing Barker Ranch, Manson’s attempt to play music on a trashcan, and those uneasy feelings when his underworld Pope ventures a little too close to the awe-struck filmmaker. The presence of actual madness and horror in this documentary is so vivid that it often exudes a level of discomfort similar to a particularly lurid mondo film.
 

 
Although it was rereleased on DVD in 2002, Charles Manson: Superstar has not found much praise outside of the underground due to its, um, strikingly “pro-Manson”  stance. I mean, Schreck does refer to Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s notorious true-crime book Helter Skelter as a work of fiction. What else would you expect from a guy who is best known for his appearance on Geraldo Rivera’s infamously ridiculous 1988 Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground TV special?
 
Watch the spine-tingling 1989 documentary ‘Charles Manson: Superstar’ after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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11.20.2017
09:13 am
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Grim vintage crime scene photos from the LAPD archive
11.14.2017
09:14 am
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An image of Maila Nurmi as Vampira taken in 1955. It is a part of a huge collection of vintage LAPD crime scene pictures unearthed by photographer Merrick Morton in 2014.
 
Fototeka is a large photo digitation service that works in conjunction with the National Film Archive to enhance historically relevant vintage photographs. Started in 2009, the photographic archive has digitized photos that were taken as early as the 1920s. In 2014 LA photographer Merrick Morton (who also spent time as an LAPD reserve officer) was hipped to the existence of a massive collection of crime scene photos taken for the LAPD that had been long forgotten. The photos were in such bad shape that their decay posed a fire threat thanks to the instability of the cellulose nitrate-based film and negatives. Cellulose nitrate was used widely in the film industry up until the late 1940s or early 1950s when it was “retired” from use due to the dangers associated with the decomposing film.

Morton and his group of film archivists spent hundreds of hours toiling to rescue the photos that had been slated for the trash pile owing to their condition. The grim collection includes pictures that chronicle crimes such as mob hits and bank robberies, as well as other curious images such as one of Maila Nurmi dressed as Vampira posing in what appears to be a dingy-looking storage facility (pictured at the top of this post). Some of the more infamous photos that were salvaged by Morton include the aftermath of comedian Lenny Bruce’s overdose in March of 1966 and a shot of members of the Manson Family arriving at their arrangement in 1970. Many of the images that follow are NSFW.
 

A lifeless body lying underneath a bridge over the Los Angeles River in 1955.
 

February 4th, 1949.
 

A truck carrying a huge load of seized marijuana photographed on October 11th, 1935.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.14.2017
09:14 am
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Raymond Chandler’s guide to prison, street, and Hollywood slang

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Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe in Robert Altman’s film version of Raymond Chandler’s ‘The Long Goodbye.’
 
Raymond Chandler wanted to call his second Philip Marlowe novel The Second Murderer. His publisher Blanche Knopf nixed the idea. So, Chandler suggested Zounds, He Dies, a line spoken by the Second Murderer in Shakespeare’s King Richard III.

Knopf was deeply unimpressed. Eventually, the pair agreed on Farewell, My Lovely which is one hell of a killer title.

This is one of those little sidebars of information contained in Raymond Chandler’s Notebooks which were published long after the great man’s death in 1977. Chandler kept a variety of notebooks during his life. Usually small leather pocketbooks or large writing pads filled with daily events, observations, private thoughts, and details of work in progress. Unfortunately, the bulk of these notebooks was destroyed by Chandler when he was preparing to move to England after his wife Cissy’s death in 1954. Only two notebooks survived. Extracts from these two volumes supplied the content for The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler.

On occasion, Chandler has been unfairly given the rap that he was never as good as his rival Dashiell Hammett, as he made crime writing more about imagination than real hard-bitten, hard-earned experience. Hammett had been a Pinkerton detective. Chandler was a drunk oil exec down on his luck. He was a “gasbag,” according to the Demon Dog James Ellroy. His fictional hero Philip Marlowe was paraded through a series of hoops and jumps which were sometimes incoherent. It’s not a view I would ever agree with. I prefer Chandler to Hammett but think both writers took their writing very seriously.

