I just learned about a famous New England eccentric named Lord Timothy Dexter
. People like this make me proud to be a Yankee.
Just one of his whimsicalities, from this write-up:
In 1798, Mr. Dexter returned to Newburyport, and August 15th of the same summer he bought the large house on High street that had been erected by Jonathan Jackson in 1771. Its situation is high, and commands an extensive view of the coast and the Isles of Shoals. The grounds were laid out by intelligent landscape gardeners. Everything about the house was in excellent order; but not to his wish. He raised minarets on the roof, and surmounted them with gilt balls. He caused it to assume a gaudiness and cheapness that was most undesirable to a person of taste.
Directly before the front door of the house, on a Roman arch, he erected a figure of Washington in his military garb, and on his left, a figure of Jefferson, and on his right one of Adams, the latter being hatless. On columns erected in the garden were figures of Indian chiefs, generals, philosophers, politicians, statesmen, and goddesses of Fame and Liberty. He changed the name of the statues by the aid of the painter's brush as he pleased. General Morgan was thus transformed into Bonaparte, and to the latter Dexter always touched his, hat. There were more than forty of these figures, including four lions, two couchant, and two passant. These images were of wood, life size, and fairly well carved. The lions were open-mouthed and looked fierce. The figures were made by a young ship carver who had just come to Newburyport, named Joseph Wilson, and were gaudily painted. The images were all in good condition when Dexter died, and the first to fall was an Indian. The remainder stood until the great September gale of 1815, when all but the presidents were cast prostrate upon the earth. The images were sold at auction, the specimen that brought the most money, five dollars, was the goddess of Fame. William Pitt was sold for a dollar, and the "Travelling Preacher," fifty cents. It is said that the arch and figures of the three presidents, all the presidents there had been in Dexter's day, cost at least two thousand dollars, the lions two hundred dollars apiece, and the other images a similar amount.
Perhaps you recall a recent report (I seem to recall Chuck covered the incident) about a performance artist in Paris who attached a rooster to his genitals for a public parade. That was Stephen Cohen, and here's more about him.
Caution: some mild, non-sexualized nudity.
Arthur "Turkey" Gehrke of Watertown, Wis., had an odd habit. Every November he would go to bed and stay there until the following April. He told the press, "I hibernate and don't get into trouble; while I may miss some fun, I also miss a lot of disagreeable things." He also said, "If more folks went to bed all winter, there wouldn't be so much trouble and confusion in the world."
Strangely, his business didn't suffer because of his sleep habits. He owned a bar, the Turkey's Roost. He hired a temporary bartender to replace him during his hibernation, and the publicity because of his hibernating actually attracted extra business.
Gehrke began his habit of hibernating in 1913 and continued it until his death in 1942.
Here's some sources where you can read more about him: The Milwaukee Journal - Sep 29, 1935
, Watertown History
, and the Wisconsin State Journal
A clip from the late-80's cable access program "The Eddie Marshall Show." The guy in the video, Toby Radloff, is actually famous enough to have his own Wikipedia page
Discontented with the life of a professor of economics, Dr. Charles Boas became Onions the Clown.
I'm sure this thrilled any living parents who might have helped pay for years of higher education.
Read the whole story here.