the pugilist poet

Arthur Cravan (born Fabian Avenarius Lloyd on May 22, 1887) was known as a pugilist, a poet and a larger-than-life character.

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“Cravan was born and educated in Lausanne, Switzerland, then at an English military academy from which he was expelled after spanking a teacher

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He set out to promote himself as an eccentric and an art critic, though his interest was showing off a striking personal style rather than discussing art. To a degree, Cravan was a charlatan as well as a genius. He staged spectacles and stunts with himself at the centre, pulling down his pants in public and once acting on the front of a line of carts where he paraded his skills as a boxer and singer.

After the First World War began, Cravan left Paris to avoid being drafted into military service. On a stopover in the Canary Islands a boxing match was arranged between Cravan and the reigning world champion, Jack Johnson, to raise money for Cravan’s passage to the United States. Posters for the match touted him as “European champion.” Johnson, who didn’t know who he was, knocked Cravan out solidly, noting in his autobiography that Cravan must have been out of training.

Jack Johnson found here

His style involved continuous re-invention of his public persona, and outrageous statements and boasts. As the nephew of Oscar Wilde (his father’s sister, Constance Mary Lloyd, was married to Wilde) he even produced hoaxes—documents and poems—and then signed them “Oscar Wilde”. In 1913 he published an article claiming that his uncle was still alive and had visited him in Paris. The New York Times published the rumor, even though Cravan and Wilde never met.

On the page and in person, Cravan paraded himself as “the poet with the shortest haircut in the world.”  Penniless most of the time, he drank in dive sports bars in the Bronx and slept rough in Central Park. Marcel Duchamp invited Cravan to a conference at Grand Central Palace. His lecture caused a sensation: drunk and undressing, he cussed out an audience who called the cops, shocking the Greenwich Village avant-garde.

Marcel Duchamp found here

It was in New York that he fell in love with the poet Mina Loy. They moved to Mexico together and married in 1918. The couple planned a trip to Argentina but did not have enough money for both of them to book passage on the same vessel. Loy took the trip on a regular ship and Cravan set out alone on a sailboat. He never arrived in Argentina and it is presumed that he died, aged 31, in a storm at sea. Mina gave birth to their daughter, Fabienne, in April. She spent a year searching for him, and decades fantasizing his return. Although theories abound, the mystery of his disappearance has never been solved. 

Mina Loy found here

faith and fasting and the mysterious man from Mayfair

Maurice Wilson MC (1898–1934) was a British soldier, mystic, mountaineer and aviator who is known for his ill-fated attempt to climb Mount Everest alone

Wilson found here

Often characterised as “eccentric”, he wished to climb Everest to promote his belief that the world’s ills could all be solved by a combination of fasting and faith in God. 

Mt Everest found here

He joined the army on his eighteenth birthday and quickly rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a Captain. He won the Military Cross for his part in an engagement where, as the only uninjured survivor of his unit, he single-handedly held a machine gun post against the advancing Germans.

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Wilson left the army in 1919, and like many of the “lost generation” found the transition to post-war life difficult. For several years he wandered, living in London, the United States and then New Zealand where he ran a ladies clothes shop.

NZ Fashion Week 2008 found here

In 1932 he underwent a secretive treatment involving 35 days of intensive prayer and fasting with the aim of restoring his fading health. He claimed that the technique had come from a mysterious man he met in Mayfair who had cured himself and over 100 other people of diseases which doctors had declared incurable.

The idea of climbing Everest came to Wilson while he was recuperating in the Black Forest. He formed a plan to fly a small aeroplane to Tibet, crash-land it on the upper slopes of Everest, and walk to the summit. A practical problem was posed by the fact that Wilson knew nothing at all about either flying or mountaineering.

Black Forest found here

Wilson purchased a three-year-old Gipsy Moth, which he christened Ever Wrest, and set about learning the rudiments of flying. His preparation for the mountaineering challenge that lay ahead was even worse than his preparation for the flight. He bought no specialist equipment and made no attempt to learn technical mountaineering skills, such as the use of an ice axe and crampons. Instead, he spent just five weeks walking around the modest hills of Snowdonia and the Lake District before he declared himself ready.

Snowdonia found here

Ignoring the Air Ministry’s ban, Wilson set off, and remarkably, and in spite of the best efforts of the British government, he succeeded in reaching India two weeks later. After trying and failing to get permission to enter Tibet on foot, Wilson spent the winter in Darjeeling fasting and planning an illicit journey to the base of Everest.

Darjeeling found here

Most of what is known about Wilson’s activities on the mountain itself come from his diary, which was recovered the following year. He seems to have found the trek up the Rongbuk Glacier extremely difficult, constantly getting lost and having to retrace his steps. He wrote in his diary “It’s the weather that’s beaten me – what damned bad luck” and began a gruelling four day retreat down the glacier.

Rongbuk Glacier found here

On May 22, he made an abortive attempt to climb to the North Col. After four days of slow progress and camping on exposed ledges, he was defeated by a forty foot ice wall at around 22,700 ft. His last diary entry was dated 31 May, and read simply “Off again, gorgeous day

In 1935, a small reconnaissance expedition to Mount Everest found Wilson’s body, lying on its side in the snow and surrounded by the remains of a tent which had been torn apart by the elements.

But there’s one more twist to this adventure. Rumours have continued to arise that Wilson had a secret. Barry Collins, who’s written a play about Wilson says, “It appears that when Wilson was found there was women’s clothing in his rucksack and I’ve heard someone say that he was decked out in women’s underwear”.

The story was fuelled by the discovery of a ladies shoe at 21,000 feet by the 1960 Chinese expedition. Historian Audrey Salkeld says “We can’t conclusively pin the woman’s shoe find on Wilson but, knowing that he worked in a ladies dress shop in New Zealand, all these things have come together to build a picture of him as a transvestite or shoe fetishist.”

NOT this shoe found here

he had his father’s eye for women

Harry Crosby (1898–1929) was an American heir, a bon vivant, poet and publisher. He was the son of one of the richest banking families in New England.

Harry and friend found here

Tired of the rigidity of everyday life, he said he wanted to escape “the horrors of Boston virgins.” Profoundly affected by his experience as an ambulance driver in World War I, Crosby vowed to live life on his own terms.

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He had his father’s eye for women and in 1920 met Mrs. Polly Peabody, six years his senior. Harry reportedly fell in love with the buxom Mrs. Peabody in about two hours, confessing all in the Tunnel of Love at the amusement park. Their open affair was the source of scandal and gossip among blue-blood Bostonians. Polly divorced her alcoholic husband and married Crosby. Two days later they left for Europe, where they enjoyed a decadent lifestyle, drinking, smoking opium, traveling frequently, and having an open marriage.

