Belle on Earth
Via Christine Quigley: the vintage true crime tale of Belle Gunness, perhaps the world's most prolific female serial killer.
From the Biography Channel's summary:
Serial killer. Born Brynhild Paulsdatter Størseth on November 22, 1859 in Selbu, Norway. The daughter of a stonemason, Belle Gunness immigrated to America in 1881 in search of wealth. What followed were a series of insurance frauds and crimes, escalating in size and danger.
Not long after Gunness married Mads Albert Sorenson in 1884, their store and home mysteriously burned down. The couple claimed the insurance money for both. Soon after, Sorenson died of heart failure on the one day his two life insurance policies overlapped. Though her husband's family demanded an inquiry, no charges were filed. It is believed the couple produced two children whom Gunness poisoned in infancy for the insurance money.
Several more unexplained deaths followed, including the infant daughter of her new husband, Peter Gunness, followed by Peter Gunness himself. Her adopted daughter Jennie's body would also be found on Belle's property. Gunness then began meeting wealthy men through a lovelorn column. Her suitors were her next victims, each of whom brought cash to her farm and then disappeared forever: John Moo, Henry Gurholdt, Olaf Svenherud, Ole B. Budsburg, Olaf Lindbloom, Andrew Hegelein, to name just a few.
In 1908, just when Hegelein's brother became suspicious and Gunness's luck seemed to be running out, her farmhouse burnt to the ground. In the smoldering ruins workmen discovered four skeletons. Three were identified as her foster children. However the fourth, believed to be Gunness, was inexplicably missing its skull. After the fire, her victims were unearthed from their shallow graves around the farm. All told, the remains of more than forty men and children were exhumed.
Ray Lamphere, Gunness's hired hand, was arrested for murder and arson on May 22, 1908. He was found guilty of arson, but cleared of murder. He died in prison, but not before revealing the truth about Belle Gunness and her crimes, including burning her own house down—the body that was recovered was not hers. Gunness had planned the entire thing, and skipped town after withdrawing most of her money from her bank accounts. She was never tracked down and her death has never been confirmed.
Died in a Drive-By
As part of their regular feature on cover songs, the fine folks at Aquarium Drunkard compare the Jim Carroll original "People Who Died" with the cover the Drive-By Truckers have made their go-to encore when they play live. Free downloads of both at the end of the story.
On Carroll's original:
But despite the occasional twinges of genuine anguish that come through in Carroll’s voice, “People Who Died” sounds like something more factual than mournful. Perhaps it’s in the way that several verses are repeated - lives recounted again within the same song. Here these lives become just a recounting of experience. Emotions expressed (“..and Eddie, I miss you more than all the others / and I salute you brother”) become simply a world-weary incantation - a recitation that gives away its narrator’s acceptance of the reality. It’s a delivery befitting Jim Carroll given his experiences. There comes a point where another death is just another death.
On the DBT:
If you go back to 1999’s sadly out-of-print Alabama Ass Whuppin’, the early line-up of the band tears through the song with abandon. Muddling the verse order, and shuffling and adjusting lyrics as he goes, Patterson Hood’s delivery of the song is a howling maelstrom of grief. There are times where his vocals become muttered and incoherent, others where the pain is howled into the Plutonian shore. Imagining the narrator now in the small towns of the deep South, where friends are people you’ve known since you were born, not just the guy you met hustling on the street the other week, the deaths rack up in a much more serious way. As friends drop left and right, everything that seemed true is revealed in the harsh light of reality.
Speaking of DBT live, here's their "Where the Devil Don't Stay" from a 2004 set.
My Most Blatant Bid Ever to Drive Traffic to My Blog
Stephanie Meyer's, Twilight, the word "porn."
Those search terms alone should pretty much guarantee that this becomes my most read blog post ever.
From the online front of feminist mag Bitch: "Bite Me (Or Don't): Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-infested Twilight series has created a new YA genre: abstinence porn. From the article:
The Twilight series has created a surprising new sub-genre of teen romance: It’s abstinence porn, sensational, erotic, and titillating. And in light of all the recent real-world attention on abstinence-only education, it’s surprising how successful this new genre is. Twilight actually convinces us that self-denial is hot. Fan reaction suggests that in the beginning, Edward and Bella’s chaste but sexually charged relationship was steamy precisely because it was unconsummated—kind of like Cheers, but with fangs. Despite all the hot “virtue,” however, we feminist readers have to ask ourselves if abstinence porn is as uplifting as some of its proponents seem to believe.
Thanks to the MNJ blog for the head's up.
This is the Watchmen We've Been Waiting For