The Wild, Wacky and Weird Side
Tips and bits of our oddball humanism
By: J. Marlando
There’s just no doubt about it, we people are…well, wild, wacky and very weird. For just one example we had one of those Bible-thumbing persons in our neighborhood when I was a child and one thing she did whenever I (or anyone else) passed by her yard is call out some Bible quote. Sometimes when my grandmother and I would walk by her yard she’d call out something like, Remember, the wisdom of the Lord, spare the rod and spoil the child which never gave me feelings of comfort. Another quote she’d toss out was “the word” that told us that “the Lord helps him, who helps himself.” My grandmother always liked that one!
The problem was, however, our neighbor lady probably never read the Bible all the way through just as most other “thumpers” haven’t actually read it either. Neither of those “words of wisdom” came from the bible. Spare the rod and spoil the child came directly from Samuel Butler in the 1600s and as far as far as the good Lord helping those who help themselves…that old “religious” axiom most probably comes from Aesop, the ancient Greek storyteller.
I’ll always remember old, Mrs. Johnson. Sometimes on our way to the store Nanny (my grandma) would stop for a quick chat with the woman who always looked as if she was sucking lemons when she spoke I think she was a Seventh Day Adventist or Baptist but I don’t remember that for sure.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church was founded by Ellen White who had a vision sent by God that told her that “masturbation would turn a man into a cripple and an imbecile.” (This was of course before the advent of political correctness. These days God would say, “…turns a man into the physically challenged and exceptional.
It was the Catholic or, as it were, the Church of Rome who began Western rejection of our human sexuality. Indeed while most other cultures were enjoying the pleasures of sex, the church fathers were instilling guilt and shame in their followers which eventually expanded around the world. One belief of at least one religious sect at the time was that women head to foot and men from the waist down were created by the devil.
So weird we have become as a people, the righteous-right-winger John Ashcroft then the U.S.A.’s attorney general refused to speak before the nude statue unless her breasts were covered up—it was simply to0 naughty for his taste.
Is that a hang up or is that a hang up?
Don’t grin—Maria Conneran and her family create an extremely artistic snow-woman in their yard—a replica of the famous statue of Venus de Milo—she was ordered to cover her up by the New Jersey police. Evidently neighbors had complained.
Can you imagine a mind so absurdly twisted that they project pornography on the bare breasts of a statue or onto a nude snow woman fashioned to look like one of the world’s artistic masterpieces? Here's a before and after picture:This reminds me of a great old joke: A patient sat across the desk from his psychologist who was giving him the ink blot test. The doctor showed him this ink blot and ask his patient what it meant to him. The man said “Sex.” He was shown the next ink blot and again when asked what it meant to him, the man answered sex. He was shown yet another ink blot and again the man said that it represented sex to him.
Finally the doctor asked him, “is that all you think about…sex?”
And the patient said, “Not me doc, you’re the one with all the dirty pictures.”
This article is meant to stir the mind based on actual human thought and action. As all sardonic observation should, it may offend some people.
Part One: Some Weird Stuff
A Peek at Breasts in History
I can remember when I was only eleven or twelve years old sitting on a bus across from a young woman openly breast feeding her infant. I overheard some people in front of me—a man and woman—talking saying “the woman” ought be thrown off the bus or…put in jail. I thought that there was something wonderful about it but we live in a society in which some people actually want laws again public breast feeding as if there is something nasty or evil about it How weird and downright twisted is that?
Incidentally, the first bra-like-gadget didn’t come along until 1913 when a woman by the name of Careese Crosby—a socialite—bought a beautiful gown to wear to a social ball. The problem was that her corset protruded the dress and ruined its attractiveness. So the woman, along with her maid, made a devise out of two handkerchiefs, some baby ribbon and string.
So many of Caresses’ socialite friends wanted samples of the brassier that she patented it and began selling them. Eventually she sold out to Warner Brothers Corset Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Even with the innovation and with improvements of the innovation there was no bras even by 1943 that really did “the trick” for well-endowed ladies like Jane Russel who had been cast in Howard Hugh’s super-budgeted film, “The Outlaw.”
