Tag Archives: neglected folklore

THE INDEPENDENCE DAY “SPEECH” THAT NEVER WAS

Declaration of IndependenceFor the most part the silly conspiracy theories about the establishment of the United States are good only for laughs. One of my favorites, however, features a speech from a mysterious figure usually associated with Freemasons, Rosicrucians and/or the Bavarian Illuminati of Adam Weishaupt.

I don’t believe for one minute that such an enigmatic man showed up and tipped the balance toward ratifying the Declaration of Independence with a fiery, impassioned speech. However, I DO believe that the wording of that fictional tirade is pretty moving and nicely captures the feel of Independence Day.

Here is the relevant part. I’m omitting the ridiculous section where this mystery man supposedly made Nostradamus-style predictions about America’s future.

Independence Hall“They (the British) may stretch our necks on all the gibbets in the land. They may turn every rock into a scaffold, every tree into a gallows, every home into a grave and yet the words of that parchment can never die!”

“They may pour our blood on a thousand scaffolds and yet from every drop that dyes the axe a new champion of freedom will spring into birth. The British king may blot out the stars of God from the sky but he cannot blot out His words written on that parchment there. The works of God may perish … His words, never!”  

“The words of this Declaration will live in the world long after our bones are dust. To the mechanic in his workshop they will speak hope. To the slave in the mines, freedom. But to the coward kings these words will speak in tones of warning they cannot choose but hear.” Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-SIX: MAY 1911

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 picPART FORTY-SIX – Items of note in the May of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s version of The Fool-Killer:

*** Pearson’s Fool Killer figure targeted money-obsessed clergymen and pretended they wanted a new version of the Ten Commandments emphasizing profits.

*** The Fool Killer targeted the way so many corrupt millionaires were suddenly overcome with “medical ailments” when they were being investigated or after getting sentenced to prison time. 

*** In another of the surreal satirical bits which Pearson was writing more frequently, this month he had the Fool Killer encounter a medical abomination called the Composite Man. The Fool Killer visited the Rockefeller Institute in New York (called the Rocky D Oilyfeller Institute in Pearson’s odd stylistic blend of Frank Baum and Walt Kelly with Bullwinkle & Rocky).

              The reason for the visit? Our title character wanted to check in on the latest work on medical transplants. The doctors at the institute surgically removed the lone healthy body part on a variety of their most far-gone patients and sewed them all into a lone figure called the Composite Man and the Pieced-Up Man interchangeably.

              The Composite Man had the head of a preacher, the chest of a drummer, the heart of a lawyer, the stomach and bowels of a farmer, the left arm of a blacksmith, the right arm of an editor, one leg of a dude and the other leg came from a tramp. The competing portions of the Composite Man’s anatomy not only prevented him from accomplishing any one undertaking but resulted in him breaking into his component parts and dying within one day of his release. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-FOUR: FEBRUARY 1911

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 timelessPART FORTY-FOUR: Among the Fool Killer’s targets in the February of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s publication:

*** Religious leaders who were more into money than anything else. As Pearson and his version of the Fool Killer pointed out: “When the dollar rules the pulpit, the Devil rules the pew.”

*** The frivolous fashionistas who decreed that men’s coats and vests must now be “corset-cut” and their pants be more form-fitting. (Remember, they also targeted the way fashion trends arbitrarily changed women’s clothing, too.)

*** Sir Oliver Lodge, a famous spiritualist of the time who warned that the walls between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead were “wearing thin in places.” Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY TWO: DECEMBER 1910

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 timelessPART FORTY-TWO – The targets of James Larkin Pearson and his Fool Killer in the December 1910 issue:

*** Women who chewed snuff, whom they called “Snuffragettes.” As more proof that it’s tough to categorize Pearson, he always praised and defended actual Suffragettes. Yet he condemned women who wore pants and chewed snuff.   