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Harry worked at Morgan, Harjes et Cie, the Morgan family’s bank in Paris. They found an apartment overlooking the Seine, and Polly would don her red bathing suit and row Harry down the Quai d’Orléans in his dark business suit, formal hat, umbrella and briefcase. As she rowed back home, the well endowed Polly would enjoy whistles and waves from workmen. She said the exercise was good for her breasts.

“The Young Rower” found here

Even by the wild standards of Paris in the 1920s, Harry was in a league of his own. The couple lived a hedonistic life. Harry was a gambler and a womanizer; he drank “oceans of champagne” and used opium, cocaine, and hashish. They wrote a mutual suicide pact, and carried cremation instructions with them.

more of Harry’s photography to be found here

In 1924, Harry persuaded Polly to formally change her first name, as he felt Polly was too prim and proper. They briefly considered Clytoris before deciding on Caresse. Harry and Caresse became known for hosting small dinner parties from the giant bed in their palatial townhouse, and afterwards everyone was invited to enjoy their huge bathtub together, taking advantage of iced bottles of champagne near at hand.

image by Burt Glinn found here

Crosby claimed to be a “sun worshiper in love with death.” He added a doodle of a “black sun” to his signature which also included an arrow, jutting upward from the “y” in his last name and aiming toward the center of the sun’s circle: “a phallic thrust received by a welcoming erogenous zone“.

In Morocco Harry and Caresse took a 13-year-old dancing girl named Zora to bed with them. His seductive abilities were legendary and he engaged in a series of ongoing affairs, maintaining relationships with a variety of beautiful and doting young women.

NOT this Zora (Hurston) found here

His wildness was in full flower during the drunken orgies of the annual Four Arts Balls. One year, Caresse showed up topless riding a baby elephant and wearing a turquoise wig. The motif for the ball that year was Inca, and Harry dressed for the occasion, covering himself in red ocher and wearing nothing but a loincloth and a necklace of dead pigeons.

pigeon ring necklaces found here

Embracing the open sexuality offered by Crosby and his wife, Henri Cartier-Bresson fell into an intense sexual relationship with Caresse that lasted until 1931. Meanwhile, in 1928 Harry found 20-year-old Josephine Rotch. Ten years his junior, they met while she was shopping in Venice for her wedding trousseau. She was dark and intense and had been known around Boston as fast: a ‘bad egg’ with sex appeal. 

image by Cartier-Bresson found here

Josephine and Harry had an affair until the following June, when she married Albert Smith Bigelow. Briefly, their affair was over, but only until August, when Josephine contacted Crosby and they rekindled their love. But unlike Caresse, Josephine was quarrelsome and prone to fits of jealousy. 

In December, the Crosbys returned to the United States. Harry and Josephine met and traveled to Detroit where they checked into the Book-Cadillac Hotel as Mr. and Mrs Harry Crane. For four days they took meals in their room, smoked opium, and had sex. On December 7, the lovers returned to New York. Crosby’s friend Hart Crane threw a party to bid Harry and Caresse bon voyage, as they were about to sail back to France. Josephine said she would return to her husband but instead stayed in New York, writing a poem to Harry, the last line of which read: Death is our marriage. 

refurbished Book-Cadillac Hotel found here

On the evening of December 10, Harry was nowhere to be found. It was unlike him to worry Caresse needlessly so she called Stanley Mortimer, whose studio Harry had used for trysts. Mortimer forced open a locked door, behind which he found Harry and Josephine’s bodies. Harry was in bed with a .25 caliber bullet hole in his right temple next to Josephine, who had a matching hole in her left temple, in what appeared to be a suicide pact. 

A picture of Zora, the 13-year-old girl he had sex with in Egypt, was reportedly found in his wallet. The coroner reported that Harry’s toenails were painted red, and that he had a Christian cross tattooed on the sole of one foot and a pagan icon representing the sun on the other. The coroner concluded that Josephine had died at least two hours before Harry. There was no suicide note, and newspapers ran sensational articles for days.

Harry’s poetry possibly gave the best clue to his motives. Death is “the hand that opens the door to our cage, the home we instinctively fly to.” Harry’s biographer Wolff wrote:

He meant to do it; it was no mistake; it was not a joke. If anything of Harry Crosby commands respect, perhaps even awe, it was the unswerving character of his intention. He killed himself not from weariness or despair, but from conviction, and however irrational or ignoble this conviction may have been, he held fast to it as to a principle. He killed himself on behalf of the idea of killing himself.

found here

Published in: on April 12, 2012 at 8:22 am  Comments (53)  
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his name is Unilson and he comes from the planet Vanfim

Silvio Berlusconi has his own private fortune teller and her name is Teodora

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She foretold that he would become prime minister, to which he replied that if her predictions came true, he’d guarantee her TV appearances—and riches—for life. Recently, Teodora was kind enough to consent to an interview with Vice Magazine, which must have been boring since she presumably knew what would be asked beforehand.

Vice magazine cover found here

VICE: Tell us how your psychic career started.

“In 1984 I was in a car accident, which put me in a coma for 14 days. When I came around, I had these strange feelings. I thought I was going insane. Hearing the voice in my head for the first time, I refused to accept it was real. In communist times it was very difficult to share such bizarre experiences.

more communist construction images found here

VICE: So who, exactly, is the entity behind the omnipotent voice that is broadcast inside your head?

His name is Unilson, and he comes from the planet Vanfim. What he told me is that everything around us is energy, which contains information about all that exists, much like a giant computer. All you need is the key: a name and birth date. The key allows you to look into the past and the present, and therefore the future.

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VICE: Did Unilson tell you about the origin of this world, of human beings?

Both us and them are God’s creatures, and the extraterrestrials made the robot.

VICE: Is it likely that your alien friends may wish to pay us a visit anytime soon?

They’re already here, they’re the energy making contact with us. But we are not ready yet. They don’t want tot scare us; they just want to help us lead a more earthly and natural life. The indigo and crystal children who have been coming into the world recently are prepared to make contact with them.

VICE: Will the world be ending soon?

2012 will not be the end of the world. However, the system will change and  provide answers to a number of important questions that have been piquing the human mind. For instance, the euro will continue to decline, and by 2016 there will be a new European currency. Germany will embark on a new path and establish its own currency. Italy will be revived and prosper once more. Turkey will become the leader of the Islamic world. China has been trying to see how the land lies before it starts to expand.

polluted land in China found here

VICE: How about the USA?

America is still the top power, but China is claiming the position. There will be  turmoil over some countries’ debts, but the future belongs to the Asian race. America will clash with Iran in an Israel-inspired conflict. Chemical and nuclear war will start from there.

VICE: Oh, man, this doesn’t sound good. Iranians can be a tad extreme.