As a result Howard decided if he could design airplanes, why not a bra for his leading lady. He gave it a shot, Jane pretended to wear it but didn’t. Not quite even though Miss Russel said Howard was, as usual, way ahead of his time. His bra was seamless and there were no seamless bras at the time. She managed to use tissue to keep her own bra from showing and no one was the wiser.
Returning to the subject of breast feeding, from ancient times even into the early 19th centuries a great many mothers “farmed out” their babies to be breast fed by those women that came to be known as “wet nurses.”
Indeed, many mothers used wet nurses even into the early 1900s even after pasteurized milk was available. Especially in France but in other lands as well animals replaced human wet nurses and babies suckled right from the goat that supplied “the service.” In fact, it is well known that goat-feeding became vogue in America by the early 18th century so if you wish to add any thoughts here feel free to butt right in!
Some Gruesome Stuff Mixed In
The good hearts and gentle people of nearly every place on the planet have always gathered to have a good time during a good, old execution.
I believe that anyone with common sense and decency would be appalled at a stoning in our day and age but they still draw crowds like flies to dung regardless of what Jesus said about throwing that first stone.
Historically executions have always drawn fun-loving crowd. In the U.S. some hangings prompted visitors to bring their picnic baskets for the main event. Indeed, in the 1600’s a criminal was to be hanged and the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania reported that too many people showed up to make “the affair enjoyable.” Well, here’s a shot of America’s last legal hanging in 1936 and just take a gander at the crowd.
The church used to have heretics burned alive which was also a big crowd pleaser. Again in the 1600s, 20,000 people clad in their Sunday best gathered to watch 20 people burn to death. European justice however remained concerned over hanging women. Not because the act was so cruel but because of the nature of dresses the poor dears were apt to show too much of their legs or even more. Because of this, the conscientious and moral court burned them to death.
And thinking about all this legalized sadism, torture has always been a human endeavor. Most humans approve of it as a “procedure.” During the years of the Inquisition, King Edward II,obviously empathetic, actually forbid torturing people, especially those being accused of heresy. The church had approved of Heresy, however.
Sometime between 1224 and 1227, Pope Clement the V wrote to the king saying, “We hear that you forbid torture as contrary to the laws of your land; but no state can override Canon Law, our law. Therefore I command you at once to submit the men to torture…You have already imperiled your soul as a favorer of heretics…” And what did the Pope have in mind? A number of gruesome experiences including burning, scolding, plucking out eyes, breaking bones, skinning alive and a rash of other unimaginable pain-giving practices for those who did not bow to the authority and dogmas of the church. The inhumanity of torture continues into this day and so into the new millennium called our “modern times.”
In this same view, the Puritans who came to America for their own freedom of religion, used to burn holes in the tongues of people that didn’t except their weird beliefs and/or they put them in stocks or simply hung ‘em.
The Puritans were an ignorant lot, however—dumb as nails really but with a cruel streak. A group of them actually started the Indian wars by sneaking through the darkness of night into an Indian village where men, women and children were asleep and murdered them all. All in the name of righteousness of course!
Speaking of weird: In the Bible (1 Samuel, 18:24-27) King Saul doesn’t quite trust David to marry his daughter. So he told the young David that the price for his daughter’s hand was the foreskins of a hundred dead Philistines; a task he thought impossible to accomplish. David accomplished the task hands down however and was able to wed his love.
And talking about nut cases and crazies—there have been cults suffering flagellation (the practice of self-punishment especially for religious purposes). Members of these very weird groups either volunteer to be beaten or whip themselves primarily to experience some of Jesus’ torment and suffering. Talk about dumb and dumber but at least it reminds me of the joke about a masochist and sadist: The Masochist says to the Sadist, “Beat me…Beat me,” and the Sadist says, “No.”
How weird are we people? What about suicide bombers. Here’s my favorite photo of one:
With the above in mind we have weirdoes who believe blowing self and others up is a way of pleasing God and assuring a room in the big no-tell-motel in the sky. But speaking of virgins: historically the state of female virginity has been the center piece (no pun intended) of religions and male dominated societies going all the way back to the ancient Sumerians.
