Back in 1901, Johann Beck was having trouble finding work in Germany, so he decided to seek his fortune in America. Problem was the cheapest steerage ticket cost 120 marks, and he didn't have that much. But he calculated that if he packed himself in a box and shipped himself as freight, he could go for half that price.
He built a box that he could seal from the inside by a series of hooks. He arranged to have it picked up at his home, telling the freight company that the box contained "artist's models." Then he sealed himself in it along with what he thought would be enough food to last him the trip: a dozen cans of condensed milk, a box of prunes, 36 chocolate bars, coffee in bottles, some bread, sausages, and a little whiskey.
Of course, things didn't go quite as he planned. For a start, he hadn't realized how cold it would be in the hold of the ship. And then there were the rats:
The ship (the steamship Palatia of the Hamburg-American Line) departed Hamburg on November 17, and its passage was slowed by a winter storm. So what was supposed to be a 14-day voyage took two days longer, and Johann ran out of food:
The one detail of Beck's transatlantic voyage that I haven't been able to find discussed was how he disposed of his bodily wastes. I suppose he used a bottle, but the smell must have been pretty bad, which would have added to the discomfort of the experience. More details about Beck's voyage here and here.
The Little Cardiff Giant recently wound up his travels through New Zealand. Some pictures are below.
As you may remember, lil' CG is touring the world, hosted by readers from WU and MOH. His world tour started in Southern California, then he went to Perth, and then NZ. His next stop, if all goes according to plan, is Melbourne.
My administrative duties as the coordinator of his tour went a little awry at first. I should have created a master list of everyone who volunteered to host him, but instead I just let emails accumulate. So now I'm trying to piece together a list retroactively. This is what I have -- but if I missed someone, or you want to be added to the list, let me know.
It's official. Weird Universe will be hosting its first cruise, departing on August 12 from Fort Lauderdale and returning on the 19th. We'll be sailing aboard the spectacular ship the Allure of the Seas, and accompanying us onboard will be celebrity mother Kate Gosselin and her fans, allowing WUvies to study weirdness at first hand, up close and personal! Reservations are now being taken. Book your cabin at kategosselincruise.com.
A few weeks ago, over at the Museum of Hoaxes, I described how I came into possession of a miniature Cardiff Giant. I then decided to send it on an around-the-world tour. This involves sending it to volunteer hosts in various farflung regions who show it the sights in their neck of the woods, send me photos of its adventures, and then ship it on to the next volunteer.
The giant is currently in Perth, Austrialia, and I'm looking for people in that part of the world willing to temporarily adopt him. "That part of the world" is meant, in the broadest sense, to encompass all of Asia, Australasia, and India. Because while I've got a lot of volunteers from the U.S. and Europe, I haven't got any from anywhere else. And I'd like the giant to see as much of the world as possible.
So I'm posting here to see if there are any Weird Universe readers in exotic locales who'd like to play host to the giant. If you're interested, let me know.
Even if you live in boring-old Europe and the U.S. and you'd like to host the giant, let me know also. Because eventually the giant will be touring these regions. (possibly very soon if no one from Asia/Australia can be found.) I'll add you to the list.
Just one word of caution. If you agree to host the giant, you HAVE to send him to someone else after a few weeks. If you decide to keep him permanently, you'll incur the Curse of the Cardiff Giant, which is too awful to describe in words, though it's rumored to be similar to that melting flesh scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Carl Hoffman has done a few things that most of us would never dream of doing. He has flown on airlines said to have the worst safety records in the world and ridden in old buses in South America as they crawled along cliff-top dirt roads. He also packed himself into already crowded ferries on the Amazon and trains crossing Africa. Why? To experience travel not as we might while on vacation, but as an ordinary person trying to get from point A to point B as cheaply as possible. Hoffman talks about his adventures here, and in his new book, "The Lunatic Express."
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.