Mondo Bizarro Sep 22 2021
MISSISSIPPI LEARNING
Two men find out that nothing in life is truly free except trouble.


An interesting story came out of Byram, Mississippi yesterday that caught our eye because it's pure pulp. We actually read a book a while back that has the same plot set-up. We can't remember the title but we wouldn't kid you. Anyway, the story is two men happened upon an Acura sedan on the side of a country road with a sign on it reading “free car.” The keys were in the ignition, so they took it for a ride, presumably with plans to keep it. In the book the guy actually was asked to drive the car, instead of finding it, but it had same basic opening.

At some point, we like to imagine, one of our Mississippi duo sniffed a couple of times, turned to the other and said, “Bro, was that you?” After a fierce fart denial, a counter accusation, and an agreement that the ten pine tree air fresheners scattered around the car's interior couldn't be making the aroma, they stopped, opened the trunk, and found a corpse. At least, that's how we picture them finding it. More likely, after the intial jubilation had passed, they simply realized a free car—even a used Acura sedan—was too good to be true. The baggage in back was identified as Anthony McCrillis, last seen a few days earlier. According to the Byram sheriff there were no signs of obvious trauma—on the corpse he meant, the two guys are probably still freaked. An investigation is ongoing.

The humor here—and yes, it's a little funny—comes in thinking about the note writer. Did this scheme spring forth from his brow unbidden, or had he worked his way up to it? Like did he start years back by leaving a bag of free clothes somewhere, but they were all infested with ticks? Thenmaybe he left an umbrella somewhere but when someone opened it a dead parakeet fell out? And later, jazzed over his bird caper, maybe he left a free recliner on the road that had a cat under the cushion. The guy fascinates us, whoever he is. His cold, calculating callousness is a sheer marvel.

And yes, we're assuming there was a murderer, and McCrillis didn't plan to give the car away, wrote a note, made one last trunk check, oopsed his way inside and pulled the lid shut after him. There's a killer for sure. One with a wicked sense of humor. But the joke's on him because he'll get caught. He has to. You can't mess around with a car, a corpse, and a note, and leave no evidence unless you're Fantômas or Jame Gumb. After his conviction he'll be told he's getting a free prison cell, but find he's actually housed with some six-five lifer with face tattoos and a mental catalogue of callous ideas that have made three prison psychiatrists leave the profession. You know what that would be called, right? Karma.

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Hollywoodland Jun 29 2011
ROAD TO PERDITION
Whatever happened to baby Jayne?

Above are two photos of the Buick Electra 225 actress Jayne Mansfield was riding in when it slammed into the back of a semi on a stretch of road between Biloxi and New Orleans. Visibility was low that night due to a combination of ocean mist and insecticide from a mosquito fogging truck. Mansfield’s driver Ronnie Harrison probably never had a chance to avoid the collision, especially while speeding on a dark, curving road. He and lawyer Sam Brody were killed along with Mansfield. Her children in the back seat survived, but two of her cherished chihuahuas famously didn’t.

In the second photo a sheet-covered Mansfield lies in the foreground after being removed from the wreckage by emergency workers. Virtually any website you visit will debunk the myth of Mansfield’s decapitation. They will tell you her blonde wig flew off and either fooled reporters on the scene or inspired them to create malicious urban folklore. Well, we don’t think so. The debunkers should look up the word “avulsion” in a dictionary. It’s when one part of the body is torn away from another. Mansfield’s death certificate attributes her demise to a “crushed skull and avulsion of the cranium and brain.” So she lost the top of her head, including brain matter. Does that count as decapitation? Perhaps not. Whatever you call it, it happened today in 1967. 

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Sex Files Dec 4 2009
MEET THE PRESS
Candid Press might have been the cheapest tabloid ever published.

Above you see an ultra low-rent Candid Press cover from today in 1966, with the inside scoop on an interracial love affair that got the Mississippi Klan riled up and ended in a castration. Sadly, these were not uncommon events during America's apartheid era, but Candid Press had no intention of doing any real reporting on it. Instead they were about pure sexual tease, with this and other stories re-enacted photographically by models who always seemed to lose their tops. All very interesting, but of special interest to pulp fans is a feature on Vera Novak, a well-known Harrison Marks model who had shot some nudie reels and acted in a film called It’s a Bare, Bare World.

These nudie reels are way before our time, but we know they are remembered fondly. Technically they're porn, but in reality they're way too innocent to be classified that way. There's no sex at all, and the nudity is chaste by any standards. Novak had established a name as a nudie model, but the article above describes how she was about to make the leap into A-features with a part in 1967’s big budget Bond spoof Casino Royale. But guess what? She never made it into the film. Possibly she shot scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor, but she’s definitely not credited as a cast member. So, like many of the actresses we write about, she passed from film history into undocumented private life where, we can only hope, she was happy.

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Musiquarium Nov 13 2009
THIS OLD HOUSE
Birthplace of mysterious blues legend to be restored.

Nearly everything about enigmatic bluesman Robert Johnson could have come directly from the pages of a pulp novel. Some say he sold his soul to the Devil at a dark crossroads in exchange for the ability to play guitar. Only two photographs were ever taken of him during his life. He died in 1938 after a jealous husband poisoned his whiskey with strychnine. And nobody knows for sure where he is buried, though there are three spots that claim the distinction. The only agreed upon fact about Johnson’s life is that he came into the world in 1911 in a house in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. Now, that house is slated for restoration by its owners, the county of Copiah, Mississippi. Over the years it has fallen into disrepair, but when originally built by Johnson’s stepfather it was considered a spacious and modern home, particularly by the standards of the sharecropping south. Copiah County officials hope to draw some of the music tourists that visit the nearby Mississippi Delta region, which seems a safe bet considering Johnson’s stature. He is considered by most music aficionados the greatest bluesman ever, and one of the most unique guitarists. He is also, without doubt, one of the most mysterious figures in musical history.     

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Vintage Pulp Oct 29 2009
LOVE SHACK
I know I promised to lay some pipe for you, miss, but are you sure you want to put plumbing in this old place?
American author Hubert Creekmore was born in Mississippi in 1907 and spared no effort trying to get out once he reached adulthood. He disliked the south for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, he was gay, which was not at all accepted there at the time. Second, he was a gifted poet, also not readily accepted in the blue collar south. But while he was able to more or less keep his sexuality a secret, he wasn’t as easily able to disguise his literary pretensions. He eventually left Mississippi to attend college, published his first collection of poems in 1940, and later served in the Navy. When he returned to Mississippi, work was scarce, but he was able to earn money via the Federal Writer’s Project, a program established by Franklin Roosevelt to offer financial support to writers. Yes, half a century ago the U.S. federal government considered literature important enough that it subsidized fledgling writers. Anyway, Cotton Country was Creekmore’s first and possibly best novel, appearing in 1946. As you can probably discern from the suggestive pulp cover, it concerns a rebellious girl’s attempts to escape the influence of her fanatically religious father. Creekmore had a successful literary career, but was always unpopular in the south because of his focus on religious, sexual and racial intolerance. However his work is highly regarded, and remains widely available. He died in New York City in 1966.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 28
1919—Volstead Act Passed
The U.S. Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson's veto, paving the way for alcohol Prohibition to begin the following January. The Act, named for Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Andrew Volstead, was supposed to create a better society but instead helped lead to the rise of violent organized crime gangs. The law wouldn't be repealed until 1933.
1922—Mussolini Comes Into Power
During the second day of the event known as the March on Rome, Fascist leader Benito Mussolini officially takes control of the Italian government when King Victor Emmanuel III cedes power. Supported by a coalition of military, business, and right-wing leaders, Mussolini remains in power until 1943, when defeat in World War II begins to look inevitable.
October 27
1994—U.S. Prison Population Reaches Milestone
The U.S. prison population tops 1 million for the first time in American history. By 2008 the U.S. Justice Department pegs the number of imprisoned at 2.3 million, and the overall U.S. correctional population, i.e. those in jail, prison, on probation or on parole, at 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 adults.
October 26
1951—Churchill Becomes Prime Minster Again
The Conservative Party wins the British general election, making Winston Churchill prime minister for the second time. Churchill is nearly 76 at the time, making him the second oldest prime minister in history after William Gladstone. Churchill remains PM until 1955, when he steps down at 81 due to ill health.
1964—The Night Caller Is Executed
In Australia, Eric Edgar Cooke, who had earned the nickname Night Caller, is hanged after being convicted of murder. He had terrorized Perth for four years, committing 22 violent crimes, eight of which resulted in deaths. He becomes the last person to be executed in Western Australia.
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