As a quick aside, in Islamic society, for example, heavenly paradise offers the act of deflowering a lady each night with their virginity being restored the next morning. Does God work in strange ways or what?
I will digress for a moment: The horrifying pain and suffering that goes on in the meat and fowl industries is too horrifying to describe; animal cruelty prevails throughout our so-called civilized world to a disgraceful and shameful extent in the name of market-demands and profit. And, the cruelty doesn’t stop with animals and fowl but continues into the sea. The
[Note: These photographs are mild compared to those from slaughter houses]
murder of countless dolphins occurs in public and in secret while millions of sharks are killed each year simply for their fins and the consumer demand for shark fin soup.All this must stop and be forced into more humane practices. (As an aside, I was fortunate enough to do a study of sharks a few years back to discover that they are the caretakers of the sea and without them our oceans would become so toxic that even swimming in them would become a danger to our health. And, while some sharks are known to attack humans, only a few mavericks do unless a person is wounded and attracts a shark to them).
We are indeed a weird and weirder species. Indeed, ever since the advent of so-called civilization we have constantly been at war with each other—how wacko is that for a species that claims to be both thinking and feeling?
I could go on with this gruesome stuff but let’s head into the Wild.
Part Two: Some Wild Stuff
We humans do some pretty wild and dangerous stuff. One of America’s greatest proofs of this was Evel Knievel born Robert Craig Knievel on October 17th, 1938. Over his life time he was involved in entrepreneurship, sold insurance, and owned an ice-hockey team and even painted pictures. He began jumping over this on his pedal bicycle when he was a kid and well doing other reckless things some of which got him into trouble: Once he had a cell mate by the name of Knofel. The jailer named them Awful Knofel and Evil Knievel. While he would later change the spelling to E.V.E.L his famous stage name came from being in lockup.
During his career he attempted 75 daring and wild ramp to ramp motorcycle jumps including jumping over Snake River Canyon from the spot seen here in a steam-powered rocket. He didn’t make it although his sky cycle made it to the North rim of the canyon but then, with parachutes slowing the descent to the bottom of the canyon,Knievel managed to survive with only minor bruises. This did not slow the daredevil down. He began lobbying the government for permission to jump the Grand Canyon but the Government said, “No.” In 1967, however, he did manage to convince Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas to permit him to jump over their fountain which he attempted on New Year’s Eve. He had a failed landing and spent the next 29 days in a coma.
This didn’t slow him down either. After his Snake River Canyon jump in Twin Falls, Idaho he was off to England to attempt jumping over 13 buses in from of 90,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium He crashed again and this time with severe injuries. He later jumped 14 buses at Kings Island theme park in Ohio…successfully. In the end he ended up in Guinness’s Book of World Records for having the most broken bones—35 during his career. In 1999 he was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
And speaking of daredevils, Jennadean Engleman was born not too far from my home town in Colorado Springs, Colorado in Cannon City, Colorado. Cannon City back at the turn of the century was little more than a wide place in the road with a few farms. Nevertheless, her parents were not farmers but unexpectedly vaudeville performers. Jennadean stage name became Bird Millman O’Day By 1913 Bird became a center-ring performer with Barnum and Bailey Circus where she remained even after the merger with Ringling’s Brothers Circus. She became admired and even beloved by a great many of being a super star of the wire and giving “hair-raising” performances. But this was not her only talent. She performed with the Ziegfeld Follies of 1916 and was even in a movie in 1920 so a great many fans not only thought that she was wild but also wonderful. How wild was she? That’s New York below her She’s walking the wire to help sell war bonds.
There are countless unsung daring heroes, however. My dad, Freeman, was one of them. As a coal miner he faced danger every day of the twenty-five years that he worked in the mines. I remember so many times that he left the house to rescue other miners after cave-ins, explosions and flooding. Here’s a glance at what mine work looked like during his lifetime. It was a wild profession of extremely hard work under very dangerous conditions. But coal miners have never been hailed anything very special for their daring and so the final bow of my own dad was suffering black lung and perishing from it. He was only one amidst a virtual countless many.