*** Fire and brimstone preachers, whose brand of religion they called “cheap.”

*** Horace Fletcher, “The Great Masticator,” who was famous for insisting people should chew their food until it was liquefied before swallowing it. He claimed that even MILK should be “chewed” around in the mouth to ensure it was properly mixed with saliva before swallowing it. Fletcher insisted this would maximize the nutritional benefits.

*** Spiritualists who claimed that former president Theodore Roosevelt was being controlled from beyond the grave by Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar and Napoleon.

*** Youngsters who smoked cigarettes. 

*** Silk-hatted tycoons who looked down their noses at farmers. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-ONE: NOVEMBER 1910

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 timelessPART FORTY-ONE – Lore: This month a Rodman Gun was added to the Fool Killer’s growing arsenal of weapons.

Targets in the November of 1910 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer:

*** People engaged in the literal buying and selling of votes in the midterm elections.

*** German scientists at Nuremberg (which in 1910 had none of the associations we make with it today) who announced successful tests with a remote-controlled ship. A small, crewless boat had been controlled wirelessly from up to 18 miles away. Even firing and reloading weaponry had been set up mechanically. The tests were set to move on to larger ships next.

*** The “Ass-ociated Press” as Pearson and his Fool Killer always called it, for the way it was overhyping the birth of a calf to Official White House Cow Pauline Wayne.  Continue reading

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LOCAL 58 TV: KRIS STRAUB’S ONGOING HORROR PROJECT

Local 58Here at Balladeer’s Blog I’ve made clear my love of myths and folklore and ARG’s (Alternate Reality Games). I enjoy the way truth, fiction, pretended truth and pretended fiction can intermingle, especially like the Orion/ Elvis Presley situation or in the participatory manner of ARGs, Adult Swim and CreepyPastas. 

For what it’s worth, I would recommend hopping on to Kris Straub’s latest experiment in meta-horror, Local 58 TV, while it is still ongoing. If you’re not familiar with Straub’s work he parlayed his quasi-CreepyPasta tale about Candle Cove, a “forgotten” Children’s Show with horrific undertones into a collection of short stories and later a television series.

masc chair and bottleIn the fashion of the H.P. Lovecraft Fictional Universe, largely centered around the Miskatonic Valley, the Necronomicon and Miskatonic University, Kris’ shared fictional universe largely centers around the nonexistent towns of Ichor Falls, Broodhollow, Edenvale and Lasker City. The towns are located in the real-life Mason County, WV.

Local 58 TV, serving Straub’s fictional towns, is part of his latest ingenious horror project. Like Candle Cove, the tale of this made-up television station has started out as a hauntingly incomplete mosaic.

The station’s vaguely sinister slogan We have always been here is just the opening salvo in its eerie, disturbing and horrific programming. Deepening the mystery is the way in which it is often unclear how much of the unfolding terror is actually the station’s fault and how much is content from vile unknown parties who hijack the station’s signal. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY: OCTOBER 1910

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 1910-1929PART FORTY: The October of 1910 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer. LORE CHANGE – For the first time the Fool Killer is depicted using a Bomb of Truth against his targets, making these explosives the latest addition to his arsenal of weapons. Even today we often use the figurative expression “Truth Bombs.”

Best imagery invoked by Pearson and his Fool Killer this month: Congress as a collection of corrupt fools safely fighting the citizenry from behind high walls made of piles of taxpayer money. Some things never change. 

Targets for this issue:

*** People who were hurriedly exploiting the still-new invention the airplane for wartime uses.

*** Those members of the wig industry who were harvesting most of the hair for their wigs from the heads of corpses.

Fool Killer pic*** John J Astor and his wife, who were going through an ugly and costly public divorce.

*** “Doctor” George W Carey, who was pushing the theory that the Sun was “the father” of all the planets in our solar system except for the Earth, which was “the mother” of those planets. Carey further stated that the South Pole was the womb of the Earth and that sunlight hitting the region eventually impregnated the Earth, which gave birth via Antarctica.