This can be seen from what’s left of Chandler’s notebooks. He was a very serious writer, who worked damned hard at getting things just exactly right. In his notebooks, he practiced his writing and tried out his ideas. He also used them as a source book for research. From lists of street slang to working out titles, similes, and even writing parodies of other authors like Ernest Hemingway.

Among the many book titles listed in the two remaining notebooks are such unlikely gems:

The Man with the Shredded Ear

All Guns are Loaded

The Corpse Came in Person

They Only Murdered Him Once

The Diary of a Loud Check Suit

Quick, Hide the Body

Stop Screaming—It’s Me

The Black-Eyed Blonde

Thunder-Bug

Everyone Says Good-bye Too Soon

You get the idea Chandler was a fun guy if just a little too shy to get the party swinging.

What interested me about Chandler’s notebooks (well, apart from his notes on writing crime fiction) were the long lists of slang he compiled from the streets and from newspapers, a few of which I’ve shared below.

Pickpocket Lingo

(Maybe New York only)

Saturday Evening Post, October 21, 1950

Cannon—General term for pickpocket (Dip is unused, obsolete)

Live cannon—A thief who works on normally situated people, as opposed to a roller (a lushworker) who frisks drunks. Both men knock their victims. Rousters walk with the victim pretending to help; sneak workers don’t touch him unless he is passed out or near to it.

Pit worker—Inside-breast-pocket expert.

Moll buzzer—Operator on women’s handbags.

Sneeze—Arrest.

Short—Bus, street car, any public conveyance.

Stride—Walking (“On the stride.”)

Shed—Railroad station.

Tip—Crowd.

Bridge—Pocket.

Button—Police badge.

Kiss the dog—Work face to face with the victim.

Tail pits—Right and left side pockets of jacket.

Pratt—Rear trouser pocket.

Stall—Accomplice who creates confusion to fix the victim’s attention.

Right fall—Grand larceny conviction. To obtain there must be testimony that the accused had his hand in the victim’s pocket and was caught with the goods still on him. Most arrests are for “jostling,” which is a misdemeanor good for no more than six bits (months). A shove is enough when the shover is a known operator.

Hanger binging—Opening women’s handbags without stealing the bag.

Tweezer—Change purse.

Stiff—A newspaper or other shield to hide operations.

Wire or hook—The actual live cannon, as opposed to the stall.

Shot—A young pickpocket just starting to work (Harlem cant).

Fan the scratch—To locate money in a pocket without putting the hand in, i.e., by touch.

Dunnigan worker—Thieves who hang around comfort stations hoping for a coat left on a hook.

Note: A cannon never takes your money. He forks his fingers over it and moves away from it with a shove.

 
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The great Raymond Chandler.
 
More slang from Chandler’s notebooks, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.01.2017
10:30 am
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Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death


 
I find it baffling how one can visit The Art Institute of Chicago, home to some of the most iconic paintings in the world, and somehow bypass the Thorne Miniature Rooms. The collection boasts a breathtaking display of sixty-eight realistic dioramas of home interiors from around the world, ranging from Europe of the 13th century to America in the 1930s. As you peruse the extravagant display, you can imagine the tiny people who may have once called these painstaking reproductions their homes. Suddenly, you are immersed—a life’s worth of miniature milestones flashes before your eyes. Tiny meals enjoyed on a tiny kitchen table. Tiny books studied beside a tiny fireplace. A tiny murder involving a disgruntled ex-husband, an eyedropper full of bourbon, and a crowbar the size of your pinky finger. They were times of happiness and of despair.

Miniature rooms can be appreciated as more than just a niche form of art. Atlas Obscura recently profiled Frances Glessner Lee, considered by many to be the “mother of forensic science.” Raised in a privileged household, Glessner Lee had strong ambitions in academia, which she was prohibited from pursuing by her family due to her gender. It wasn’t until her divorce and her family inheritance later in life that Glessner Lee was able to dedicate her time, wealth, and craft to her one true passion: crime scene investigation.
 

