Category Archives: Art

Morbid Fact Du Jour for September 14, 2015

Today’s Fork-Tailed Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Human settlement helped disease to settle in, attracting disease-spreading insects, while worms took up residence within the human body. Parasitologists and palaeopathologists have shown how the parasitic roundworm Ascaris, a nematode growing to over a foot long, evolved in humans, probably from pig ascarids, producing diarrhoea and malnutrition. Other helminths or wormlike fellow-travellers became common in the human gut, including the Enterobius (pinworm or threadworm), the yards-long hookworm, and the filarial worms which cause elephantiasis and African river blindness. Diseases also established themselves where agriculture depended upon irrigation – in Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and around the Yellow (Huang) River in China. Paddyfields harbor parasites able to penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream of barefoot workers, including the forked-tailed flood fluke Schistosomawhich utilizes aquatic snails as a host and cause bilharzia or schistosomiasis (graphically known as “big belly”), provoking mental and physical deterioration through the chronic irritation caused by the worm. Investigation of Egyptian mummies has revealed calcified eggs in liver and kidney tissues, proving the presence of schistosomiasis in ancient Egypt. (Mummies tell us much more about the diseases form which Egyptians suffered; these included gallstones, bladder and kidney stones, mastoiditis and numerous eye diseases, and many skeletons show evidence of rheumatoid arthritis.) In short, permanent settlement afforded golden opportunities for insects, vermin and parasites, while food stored in granaries became infested with insects, bacteria, fungoid toxins and rodent excrement. The scales of health tipped unfavorably, with infections worsening and human vitality declining.

Culled from: The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity

And the worst part of that paragraph?  They had no medications to get rid of any of those things!!!  As someone who once had the misfortune to suffer from one of the milder disorders – pinworms – I cannot even imagine!  Of course, unfortunate people in under-developed nations still suffer needlessly with many of these diseases.

 

Morbid Art Du Jour!

These L.A. gang member “rugs” are just amazing!  Bullet holes, anus – no detail is forgotten.  And those heads!  My only criticism is… do you think L.A. gang members would really have speedo tans?

See more images at Dangerous Minds.   (Thanks to Rob for the link.)

Morbid Fact Du Jour for September 11, 2015

Today we continue the tragic story of the Iroquois Theater fire of December 30, 1903.  As you may recall, the fire had just been started by a light above the stage and despite the frantic attempts to snuff it out, it had started to grow.  Now we pick up the tragic action with…

Today’s Incinerating Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Eddy Foy was in his dressing room busily applying the final touches of makeup when the drama of the fire in the loft began to overshadow the production on stage. Dressed in his “Sister Anne” costume, he was due to appear in a few minutes opposite a comic elephant. When he heard the commotion, he opened his dressing room door, ran to the stage, and saw the fire. Acting on instinct, he burst onto center stage and raised his hands, imploring the audience to remain seated and calm. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Foy exclaimed. There is no danger. This theater is fireproof. Don’t get excited.” He signaled conductor Herbert Gillea to direct the remaining six musicians to “play, play, play and keep playing.” They struck up the waltz from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet, which had a temporary, soothing effect on the crowd. After more flaming sets came crashing down onto the stage, Foy signaled a stagehand to lower the asbestos curtain to protect the audience. But the curtain snagged half-way down, possibly on a cable wire used to hoist a ballerina, or on an electric light reflector, leaving a 20-foot gap between the curtain’s suspended bottom and the wooden stage floor.

The audience’s escape down the aisles turned from orderly to panic-stricken. Foy’s one last try to calm them went unheeded, and he fled to a rear stage exit. With hundreds of children in tow, the audience of mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and schoolteachers scrambled for the exits. Almost immediately the aisles leading from the auditorium gallery and upper balconies became clogged and impassable. When the lights went out the crowd bunched up in blind terror and died at the exits and hallway doors that either opened inward or were locked shut to keep out freeloaders. With the auditorium filling with heat, smoke, and poisonous gases that made breathing impossible, children and mothers screamed for one another in the darkness and families became separated in the crushing stampede. Many children fell and were stomped to death.

