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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Everyone Hates a Clown

There has been a cosmic shift in in the way Americans view clowns.  I remember as a child it was the general consensus that clowns were hilarious.  I remember laughing at circus clowns as a kid.   Plus, I used to get up early everyday before school to watch this man.

Not my image
Bozo the Clown!  Every other kid I know loved this guy as well.  My love of clowns did hit a speed bump as a child when I watched "Poltergeist" and a toy clown attacked a kid.  Not only did I find clowns a little less hilarious, but I also didn't sleep for three years.  Some other kids I know watched a movie called "It", which apparently portrays clowns in a negative light somehow.  I was lucky enough to skip it, but apparently it didn't help the clown image.

Not my image
I'm not sure why........

Now fear of clowns is called Coulrophobia, however how can you really call it a "Phobia" if its how every single person feels.  In modern times I cannot find a single person who likes clowns.  Something that was once seen as wholesome and hilarious is now universally viewed as sinister and unsavory in modern culture.   Hospitals have even stopped using clown imagery in their pediatric units as studies have shown that clowns scare children.  What happened to America?

As I noted in my recent post about the Circus, there seems to be a watering down of the clown.  These are modern clowns.

What we see here is the bastardization of the clown.   No longer to we have a white ghoul covered in grease paint, but now we just have dudes with baggy pants with a few dabs of makeup.

In fact the some of the only people staying true to clown roots are these guys.....

Okay, maybe that is a bad example.

I wanted to take the rest of this post to pay homage to the traditional clown, the one we loved before Stephen King and the guy who wrote Poltergeist ruined it for everyone.

Here's to the traditional clown.....

Okay, we're off to a bad start.  That is an autographed picture of John Wayne Gacy, who may have set clowns back even further then Steven King. 

Here are some nice modern day clowns, that have gone "full clown".

Here is a gentlemen that gives us some catharsis.   He allows us to express our fear of clowns through the wonders of a dunk tank.

Just don't get your feelings hurt.

Of course, for those who love traditional clowns they can still be found in the Clown Ministry:

And let's no forget fake clowns, who combine clowns with another thing everyone hates:  Mannequins.

Check out this wonderful garbage can where we put our trash in the mouth of a dead clown.

Sometimes its difficult to find out where clown ends and hobo begins....

Now check out this monster from The House on the Rock in Wisconsin.

You may not be able to tell from the picture, but that head is about 5 feet tall and has moving eyes.

If you see a clown, give them some them that America still has some love for clowns.

The Carpetbagger

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Madame LaLaurie, Pure Southern Fried Evil

The South has a lot of scary stories, but I feel none are as horrifying as the crimes committed by Madam Delphine LaLaurie in New Orleans.

At Musee Conti in New Orleans, LA
LaLaurie was a rich socialite who lived in the French Quarter of New Orleans with her husband.  Rumors begin to swirl about LaLaurie's treatment of her slaves.  There are records of officials visiting her mansion to investigate these concerns, because apparently there was such thing as Slave Protective Services.  These investigators found nothing of concern, but apparently they forgot to look in the attic.

One day a fire broke out in the LaLaurie mansion.  When the house was being evacuated the public found the LaLaurie's deep dark secret.  The attic of the mansion had been turned into a torture chamber where slaves were chained up in depraved conditions.  It turned out that the fire was actually started by a slave.  A slave woman had been chained to the stove in the kitchen and had set the house on fire in an attempt to kill herself.  The LaLauries tried to convince the public that there was nothing to see, but the secret was out.   Madam LaLaurie quickly vanished and was belived to have fled to France.

The actual condition of LaLaurie's slaves is different depending on who you you ask.  There is no argument that LaLaurie tortured and beat her slaves, but some accounts go as far as saying that there was such extreme torture as peeling skin of of slaves faces and stirring their brains through a hole she made in their heads.  There are even some who claim LaLaurie was doing horrifying medical experiments on the slaves and trying to alter the slaves into half animal abominations.