 
Forensic science of the 1930s was still a developing practice without an adequate investigation procedure. Homicide cases would often go unsolved due to insufficient evidence and the inability to interpret data. This all changed when Glessner Lee helped found Harvard’s Department of Legal Medicine in 1931. It was through her involvement in the emerging world of criminology that Frances was able to develop a craft that contributed significantly to the field of forensics.

In the 1940s, Glessner Lee began work on “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” a series of nineteen unique and highly-detailed dioramas that depicted the modern homicide. Each case involved an everyday example of death, such as hanging or stabbing, all presented in the context of a relatable setting, the home. The most eerie aspect of Frances’ work, besides the gruesome depiction of a dollhouse-sized murders, is that these were meticulously designed to replicate real cases from the Department of Legal Medicine. Great attention to detail was necessary on each model, because they would later be used to train operatives to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.” Analyzing each crime scene carefully reveals a real dedication to the specificity of the information, such as the position of the mini bullet holes, location of blood splatters, and the decay of its victims, who were mostly women.
 

 
Once described as “Grandma: Sleuth at Sixty-Nine,” Frances Glessner Lee became the first female police captain in United States in 1949. Not only was she a female who confronted the gender and workplace norms of American society, but also one who utilized what was considered to be a woman’s craft to become a significant figure among a male-dominated practice of police investigation.

Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death will be on view at the Renwick Gallery in Washington DC from October 20th, 2017 - January 28th, 2018. The exhibition brings together all nineteen dioramas for their first ever public display as a complete series.
 

 

 
More miniature murders after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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10.18.2017
12:30 pm
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The original guide to identifying criminals from 1909
10.12.2017
09:46 am
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About three years ago, defenders of civil liberties were understandably angsty over the news the F.B.I. had launched its Next Generation Identification system—a billion dollar operation intended to replace the old fingerprint system with “the world’s largest and most efficient electronic repository of biometric and criminal history information.” This meant investigators could identify perps from stored information like DNA, voice recognition, latent prints, personal history, and iris and face recognition technology culled from mugshots, surveillance camera footage, and even selfies taken from social media.

A lot of people were blaming the government, Big Brother, fascism, communism, and all the usual suspects for this monumental change to detective work and our privacy. But personally, I blame Alphonse Bertillon, coz he was the dude that started the whole thing off in the 19th-century.

Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914) was a French detective. He believed everything had its place and that the world had an order. Bertillon had an unremarkable early career first as a soldier then as a lowly clerk with the Prefecture of Police in Paris. It was while working as a police copyist that Bertillon first recognized the random way in which cops investigated crimes. There was no proper system for identifying criminals and no code by which detectives could investigate crime scenes. Sure, there were crime scene photographs and artists sketches, but these were all rather ad hoc.

To solve these issues, Bertillon came up with the mugshot as a means of identifying criminals and codified a precise photographic process for documenting crime scenes in the 1880s—both of which are still in use today.

He also gave investigators a biometric system for identifying criminals. This involved measuring their height, the length of their arms and legs, the size of their heads, the shape of eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, and any other identifying characteristics like wrinkles, scars, birthmarks, etc. This system of breaking down criminals into identifiable component parts was known as Bertillonage. It included an early form of facial recognition, which gave cops a “cheat sheet” for getting their man.

Bertillon’s Tableau synoptic des traits physionomiques (Synoptic Table of Physiognomic Traits) helped the cops identify criminals and criminal types. It was rather like identikit pictures. It was used as a tool of capturing ne’er-do-wells right up to the turn of the last century when it was quickly superseded by fingerprints.
 
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See more of Bertillon’s ‘Synoptic Table of Physiognomic Traits,’ after the the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.12.2017
09:46 am
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Why can’t you read the punk history ‘American Hardcore’ in California state prison?
09.28.2017
07:53 am
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If you get sent up the river in California and you like to read about music, better stick to biographies of Tommy Dorsey and Rudy Vallee. State prisons have banned the book American Hardcore: A Tribal History on the grounds that it “shows obscene material displaying penetration of the vagina or anus.” That’s false, says the book’s publisher, Feral House: “Not a single risqué image in the whole book.”

