A few years ago, visiting the island of Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast, I learned of Nancy Luce (1814-1890). An eccentric loner artist who self-published her own poetry--mainly devoted to her beloved pet chickens--and buried the birds with fully engraved headstones, she is the subject of a biography still available on the island at various gift shops: Consider Poor I by Walter Magnes Teller. You can read what The New York Times had to say about the book here. You might even be so moved as to purchase a lovely woodcut print of Luce here.
Perhaps we should commemorate Luce with a sample of her poetry:
POOR LITTLE HEARTS
Poor little Ada Queetie has departed this life,
Never to be here no more,
No more to love, no more to speak,
No more to be my friend.
O how I long to see her with me alive and well,
Her heart and mine was united,
Love and feelings deeply rooted for each other,
She and I could never part,
I am left broken hearted....
How weird is it that there are still Confederate Widows alive? Although one named Maudie Hopkins died just recently, experts claim there are still other women alive who were once married to men who fought for the Confederacy. Obviously this bestselling novel will still have relevance for some time yet.
Artist Adam Kuby wants to heal Portland -- by using acupuncture. He would literally stick giant needles into the ground at various sites around the city. He writes:
Think of the city as a body the way traditional Chinese medicine does-- not only as a physical entity but also as a system of energy that flows in distinct pathways called meridians. The energy, or Qi, needs to be in balance. If a person's Qi is out of balance, disease can set in. The same could be true for a city. This project explores the junction between art, regional planning, the environment, asian medicine and the health of a city. A single 23 ft tall acupuncture needle was inserted at the South Waterfront for the month of March. A city-wide installation of many such needles is possible in the future.
Some of his other art proposals are interesting. For instance, I like his "Cliff Dwelling" idea, which would involve adding an artificial rock ledge to the side of a skyscraper as a nesting place for peregrine falcons. People could watch the birds from inside the building, but unlike a zoo the birds would be free while the humans would be confined. (Thanks to Cranky Media Guy)
[This image is from The Saturday Evening Post for May 5, 1945. As you can tell from the slightly mismatched borders, it's two separate scans, upper and lower, with the division just above the punchline caption. Excuse my impoverished Photoshop skills.]
Once upon a time, hillbillies were a powerful iconic staple of American life. But alas, no longer. Perhaps The Beverly Hillbillies was their dying gasp. Since then, PC guidelines no longer allow for such stereotypes, as the Abercrombie & Fitch folks found out a few years back, when they tried to market this T-shirt. And so our national mythology is a little drabber and duller.
As anyone who has endured five minutes of conversation with me knows, I'll often relate real-life events to The Simpsons. That show, like the Bible and the works of Shakespeare, has now reached a canonical mass such that you may find a textual reference applicable to any real-world situation.
Today's printed version of THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL offers me another such occasion. There's an article headlined "Police Raid After-Hours 'Sip Joint' in Silver Lake." Inexplicably, though, this piece is not online, so far as I can google. But the barebones of the tale is told in a subheading. "A 17-year-old male who was allegedly caught dispensing beer has been referred to the Youth Services Bureau for prosecution in Family Court."
An older article which is still available gives us this definition of a "sip joint."
"A sip joint, according to the police, is a place where a bar is set up — usually a house — for the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages at times when bars are closed."
Now, I've often been strapped for cash, but I've never once thought of setting up a tavern in my residence. Yet to geniuses like Homer Simpson, such a plan is their first instinct, as we saw at the end of this episode.
The term "sip joint" itself seems exceedingly rare, and perhaps limited to Rhode Island.
Can readers supply instances of this practice, and what it's called, from their own regions?
I'm eager to read The Old Leather Man when it appears in October from Wesleyan University Press. It sounds like prime historical weirdo material.
"In 1883, wearing a sixty-pound suit sewn from leather boot-tops, a wanderer known only as the Leather Man began to walk a 365 mile loop between the Connecticut and Hudson Rivers that he would complete every 34 days, for almost six years. His circuit took him through at least 41 towns in southwestern Connecticut and southeastern New York, sleeping in caves, accepting food from townspeople, and speaking only in grunts and gestures along the way. What remains of the mysterious Leather Man today are the news clippings and photographs taken by the first-hand witnesses of this captivating individual. The Old Leather Man gathers the best of the early newspaper accounts of the Leather Man, and includes maps of his route, historic photographs of his shelters, the houses he was known to stop at along his way, and of the Leather Man himself. This history tracks the footsteps of the Leather Man and unravels the myths surrounding the man who made Connecticut’s caves his home."
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.