Talking about a wild life—there is nothing wilder or more dangerous than the commercial fisherman experiences. Indeed, there are 129 deaths per 100,000 people employed in the industry and 61 in injuries per 100,000 according to the 2008 statistics. And storms take their toll year after year sometimes claiming the lives of whole crews. (When I was a young man I signed on a fishing boat and survived a severe storm at sea. That experience ended my career ambitions, right away!)
How about the daring people who work building on high rise building AKA skyscrapers? How would you like to be having lunch with this crew? Incidentally, the United Steelworkers Union tell us that more workers are being killed because owners and managers are trying to cut too many costs. Could that be so—that is exactly what made the mines so dangerous when my dad was working and I suspect is exactly what is keeping them unnecessarily dangerous today.
Speaking of height, rock and mountain climbing has always been a wild and daring challenge. I suspect it in, as said, some people’s blood. My mom climbed this romantic stone in the Garden of the God outside Colorado Springs, when she was only 17 years old. I climbed all those mountains you see in the picture including Pikes Peak a couple of times before I was twenty, with my cousin Don Reese so I know what it is to love the sport. I loved those mountains and still do but I never had a call of the wild strong enough to tempt me to climb a peak like Baintha Brakk in Pakistan as two fellows from Briton had by the name of Doug Scott and Chris Bonington These two adventurers became the first to successfully climb that peak. For sure a wild adventure for two very daring guys!
How about daring gals?
On October 14 back in 1901 a barrel was shoved over the side of a boat. It was Ann Taylor’s 63rd birthday and Ann had climbed into the barrel. One of her companions in the boat screwed down the lid and pumped some air inside using a bicycle tire pump. At that juncture, the lady was ready to risk her life on the wildest ride she could imagine—she was going over Niagara Falls…yes, in this barrel Incidentally, the small hole used for the air pump was sealed with…what else a small cork.
The currents carried her to the Canadian Horseshoe falls and then…over.
Rescuers reaching the barrel discovered Ann to be alive and with only a minor cut to the head. The barrel, by the way, had been padded by a mattress and had been especially constructed in oak and iron. How did she feel when she climbed out of the barrel? She said, “If it was my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat…I would sooner walkup the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the fall.”
Nevertheless, she had taken the wild and furious ride and lived to tell about it.
Bobby Leach was the second person and the first male to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. His claim was that anything Annie could do…he could do better. He ended up spending six months in the hospital from the injuries that he sustained during the fall.
Nearly a century after daredevils were banned from stunting the falls, a good-old-fun-lovin’ boy was drinking heavily with his buddy and talking about people going over the falls in a barrel. We can almost hear Kirk Jones saying something like, “Hell, it just water, I could do that.” It is said that this was not the first time he had thought about stunting the falls stunt. And so on that very day, October 20th, 2003, he jumped in the water wearing nothing but his clothing and was soon enough swept away and over the falls.
Kirk submerged hardly without a scratch, swan to a nearby rock until emergency service personnel rescued him. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was deemed to be okay but was arrested thereafter. He was fined $3,000 to reimburse Niagara Falls for the money “the journey behind the falls” attraction lost during the 45 minutes it was closed during Kirk Raymond Jones was being rescued. In fact he was not only fined but banned from Canada for life.
Not everyone has been so lucky. Back in 1995 a well-intended Bobby Overcracker in an attempt to bring more awareness to the homeless decided to Jet Ski over the falls He would wear a parachute to assure his safe landing, probably the reason he was given permission to do the stunt. The only problem was that his chute didn’t open and poor Bobby was never seen again.
Incidentally, the falls are a 175 foot drop so that’s no hop, skip and a jump!
We human being do some mighty wild things and often live on the wilder side because of our professions; lumber jacks to Navy Seals to the ordinary foot soldier that wakes up every morning at risk. And speaking of heroes, how about Amelia Earhart or our astronauts who are forever risking the unknown…But perhaps there is a little of the daredevil in all of us too? I tend to think so. In fact, if you desire to do something a little wild maybe this guy’s job will soon be opened and you can grab it!
Part Three: Some Wacky Stuff
People do the darnest things!
In 1939, a Harvard freshman by the name of Lothrop Withington Jr. was bragging how he had once eaten a live goldfish. Another student offered him ten dollars to do it again…publicly.