American Hardcore, now in its second edition, is the popular history of hardcore punk that was the basis for the 2006 documentary of the same name. Earlier this week, Feral House’s Facebook account posted a letter from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to the book’s author, Steven Blush:

Dear Steven Blush-Feral House Publishing:

This letter is to advise you that your publication entitled, American Hardcore, A Tribal History, Second Edition, by Steven Blush has been placed on the Centralized List of Disapproved Publications by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and will not be delivered to CDCR inmates statewide.

This decision is based on the violation of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 15, Section 3006, Contraband. The publication shows obscene material displaying penetration of the vagina or anus and shall not be delivered to the inmate(s), as it violates Department policy.


Last year, the Virginia Department of Corrections banned the GWAR coffee-table book Let There Be GWAR, which at least includes some pictures of genitals and bodily fluids that might keep a reader company during the cold penitentiary nights. As I recall, the worst obscenities in American Hardcore are musical, along the lines of Discharge’s Grave New World or SSD’s How We Rock.

“Hardcore.” They must have mistaken it for a book about porn, you think.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.28.2017
07:53 am
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Through a Lens, Darkly: Weegee’s photographs of death and disaster
07.12.2017
09:27 am
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Murder was easy. The stiff would lie on the sidewalk for an hour or two until the wagon took his body downtown to the morgue. The stiff was slumped in the doorway of an Italian cafe, head to the door, feet on the sidewalk. Weegee sized up the scene. Every other photographer was taking the close-up. Bloodied face. Bloodied hands. Legs at strange angles. Weegee clocked the people hanging out of their tenement windows looking down on the scene below. Moms, Dads, kids reading the funnies. This was the drama. One stiff was the same as another. Weegee wanted his pictures to show some humanity. He walked back about a hundred feet. Set up his camera. Used flash powder and Kazam! There was the whole scene. The corpse. The blood. The cops. The balcony seat of people looking out to see what had just happened. Drama. Humanity. Crime.

Weegee came out of Złoczów now part of the Ukraine. He was born Arthur Fellig in June 1899. He emigrated with his family. They landed New York 1909. Lived in the Lower East Side. His father was a hatmaker and part-time rabbi. Weegee took whatever work came. He became a janitor. Got the nickname “Squeegee Boy.” He hung around with the bums on the Bowery. Started taking photographs. First passport pictures, then commercial work. At the age of thirty-five, he upped his game, quit commercial work, became a freelance news photographer.

He went out nights, hung around the police station waiting for the stories to come in over the teletype. Off he went taking pictures of murders, fires, fender benders, wacko kids on their way to juvie hall. He spent two years with no accreditation following the police all around town. In 1938, the cops gave him his own police radio. Weegee could tune in and pick up on what was happening. Most times he got to the crime scene before the cops. The cops thought he must be psychic. This gave rise to the apocryphal story his nickname was the phonetic spelling of “Ouija.” Weegee added a darkroom to the trunk of his car. He took his picture, developed it at the scene, put his print on the back, and sold it to the papers. During his ten years at police headquarters, Weegee said he must have photographed 5,000 murders—“at least one murder every night.”

Weegee wanted to capture the perfect picture. He always claimed he photographed things just as he found them but this wasn’t always so. The famous pic of rich tiaraed dames in white furs off to the opera with a dirty-faced down-and-out lady beside them was staged. The bum was a drunk from a bar in the Bowery. She was paid a few drinks to stand next to the patrons going to the Met. Even so, it’s a damn fine photograph.