This is inevitable, and so is the war. Parts of the ocean will be poisoned, the air too, and some of the crops, and not only in Iran but in many parts of the planet. Sea animals will start dying for no visible reason. Countries will become self-encapsulated. Those that have freshwater will not share it; those that have oil will keep it to themselves. Another thing: There will be some problems caused by an asteroid.

Geonosis asteroid battle found here

VICE: What is the future of the Middle East following the Arab Spring?

They will turn to modern Islam, and great changes are in store for their governments. They will be united around their sheikhs and have their own currency. But this and other things I should not tell you, for they are in my new book, which is due out soon.

Bedouin sheikhs found here

VICE: With previous prognostications you’ve made, many failed to come true. For instance, you predicted that Berlusconi would complete his full term, and look what happened.

I am only a tiny conductor of all this energy. I am not perfect, and good for me: Imagine the CIA abducting me, and then I’d have to work for them. Generally, I have about 80 percent reliability, plus the future can be altered by other factors.

image from the CIA museum found here

VICE: What other factors?

Humans, for example. We have been excessively investing in the material, and therefore nothing good awaits us. In 2012, people’s thinking will undergo a process of reevaluation. The flexible ones, who are fit to live with plenty and with little, shall survive, while the rest fall away.

VICE: Do you honestly believe such a change is possible?

The year started with a tragedy in Italy, and remember what happened in Japan last year. Calamities bring people together, and there are more to come. People will be continuously scanned; the computer will become an integral part of any man, like a wristwatch. We shall all be scanned, financially and otherwise, but we’ll also be watched by other civilizations. Time will be running out, and it will seem to us that life is getting shorter and shorter.

wristwatch computer found here

VICE: Won’t it be getting longer?

It surely will. Some people will look like mummies but will live as long as 150 years, thanks to advanced medicine.

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VICE:  How do people of faith respond to your powers?

The Catholic Church will acknowledge the extraterrestrials, who implicitly obey God anyway, so the Vatican and the rest of the churches will have to reconsider their attitude to this particular issue. The first disconcerting thing to happen will be the discovery of God’s particle. And this is due to happen very very shortly……

Published in: on April 10, 2012 at 8:25 am  Comments (56)  
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conduct unbecoming

James Barry (c. 1789 –  1865), was a military surgeon in the British Army.

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“Among his accomplishments was the first caesarean section in Africa by a British surgeon in which both the mother and child survived the operation. Although Barry lived his adult life as a man, it is widely believed that he was born a female named Margaret Ann Bulkley and that he chose to live as a man so that he might be accepted as a university student and be able to pursue his chosen career as a surgeon.

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Margaret was born in Ireland in 1789, the second child of Jeremiah and Mary-Ann Bulkley. The child’s mother was the sister of James Barry, a celebrated Irish artist and professor of painting at London’s Royal Academy. However, a family crisis left Mary-Ann and Margaret without the support of Jeremiah Bulkley. Letters during this time of financial hardship refer to a conspiracy between Mary-Ann and some of her brother’s influential, liberal-minded friends to get the teenager – then still known as Margaret – into medical school.

self portrait by James Barry found here

A letter to the family solicitor shows that Mary-Ann and Margaret travelled to Edinburgh by sea in November 1809.  The letter also indicated that the younger traveller had assumed a male identity upon embarking on the voyage. Following his arrival in Edinburgh, Barry began studies as a ‘literary and medical student’. He qualified with a Medical Doctorate in 1812, then moved back to London.

Edinburgh found here

Barry was commissioned as a Hospital Assistant with the British Army, taking up a post in the Royal Military Hospital in Plymouth, where he was promoted to Assistant Staff Surgeon. After that he served in India and South Africa. Barry’s next postings included Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, and the island of Saint Helena. In Saint Helena he got into trouble for leaving for England unannounced. Later he served in Malta, the Crimea, Jamaica, and Canada.

St Helena found here

He was a misfit from the start: less than 5ft tall, he wore stacked heels and had to have 3in soles fastened to his boots to give him elevation. But the flamboyant styles of the day – men dressed effeminately as a fashion, not a sexual statement – worked in his favour. 

elephant dung stacked heels found here

He rapidly became known for his foibles, which included sleeping every night with a black poodle called Psyche, riding about in dress uniform wearing a cavalry sword and taking a goat everywhere so he could drink its milk. Despite “a most peculiar squeaky voice and mincing manner”, as one ambassador’s daughter noted, Dr Barry’s fierce temper ensured he was a force to be reckoned with.

goat found here

Barry was not always a pleasant fellow to be around. He could be tactless, impatient, argumentative and opinionated. He reputedly fought a couple of duels when someone commented on his voice and feminine features, though he appears to have had a good bedside manner and professional skill. He was a vegetarian and teetotaler and reputedly recommended wine baths for some (lucky) patients.

Wine Bath image found here

James Barry retired in 1864 — reputedly against his wishes — and returned to England. He died from dysentery a year later. Sophia Bishop, the charwoman who took care of the body, discovered his female anatomy and revealed this information after the funeral. Many people then claimed to have “known it all along”.

the well done count

Comte St. Germain (allegedly 1710-1935) has been described as an adventurer, charlatan, inventor, alchemist, violinist and amateur composer, but is best known as a recurring figure in the stories of several strands of occultism.

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St. Germain never revealed his actual background and identity, leading to many speculations about him and his origin and ancestry. Some of these include the possibility that he was the son of Francis II Rakoczi, the Prince of Transylvania

still from the movie Transylvania found here

St. Germain’s first chronicled appearances were in London in 1743 and in Edinburgh in 1745, where he was apparently arrested for spying. He was released in 1746 and promptly disappeared. Horace Walpole, who knew him in London, described him thus: “He sings, plays the violin wonderfully, composes, is mad and not very sensible“.

speedy violin player, David Garrett found here

He reappeared in Versailles in 1758, claiming to have secret recipes for dyes. During his time in Paris he gave diamonds as gifts and reputedly hinted that he was centuries old. After that the Count moved into Russia and apparently was in St Petersburg when the Russian army put Catherine the Great on the throne. Later conspiracy theories credit him for causing it.

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The next year he turned up in Belgium and tried to offer processing secrets of wood, leather and oil paint to the state. He supposedly turned iron into something resembling gold and then disappeared for another 11 years. In 1776 he appeared in Germany calling himself Count Welldone, and again offered recipes for cosmetics, wines, liqueurs, treatments of bone, paper and ivory. 

ivory tabernacle found here

There were rumors of him being alive in Paris in 1835, in Milan in 1867 and in Egypt during Napoleon’s campaign. Annie Besant said she met the Count in 1896. Theosophist Guy Ballard claimed that the Count had introduced him to visitors from Venus and published a book series about his channelings. 

image found here

Though he never ate any food in public, he liked dining out because of the people he met and the conversations he heard. They say he lived on oatmeal. He had an immense stock of amusing stories with which he regaled society. He was interested in the preparation of dyes and even started a factory in Germany for the manufacture of felt hats. The count claimed that he had learned how to turn several small diamonds into one large one and to make pearls grow to spectacular size.

