Category Archives: Mythology

FOOL KILLER PART THIRTY: MARCH OF 1921

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer 1920sAs always part of the fun comes from the way the Fool Killer – in this case James Larkin Pearson’s version in his monthly publication – took aim at politicians from both parties and at other “fools” of the day. March of 1921’s targets:

** Newly-elected Republican President Warren G Harding, who was inaugurated this month. (The change to January inaugurations did not happen until Franklin Roosevelt) Pearson and his Fool Killer referred to Harding as “a steer that the (political) bosses have broke to faithfully pull Big Business’ yoke.”

** Outgoing Democrat President Woodrow Wilson, whom they referred to as a “mule who never did nothing but act like a fool.”

** Big Businesses from around the world. The Fool Killer blamed them for large-scale unemployment and starvation.

** The way boxers could earn $100,000.00 for a prize fight but Nobel Prize winners only got (back then) $40,000.00

** The series of Russian generals that the Allies supported as the leaders of the “official” Russian government against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. (The White – as in Tsarist – Russians against the Red – as in Communist – Russians) Four generals had been so designated and all four in a row soon went down to defeat as the Russian Civil War (1920-1922) still raged. (Sadly, Pearson’s anti-plutocrat sympathies made him support the Bolsheviks for a time.)  Continue reading

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WOI: EPIC HERO OF LIBERIA

LiberiaBalladeer’s Blog presents another neglected epic myth from around the world. In this case, Liberia’s Woi Epic of the Kpelle people.

The Woi Epic is often studied for its use of music, dance, singing and audience participation to reflect the action in the story. Think of it as a combination opera, ballet, live drama and Rocky Horror Picture Show screening.

The order of the episodes in the epic is not set in stone and a performance may include only a few of the episodes, all of them or just one. The finish of each episode is marked by the performer(s) announcing “Dried millet, wese” to which the audience repeats simply “wese.”  

ONE – Woi, a culture deity and master of ritual magic, and his wife Gelengol are the only living things that exist. After Woi impregnates his wife she eventually gives birth to human beings, chickens, goats, cows, sheep and, after all other life-forms, spiders. (Plenty of African myths feature a female deity giving birth to multiple living creatures and many feature the woman also giving birth to tools and weapons and utensils.)    

TWO – Woi notes that the demonic figure Yele-Walo has stolen one of his bulls by sneaking up on it in the form of a rattan plant. Yele-Walo took the bull with him to his hideaway “behind the sky.” Woi prepares for battle and is aided by squirrel-monkeys, tsetse flies and horse-flies. Yele-Walo also steels himself for the upcoming fight. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER PART TWENTY-NINE: FEBRUARY 1921

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Matthew as the Fool Killer would be perfectPART TWENTY-NINE – As always part of the fun comes from the way the Fool Killer’s opinions are a mix of today’s left-wing and right-wing attitudes. Some you’ll agree with, others you won’t but it’s always interesting. 

Here is a look at some of the Fool Killer’s targets from James L Pearson’s February of 1921 issue of The Fool-Killer.

** People who were fine with spending $23 million apiece on warships but who penny-pinched on contributions to feed starving children in Europe. Ironically given our 21st Century view of him, future president Herbert Hoover was working with the Literary Digest to raise money to send food to Europeans but came up with only $10 million – less than half their stated goal.

** Criminals who were using the military training they received in World War One to efficiently rob banks and armored cars. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER PART TWENTY-EIGHT: JANUARY 1921

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer condensedPART TWENTY-EIGHT – Here is a look at some of the Fool Killer’s targets from James L Pearson’s January of 1921 issue of The Fool-Killer. New imagery invoked was of the Fool Killer sitting on a high hill picking off fools as the world traveled around him. (A very odd quasi-Axis Mundi) 

** Dr Frank Crane. Pearson and his Fool Killer found Crane to be too sweet and sugary with his “inspirational” writings. The Fool Killer compared him to molasses. If Crane was writing in later decades it’s a safe bet his work would have been part of “Oprah’s Book Club.” 