Backstage, theater employees and cast members opened a rear set of huge double doors which sucked a powerful wind tunnel inside, fanning the flames and sending huge sheets of fire underneath the open asbestos curtain and into galleries and balconies filled with people. A second gust of wind created a fireball that shot into the auditorium, incinerating patrons in their seats or in the aisles. All of the stage drops were now on fire, which spread to the entire auditorium destroyed the 75,000 feet of oiled manila rope suspended above the loft, and burned the supposedly noncombustible asbestos curtain.

To Be Continued…

Culled from: Great Chicago Fires: Historic Blazes That Shaped a City

 

Morbid Art Du Jour!

While searching for images to use with this fact, I stumbled across the artwork of Eric Edward Esper, who has documented some of Chicago’s greatest disasters in brilliantly vivid paintings.  Check out his work!  A kindred soul, methinks.  I’d love to have one of his pieces – and my birthday IS coming up, people!

Here’s his brilliant painting of the start of the Iroquois Theater Fire:

Here are a few more of his masterpieces of Chicago Tragedy.The Green Hornet Streetcar Inferno:

The Eastland Disaster:

Our Lady of Angels Fire:

He has some non-Chicago masterpieces too.  Check them out!

Eric Edward Esper

Morbid Fact Du Jour for August 2, 2015

Today’s Mercurial Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In the early 20th century, mercury compounds were sold as bedbug killers. They came mixed into laxatives, antiseptics, and diuretics. In extreme cases, doctors prescribed them for chronic bacterial infections such as syphilis. In the 1920’s, both the benefits and the murderous potential of mercury bichloride were well known. The poison’s risky attributes had been impressed on film fans everywhere, thanks to a Hollywood-fueled tabloid scandal of 1920.

Actress Olive Thomas had the look of a charming child, with a shining bob of curly dark hair, big violet-blue eyes, and a pale, heart-shaped face. The look launched her career, starting in 1914 when she’d won a “Most Beautiful Girl in New York City” contest. She went on to become a featured Ziegfeld dancer at the New Amsterdam Theatre, a graceful waif, drifting in a zephyr of scarves.  Within a few years she was making films for the Selznick studios.

In the way of people whose lives seem charmed, Thomas soon married a member of the Hollywood’s elite, Jack Pickford, younger brother of screen star Mary Pickford. The couple rapidly developed a reputation for wild behavior, intense partying, and intense quarreling, usually over his numerous affairs – he’d developed syphilis as a result of one of them. They separated, reunited, separated, and tried again, delighting the gossip magazines. “She and Jack were madly in love with one another but I always thought of them as a couple of children playing together,” Mary Pickford observed sadly in her autobiography many years later.

In early September 1920 the couple sailed to Paris, reportedly on a reconciliation holiday. They checked into the Hotel Ritz and whirled off to enjoy the Prohibition-free city, drinking and dancing at Left Bank bistros until the early morning. At the end of one particularly drunken spree, Pickford and Thomas staggered into their hotel room at nearly three in the morning. Jack, barely standing, fell into the bed. His wife, still energized by the adventure, puttered around the room, wrote a letter, and, finally tiring, went into the bathroom to get ready for sleep.

As Pickford told the police, he was floating in a whiskeyed haze when Olive began screaming, over and over, “Oh my god, my god.” He stumbled into the dimly lit bathroom, where she was leaning against the counter. Mistaking it for her sleeping medicine, she had picked up a bottle of the bichloride of mercury potion that he rubbed on his painful syphilis sores, poured a dose, and chugged it down. As the corrosive sublimate burned down her throat, she had a moment to realize her mistake. He caught her up and carried her back to the bed, grabbing the phone and calling for an ambulance. “Oh my god,” she repeated, “I’m poisoned.”

As the story broke, as Thomas lingered in the hospital for three more days, the newspapers repeated every rumor smoking around them: Pickford’s infidelities had driven her to suicide; he had wished to get rid of her and tricked her into taking the poison. As the days passed, he became more evil, she more saintly. So many people flocked to Thomas’s funeral in Paris that women fainted in the crush and the streets became carpeted with countless hats, knocked off and trampled.

