Mondo Bizarro May 29 2016
COFFIN BREAK
Work halted on San Francisco renovation after 19th century coffin is uncovered.
 
In San Francisco, where high-end property renovations are occurring all over the city at breakneck speed, even the dead are being pushed out by gentrification. Last week workers digging beneath a home in the Richmond neighborhood unearthed a metal and glass coffin from the 1870s that holds the body of a little girl.
 
We had no idea such items existed, but after doing a little research we discovered that ornate metal caskets, usually made of cast iron or lead, were popular during the mid- to late-1800s among the more affluent. A Providence, Rhode Island man named Almond Fisk was the first to patent them, which he displayed in 1849 at the New York State Agricultural Society Fair in Syracuse, and the American Institute Exhibition in New York City.
 
He called them Fisk Metallic Burial Cases, and they came in an amazing variety, including Egyptian style sarcophagi. The coffins were airtight, helping preserve bodies during an era when the embalming arts were not as advanced as today and a week could elapse before arrangements were made to bury a loved one and family gathered for the send-off. They were also welded shut, preventing grave robberies—a serious problem of the times, not only due to valuables that might be buried with bodies, but also due to the price a well-preserved corpse could fetch from unscrupulous medical schools looking for research cadavers.

Fisk's sales materials boast that not only could his burial cases be drained of air, aiding preservation, but—if one chose—filled with any type of atmosphere or fluid. Just a year after he displayed them at those New York exhibitions, former U.S. Vice-President and Secretary of State John C. Calhoun died and was buried in one. The publicity caused a wave of nationwide interest that prompted Fisk to license his expensive invention to other companies. Eventually, Crane, Breed & Co., of Cincinnati and New Orleans acquired a license, and made coffins sporting the types of viewing windows featured on the San Francisco discovery.

What will happen the little girl's body is still unknown. San Francisco ordinances make her the property owner's responsibility. Reburial has been mentioned by said property owner, but we'd be surprised if anthropologists didn't get a look at the girl first. Autopsies on bodies ofthat age have uncovered troves of data about diet, disease, and more. Afterward she can be laid to rest somewhere well out of the way of San Francisco's ongoing makeover into millionaire Disneyland.

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Mondo Bizarro May 20 2016
WITCH'S BILBREW
Dream a little dream with us.


Gypsy's Witch Dream Book of Numbers is a lucky number book published in 1972 and based on the principle of dream interpretation. Basically, you have a dream, look up its elements, and find the associated numbers. For example, take an average dream—say you're in an all nude, alcohol licensed strip club on the Turks and Caicos with about 10K in your pockets and the dancers include Anjelique Pettyjohn, Kimiko Nakayama, and Joey Heatherton, along with assorted Miss Universe contestants, and on a small stage in the corner the music is being played live by Shakira, but she's performing Curtis Mayfield's “Give Me Your Love” and the rest of the Superfly soundtrack. You can't decide who to buy a lap dance from, so in order to convince you Anjelique, Kimiko, and Joey begin demonstrating progressively more amazing and shocking contortionist maneuvers, even going so far as to ask you to help them achieve certain positions, at which point your waitress Elke Sommer brings a raspberry Rickey and tells you she's off work now, but go ahead and have a lap dance first, because she'll wait. We'll stop there. So then you go into the dream book and look up “naked,” “island,” “dancer,” and maybe, just to cover your bases, “summer,” “Star Trek,” and “pretzel.” You find the three-digit numbers associated with those items, which you take to the nearest 7-Eleven and voluntarily tax yourself by buying several Powerball tickets and losing. That's basically how the dream book works. Oh, and the cover was painted by mid-century paperback artist Gene Bilbrew. Almost forgot to mention him.

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Mondo Bizarro Apr 28 2016
A BRIDGE TOO FAR
Ghost hunter hit by train while searching for creature said to lure victims in front of trains.


A few days ago in Louisville, Kentucky a woman was hit and killed by a train, but this was no ordinary accident. Twenty-six-year-old Roquel Bain and her boyfriend had come to Louisville to take part in a ghost hunting tour of an abandoned sanitarium, but first decided to investigate a local legend—the Pope Lick Goatman. This cryptid is said to use a hypnotic gaze to lure victims onto the Pope Lick Trestle, where they are then hit by a passing train. Bain and her companion walked onto the trestle and shortly thereafter a train came along, as they tend to do about every half hour, according to locals. Bain's boyfriend was able to hang from the edge of the structure as the train passed but Bain was hit and hurled one hundred feet onto the valley floor.
 