On March 3rd of ’39 the Freshman Union Hall crowded with curious spectators. Lothrop (how wacky would it be to name anyone Lothrop) stood before the crowd, took a three inch wiggling fish out of the bowl, dropped it into his mouth, chewed it up and swallowed it.
The news of Lothrop’s wacky accomplishment spread to other colleges and another college student at the College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania by the name of Frank Hope, outdid the Harvard student by swallowing down three live, wiggling gold fish. His record did not last 24 hours. Another student at the same school, George Raab publicly swallowed six of the orange critters. Nevertheless, Irving Clark, made Harvard’s comeback by swallowing two dozen live goldfish. Irving was so strong willed that he promised to eat any bug for a nickel, an angleworm for ten cents and beetle for two bits. What an entrepreneur, eh?
How about the wacky misuse of power in human action--there is an old saying that tells us "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This axiom is proven time and time again. And speaking of the axiom the U.S. Senator McCarthy and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover both claimed to loath homosexuals and persecuted them at every opportunity. McCarthyism even cut off funding of Alfred Kinsey’s studies because he reported that “one in every ten men” is gay and, of all things, women enjoyed sex.and Hoover kept his G-Men from investigating the Mafia too deeply. A reason for this, it is said, was that the crime boss, Meyer Lansky had a compromising picture of Hoover. That’s right, it is also said that both Hoover and McCarthy were themselves…homosexuals and transvestites so never waiting, even for the Christmas season, to don their gay apparel.
I am not at all judging their homosexuality but I am harshly judging their own hypocrisies for publicly condemning others for what they themselves practiced in private especially from the powerful, public positions they held. Was this the kettle calling the pot black or what?
Oh yes, speaking of homosexuality, what might surprise a lot of readers is that in a number of American Indian cultures homosexual people were called he/she and were considered being especially blessed with holy powers and deep wisdoms. And so, a great many medicine people were chosen because of their other gender traits and so you see, everything is how we project it to be.
Take this fellow for example. I absolutely uphold his right to wear what the heck he wants but, on the other hand, he should probably be shot for his poor taste in fashion. That color just isn’t right for him!
And speaking of judgments: The Mormon Church practices posthumous proxy baptism or, by any other name, baptism for the dead Their belief is that only those baptized Christian (preferably Mormon) can have everlasting life. How wacky is that? For one thing that means that the Hindus, Buddhists and of course pagans like Australian Aborigines and many of our own Native Americans or, for that matter, anyone else not baptized Christian can’t go to heaven. In fact, the Mormons believe that people who have not been given a Christian baptism end up in a kind of spirit prison. This either places Mormons on the far side of wild, wacky and weird or turns God into a heartless bureaucrat.
And speaking of wacky religious practices, there are still Pentecostal wackos that have poisonous snake rituals to prove the Bible is so That is, they believe that since Jeeeezuz commanded good Christians to “take up serpents without fear of death…” that’s what they need to do.
With the above in mind, the pastor of the House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka, West Virginia deliberately sat down by a yellow timber rattlesnake and was bitten in the leg. He had no fear but he died all the same.
Speaking of death I believe that nearly everyone on the face of the planet would agree that human sacrifice, once common within tribes and groups like the Celts and the Aztecs is a little rash to say the least. But how wacky is it really?
First, I ask you, what is capital punishment but ritualized killing in our own modern times even though ritual killings to please the gods or for any other reason is apparently barbaric. But of course, what is the story of the crucifixion but a gruesome tale of sacrifice. But of course we people are so apt to use our concepts and beliefs to justify our own wacko-isms while condemning the wacko-isms of others.
And speaking of wacko-isms: We mentioned transvestitism a moment ago as something not socially acceptable but let’s face it, historically men were the cutie pies…Well, at least in the society of their times.
Today even women would agree that female legs are or can be beautifully appealing and that men’s legs are appealing only when symbolizing strength and masculinity. Here, however, is a television commercial that Joe Namath did advertising panty hose. The yin/yang quality of the commercial put a smile on a lot of people’s faces but, by and large, the commercial worked. (Joe Namath, incidentally, was elected to the Football Hall of Fame in 1985. He remains an icon of humanism, good humor and manliness to this day).