** An unnamed writer for one of the “plute (plutocrat) publications” who published an article called Bulk Opinion. The writer claimed that “bulk opinion” favored everything the writer supported and rejected everything the reporter disapproved of. This writer was apparently using the vague term bulk opinion the way some people today claim to be on “the right side of history.” (LMAO)

** William Wirt Gilmer, Governor of the American possession Guam. Gilmer had recently invited ridicule by banning whistling, sort of the way modern-day SJW fools try to ban clapping (“use jazz-hands instead”) and the “ok” sign (“a symbol of white supremacy”).

** The “wolves of Wall Street” as such bloated rich pigs were called at the time. Continue reading

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JOE MAGARAC: NEGLECTED AMERICAN FOLKTALE

Joe MagaracLabor Day weekend is the appropriate time to post this look at neglected working class folk hero Joe Magarac. This figure was the Steel Mill equivalent of Paul Bunyan and John Henry.

Though mostly associated with Polish-American steel workers in Pittsburgh, PA the general figure of a literal “man of steel” helping and protecting his coworkers can be found from the East Coast through the American Midwest. Sometimes the figure is Croation or some other ethnicity instead of Polish. 

Written versions of Joe Magarac and/or similar steel worker tall tales seem to have started around 1930 or 1931. Oral legends about such figures – but not specifically Joe Magarac – have been dated as early as the 1890s.

Vintage advertisements from tattered old newspapers indicate that such Man of Steel imagery may have been used for the steel industry prior to World War One. This “Which came first, the chicken or the egg” dilemma for Joe Magarac and other Steel Men puts one in mind of the quandary surrounding Billiken lore.        

Joe Magarac statueAs a lame play on words since this is Labor Day season I’ll present Joe Magarac’s origin and then depict his tales as “Labors” like in The Labors of Hercules.

BIRTH – Joe Magarac supposedly sprang into existence from a mound of iron ore and – depending on the version – that mound was either in Pittsburgh or the Old Country. Magarac emerged from the melting mound fully grown and spoke broken English like so many of the other Polish steel workers. He was called into being by the urgent need to catch up on production since the current shift had fallen dangerously behind.

Joe was 7 or 8 feet tall, his flesh was like solid steel, his torso was as wide as a smoke-stack and his arms were as thick as railroad ties. His surname Magarac meant “mule” in the workhorse sense, referring to his stamina. Joe’s appetite was such that he carried his lunch in a washtub instead of a standard lunch box.

Magarac’s favorite leisure time activity was polka-dancing and halushkis were his favorite food.

THE LABORS OF JOE MAGARAC:   Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER PART TWENTY-SEVEN: APRIL OF 1920

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer 1920sPART TWENTY-SEVEN: Here is a look at some of the Fool Killer’s targets from James L Pearson’s April of 1920 issue. As always we find an intriguing mix of attitudes, some of which would please us today or anger us today.

** Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s Attorney General A Mitchell Palmer (as in the Palmer Raids) and his fellow self-appointed censors of supposedly “dangerous” political ideas. Ironically, in 1920 the ideas under assault were Socialist ideas, today it is people espousing Socialism who want OTHER philosophies censored.

           The Fool Killer complained “a little handful of self-appointed bosses around Washington think they must be the sole judges of what a hundred and ten million Americans may read or hear.”

** The New York State Assembly – as usual called “the ASS-embly” – for refusing to seat the five elected members of the Socialist Party. Pearson and his Fool Killer saw this as invalidating the votes of the 60,000-odd New Yorkers who had voted for the candidates. The Assembly refused to seat the elected representatives solely because of the political party they belonged to.

           The Fool Killer pointed out that there were still parts of the South in 1920 where it was considered as disgusting to be a Republican as it was to be a Socialist. The point being “how would the country feel if the state legislatures in the South took it upon themselves to unseat elected Republicans like New York had unseated the Socialists?” Continue reading

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SHINTO DEITY: KUYEBIKO

 Kuyebiko was the Shinto scarecrow god. Originally he functioned as the protector of the rice fields, a task assigned him by his father Inari the rice god. 

He was considered to be incarnate in all scarecrows and eventually came to be  considered as a divinitory deity who knew everything that transpired under the heavens.

The leap from being the god of scarecrows to divinitory deity came about because of the never- closing eyes of scarecrows. Continue reading

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