The Goatman legend has the hallmarks of a high school stunt that grew over the course of years. Since locals are aware that trains pass frequently, we suspect the game decades ago was to simply cross the trestle before one came along. A bridge that long, a schedule that tight, it was a reasonable bet everyone would have to run for their lives at some point. Fun and games. But dangerous ones, with occasional deaths. At thatpoint the Goatman story probably came into being to provide motivation to risk the trestle, or maybe someone just dreamed it up to explain why people were always crazy enough to be up there. “There must be some weird lure for these people,” someone comments. “Like what? A siren?” someone replies sarcastically. “Hah hah. Yeah. Well, there's no water up there. Plenty of cows and goats, though. Half man, half goat.”

Then in 1988 came director Ron Schildknecht's 16-minute movie The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster, and the story of the Goatman began to spread. Of the people who visit from outside the area, many arrive believing the rickety-looking trestle is abandoned, which Bain may have thought as well. The crossing still would be dangerous without a train, but at least you could do it at a comfortable pace. The story of Bain's death caught our eye for two reasons. First because PSGP was born and raised in southern Ohio and had heard of this bridge. He never braved the crossing—before interlopers from out of state began visiting the site regularly, Louisville locals would have viewed an Ohio kid in their backwoods as a good candidate for an ass-whipping. They probably still do.
 
The second reason this story struck us is because we just wrote about personal risk-taking a few days ago, and this is obviously the flipside of it—risk is exhilarating but it can get you hurt or killed. Bain and her boyfriend were just trying catch a thrill, which we totally understand. Hell, we don't see it as very different from dirt biking or ocean kayaking, but that's just us. You have to feel bad for everyone involved, though. Wait a sec—did we really just write that? Last time something like this happened we thought it was hilarious. Are we getting soft? Damn. Blame it on the Pulp Intl. girlfriends.

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Mondo Bizarro Sep 23 2014
WORTH A TRI
Two’s company, and three’s most definitely a crowd.


As we’ve stated several times before, we’re always willing to do our small part to help out desperate publicity hounds, so above you see a photo of Jasmine Tridevil, a 21-year-old woman from Florida who claimed recently to have had a third breast implanted in the middle of her chest to bolster her efforts to become a reality star. Of course, this is a total Photoshop job. We don’t have to tell you that, right? Having worked at the international capital of bad breast implants—the august smut mill known as Playboy—we can tell you that an implanted breast could never look like this udderly ridiculous blob hanging from Tridevil’s torso. The tautness created by adding mass under existing skin means an artificial breast would come out looking something like half a grapefruit glued to the chest. 

For a good example of a real result, check out Brian Zembic, just right, who had breasts implanted several years ago for reasons we can’t remember right now. We know it hurts the eyes, but that’s what boobs built from scratch look like. We have to say this, though—obvious hoax notwithstanding, Tridevil has already achieved most of her goal. Consider—four days ago nobody had ever heard of her, and now she’s trending all over social media. American television being the morass it is, you can be sure networks the breadth of the cable dial are scrambling to get her into their studios for a tête-à-tête.
 
Generating that level of interest while demonstrating zero talent is—paradoxically—kind of a talent. We know. We know. It sounds like we've given up hoping actual ability means anything anymore, but you have to admit it—would anyone have paid Tridevil attention if she knew how to play Chopin? That's a highly doubtful proposition. So here’s to her oh-so-fleeting fifteen minutes—to be followed, of course, by the unfurling of her entire life, its cruel dissection by the media, and her inevitable, teary-eyed flameout.
 
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Mondo Bizarro Dec 6 2013
OUTSIDE THE BOX
Hah hah, very funny—but seriously, this thing is stable, right?