Mr Pearl found here

In 1972, ex-convict and lover of singing star Dalida, Richard Chanfray claimed to be the Count of St. Germain on French television. He also claimed that Louis XV was still alive. During the centuries after his death, numerous myths, legends and speculations have surfaced. He has been attributed with occult practices like snake charming and ventriloquism.

Richard Chanfray found here

But even if he has never come back, even if he is no longer alive and we must relegate to legend the idea that the great Hermetic nobleman is still wandering about the world with his sparkling jewels, his senna tea, and his taste for princesses and queens, even so it can be said that he has gained the immortality he sought.

Published in: on April 3, 2012 at 10:02 am  Comments (61)  
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the cone of confabulation

This excerpt is taken from a longer article written by Lawrence Weschler for Harper’s Magazine in 1994. You can read the whole piece here. Or you could visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver city, California and see these things for yourself.

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“Donald R. Griffith, Rockefeller University’s eminent chiroptologist and author of Listening in the Dark, was reading the field reports of an obscure nineteenth century ethnographer named Bernard Maston. While working in 1872 among the Dozo of northern South America, Maston reported having heard several accounts of the deprong mori, or piercing devil, which he described as “a small demon which the local savages believe able to penetrate solid objects,” such as the walls of their thatch huts and, in one instance, even a child’s outstretched arm.

Deprong Mori found here

Griffith, as he later recounted, “smelled a bat.” He and a band of assistants undertook an arduous eight month expedition to the Tripsicum Plateau, where Griffith grew increasingly convinced that he was dealing not with just any bat but with a very special bat indeed, and specifically the tiny Myotis lucifugus, which though previously documented had never before been studied in detail.

bat found here

Furthermore, these particular bats had evolved highly elaborate nose leaves, or horns, which allowed them to focus their echowave transmissions in a narrow beam, which could account for the wide range of bizarre effects described by Maston’s informants.

needle felt bat found here

Griffith devised a brilliant snaring device consisting of five solid lead walls, each one eight inches thick, twenty feet high, and two hundred feet long — all of them arrayed in a radial pattern, like spokes of a giant wheel, along the forest floor. The team affixed seismic sensors all along the walls in an intricate gridlike pattern, and proceeded to wait.

radial pattern found here

Early on the morning of August 18, the sensors recorded a pock. The number three wall had received an impact twelve feet above the forest floor, 193 feet out from the center of the wheel. The team members carted an X-ray-viewing device out to the indicated spot, and sure enough, at a depth of 7 1/8 inches, they located the first Myotis lucifugus ever contained by man, “eternally frozen in a mass of solid lead.

x ray device found here

The story of Myotis lucifugus, the Dozo and the deprong mori, Bernard Maston and Donald R. Griffith can be found in a small, nondescript storefront operation located in Culver City in the middle of Los Angeles’s pseudo-urban sprawl: the Museum of Jurassic Technology.The door is likely to be opened by David Hildebrand Wilson himself, the museum’s founder and director.

David H Wilson found here

I suppose I should say something here about Wilson’s own presence, his own look, for it is of a piece with his museum. I have described him as diminutive, though a better word might be “simian.” His features are soft and yet precise, a broad forehead, short black hair graying at the sides, a close-cropped version of an Amish beard, sans mustache, fringing his face and filling into his cheeks. He wears circular glasses which accentuate the elfin effect. He’s been described as Ahab inhabiting the body of Puck (a pixie Ahab, a monomaniacal Puck), but the best description I ever heard came from his wife of twenty-five years, Diana, who one day characterized his looks for me as those of “a pubescent Neanderthal.”

Puck found here

After my museum visit I went to the library and looked up the ethnographer Bernard Maston: no record found. I typed in “Donald R. Griffith”: no record found. I tried that reference by title too — Listening in the Dark — and that time I hit pay dirt, except that the book had a different subtitle and its author was Donald R. Griffin, not Griffith. I went upstairs to look over the book’s index but found no references to Maston, the Dozo, or any deprong mori. I went back downstairs, tracked down Griffin’s whereabouts, and called him. I started out by explaining about the museum (he’d never heard of it) and its exhibit about Donald R. Griffith — “Oh no,” he interrupted. “My name is Griffin, with an n, not Griffith.” I know, I said, I know. I went on to ask him if he’d ever heard of a bat named Myotis lucifugus. “Of course.” he said, “It’s the most common species in North America. We used it on all the early research on echolocation.” Did its range extend to South America? Not as far as he knew, why? As I proceeded to tell him about the piercing devils and the thatch roofs, the lead walls and the X-ray emanations, he was laughing harder and harder. Finally, calming down, he said, “No, no, none of that is me, it’s all nonsense — on second thought you’d better leave the spelling of the name Griffith the way it is.” 

********************

He never ever breaks irony — that’s one of the incredible things about him.” says Marcia Tucker, the director of New York City’s New Museum, about David Wilson. It turns out there’s a growing cult among art and museum people who can’t seem to get enough of the MJT — I encountered it everywhere I turned: the L.A. County Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Getty. “When you’re in there with him,” Tucker went on, “everything initially just seems what it is. There’s this fine line, though, between knowing you’re experiencing something and sensing that something is wrong. There’s this slight slippage, which is the very essence of the place. And Wilson’s own presence there behind the desk, the literal-minded way in which he earnestly answers your questions — it all contributes seamlessly to that sense of slippage. Visiting the Jurassic is a bit like being in psychoanalysis. The place affords this marvelous field for projection and transference. It’s like a museum, a critique of museums, and a celebration of museums — all rolled into one.”

image found here

I SO want to go there…… don’t you?

Published in: on March 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm  Comments (41)  
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I dream of Genia

Queenwilly alerted me to this story about Eugenia Falleni via the Sydney Morning Herald from the archives at Sydney’s Justice and Police Museum 

Eugenia found here

The case of a transgender husband, Harry Crawford (Eugenia Falleni) convicted of murdering his wife had 1920s Sydney society in thrall, writes Tim Barlass.

By all accounts, Annie Birkett died a horrible death. Her charred body was found in open land near a flour mill in Chatswood, with cracks to her skull that could have formed through intense heat or by violence.

see larger image of Annie Birkett here 

Photographs of Mrs Birkett recently obtained by the Justice & Police Museum reveal her to be a refined and attractive woman, described later by one witness as ”very ladylike, a very quiet reserved woman never seen under the influence of liquor”.

But when she disappeared, Crawford told others that she had ‘‘cleared out with a plumber”, that she was a heavy drinker and that he had seen her a couple of times since then in Sydney.

It was not the victim that gave the case such notoriety in 1917, but her transgender husband, Harry Crawford, who was eventually convicted of her murder. 

Eugenia found here

On 19 February 1913 at the Methodist Parsonage in inner city Balmain, claiming to be a widower aged 38, Crawford went through a marriage ceremony with Annie Birkett, a widow of 35 with a 13-year-old son. Annie set up a confectionery shop in Balmain, evidently unaware that her husband was not a man, while Harry continued as a peripatetic manual worker.

Now Adriano Zumbo makes confectionery in Balmain

In 1917, after Annie had apparently threatened to report her husband to the authorities for his deception, the couple quarreled and Annie disappeared. Her body was discovered in October that year, partially burned and with cracks to the skull, in a forested picnic area near the Lane Cove River, but it remained unidentified for over two years. In the meantime, in September 1919, Harry Crawford underwent another marriage ceremony with Elizabeth King Allison, a spinster.

Spinster found here

Also in the intervening time, Annie’s son had alerted the police to his mother’s prolonged disappearance; the body of Annie was exhumed and identified, and Harry was arrested on 5 July 1920. At the time of his arrest, while living with Elizabeth in a house in Stanmore, he asked to be placed in the women’s cells and requested that his wife be not apprised that he was not a man. Among male clothing in a locked leather suitcase, police located an ‘article’, later exhibited in court, made of wood and rubber bound with cloth in the shape of a phallus or dildo.

image found here

At Falleni’s preliminary hearing and trial for murder at Darlinghurst courthouse in October 1920, the ‘Man-Woman case’ created a press sensation, with the accused appearing in the dock first in a man’s suit and then in women’s clothes. Falleni pleaded not guilty to the murder, but her alleged immorality in passing herself off as a man was made much of in the popular press, which portrayed her as a monster and a pervert.

Chief Justice Sir William Cullen in his summing up said: ”It would almost seem incredible that two people could live together for three years without Mrs Birkett discovering that an imposition had been practised …”

female johnny depp impersonator found here 

She was convicted and condemned to death, but her sentence was commuted to detainment at the Governor’s Pleasure. When released from Long Bay Prison eleven years later in February 1931 she became the proprietor of a boarding house in Paddington, Sydney. On 9 June 1938 she stepped off the pavement in front of a motorcar in nearby Oxford Street, and died of her injuries the following day.

Paddington Reservoir Oxford Street found here

Bucholz and the detectives

Another true adventure from the pen of Allan Pinkerton

image found here

(Reading between the lines, I think there may have been some shenanigans in the jail cell. See if you agree…..)

One sunny day in August 1878, there descended from the train at South Norwalk, an old German man, accompanied by a much younger one of the same nationality. The old gentleman was not prepossessing in appearance. He wore a wretched-looking coat, and upon his head a dingy, faded hat of foreign manufacture. His shoes showed frequent patches, and looked very much as though their owner had performed the duties of an amateur cobbler.

not this old man (found here)

The real estate agent shrugged his shoulders as the newcomer entered his office, the old man looked like a beggar. But instead of asking for charity, the visitor desired to make a purchase of land. The young man who accompanied him was discovered to be his servant, and the old gentlemen, in a few words, completed a bargain in which thousands of dollars were involved.

Roton postcard found here

The land in question was a farm of nearly thirty acres, situated upon Roton Hill. A few days after this, the old gentleman, whose name was John Henry Schulte, formally entered and took up his new abode. It was occupied at this time by the Waring family who had been tenants under the previous owner, and arrangements were made to continue their residence in the farm house.

The servant to the old gentleman was a fine looking fellow, with clean cut features and prominent cheek-bones. His blue eyes were large, his complexion clear and bright, but his mouth was stern and his teeth were somewhat decayed. It was a matter of surprise that a young man of his appearance should occupy so subservient a position under such a singular master. Such was William Bucholz, the servant of Henry Schulte.

image found here

The disposition and habits of the master were regarded as eccentric and were subject for comment and speculation among the gossips. Miserly and penurious, the supplies for his table were provided by himself and prepared by Mrs. Waring. In this regard the utmost parsimony was shown, consisting of the cheapest items he could find. All food was carefully locked up in his room, and doled out to the servant for cooking with a stinting exactness painfully amusing to witness.

small food found here

Schulte was in the habit of making solo journeys to New York; William would meet him upon his return and the two would then walk home. One day, after a visit to the metropolis, he brought with him a large iron box which he consigned to the safe keeping of the town bank, promoting more gossip.

still from the 1927 film Metropolis found here

William Bucholz did not possess the morose disposition of his master and he made acquaintances in the village. In response to questioning, he would relate wonderful stories about his master, of large sums of money which he daily carried about his person, and of  wealth still in Germany.

On the second day after Christmas, Henry Schulte told William he was going to spend the day in New York on business. That evening William met his master off the train and the two men proceeded upon their journey home.

image by Caspar David Friedrich found here

Sometime later the Warings heard a startled cry; the voice of a man in distress. Their door was thrown open and Bucholz  fell fainting upon the floor. Upon examination it was discovered his face was bleeding, and the flesh appeared lacerated as though by a sharp instrument. 

“What’s happened William?” cried Samuel Waring. “Oh, Mr. Schulte has been killed! We were walking through the woods, and just as I was about to climb over the stone wall, I heard him call out, ‘Bucholz!’ ‘Bucholz!’ It was dark, I could not see well, and as I turned around a man sprang out and hit me in the face. I jumped away and then I saw another one on the other side of me and ran for help. Mr. Schulte is lying dead out there in the woods. We must go find him!” 

Bucholz and Waring roused the neighbors and went in search of  Schulte. Their flickering lanterns fell upon the prostrate form of a man who was clearly dead. Those glassy eyes, with their look of horror; that pallid, rigid face, with blood drops upon the sunken cheeks, told them too plainly that the life of the old man had departed.

image found here

They at once went to the village and after informing the office of the coroner of the sad affair, they proceeded to the drugstore to have the wounds on Bucholz’s face dressed. These were found to be of a very slight character, and a few pieces of court-plaster dexterously applied were all that was required.

Victorian court plaster found here

The coroner took charge of the body, and the physician who accompanied him made an examination into the cause of  death. Upon turning the body over, two ugly gashes were found in the back of his head, one of them cutting completely through the hat which covered it and cutting off a piece of the skull, and the other penetrating several inches into the brain, forcing the fractured bones of the skull inward.