The police launched an investigation, including an autopsy, and concluded that it was, as Pickford had said, just a terrible accident. In an interview with the Los Angeles Examiner after his return to California, Pickford dwelled on how much his wife had wanted to life: “The physicians held out hope for her until the last moment, until they found her kidneys paralyzed. Then they lost hope. But the doctors told me she had fought harder than any patient they ever had.”

Olive Thomas’s demise, for all the feverish attention it received, was actually a rather standard death from bichloride of mercury. In New York City the medical examiner’s office calculated that the compound caused about twenty deaths a year, mostly suicides and similarly unfortunate accidents.

Culled from: The Poisoner’s Handbook

 

Coronal Section of the Head Du Jour!

Here’s another lovely artistic image culled from the book Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Gretchen Worden.

Sliced Head (2000) by Richard Ross

One of a series of coronal sections of the head, prepared for the Mütter Museum by Dr. Joseph P. Tunis (1866-1936), 1910.

Morbid Fact Du Jour for July 11, 2015

Today’s Venomous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In the last few years, during dry summers, public health officials in Tokyo have warned citizens that the world’s largest and most painful hornet may be in their midst. The so-called Asian giant hornet, known locally as yak-killer, delivers a venomous sting that contains high levels of the pain-inducing compounds normally found in bee or wasp stings, along with a deadly neurotoxin called mandaratoxin that can be fatal. The world’s leading expert in the giant hornet, Masato Ono, described the sting as feeling like “a hot nail through my leg.” Worst of all, the sting attracts other hornets to the victim through the pheromones it leaves behind, increasing the likelihood of being stung several times.

In Japan these hornets are called suzumebachi, which translates to “sparrow wasp.” They are so large, measuring five centimeters from head to tail, that when they fly they actually resemble small birds. During hot summers they can be seen in Japanese cities foraging in garbage cans for bits of discarded fish to carry back to their young. Because they are so willing to venture into urban areas in search of food, about forty people die every year after being stung by the massive hornets.

Culled from: Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects

And here’s what the stings look like.  Yikes!

 

Morbid Art Du Jour!

Here’s a fascinating article about preserved tattoos which begs the question: Why must modern society be so damned BORING about displaying human remains?  (Thanks toAnna for the link.)

Human Pelts: The Art Of Preserving Tattooed Skin After Death 

Morbid Fact Du Jour for July 10, 2015

Today’s Artistic Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Stomach scar courtesy splenectomy after getting hit by a car at age 8.

Jean-Michel Basquiat started on the road to becoming an internationally known artist by spray-painting the sides of buildings in Manhattan in 1977, when he was seventeen years old. What made his drawing stand out from the standard graffiti were cryptic messages he included that left many curious as to their meaning. An article in the Village Voice ultimately revealed his identity. His talent was encouraged and before long, Basquiat was heralded as a leading painter of the neo-expressionist movement. Even though he rose from poverty to acquire accolades and wealth, Basquiat still preferred the old heroin haunts that he had frequented during his years as a street artist. He died in his loft studio in Soho, New York, from a speedball (mixing heroin and cocaine), at the age of twenty-seven, in 1988. In 2007, his wall-size piece of art “Profit I’ sold for more than fourteen million dollars.

Culled from: Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, and Reckless Abandon Through the Ages

Incidentally, the scars on Basquiat’s abdomen resulted from him being hit by a car when he was 8 years old – an injury which resulted in a splenectomy.

And I ask you – would you pay fourteen million dollars for this painting?

 

 

Morbid Art Du Jour!

Dan LuVisi is warped.  He likes to re-imagine cartoon characters as criminals and even comes up with entire storylines for his disturbing images.  It takes all kinds, as we know.  (Thanks to Anna for the link.)

Your Favorite Cartoon Characters Reimagined As Psycho Killers Will Ruin Your Childhood

Morbid Fact Du Jour for July 5, 2015

Today’s Mummified Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Mummification is a fascinating way to preserve a person’s remains, whether to be worshipped or because they’re planning on using that body at a later date. But some people have gone to incredible lengths to prepare their own bodies for mummification while they were still alive.

The most famous practitioners of self-mummification are the sokushinbutsu—the Buddhas in the flesh—whose bodies have been found in Japan, primarily in Yamagata Prefecture. Some 24 individuals, mainly practitioners of Shingon Buddhism, have been found successfully self-mummified, their deaths dating between the 12th and early 20th centuries AD.

Mummifying yourself is not a thing you do on the spur of the moment, especially in Japan’s humid climates. In fact, there is a 3,000-day “training” process for turning an ordinary ascetic’s body into a mummy’s. The key element of the process is dietary; Japanese ascetics would commonly abstain from cereals, removing wheat, rice, foxtail millet, pros so millet, and soybeans. Instead, they would eat things like nuts, berries, pine needles, tree bark, and resin (which is why the diet of the sokushinbutsu was called mokujikyo, or “tree-eating.” Over time, the diet would become more restrictive, starving the body of nutrients and eliminating the fat and moisture that can encourage bodily decay after death; X-rays of sokushinbutsu have even shown river stones in the guts of mummies. Jeremiah suggests that, beyond the weight loss, some aspects of the diet may have helped with the preservation of the body after death. For example, certain herbs and toxic cycad nuts may have inhibited bacterial growth. And at least some sokushinbutsu are said to have drunk a tea made from urushi, the sap of Toxicodendron vernicifluum, which is typically used to make lacquer. In addition to facilitating vomiting, the urushi may have functioned as a sort of embalming fluid, rendering the body toxic to potential flesh-eating invaders.

Once the ascetic was prepared to attempt to become a sokushinbutsu, it’s said he would step into a tiny burial chamber and has himself buried alive, with a small opening to allow air inside the chamber. There he would sit, chanting sutra and ringing a bell to signal that he was still alive. Once the bell stopped ringing, the chamber would be completely sealed, and after three years it would be opened again to see if the attempt at self-mummification proved successful.

Hundreds of people are thought to have attempted this form of self-mummification, and it’s not known how many were successful. However, you can visit some of the successful sokushinbutsu at their shrines. Famously, Daijuku Bosatsu Shinnyokai-Shonin, who mummified himself at the age of 96 in 1783, sits in the Ryusui-ji Dainichibou Temple in Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture. If, when your burial chamber was opened, your body was found preserved, then you could be worshipped as a sokushinbutsu. You could be dressed in robes and placed in a shrine where humanity could await your reawakening. Here, there is actually a small cheat in the self-mummification process; if the body was not decayed but not totally preserved, the skin would actually be treated with incense smoke to ensure it would last.

However, changing mores and laws meant that not all successful sokushinbutsu were enshrined. When the priest and ascetic Bukkai Shonin died in 1903, he was interred and was supposed to be exhumed after three years, but exhumation was illegal in Japan at that point in time. When Bukkai was eventually exhumed, it was in 1961 by a team of researchers, who found the ascetic quite well preserved.

And if your body was found rotting when the tomb was opened? Well, then no worship for your remains. An exorcism would be performed and the remains would be reburied. All those years of self-starvation those final days spent alone in a dark chamber, and your remains become an object of caution rather than worship.

Culled from: io9
Generously submitted by: Mike Marano

I can’t decide if that’s the ultimate form of self-destruction or vanity?

 

Morbid Crochet!

One of the greatest trends of recent years is the deviant crochet, in which a tedious activity popular with grandmothers with Christmas presents to create is turned into a tool of dark art.  And few have done this better than Croshame.  Check out the gallery!  I’m especially fond of Sid & Nancy.


Croshame

Morbid Fact Du Jour for June 21, 2015

Today’s Narrow Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The narrow, brick chimney of a Louisiana bank became his tomb for 27 years and now Joseph Schexnider will be laid to rest Sunday, August 14, 2011 in a proper grave with a proper farewell by his family. Still, his brother Robert wonders, how did he wind up in that chimney? Didn’t anyone hear any cries for help? Was it a robbery attempt gone awry, an accident or something more sinister?

“At least we know where he is now,” Schexnider, 48, said, tears welling in his eyes ahead of his brother’s weekend funeral and burial. “At least he’s home.”

Nearly three decades after he disappeared, much mystery lingers about the case of Joseph Schexnider and involving a small town bank in the southern Louisiana city of Abbeville. Police say Schexnider became trapped and apparently died in the bank’s chimney in 1984. But beyond that, they know little more.

“Everybody has an opinion,” said Lt. David Hardy, chief of investigations for the Abbeville Police Department. “But no one has evidence to say one way or another.”

If Joseph Schexnider did cry out for help, no one heard his pleas. The stench of death was never detected.

The decades rolled on until last May (2011) when a construction worker helping turn the bank’s vacant second floor into offices tugged some fabric out of the chimney and was showered with old clothes and human bones.

Described as sweet-natured and relaxed by the few who remember him, Joseph Schexnider was 22 when his family last saw him in January 1984. He had no criminal record, but was wanted for possessing a stolen car.

A lanky, rambling man, Schexnider was prone to wandering at an early age.

In the years after they last saw them, his family, his mother, and two brothers and a sister, had not reported him missing — and no one searched for him.

“My mother worried about him, but I just said, ‘Mom, that’s just Joseph being Joseph,”‘ Robert Schexnider said. “He was always taking off for somewhere.”

Joseph first ran off around the age of 9 or 10, Robert recalled, adding his brother had dropped out of high school in the ninth grade.

He worked now and then at this and that, quitting jobs when he became tired and moving on. He was briefly in the Louisiana National Guard, leaving with a medical discharge. One of the few pictures of him shows him in uniform, his dark eyes looking off into the distance.

“He was always going off somewhere,” Robert Schexnider said. “He told me he’d seen every state in the country.”

Schexnider followed carnivals and once traveled with a circus. He told his brother he hawked cotton candy and peanuts with the shows, traveling with the circus to New York where he was stranded when it left to go overseas.

“He didn’t have enough money to get home, so the church helped him out,” recalled Francis Plaisance, a city councilman and the pastor of the church the Schexniders attended. “I remember him as being a nice kid.”

Plaisance also remembers Joseph as a somewhat simple person. When the church sent a plane ticket to New York for him to come home, Schexnider was unable to navigate the airport.

“We ended up having a pastor up there walking him through it and put him on the plane,” Plaisance said.

Jason Hebert, now a detective with Abbeville Police, went to elementary school with Joseph Schexnider. He described him as quiet kid, on the fringe of a group of young boys that made mischief in the town.

“He was just another kid,” Hebert said. “Nothing really stood out about him.”

The chimney of an Abbeville, La., bank building where the remains of Robert Schexnider were found 27 years after his disappearance is seen in this May 2011 photo provided by the Abbeville Police Department. Described as laid back by the few who remember him, Schexnider left a big question behind: How did he end up in the bank's narrow brick chimney? Was it a robbery attempt gone awry, an accident or a sinister way for someone to get rid of him? All police can say with certainty is Schexnider became trapped in the chimney and apparently died there in 1984. The chimney was his tomb for 27 years.
The chimney of an Abbeville, La., bank building where the remains of Robert Schexnider were found 27 years after his disappearance is seen in this May 2011 photo provided by the Abbeville Police Department.

With the remains found in the chimney were a yellow long-sleeve shirt, a pair of jeans, blue tennis shoes, and jockey shorts with Schexnider’s name printed in the waistband. There also was a magazine and gloves.

He had a wallet with a copy of his birth certificate, a Social Security card and a few pictures.

“There was no sign of foul play,” Hardy said. But, he said, there is no way to determine the cause of death.

From the way the skeleton was recovered, Hardy said it appeared Schexnider went into the 14-inch-by-14-inch chimney feet first. Because the chimney narrowed sharply at the bottom, he then was apparently unable to maneuver his way back out.

There was no way out at the bottom of the chute, which ended in a 3-inch opening to a narrow fireplace on the second floor of the bank building.

“He was stuck with nowhere to go,” Hardy said. If he had called for help — Hardy points out — he would have been 20 feet above the street, and encased in bricks.

“His voice would have been carried up and away from the street,” Hardy added.

None of the people working on the floor below reported any strange sounds. No one ever went into the seldom-used second floor and reported any strange smells.

His brother won’t guess why Joseph went into the chimney, but acknowledged in his final days in town that Joseph had gotten in “with a bad crowd.” He was carrying no burglary tools when found or anything to carry away money if he had planned to rob the bank.

Plaisance said he could see it as a misconceived burglary plan on Schexnider’s part, however.

“He was the kind of guy who would do things without really thinking them through,” Plaisance said.  After so many decades and so few clues, Abbeville Police have declared the case closed.

Culled from: CBS News
Generously submitted by: Mike Marano

I don’t have claustrophobia, but I get incredibly claustrophobic just thinking about going down a chimney. Does anybody actually survive these attempts?

 

Atrocious Art: Road-Kill Edition!

Kimberly Witham collects roadkill and makes incredibly beautiful still life (er, death?) out of the deceased creatures.  I think the images are a wonderful tribute to the animals.  (Thanks to Michael for the link.)


Kimberly Witham

Morbid Fact Du Jour For June 5, 2015

Today’s Coincidental Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

An Ohio family is mourning for a toddler who drowned in a pond on the same day her mother gave birth to her brother. Authorities in Marion County, which is north of Columbus, say 18-month-old Jaylynn Adamson had been staying with a relative while her mom was at the hospital. Lt. Jason Dutton of the Marion County sheriff’s office says the little girl was found in the pond Friday morning (May 29, 2015). She was pronounced dead at Marion General Hospital, where her mother was in labor. David Adamson, an uncle of the children’s father, tells The Columbus Dispatch that the girl’s mother gave birth to a son later that day. The sheriff’s office isn’t saying who found the little girl in the pond or releasing other details about the drowning.

Culled from: the Associated Press
Submitted by: Aimee

Those poor people, and that poor boy, his birthday forever associated with the death of a sister he never knew. – Aimee

 

Morbid Art Du Jour!

Fasciolo de Medicina, drawing of an anatomy lecture, 1493. The professor read from the books of Galen, while his assistants performed the dissection.

Culled from: Body Worlds: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies

Morbid Fact Du Jour for May 16, 2015

Correction Du Jour:

Again, I am reminded that I shouldn’t throw together MFDJ’s when I am half-asleep. If I’d bothered to look at what I was doing I would have realized that the magnificent Tinplate Studios Etsy Store is based, not in England, but in Seattle! And I would have found the American shop link instead of the UK one. Thanks to everyone who pointed out my silly error. You keep a senile Comtesse honest!

 

Today’s Violently Tumbled Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Monty Atwater was a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division which utilized explosives to create strategic avalanches during World War II.  After the war he was immediately hired to research and control avalanches at Alta, a ski resort in the middle of one of the most notoriously dangerous mountain chains in North America, Utah’s Wasatch, just east of Salt Lake City.  Needless to say, working with avalanches is dangerous business, and Atwater did not manage to retire unscathed. In January 1951, after a two-day blizzard that dropped 38 inches of snow, Atwater was out with his partner, Hans Jungster, checking the slopes before turning skiers loose. In those days, he figured the only way to test the stability of slopes was to ski them. If they didn’t slide under the feet of the snow rangers, presumably they wouldn’t slide under anyone else. As the two experts crossed a series of fields, one would watch from a safe position while the other advanced; at one point, however, the new and inexperienced Jungster came onto a steep, concave chute called Lone Pine Gully, before Atwater was off it, and triggered an avalanche that released the entire slope at once. Atwater fell though the cascading snow until his skis hit the hard base of old snow underneath.

“I was knee deep in boiling snow, then waist deep, then neck deep,” he wrote. “Through ankles and knees I felt my skis drift onto the fall line. But I was still erect, still on top of them. The books tell you, ‘If you’re caught in an avalanche, try to ski out of it.’ With mine trapped under six feet of snow I wasn’t skiing out of anything.

“Very fast and very suddenly I made two forward somersaults, like a pair of pants in a dryer. At the end of each revolution the avalanche smashed me hard against the base. It was like a man swinging a sack full of ice against a rock to break it into smaller pieces.”

Years of training and countless hours spent observing avalanches meant that Atwater knew exactly what he was in for. Tumbled violently beneath the snow and in utter darkness, he suddenly popped to the surface again, spat out a chunk of snow stuck in his mouth, and sucked in a breath of air. “I thought, ‘So that’s why avalanche victims are always found with their mouths full of snow. You’re fighting like a demon, mouth wide open to get more air, and the avalanche stuffs it with snow.” The next time he surfaced, Atwater took two lungfuls of air, and the cycle continued. “On top, take a breath, swim for the shore; underneath, cover up, curl into a ball. This seemed to go on for a long time, and I was beginning to black out again. Then I felt the snow cataract begin to slow down and squeeze. The squeezing was the result of the slowdown, with snow still pressing from behind. Whether from instinct or a last flicker of reason, I gave a tremendous heave, and the avalanche spat me onto the surface like a seed out of a grapefruit.”