In any case, going back into history it was men’s legs that were considered attractive and enticing and not women’s. Here’s a picture of 1600 courtiers of Queen Elizabeth’s court showing off their legs while all the women have theirs cover up and hidden. But even our forefathers showed a little leg in the style of their day: All this of course followed the high male fashions of the 14 and 15 hundreds. Here the French Duke of d’Alengon shows off his “gams.” In fact, back then some men became so vain that there was a law made that forbids them to wear doublets that weren’t long enough to cover their “privates” and rear ends.” It was around this time that men started wearing the clingy tights of the dark ages.
History records some mighty wacko ideas and believes as we have already seen. For example, a modern amusement in England during the Victorian era was to take the family into London and buy a ticket to wander about the halls of the Royal Hospital of Bethlem to have a great time viewing the mentally ill. Some of which could always be seen running about naked.
We have nearly always treated the insane ruthlessly. There were times in ancient Greece that lunatics were forced to live on the outskirts of town (by the so-called normal wackos) where they would be stoned to death as a ritual purification of their city. This was true during times of plagues and the special purification ritual was called “pharmakos” where we get the modern words pharmacy and pharmaceutical.
In Nazi Germany anyone with any form or physical handicap was institutionalized and then exterminated but we have some shame coming too: Many U.S. states passed sterilization laws which included, the mentally ill, anyone with obvious low intelligence, homosexuals and even communists. By the 1930s, at least 20,000 people had been sterilized in the U.S.
It’s no wonder people’s life spans were so short not so long ago. The wacko doctoring helped the statistic along and I’m not just blowing smoke. In fact, smoke blowing enemas were common back in the early 1800s. Tobacco smoke enemas were widely used by western medical practitioners as a tool against many ailments not excluding headaches, respiratory failure, stomach cramps, and colds. Tobacco enemas were also used to treat hernias often mixed with chicken broth. By the mid-1800s the practice had been left by the wayside but at least now you know where the rather vulgar saying, “Don’t blow smoke up my…” comes from.
If you think smoke enemas were wacky back in the 19th century there was Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup especially used to calm a baby teething but it had its effects on mom too if she sampled it and many no doubt did The syrup contained, “morphin sulphate, chloroform, morphine hydrochloride, codeine, heroine, powdered opium and cannabis indica. Wow, is that wacko or what?
Talking about wacko cures, what is any wackier than the lobotomy which actually became a mainstream medical procedure beginning in 1935 and continuing into the later 1950s not going completely away until the1960s.
Today we question parents who gorge their unruly children with medicines to keep them calmed down but, if that isn’t bad enough for you, back in the late ‘30s and throughout the ‘40s if you didn’t like your kid’s attitude you could have him lobotomized…And many parents did!
The procedure was for the wacko doctor to take a 10 inch long icepick and jam it into the eye socket, then hammer it into the brain with a mallet, wiggle it around a bit so your kid would be all smiles…or you’d be cured of your depression or your high anxiety or, yes, even your madness. Paying no attention to the freaky and terrible results that so often resulted, there had been 20,000 lobotomies performed by1951 with the procedure only starting to be abandoned in Canada around1954.
Bottom line, we people do a lot of wild, weird and wacko stuff. I sure have over the years. What I think is or can be most important, however, is to be able to laugh at ourselves at least every now and then. Perhaps if we did, we might even learn to laugh together for a change. After all when we are laughing all the racism, sexism, hatred, vengefulness, anger, greed and jealousies simply go away.
Resources & Suggested reading:
Brooks, Martin *Get a Grip on Genetics * Barnes and Noble
Brinkley, Alan * The Unfinished Nation *Knopf
Harris, Marvin * Our Kind *Harper & Row
Zacks, Richard * An Underground Education *Doubleday
Zinn, Howard * A People’s History of the United States *HarperPerennial
If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy, “The Bizarre, The Wicket and the Downright Crazy.” Click here for immediate beaming over: http://www.infobarrel.com/The_Bazaar_the_Wicked_and_the_downright_Crazy
You may also enjoy the entertaining and inforative writing of Hilloyd when it comes to the things we human's do. Click here: