However, his main claim to fame is that he helped to bring about the legalization of cremation in Britain.
Supporters of cremation had been trying to get it legalized throughout the nineteenth century. But Price caused the issue to come to a head by burning the body of his five-month-old son, Jesus Christ, on a funeral pyre, after the child had died a natural death. Yes, he had named his son Jesus Christ, or "Iesu Grist" in Welsh.
Price was arrested and charged with the crime of illegal cremation. His eventual acquittal led directly to the passage of the Cremation Act, which made it legal to burn bodies in Britain.
When Price himself died in 1893 he was cremated on a giant funeral pyre as thousands of spectators watched.
However, it's worth noting that while cremation is now legal (and commonplace) in the UK and USA, open-air pyres aren't legal, as far as I know.
Some details about him from a 1975 syndicated article by reporter Philip Hager (The Spokane Spokesman-Review - Sep 14, 1975):
Grimes Poznikov is the Automatic Human Jukebox — a statement that somehow renders anything that follows it anticlimatic.
For three years, he has been delighting the throngs of visitors to Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiardelli Square, popping out of a box the size of a telephone booth to offer such selections as "Sentimental Journey," "When the Saints Go Marching In," and, inevitably, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
But even as a minor institution in a city with a deserved reputation for unorthodoxy, Grimes Poznikov, the Automatic Human Jukebox, has found himself facing an unceremonious eviction from the streets of San Francisco.
Poznikov's problem is that he has been cited for occupying a public street without a permit, a charge he intends to fight before a jury.
In recent weeks, seeking that elusive permit, he has been turned down by the city's Public Works Department, the Recreation and Parks Department, the Art Commission and, finally, the Board of Permit Appeals.
As a streetcorner jukebox, he doesn't fit into a tidy official category.
"I'm in a gray area, somewhere between a musician and a street artist," he explained. "The Public Works Department pointed out that under their rules I wasn't a building either."
The concept of the Automatic Human Jukebox occurred to him in the early '70s when he read of a poll listing "jukeboxes" as one of the things Europeans liked most about America.
During the height of the tourist season, Poznikov almost every day erects his seven-foot-high jukebox on the corner of Beach and Larkin, using a wire cord to anchor the structure to a nearby maple tree.
Passersby are invited to make a selection from a list of tunes Poznikov has mastered and drop in a coin. ("AHJ practices no economic discrimination," a sign announces. "However, quality... will vary automatically with the quantity of coins inserted.")
Few of them realize it, but Poznikov has been peering right back at the crowds who peer in at him. He occasionally takes their photographs and, as a student of psychology, he has written a scholarly paper entitled "Deinstitutionalization of Psychotherapy Through Mass Psychotherepeutic Implementation — Automatic Human Jukebox, a Case in Point."
In his paper Poznikov has recorded his observations of his customers during what he calls three years worth of "ongoing demonstration of mass psychotherepeutic implementation," noting such details as "... a five to 35 second raucous laughter follows most AJH actuations."
Passersby, he has written, first refer to the jukebox in "non-personified pronoun terms" ("it") then, upon his emergence horn in hand, they speak of it as a "living component" ("he").
Poznikov regards the Automatic Human Jukebox as an experimental art form, patiently explaining to a puzzled questioner, "I want to legitimize and advance the system of non-verbal communication... the people who come here can interact with the jukebox, participate in the process of making music."
While serving in World War II, Lt. George E. Lemon suffered a head injury from a jeep accident. As he described it, this gave his brain a "tilt" which resulted in a "me-to-me talkathon" and ended with him realizing "the only way to end war, inflation, unemployment, trade deficits and death."
Lemon stewed on his realization for almost four decades until he retired in the 1980s. Then he renamed himself J.C. Brainbeau and began placing classified ads in various magazines offering to share his comprehensive "4 WAY PEACE PLAN" with anyone who sent him a self-addressed stamped envelope. Those who responded to him, however, just received more ads.
Donna Kossy offers some analysis in her book Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief:
Philosophical ads existed before Brainbeau. They can still be found in the back pages of magazines like Gnosis, Fate or Biblical Archeology Review. Typically, such ads proclaim "Esoteric Secrets of the Egyptians can be Yours," "You Possess Hidden Powers," and once in a while something like, "Jesus Never Existed." While ads such as these might lead you something philosophical, their main purpose is to peddle books and amulets, not to communicate ideas.
For Brainbeau, the ads themselves were esoteric truths. Those who sent Self Addressed Stamped Envelopes (SASE) to Brainbeau expecting to receive literature, products or information received even more ads! They revealed Brainbeau's plans, bit by bit, ad by ad. Several sheets of closely spaced Brainbeau ads could be fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, but the resulting picture would be just another sheet of ads.
I figured someone on the Internet would have archived Brainbeau's bizarro ads. But I found nothing. So below are some of his ads that Kossy reproduced in her book.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.