Hollywoodland Oct 30 2009
TIME WELLES SPENT
Blame it on the radio.

Today in 1938, Orson Welles vaulted into stardom by narrating his famous radio presentation of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. In adapting the novel, which concerns an invasion by malevolent Martians bent on the total destruction of humanity, Welles decided to use fictional news bulletins to describe the action. These were presented without commercial breaks, leaving listeners to decide whether the familiar sounding news flashes were truthful. Since a radio show had never used the news flash for dramatic purposes, many people were confused. The public reaction was described at the time as a panic, but historians now dispute that claim, suggesting that newspapers embellished the stories to make radio look bad. At the time print media feared radio would put them out of business, so they took advantage of an opportunity to deride radio broadcasters as irresponsible.

Newspaper embellishments notwithstanding, there is no doubt the broadcast caused widespread anxiety. Only the first forty minutes of the show were in bulletin format—after that it would have been clear to listeners they were hearing a dramatization. But not everyone listened to the full hour. In the tense atmosphere that had been created by the lead-up to World War II, many people assumed they were listening to a broadcast about attacking Germans, rather than Martians. Some people left their homes, either to confirm events with neighbors, or to try and see the invaders for themselves. A crowd gathered in Grover’s Mills, New Jersey, where the attack was reported have begun. If there was indeed a panic, it subsided quickly when it became clear there were no invaders. In the end there was only one long-lasting effect from the broadcast—Orson Welles, who had been just another radio personality, became the most famous man in America.

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Sportswire Jul 27 2009
TRUE PULP
Real life murder and mayhem dominated the last week.
 
Real-world pulp is everywhere you turn these days. And since our mission here at Pulp Intl. includes not just showing you wonderful pulp art from days gone by, but charting modern day pulp incidents wherever and whenever they occur, here’s a little roundup of the previous week, a seven day span that included the shooting death of another boxer, the arrest of more than forty people—including rabbis and Democratic officials—for fraud, and the clandestine peephole recording of sportscaster Erin Andrews, who later admitted the blurry nude steaming up the internet with a hotcurler and a fresh bikini wax was indeed her.
 
Vernon Forrest’s murder brings to three the number of ex-athletes killed in July. Steve McNair ran afoul of a disturbed lover, and Arturo Gatti is thought by Brazilian police to have gotten similar treatment from his wife, but Vernon Forrest seems to have been killed for money. The former welterweight and light middleweight champ reportedly was at a gas station putting air in the tires of his car when a man approached and asked for money. Nine of ten people probably would have freaked in that situation, but what did a former boxing champ known as the Viper have to fear? So he took out his wallet—which the man promptly snatched and bolted with. Forrest gave chase, and at some point exchanged gunfire with the robber. Either during that exchange, or a few moment later as he fled back toward his car, he was shot multiple times—and the world lost yet another great athlete who had provided so many thrilling memories.
 
We move to the subject of Erin Andrews, the popular ESPN sportscaster who was illicitly recorded nude in a hotel room. Yes, we analyzed the dirty little .avi file, and we have to wonder why she didn’t just deny being the figure in the recording. To our discerning eyes it does appear to be her, but there is no way to be 100% sure. If she had denied it, the official record on the story would have read “hoax,” and that would have made anyone claiming otherwise a crackpot by definition. Don’t get us wrong—we’re not among those who think the whole thing was a publicity stunt. We’re pretty sure we know those when we see them. Besides, just watching Andrews fret over her body and do those weird semi-squats is enough to convince us she truly thought she was unobserved. But having been recorded in such poor quality, why not deny it? Perhaps she’s simply honest—to a fault.
 
For a good example of people whose fault is dishonesty, observe the New Jersey 44 (™ Pulp Intl.). Several of those snared have already professed total innocence, though it’s hard to manage an effective denial when one of your crowd has already admitted trafficking in human kidneys for more than ten years. We think it’s safe to say the dominoes in Jersey will soon begin to tumble, and when they do, the line of crooks outside the Newark prosecutor’s office waiting to turn state’s evidence will look like the Late Show queue outside the Ed Sullivan Theater. The whole situation is ripe for ridicule, but frankly, we’ve exhausted ourselves making fun of Rod Blagojevich, Silvio Berlusconi, and Sarah Palin, so let’s just put the New Jersey 44 in the UFC octagon and see who survives. The blood drenched winner receives a full pardon, a lifetime supply of Oxy-Clean, and dibs on all the salvageable organs.
 
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Intl. Notebook May 6 2009
GONE IN 60 SECONDS


Below is a sequence of the German airship LZ-129 Hindenburg bursting into flames and crashing at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, Manchester, New Jersey. The entire zeppelin burned up in less than a minute, leaving thirty-six passengers, crew, and bystanders dead. Commercial zeppelin travel died that morning too, today, 1937.

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The Naked City | Vintage Pulp Apr 30 2009
SURELY YOU DON'T MEAN ME?
Criminals of yesteryear were every bit as brutal as those today.


You learn something new every day. For one, we never knew police height identification charts went as low as two feet six, but even Tom Thumb is probably capable of murder. We got curious today whether the cases referred to on the covers of these true crime magazines we like to post are factual. After a little deep background we found sources confirming two of the three cover blurbs from this issue of Police Files. Reading the stories was informative, and also made us question whether the past was indeed gentler, as is widely believed. We agree there is more crime now, which follows from the simple fact that there are more people. And we also agree we hear bloodier details about crimes than in the past, mainly because journalists and editors stretch the envelope a little more every year to shock people. But have we really gotten more brutal? We’re not so sure about that. Jaded, we agree. Brutal? Ultimately, to kill you have to spill enough blood, and we think it takes just as much brutality now as it did in the past. But don’t take our word for it—read on.

“Nude Nurse in the Seabag” refers to the case of Virginia Covel, who was beaten to death in Los Angeles by her ex-boyfriend Hilding Fridell on July 4th, 1957. Upon realizing he had killed her, Fridell took an overdose of sixty sleeping pills, but did not shuffle off this mortal coil. Instead he awoke July 5th next to her stiff corpse, whereupon he opted for plan B, which involved wedging her in a canvas bag along with rocks and barbell weights, hauling her out to berth 233 in San Pedro, and consigning her to the deep blue sea. We don’t know if she sank temporarily and was buoyed up later by decompositional gases, or if she never sank in the first place, but in any case, the bag was spotted on July 12th floating right where Fridell had dumped it. A Los Angeles Times article from the next day tells us the corpse had a cord tied so tightly around its neck and beneath its knees the body was folded in half. Virginia Covel became known as the Sea Bag Victim, and Fridell the Sea Bag Murderer.

Meanwhile across the U.S. that same summer in Vineland, New Jersey, the story referred to by the header “Voodoo Love Kill” was reaching a climax. It had begun the previous autumn, when a farmhand named Juan Aponte fell in love with his boss’s fifteen year-old daughter. Aponte was a believer in the Caribbean religion of santería—voodoo to us squares—and decided he needed supernatural help to make the girl reciprocate his feelings. He located a love spell that required multiple ingredients. Bat wings—check. Lizard entrails—checkeroo. Powdered skull of an innocent boy—um. While sane men might have abandoned the gory enterprise, Aponte went ahead with his plan, so consuming was his lust for the teen girl. The boy he picked to kill was 13 year-old Roger Carletto, who was chosen not so much for his innocence, which was a given, but because he was Italian and Aponte had a thing about fascists. Aponte snatched the boy up as he returned from a movie. It was October, and nobody had a clue what happened to Roger Carletto until the next summer.

Aponte was a simple man, a farmer. He didn’t know much, but
he knew the trick to powdering bone was it needed to be dry first. So he buried Roger Carletto under a hen house and waited. Finally, on July 1st he dug up the body and took most of the skull, along with a few other pieces. But he was drunk, and consumed with horror over his actions. In the final stages of manufacturing his love potion, he simply cracked. He became catatonic, and when police were called, he admitted to them that he had killed someone. He led police to the hen house of horror, where they found Roger Carletto, minus a hand, a foot, and most of his skull. Aponte never completed the spell, so it’s impossible to say whether it would have worked. But he believed it until the end. He told a cellmate, just before being transferred to state prison, “I know that it would have worked. I would have had the power to have any woman I wanted.”

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 22
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
October 21
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
October 20
1947—HUAC Hearings Begin
The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a witch hunt that destroys lives, ruins careers, and makes Senator Joseph McCarthy the most feared politician of the era.
1968—Jackie Kennedy Marries
Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The marriage comes as a total surprise to the American public, and results in a terrible backlash against her and also makes her the number one target of paparazzi for years.
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