Taking people’s pictures wasn’t easy. At first, Weegee felt nervous, scared, but he knew he had to show confidence. He had to be in control. When he was, he found out people liked getting their pictures taken. One day his editor asked him why was it that when cops arrested perps and threw them in the back of the wagon, the criminals always covered their faces? Weegee came up with a solution for that. One night, Weegee asked a moll if she wanted the picture the papers used just to be her mugshot? Cause that’s certainly what they’re gonna use. Wouldn’t it be better if he took a good picture the way she wanted to be seen, well-lit like a Rembrandt, looking her best rather than some guilty lowlife? After that, most perps wanted Weegee to capture their best side.

Weegee photographed a world of crime and violence, murder and death. He changed the way we look at the world. He made an art form of the crime scene, which appealed to both the sensation-hungry readers of the tabloid press and the leafy, middlebrow, intellectuals. Weegee’s photographs created a style that is often copied but never bettered. This is film noir. This is every classic gangster movie you’ve seen. This is life as it happened.
 
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More of Weegee’s shots of death & disaster, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.12.2017
09:27 am
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Bad Bunny: True children’s stories of violent, drug-fueled family life presented as a kids’ book
07.07.2017
10:48 am
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Childhood is sometimes described by those privileged enough to know as the best years of our lives. This may be the case for the few but not always so for the many.

An American educational charity called Youth Ambassadors, which helps underprivileged kids reach their full potential, has come up with a rather simple idea to highlight the often grim reality of how some young people spend their childhoods. It’s a fake children’s book called Welcome to My Neighborhood.

It’s presented just like any other kids picture book with friendly, cuddly bunnies, cats, and mice telling the story of their lives. The big difference is this ain’t no Beatrix Potter or Wind in the Willows. This is a collection of disturbing true stories of domestic violence, drugs, crime, murder, and prison as recounted by disadvantaged children from some of America’s most deprived places. Not even the seemingly family-friendly illustrations can disguise the brutality of the children’s lives as drug-addict Daddy Rat beats his kids, the Bunny Brothers whack people, and Mister Fox is a gung-ho, trigger-happy cop.

Whether Welcome to My Neighborhood will actually make any real difference to the plight of these youngsters other than being something the chattering class will smile knowledgeably about over their quinoa salads and tofu chai latte, I ain’t so sure. But it’s certainly 10/10 for originality and effort. Download a PDF of this book here or, if you’re interested in doing some good, find out how to help Youth Ambassadors here.
 
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More sad tales, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.07.2017
10:48 am
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Night Stalkers: Disturbing illustrated covers from Serial Killer Magazine
07.06.2017
09:50 am
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An illustration of Richard Ramirez aka “The Night Stalker” on the cover of issue #25 of Serial Killer Magazine.
 
Serial Killer Magazine got its start in 2014 and to date has put out 25 issues dedicated to the dark world of serial killers. The page-turner is the holy grail for anyone into “murderabilia,” and the mag takes the business of providing in-depth information about serial murderers very seriously, often utilizing real experts in the field and in some cases, the killers themselves. As someone who has a macabre interest in these kinds of things, I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no knowledge of Serial Killer Magazine until today and was instantly captivated by its grim, illustrated covers.

As I’m sure you are aware, there is a pretty robust market for ephemera associated with serial killers. Paintings and illustrations done by one of the most well-known serial killers, John Wayne Gacy (you know, this guy) have sold for several thousands of dollars. However, it should be noted that some of Gacy’s “collectors” purchased his art to destroy it including the families of Gacy’s 33 victims. Another important point to make here is that the magazine wants to be clear that their product isn’t a means of glorifying the notorious crimes it details within its pages, but is intended to be a resource for anyone that has an interest in real crime. That said, the magazine sells for $15 an issue which you can get here. I’ve posted a few of my favorite covers from Serial Killer Magazine below that I am sure many of our more dangerously-minded readers will enjoy checking out.
 

Issue #11 featuring a portrait of Carl Panzram by the great Joe Coleman. Panzram was a prolific criminal who in addition to being a serial killer was also an arsonist, rapist, and burglar. 
 

Issue #23 featuring a super creepy illustration by Rowan Andrews of John Wayne Gacy.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.06.2017
09:50 am
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