From the nature of the wounds the physician declared that they were produced by an axe. In the inner pocket of Schulte’s coat, evidently overlooked by the murderers, was a yellow envelope containing twenty thousand dollars in German mark bills, and about nine hundred and forty dollars in U.S. government notes. His watch had been wrenched from around his neck and carried off, while by his side lay an empty purse and some old letters.

German money found here

Meanwhile, Bucholz, returning home with his friend, had thrown himself upon the bed with Sammy Waring, and during his broken slumbers frequently uttered moaning exclamations of  fear. In the morning he arose feverish and unrefreshed. 

A rumor passed through the village, and was eagerly accepted as the solution of the seeming mystery. It appeared that several people on the night previous had observed two foreigners, who had reached the train depot at about ten o’clock. They seemed to be out of breath, as though they had been running a long distance, and in broken English, had inquired when the next train was to leave for New York. They were told there were no more trains running to New York that night. This information seemed to occasion them considerable annoyance; they walked up and down the platform, gesticulating excitedly.

suspicious types found here

Soon after this an eastern-bound train reached the depot, and these same individuals, instead of going to New York, climbed on board. They took seats quite apart from each other. The conductor recollected that they did not present tickets, but paid their fares in cash. He also remembered that they were odd and acted awkwardly. They both left the train at New Haven, and from thence all trace of them was lost.

Meanwhile the coroner made arrangements for an inquest. William Bucholz described meeting Mr. Schulte at the depot and their journey home. “I had not walked very far when I heard him call from behind me. Turning around I saw a man on my right about six paces away; at the same time I heard a noise on my left, and received a blow upon my face. I was frightened so I ran for help.”

image found here

The State’s Attorney took over, and his questioning of  various witnesses soon showed he had formed a theory, and the assumption of Bucholz’s guilty participation in the murder of his master was unfolded. 

Bucholz was returned to the Waring house upon the conclusion of the testimony for the day, in the charge of two officers of the law, who were instructed never to allow him out of their sight.

cartoon found here (click to enlarge)

Meantime action was required in regard to the effects of which Henry Schulte was possessed at the time of his death. It was discovered that his only living relatives consisted of a brother and nephew, who resided in Prussia; they too were apparently wealthy and extensive landowners.

Shortly after this the German Consul arrived to take charge of the remains, and to make arrangements towards having them sent to Europe. The iron box which had proved such an object of interest was opened at the bank, and was found to contain valuable securities and investments which represented nearly a quarter of a million of dollars.

image found here

It was at first supposed that the murderers had failed in their attempt to rob as well as to murder, or had been frightened off before they had accomplished their purpose. The finding of twenty thousand dollars upon his person seemed to be proof that no robbery had been committed, and friends of Bucholz pointed to this as proving his innocence. An examination of the accounts of the murdered man, however, disclosed that a sum of over fifty thousand dollars had disappeared, and must have been taken from him on the night of the murder.

Remember this; Bucholz, physically worn out, had retired with Sammy Waring that night and had not left the house at all. If he had committed this deed he would still have the money, but the house was thoroughly searched, and no trace of it was discovered. 

image found here

The evidence was considered by the jury who returned the following verdict: “That John Henry Schulte died from wounds inflicted with some unknown instrument, in the hands of some person or persons known to William Bucholz, and that said William Bucholz has a guilty knowledge of said crime.” Before nightfall the iron doors of the jail closed upon him, and he found himself a prisoner to be placed on trial for his life.

Leaving the young man in this distressing position, let us retrace our steps, and gather up some links in the chain of  testimony against him.

19th century surveyor’s chain found here

It will be remembered that he had been placed in the charge of two officers of the law who accompanied him wherever he went, watching his every move. Bucholz developed a talent for spending money which had never been noticed in him before. He became exceedingly extravagant, purchased clothing for which he had apparently no use, and seemed to have an abundance of funds with which to gratify his tastes. He displayed a disposition for dissipation, smoking inordinately, and indulging in carriage-rides, always in company with the officers, whose watchful eyes never left him and whose vigilance was unrelaxed.

 Meanwhile, the German Consul-General was an interested party in the recovery of the money which had disappeared. Also it was at this time that the services of my agency were called into requisition, and the process of the detection of the real criminal was begun.  

image found here

That this eccentric man should have moved to a land of strangers and lived the secluded life he did was a mystery which I resolved to become acquainted with. I considered this necessary to guide me in my dealings with any suspects who might be found.

To the inhabitants of his previous home in Hagen, the story of his past was well known. Many of the old men could remember when he was as gay a lad as any in the village, and had joined in their sports with an unrestrained disposition.

image found here

It was at one of the May Day festivals that Henry had met the beautiful Emerence, daughter of the local brewer, and the course of their true love for a time flowed smoothly.

But in the village there lived a wild, reckless young man by the name of Nat Toner, who spent his time drinking at the tavern with other idle fellows who hailed with delight his stories of adventure.

image found here

Nat was a bold, handsome fellow, whose flashing black eyes and careless manner played havoc with the hearts of the young girls of Hagen, and many a comely maiden would have been made happy by a careless nod of greeting from this reckless vagabond.

Not so with Emerence Bauer. She shrank from the uncouth manners of handsome Nat; stories of his extravagances filled her with loathing. To Nat Toner the aversion manifested by Emerence only served to create in him an uncontrollable longing to possess her for his own.

One evening as Henry was passing the tavern, he found Nat and his companions in the midst of a wild and noisy revel. Henry would have rode on, but Nat, spying his rival, insisted upon his stopping and drinking some wine, which invitation Henry reluctantly accepted.

Nat filled his glass, and rising to his feet said: “Here’s health to pretty Emerence, and here’s to her loutish lover.” Saying which he threw the contents of his glass in the face of the astonished Henry who sprang to his feet and with one blow planted firmly in the face of his insulter, laid him prostrate upon the floor. 

more unusual glasses here

Nat struggled to his feet, and drawing a murderous-looking knife from his bosom, plunged at his assailant. Quick as a flash, the iron grip of Henry Schulte was upon his wrist, and with a wrench of his left hand the knife was wrested from him and thrown out of the window. 

A few days later, Emerence was walking towards a stream where she was to meet Henry. Turning her head, she saw a shadow so distinctly traced that she had no difficulty in recognizing it, the newcomer was none other than his enemy and hers, Nat Toner.

image found here

Emerence turned to flee from the fiend before her. But, alas, too late! A murderous weapon came down with a heavy crushing sound upon that fair, girlish head, and she fell lifeless at the feet of the madman who had slain her. He lifted up the body of the unfortunate girl and threw it from the bridge into the rippling water beneath. When Henry Schulte came walking along the bridge that led to Emerence, he saw in the bright reflection of the moon, the figure of his murdered love lying in shallow water.

image found here

No words were needed to tell Henry of the author of this crime. He knew the murderer, and resolved upon the course to be pursued. Immediately after the funeral rites had been performed, and the body of  fair Emerence  placed in the ground, Henry disappeared. 

Some weeks later a party of hunters discovered the lifeless body of Nat Toner, with his pistol by his side and a bullet hole through his head. No one knew whether, suffering the pangs of remorse, the miserable man had put an end to his own life, or whether the wound was planted there by the man whom he had so dreadfully wronged.

image found here

After this Henry’s character changed. He became suspicious of all, imagining his life was in danger, and there was a conspiracy to murder him for his money. Nothing occurred to justify these thoughts until the morning he was awakened  by a party of gunners passing his home. One of them (a nephew of Henry’s, the son of his elder brother), knowing his weakness in regard to being assassinated, and from a spirit of mischief, took aim and fired through the window of his uncle’s bedroom, then laughingly passed on.

The terrified old man was convinced his nephew had tried to take his life and immediately booked passage to America. Henry Schulte arrived in New York and together with one servant made his way to the Crescent Hotel. This servant, Frank Bruner, went to the bar and joined a group sitting around the table. His job was distasteful to him, and he was anxious to make inquiries in regard to a change of position from the locals drinking at the bar.

New York bar found here

While they were talking, a young man entered and joined in. William Bucholz was an inmate of the hotel, having arrived from Germany in July. Here he distinguished himself principally by leading a life of dissipation and extravagance. Now, having spent all his money,William was compelled to seek work. On meeting Frank Bruner, the servant of Henry Schulte, and learning of the old man’s eccentricities and wealth, he encouraged Frank to leave this distasteful employment, and offered himself instead as an applicant for the vacant position. 

So now I was in possession of the facts in the history and murder of Henry Schulte. Meanwhile back at Bridgeport things were happening…..

In the jail there was one person who held himself aloof from the rest, declining to make acquaintances or friendships, and this was a quiet man named Edward Sommers. He avoided his fellow prisoners, maintaining a reserve which induced respect.

NOT this Edward (Elgar found here)

But there appeared to be some almost unaccountable feeling of personal attraction between Bucholz and this newcomer, for they soon quietly, almost imperceptibly, drifted into a friendship for each other seemingly as profound as it was demonstrative. 

One day, as they were sitting together, Bucholz opened a German newspaper, glanced at its contents, then threw it on the floor, burying his face in his hands.

image found here

Sommers picked up the discarded paper and read the article Bucholz pointed out. It was in regard to a statement he made at the time of his arrest. In explaining the large a sum of money in his possession, he had declared his sister had sent it to him from Germany. This statement was discovered to be untrue, and was the basis of the article in question.

“This looks rather bad for you, William,” said Sommers, sorrowfully.

“It does look bad,” he replied, “but I didn’t say that I received any money from my sister. I never said anything of the kind.”

They ate their breakfast in silence. At visiting time, Samuel Waring was announced as desiring to see the prisoner, and together they went into his cell. He reported that a man working in the fields adjoining Schulte’s farm had discovered a watch lying upon the ground, which had previously been hidden by snow. This watch was identified as the murdered man’s.

antique watch keys found here

The watch was found not far from the road along which Bucholz  had traveled on his way to give the alarm. Another link had been forged in the chain of evidence that was being drawn around him. 

While these events were transpiring, I was following up the two suspicious individuals who had made their mysterious appearance on the night of the murder. It will be remembered that their actions attracted attention, and that, after inquiring for a train to New York, they had taken one going in the opposite direction.

more unusual train stations here

I ascertained that they were two respectable Germans who had come to Stamford to attend a frolic at the house of another friend who lived nearby. They had left the house under the impression that by hastening their steps they would be in time to catch the train home. They had consequently run to the station which accounted for their breathless condition. They had then inquired for a train from New York, and not to that city, and upon being informed that no further trains from that direction would come that night, they had indulged in an extended altercation. When the train did arrive, contrary to their expectations, their ill feelings had not subsided, and they sat sullen and apart on their journey home.

This destroyed the theory that foreign emissaries had been employed by the relatives of the deceased in order to secure his wealth; and so that glittering edifice of speculation fell to the ground. A visit was also paid to the hotel where Bucholz had first met Mr. Schulte. The barkeeper was talkative, and said when Bucholz entered the employ of Mr. Schulte he had left unpaid a bill for board and that his trunk had been detained in consequence. After the murder he had visited the hotel in company with the officers who had him in their charge, paid his bill and taken his trunk away. 

From this person it was also discovered that a mail package, evidently containing some money, had been received at the hotel, addressed to William Bucholz. It purported to come from Germany, but an examination of the seals disclosed that the package had been manufactured in the city, and had been designed to give credence to the story of Bucholz having received money from relatives in Germany. There were too many suspicious circumstances surrounding the package to successfully deceive anyone. This package was the subject of discussion in the German paper, whose comments had produced such a marked effect upon the prisoner when he read it.

image of returned post (1938) found here

Meanwhile Edward Sommers succeeded in having his bail reduced and was released from jail. He was then able to work more successfully in the interests of his new best friend when freed from the restraint of  prison. 

The following week he returned to the jail and was warmly welcomed by his incarcerated friend. Sommers had called upon the Warings who still resided at the Schulte farmhouse but told him of their intention to move.

Bucholz started suddenly, as though the information conveyed an unpleasant surprise.

“You must not let them move, Edward,” he exclaimed with fear in his voice. “That will never do.”

“I cannot prevent it,” replied Sommers. “They will do as they please. Besides, what has their moving got to do with us?”

“Everything, everything,” exclaimed Bucholz. “The money must be got. Oh, Edward, do not betray me, but one of the pocket-books is in the barn.”

Bucholz then drew a sketch, showing the hiding place of the money under the flooring of the first stall.

renovated barn found here

The reader is no doubt by this time fully aware of the character of Edward Sommers. He was a detective, and in my employ. After obtaining the information as to where William had secreted the money, Sommers and a trusted operative went to the barn and found at once the place where the pocketbook was hidden.

The German Consul was notified and given the package to open. It contained four thousand seven hundred and thirty-seven dollars in U. S. money. This was but a small portion of the stolen money, and Edward Sommers was directed to return to Bridgeport to cajole Bucholz for more information.

On his next visit Sommers related to his friend: “I heard that the Schulte estate has been sold, and that the new owner will tear it down. He bought it on speculation and expects to find Schulte’s money.”

“My dear Edward, you must get the rest of money—it is in the barn also. In one corner there is a bench, and under this bench there is a large stone. Dig beneath and there you will find it.”