The fire did not destroy the LaLaurie mansion, as it still stands in New Orleans to this day, but now it belongs to another notorious New Orleans villian:  Nicholas Cage.

I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating:  People in New Orleans HATE Nicholas Gage.  Possibly his habit of buying up historical property or the fact that he built a huge pyramid for himself to be buried in in the cities oldest graveyard.

Slavery is the darkest part of Southern History and it doesn't get much darker then what LaLaurie did.  She is histories most wicked Southern Belle.

For more Southern creepiness, head on down to Key West.

The Carpetbagger

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and check out my Flickr Photostream

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Zombies are Real!

Halloween time is upon us and in such times we celebrate all that is spooky and monstrous.  Now, I hate to be a giant buzzkill, but the majority of these "monsters" are fake.  There are no such thing as ghosts, werewolves, or Frankensteins.  But there is no reason to get depressed, as one of America's most beloved monsters actually does exist.  Most people don't realize this, but Zombies are real.

Now, they may be slightly different from the shambling corpses that terrorize Rick Grimes and his friends, but Zombies were real long before they showed up in movies and television.

Zombies originate out of the Voodoo Religion.  In fact, the term "Zombie" is derived from the word "Zombi" which is the name of a Voodoo Snake God.

Taken at Musee Conti New Orleans, LA
Powerful Voodoo priests of the darker variety were said to be able to raise the dead and force them to do their bidding.  The scariest thing is that there was some truth to this.

Voodoo priests would administer a poison derived from the puffer fish, which contained a deadly neurotoxin.  This would cause the victim to go into a death like coma state that would convince the victims family that their loved one was dead.  The voodoo priest would then continue to administer the poison at lower doses to keep their victim in a "zombified state", where they would be in a sort of walking hypnotism where the person was highly suggestable.  This would put the Zombie completely under the priests control and would do whatever was asked of them.

Voodoo Museum New Orleans, LA

Perhaps the world's most famous real life Zombie was a man named Clairvius Narcisse,  a Haitian man who was thought dead and buried in the ground.  He showed back up 18 years later revealing that he had been kept as a Zombified prisoner on a sugar plantation.  Clairvius is still alive to this day.  He describes the experience as "having his soul stolen".

So, technically the Zombie is never actually dead, but is still a shambling slave to their Voodoo master.

So does this translate into the rotting brain eating corpse we are used to seeing in movies?

The first ever Zombie Movie was "White Zombie", a 1932 film that utilized the traditional real life zombie.  The zombies in the movies were slaves under a spell working in a sugar plantation.

Over time the use of Zombies in movies was tinkered with and altered to more closely resemble what we see today.  In 1968 George Romero released his classic "Night of the Living Dead" which focused around the dead rising out of their graves and eating the living.  This is traditionally seen as the beginning of the Zombie in popular culture.  Funny thing is, the word "Zombie" was never used in the film and Romero has stated in interviews that he was never trying to portray Zombies.  He referred to the monsters shown in his original movie as "Ghouls", of course these creatures invoked the image of the traditional zombie and the two have become forever linked.

Our culture is currently in the midst of a love affair with the creatures as we love these movies and celebrate them with such as events as local "Zombie Walks".

 So, enjoy your Halloween my friends and stay away from puffer fish venom......

The Carpetbagger

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Friday, October 25, 2013

The World's Largest Potato

I am a big sucker, that is for sure.  When I heard that the World's Largest Potato was going to be less then an hour away I knew it was my duty to go see it at all costs.

Now, let's make something clear:  This is not a "real" potato.  This is something that is constantly being pointed out to me.  Yes, many thing's that are advertised as the "The World's Largest" are not actually the items themselves, but a facsimile of the object.  People seem to delight in pointing this out to me.  Let me retort:  knock it off and just go along with it.  The world's largest fish is made of fiberglass, the world's largest ketchup bottle is not full of ketchup and the world's largest basket is actually just a building shaped like a basket.  "The World's Largest Facsimile" just doesn't sound appealing.  A 12,000 pound fiberglass potato IS the world's largest potato.  The fact that it is not made of organic material simply does not matter.