              George also explained that the Moon was the Sun and Earth’s youngest child and that if the true South Pole was ever reached an umbilical cord running all the way up to the Moon would be discovered.

              If that’s not enough “science” for you, Carey stated that the umbilical cord would detach from Antarctica around the year 1945, following which the Earth would get pregnant again by the Sun and give birth to another celestial body as a child. Any questions? Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER THIRTY-NINE: SEPTEMBER 1910

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 timelessPART THIRTY-NINE – Some of the Fool Killer’s targets in the September of 1910 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer

*** The scholar and philosopher William James, brother of Henry and Alice James, for his speculation that after death a soul could communicate or even return to the world of the living. (This was an exaggeration of James’ beliefs for comedic effect.) A fictional cult of William James was proposed, waiting to hear from the late philosopher or for his actual return from the dead. James had died in late August. 

Fool Killer 1920s*** “Republocrats,” as Pearson and his Fool Killer called the corrupt fraternity of career politicians/ career criminals who belonged to the two gangs called Democrats and Republicans. Today the term is spelled “Republicrats.”

*** American colleges and universities, for what Pearson and his Fool Killer ALREADY saw as their over-emphasis on football instead of academics. That trend intensified in the coming decades. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER THIRTY-EIGHT: AUGUST 1910

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 timelessPART THIRTY-EIGHT – Some of the Fool Killer’s targets in the August of 1910 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s Fool-Killer:

*** The owners of mills and sweatshops in which children age 10 and under worked under grueling conditions. (Child labor was not yet against the law.) Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog will recall that child labor was one of the MAJOR beefs of Klarenc Wade Mak’s 1917 depiction of the Fool Killer.

*** Lobbyist Jake L Hamon Sr, who was accused by Senator Thomas Gore (author Gore Vidal’s maternal grandfather) of offering him a $25,000.00 bribe. The alleged bribe was for Gore to vote in favor of a land purchase that attorney J.M. McMurray was trying to make from the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes. Hamon allegedly stood to earn 10 percent of the Thirty Million Dollar deal.

Fool Killer condensed*** Senator Gore himself, for muddying the waters of his own accusations by accusing Vice President James S Sherman of an illicit interest in the land deal. Gore wound up having to admit that his accusation was based on hearsay.

*** “Frenzied Financiers” – the name for shady Wall Street dealers who exploited loopholes to fleece their clients and endanger the economy. (See my review of the 1907 novel Friday the Thirteenth for more details on Frenzied Finance.)

*** President William Howard Taft, whom Pearson and his Fool Killer accurately predicted would NOT get reelected in 1912. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER THIRTY-SEVEN: JULY 1910

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 timelessLORE ADDITION: For the first time the Fool Killer added a hand-cranked chainsaw to his arsenal of weapons. The Fool Killer’s targets in James Larkin Pearson’s July of 1910 issue:

*** Preachers who smoked. Pearson and his version of the Fool Killer held smoking in such low regard that they felt people who indulged in it should not be trusted with ministering to people’s souls. Shooting the cigarettes, cigars and pipes out of the mouths of smoking preachers was going too far in my opinion, but what can you do?

*** Sid Beckwith of New York, who insisted that the best cure for insomnia was to buy a passenger balloon and take a trip through the skies. He said this would make an insomniac sleep like a baby after that. The clueless Beckwith also warned against spending more than FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS for such an airship. Well, okay, then.

*** Nebraskans who – incensed at the Fool Killer’s criticism of William Jennings Bryan – had taken to bashing and agitating against Pearson’s publication. The Fool Killer dubbed them the Independent Order of Self-Made Fools and proclaimed that their “double-barreled Devil-guns” would kick backward upon firing with more force than would propel their pellets forward. 

*** Writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard.

*** Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who was considering flying one of his eponymous airships to the North Pole. After the Cook debacle Larson and his Fool Killer were fed up with what they called North Pole Yarns. Continue reading

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