Texas Prison Rodeo found here

Sommers did so and immediately located the missing wallet. The contents were again counted in the presence of the German Consul. Gold pieces were found to amount to one hundred marks. There was also a pocket-book enclosed in a wrapper and fastened with sealing-wax. It contained two hundred and four thousand marks, in one-thousand-mark bills—or nearly fifty thousand dollars. 

image found here

All this occurred in May, but the trial would not take place until September. It was necessary that the utmost secrecy should be maintained,  especially so far as William Bucholz was concerned.

The visits of Edward Sommers to the jail must be continued.  To Sommers this experience was a trying one. Bucholz was extravagant in his demands, and required the choicest delicacies that could be procured. In fact, he became so importunate and so ridiculous in his fancied wants, that Sommers was compelled to emphatically refuse to gratify his wishes.

image found here

The trial of William Bucholz for the murder of Henry Schulte began in September, and a ripple of excitement pervaded the city. Frank Bruner identified the watch as belonging to Henry Schulte. He testified to the conversations which took place between himself and Bucholz before he had left the service of Mr. Schulte, and also that the old gentleman had called upon him on the morning of that fatal day, telling him of his intention to dismiss Bucholz and requesting Frank to come back to him instead.

On the third day, after the examination of two unimportant witnesses, Mr. Olmstead arose and said: Call Ernest Stark.”

Remember Koo Stark? She’s not related to Ernest

The prisoner and his attorneys had never heard the name before, and no uneasiness was manifested upon their faces, but when Edward Sommers stepped on the witness stand, a change came over them, wonderful to behold.

Under examination, Ernest/Edward told his story. He detailed the various experiences of his prison life and of his intercourse with the prisoner. He related the admissions which Bucholz had made to him, and testified to the influence which he had gradually acquired over the mind of the accused man.

He graphically described their intimate conversations, and detailed at length the finding of the victim’s money, hidden in the places to which Bucholz had directed him. 

“Gentlemen of the jury, how say you? Is the prisoner at the bar guilty or not guilty?”

Without hesitation the foreman replied: “Guilty of murder in the first degree.”

William Bucholz fell back in his seat, and bowing his head upon the railing, sobbed wildly.

The trial was over. Justice had triumphed, and the murderer would pay for his crime.

The mystery of the murder of Henry Schulte had been judiciously solved and once again Pinkerton’s Detective Agency had triumphed over an assassin.

image found here

Published in: on February 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm  Comments (49)  
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the benefits of naked dancing

Karyn “Cookie” Kupcinet was born to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Irv “Kup” Kupcinet and his wife Essee.

Karyn found here

At his peak Kup delivered six columns a week, hosted a late-night talk show, and added color commentary for the Chicago Bears. And while Kup was everyone’s friend, Essee wouldn’t cross the street to piss on you if you were on fire – unless, of course, you were on the “A” list. From the moment Cookie was born, Essee was besotted and determined to make her a star.

image found here

She introduced her daughter to diet pills and crash dieting. Around the time she moved to NYC to study with Lee Strasberg, Karyn began a two-year odyssey of plastic surgery on her chin, nose, ears, and eyes that resulted in the loss of much of her natural beauty and expressiveness on camera.

She moved to Los Angeles in 1960 after Jerry Lewis offered her a walk-on part in The Ladies’ Man. She continued to work sporadically for the next couple of years including small parts on Hawaiian Eye, Perry Mason, and The Andy Griffith Show – while developing an addiction to amphetamines and getting arrested for shoplifting - two books, a sweater and a pair of Capri pants.

image found here

In 1962 she was dating a young actor named Andrew Prine. Karyn took the relationship seriously, talking family and marriage. Prine – not so much. While being seen with a fresh face in Hollywood was good for his career, her constant amphetamine-fueled clingy act was wearing a bit thin and Prine broke it off to date other more glamourous (and less neurotic) women.

Andrew Prine found here

Karyn took to stalking Prine, cutting letters and phrases out of magazines, composing profanity-filled hate mail and sending them anonymously to her ex-boyfriend. 

On 30 November 1963 friends drove to her West Hollywood apartment after not hearing from her since the previous Wednesday. An acrid smell was emanating from the second story porch, where several newspapers, two magazines and a copy of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer were surrounding her WELCOME mat. Inside, her nude, decomposing body was discovered laying face down on the couch with the television turned on.

Henry Miller playing ping pong found here

A cup of coffee was on a stand near a pile of magazines shredded and cut up with scissors. Drawers were pulled out and clothes thrown about the room. In the bathroom, 13 bottles of medications were found in the cabinet. The autopsy reported the cause of death was “murder by manual strangulation.”

As the years passed, several theories surrounding her death emerged. A favorite theory of the lunatic fringe / JFK conspiracy nuts is that Karyn was overheard by an operator in Oxnard, California screaming “The President is going to be killed!” twenty minutes before the assassination, and that she was the victim of a mob hit.

phones to scream over found here

Another theory held by writer James Ellroy, is that Karyn was stoned to the gills, danced alone naked in the apartment, fell or hit her neck on an object then slumped face down on the couch and died. He bases his theory on the fact that a book on the benefits of naked dancing was found in the apartment and the coroner may have been a drunk prone to mistakes.

image found here

There were five other possible suspects in her death – Andrew Prine, Edward Rubin, Robert Hathaway, William Mamches, and David Lange.

According to police interviews, writer Rubin came over to Karyn’s apartment on Wednesday evening. They talked for an hour and then Karyn went for a walk around the block. She ran into actor friend Hathaway and asked him back to her place where the three of them hung out together. Rubin and Hathaway stayed watching TV until 11:00 pm and then left, locking the door behind them. Karyn spoke briefly with Prine on the phone around midnight. Unemployed actor Mamches claimed not to have seen Karyn for three weeks. Rubin, Hathaway, and Mamches were all friends of Prine and shared a rental house together. Lange (brother of actress Hope Lange) lived directly below Karyn and claimed to return home drunk from his date with Natalie Wood around midnight on Wednesday, and did not hear anything unusual.

Natalie Wood and Christopher Walken found here

In police interviews Rubin, Hathaway, and Mamches all stated that they had never dated, hit on, or had sex with Karyn and all just knew her as a mutual friend of Prine. Lange was questioned repeatedly because he was known as a full-blown, falling-down drunk who had a habit of walking into other neighbors’ apartments unannounced. Kup and Essee always felt the Prine was the killer.

Karyn’s brother Jerry lives in Los Angeles and has directed such shows as The Dating Game, The Richard Simmons Show, and Susan Powter infomercials, as well as Judge Judy. His daughter Karyn “Kari” Kupcinet briefly took to the stage and worked in daytime soap operas. However she quit show business and opened an erotic storefront called G Boutique in Chicago. Andrew Prine lives in the Valley just outside Los Angeles and slowly started working again appearing in CSI, JAG, Six Feet Under, and ironically enough, Murder, She Wrote.

image found here

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