Now unlike a lot of the World's Largest Objects the Potato is mobile and it has been on quite a journey which is documented HERE.

I love the presentation.  It is reminiscent of old gag postcards from Idaho.

Not my image
I found out yesterday that the potato would only be near for another 24 hours and so I dashed over to see the behemoth and have my goofy picture taken with it.

I even got a chance to meet the the official "Potato Crew".

 It was at this point that I realized I was at some sort of Tractor festival.

Now, I hate to badmouth agro-tourism, but I fail to be entertained by tractors.  It seems every local parade features about a million of them.  I guess you have to be a farmer to appreciate them.  On a side note: everyone there except me appeared to be a farmer.

I did find this little "Hillbilly Pickup Truck" that I found somewhat charming.  It appeared to be powered by some sort of moonshine-still like contraption.

I'm pretty sure that is a misquote of the bible.

There were also rows of booths of people selling things.  I can't really tell you what exactly they were selling, but it looked like the stuff that the American Pickers pull out of people's back yards.

I did find this fairly awesome self-ass-kicking machine.

I would have paid the dollar to ride it, but I learned my lesson when the ass-kicking machine in Raleigh kicked me in the kidneys.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to email me at
And don't forget to check out my Flickr Photostream

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Palace of Wonder

It saddens me to find out that we have lost another amazing attraction from the American Roadside.  The Palace of Wonder was not your typical attraction.  First of all, it was a bar, a bar in the inner city of Washington DC. 

When you entered it was a fairly average bar, with a few crazy things on the wall, but on the second floor was possibly America's greatest hidden treasures.  With a whopping admission fee of FREE the upper floor of the Palace contained what was possibly the most amazing and complete cabinet of curiosities in the World.  

I have never come across a collection of antique sideshow oddities more amazing then what the Palace presented.  Let's dig in!

One of favorite artifacts at the Palace of Wondered was a genuine taxidermied Unicorn!

This genuine unicorn traveled with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.  I actually remember seeing a TV commercial for it when I was a kid.  Nevermind the fact its actually a mutant goat, its still a unicorn, dammit!

 Of course what would the world's greatest collection of sideshow artifacts be without a nice handful of Fiji Mermaids.

Also in the collection of sideshows gaffes was a mummy.....

As well as a life-sized "Devil's Child".....

Of course they had the obligatory collection of creepy jars full of creepy stuff.....

Some other wonders include Fivey the Five Legged Dog.....

A demon Toad....

A shrunken head......

A two headed cow.....

An eight legged Goat.....

A messed up Deer.....

A winged Squirrel.....

And some sort of weird dog monster called "The Oojiboo"....

They had some artifacts that belonged to some of the famous sideshow performers.  Here is a hand cast of the "Son of Lobster Boy" Grady Styles Jr. 

By the way, Grady Styles and the lobster family have one of the darkest most interesting stories in all of sideshow lore....I hope to get to that someday here on the Carpetbagger.

They had a life-sized replica of one of the most famous freaks of all time: The Elephant Man John Merrick.

They had a large collection of "Pickled Punks" or babies (real or fake) preserved in jars.  What was interesting about these is that when they traveled with sideshows the carnival had to lie about the nature of their punks.  In some states they had to say they were real punks were fake, because it was illegal to display live bodies.  In other states they had to say that fake punks were real because it was illegal to display fakes.

One of the more odd (if that's possible) parts of the Palace is their collection of freak ducklings.

Including two headed ducklings.....

And perhaps the oddest:  Puddles the Headless Duck.

As you can see this collections of freaks is unmatched.  I have to wonder if its still together or if its been broken up.  Hopefully it will resurface like some great roadside attractions tend to do.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to e-mail me at
and check out my Flickr Photostream