Above are two shots of the famed three-wheeled automobile manufactured by the Davis Motorcar Company of Van Nuys, California. Davis produced three models along the same lines, and not only did their triangular designs make them sure to tip over when minimal sideways torque was applied, but they also featured four-across seating guaranteed to increase the fatality rate of the inevitable rollovers. On the plus side, by the end of any ride you’d know a lot more about your fellow passengers’ physiques than when you started. Sadly, Davis cars lasted only two years—1947 and 1948—and fewer than twenty were made. See a few more photos here.

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Mondo Bizarro Oct 17 2013
NUCLEAR FAMILY
So when the man said we could get out of that stuffy window display and have an entire house, I jumped at it.

In the annals of curious atomic experiments—which includes blowing up goats and other farm animals—the exposure of mannequins to the effects of nuclear detonations must rank near the top. Scientists wanted to find out what a superhot thermal radiation flash followed by a crushing pressure wave would do to human-like constructs, and of course, they wreaked total havoc—but not uniformly, which was apparently the big takeaway from these tests. The above image and those below are all from the Nevada Test Site circa early to mid-1950s.

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Mondo Bizarro Aug 10 2013
PHYSICAL EVIDENCE
Private British crime collection could be opened to public.

The London Metropolitan Police’s 150-year-old collection of crime artifacts, currently held in room 101 at New Scotland Yard, may open to the public in the near future if the recommendations of the Greater London Authority are followed. The GLA’s report says charging the public to view the collection could generate millions of pounds—for example, even a 90 day exhibition at could raise £4.5 million if visitors were charged £15 each. What exactly does the Met have in its possession that's worth £15 a pop? The collection, begun in 1874 as a teaching tool for rookie officers, and then called the Black Museum, contains weapons, death masks, and assorted criminal tools, as well as unique items such as the umbrella and ricin pellet used to assassinate Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in 1978, the pots serial killer Dennis Nilsen used to boil his victims, along with some sludgelike human remains, Jack the Ripper’s infamous “From Hell” letter, and another letter he sent to London’s Central News Agency in September 1888 in which he gloated, “I am down on whores and I shan’t quit ripping them till I do get buckled.” The Museum also contains artifacts from other serial killers, including John George Haigh, John Christie, and Dr. Neil Cream. We think the items should be displayed for their historical value, but the opening of the collection is by no means a foregone conclusion. Only time will tell if the GLA’s recommendations will be met. If you want to read a detailed account of a visit to the Museum, we recommend visiting the London blog greatwen.com, where we found the above photo.

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Mondo Bizarro | Swindles & Scams Apr 8 2013
JOY LOCH CLUB
Nessie enthusiasts and debunkers solve nothing at science symposium except perhaps who can hold their liquor.


Upcoming on Sunday is the eightieth anniversary of the first modern sighting of the Loch Ness monster, which occurred April 14, 1933 when a couple claimed to have seen what they described as an enormous animal in the loch. In honor of the occasion, yesterday at the Edinburgh International Science Festival in Scotland, Nessie scholars held a symposium debating the creature’s existence. The photo above, shot by Robert Wilson on April 19, 1934, remains arguably the most famous Nessie image, and for years was touted as proof something large lived in the loch, until 1984 when the British Journal of Photography published an analysis by Stewart Campbell concluding that the object in the water measured three feet—not nearly long enough to be the famed Nessie. Years later, a big game hunter named Marmaduke Wetherell, just below, was fingered as the brain behind an elaborate hoax resulting in the photo. But true believers have disputed the account.

Subsequent sightings and photos have all been inconclusive, which means of course that nothing was decided at the Edinburgh symposium. Those who believe in the creature have no hard evidence to prove their position, and those who disbelieve can’t prove it doesn’t exist. The latter isn’t a surprise, as it’s logically impossible to prove anything doesn’t exist, whether monsters and deities, Kang and Kodos of Rigel IV, or the chair you're sitting on right now. Doubtless those involved in the symposium knew that, which means the event was probably just a good excuse to shoot the shit for an afternoon then adjourn to the raucous Edinburgh bars. From there it’s just a few pints until someone drops his pants and screeches, “Watch out! The monster is out of the loch!” So be forewarned—the next Nessie photo you see will probably be someone’s pale cock, and if photo analysis proves it’s three feet long that’ll be one proud scientist.

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The Naked City | Mondo Bizarro Mar 1 2013
LUST AND DEATH
Joliet police drop bombshell on shocked public regarding brutal January double-murder.