Culled from: The White Death: Tragedy and Heroism in an Avalanche Zone

 

Morbid Art Du Jour!

Do you like paintings of skulls?  Then you may very well love the exhibit entitled All the World’s Futures by Marlene Dumas that is currently on display at The Central Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.  Luckily, you can view the paintings online if you’re not going to be in Venice this year.   (Thanks to Michael Marano for the link.)

All the World’s Futures

Morbid Fact Du Jour for April 7, 2015

Today’s Impaled Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

William Jackson, also known as Action Jackson (December 1920 Chicago, Illinois – August 11, 1961 Streeterville) was an enforcer and loan collector for the Chicago Outfit. He earned his nickname of “Action” because it was slang for “Juice Man”, which meant debt-collector. He was tortured to death by his fellow gangsters, allegedly on suspicion that he had become an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Chicago police described him as a man with the body of a giant and the brain of a child, who was known in syndicate circles as a mob “juice” collector who specialized in pain for delinquent customers. In 1941 he was arrested in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for assault and robbery. In 1947, he was arrested and charged with rape; he went on to beat those charges. In 1949, he was arrested and sentenced to four to eight years in prison for robbery. In 1953, he was paroled and became a muscle man for gangsters in Chicago.

In 1961, Jackson was arrested, along with five others, at a warehouse as they were unloading $70,000 worth of electrical appliances from a stolen truck. While the others tried to escape, Jackson stood still because he was too fat to run. Agents learned that Jackson was a “juice” collector for Sam DeStefano.

In 1960, FBI agent Bill Roemer asked Jackson to become an informant for the FBI. Being a loyal member of the Outfit, Jackson declined.  Nonetheless, in 1961 Jackson was so accused. According to sources, he was kidnapped and taken to a meat-rendering plant on Chicago’s South Side, where he was tortured by gangster Sam DeStefano. It is suspected that DeStefano and his crew took Jackson at gunpoint and led him to the plant, where he was tortured and killed in what is known as one of the most brutal gangland killings in American history.

When police found the almost nude body of Jackson, he was face forward with rope marks on his wrists and feet. He had many cuts and burns all over his body, his chest had been crushed and he had a hole in his right ear from some type of sharp object.

Jackson was impaled, while hanging a foot in the air through his rectum with a meat hook while being questioned by mob enforcers. Jackson kept insisting he was not an informer but his torturers did not believe him. They stripped him naked, smashed his kneecaps with a bat, shot one of them with a gun, broke his ribs, stuck him with sharp objects, used a cattle prod on his penis and anus making him lose his bowels, burned parts of his body with a blow torch, and told him how they were going to kill his wife and children if he did not confess. Then they left him for three days until he finally succumbed to his wounds.

Jackson’s body was found on August 12, 1961 in the trunk of his own car, a green Cadillac convertible, which was abandoned on Lower Wacker Drive in Chicago.

Culled from: Wikipedia

Mourning Picture Du Jour!

The following is culled from Secure The Shadow: Death and Photography in America:

In the nineteenth century, itinerant and small-town painters flourished in America. These limners were seldom academically trained and consequently mixed conventions and genres with apparent ease. Here is an example of a mourning painting produced by one of these painters.

In Edwin Romanzo Elmer’s 1890 posthumous mourning painting, the artist combines elements of a mourning portrait with the photographic conventions of the view photograph, a type of photograph extremely popular at this time among rural and small-town homeowners. Mr. and Mrs. Elmer, in mourning dress, are seen seated in front of their home. At the left of the canvas stands Effie, their deceased daughter, with her toys and pet. The painting seems to serve a multitude of purposes. It is a portrait of the family. And at the same time, they mourn their dead child and celebrate their economic and social status by choosing to be portrayed in front of their home.