Partying was the lure, but robbery was the motive. In the town of Joilet, Illinois in mid-January four people—Joshua Miner, Alisa Massaro, Bethany McKee, and Adam Landerman, seen from clockwise above, invited two acquaintances into Massaro’s house where they strangled them. When police arrived on the scene they found the bodies of Eric Glover and Terrance Rankins, below, face down inside the house with plastic bags tied around their heads. Local police chief Mike Trafton said at the time, “After the homicides were committed, [the killers] continued the party atmosphere, I guess I would say, without getting into it any further.” Yesterday the public found out what he didn’t want to get into back in January—at least two of the killers had sex atop the bodies of the victims. Joshua Miner told police after his arrest that his girlfriend Alisa Massaro said “years back that she wanted to have sex with a dead guy.” She can cross that off that bucket list. Problem is, if prosecutors get their way she and her cohorts may be kicking the bucket sooner than any of them ever imagined.

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Mondo Bizarro Jan 2 2013
DOMESTIC VIOLETS
They were the cure for whatever ailed you.


The above photos show an interesting looking model circa 1920 demonstrating the usage of a violet ray machine, which was a personal electrotherapy device first invented by Nikola Tesla around 1890. Tesla was way ahead of his time, and some of his electrical applications were simply amazing. For instance, he successfully generated wireless power—i.e., he lit phosphorescent lamps by sending electricity through the air. Think about that next time you trip over one of the twenty power cords you have snaking around your place. Of course, genius occasionally comes wrapped in a bit of lunacy, so in the interests of full disclosure we should probably note that Tesla also spent many years trying to build a teleforce weapon, which he claimed would “bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 200 miles from a defending nation’s border and cause armies to drop dead in their tracks.”

Tesla’s violet ray device became a major fad during the Great Depression. The contraption consisted of a portable box encasing a discharge coil that produced a high frequency, ozone-generating electrical current. That current was channeled into a bakelite-handled, glass-tipped wand, the business end of which was applied to the recipient’s skin. One company that manufactured these devices was called Renulife, and their pitch went like this: Electricity from your light socket is transformed into health and beauty-giving Violet Ray—powerfully effective, yet gentle, soothing, perfectly safe. Voltage is raised from ordinary lighting current to thousands of volts, giving tremendous penetrative force. The irresistible revitalizing powers of Renulife Violet Ray are carried at once to every nerve, cell, fibre and part of the body.

Violet rays were touted as the cure for a long list of ailments, including fatigue, congestion, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, catarrh, brain fog, aging, and so forth, but by the 1950s Tesla’s device had fallen out of usage in the U.S. While it would be easy to dismiss violet rays as quackery, something physical was clearly happening. Consider this: the Chicago Police Department used a violet ray device to torture suspects between 1973 and 1984. Also, it’s worth noting that similar devices are still used today, most notably the High Frequency aesthetic machine you find in beauty salons, and the violet wand, used in BDSM. And modern medical research has shown that electricity can speed the healing of wounds, slow muscle atrophy, and modify brain impulses. So give Tesla his props—looks like he was right yet again. Good thing he never wrote down how his teleforce weapon worked.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 31
1957—Arthur Miller Convicted of Contempt of Congress
Award-winning American playwright Arthur Miller, the husband of movie star Marilyn Monroe, is convicted of contempt of Congress when he refuses to reveal the names of political associates to the House Un-American Activities Committee. The conviction would later be overturned, but HUAC persecution against American citizens continues until the committee is finally dissolved in 1975.
May 30
1914—Aquitania Sets Sail
The Cunard liner RMS Aquitania, at 45,647 tons, sets sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City. At the time she is the largest ocean liner on the seas. During a thirty-six year career the ship serves as both a passenger liner and military ship in both World Wars before being retired and scrapped in 1950.
May 29
1914—RMS Empress Sinks
Canadian Pacific Steamships' 570 foot ocean liner Empress of Ireland is struck amidships by a Norwegian coal freighter and sinks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the loss of 1,024 lives. Submerged in 130 feet of water, the ship is so easily accessible to treasure hunters who removed valuables and bodies from the wreck that the Canadian government finally passes a law in 1998 restricting access.

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