Tuesday, April 29, 2014

a dose of the weird, a dab of the historical

My interests. Ranging from the historical to the downright bizarre.

1. Serial killers
Since I am the exact opposite of them, I find what drives them to be morbidly fascinating.
The ones I find the most interesting are Dahmer, Kemper, Fish, Chase, Chikatilo, David Parker Ray, Zodiac and Gacy.

You can also put psychopathy here in general. Though most psychopaths are not full blown serial killers. Workplace psychopaths I find to be frightening due to their ability to blend in so well.

2. West Memphis Three
Been following this case since 2005 and have been obsessed ever since. Do yourself a favor watch and read the following:
Paradise Lost trilogy
West of Memphis
Devil's Knot by Mara Leveritt
Life After Death by Damien Echols

You'll thank me later. That is after you punched a wall in frustration over how fucked the justice system is in Arkansas.

3. JFK assassination
JFK and the Unpeakable by James Douglass and Oliver Stone's JFK are two pillars in the JFK assassination communities. Because they go after the question that many lose sight of: why? What was the motive if there was indeed an assassination? The history leading up to the assassination and the Cold War stigma at the time is just as important as the Zapruder film or the grassy knoll.

4. UFOs, Area 51, Roswell, alien abduction, Phoenix Lights
I can hear the X Files theme playing already.

5. David Foster Wallace
After reading Infinite Jest, I ended up searching for every interview, every video, and every book by this guy.

6. Vietnam War
OK, not really weird. But it's definitely the most interesting event of history to me.

7a. Red Scare (Cuban Missile Crisis, the Rosenbergs)
Everything post-1945 through the tearing down of the Berlin Wall can be considered fair game. Though it wasn't nearly as red hot as it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Coupled with McCarthyism, the Hollywood blacklist and the execution of Jules and Ethel Rosenberg, the Cold War undercurrent during the 50s and early 60s cast a dark cloud over 'the nuclear family' and Duck and Cover generation. And if it wasn't dark enough, the turbulent 60s put an end to all doubters. The Cold War has now been followed by its twin, the War on Terror. Terrorism has replaced communism. And once again, anything goes in a fight against evil.

7b. 1968
The culmination of anti war revolution and civil rights in America. Seriously, folks. The assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., the Tet Offensive and the Democratic Convention.

8. Unsolved crime cases (DB Cooper, Jonbenet Ramsety, Zodiac, etc.)
The whodunnits and the where did they go? cases always fascinated me since I was a kid. Particularly the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. But as I got older, the interjection of unsolved crime cases took an even stronger hold than the disappearances of people.

9. Columbine
Everything seemed to converge in 1999. As the century drew to a close, the decade of the 90's resulted in a rash of school shootings. Though none more infamous or as tragic as Columbine.

10a. Cults (Jonestown, Heaven's Gate, Charles Manson, Paul Schafer, Branch Dividians)
Jonestown become a huge obsession as of late. It is terrifying to fathom the power one man has over a thousand people. A main crutch that holds this obsession up has to do with the mind just as much as it has to do with harmful events that are produced. Which can really be given a subsection unto itself.

10b. Psychological conflicts (Mind control, MK Ultra, cognitive dissonance)

The mind is a powerful weapon. All the more powerful when the hand of the puppeteer holding the strings is not yours. I would put cognitive dissonance under this even though it is not exactly control but delusion. The belief that not only did you not make that awful mistake but you are content and able to sleep at night. If you ask me, it's cognitive dissonance with alot of cognitive behavioral disorder that led to the events of the West Memphis murders and Salem Witch trials. And that is scary that just about any horror movies out there.

11. Medical experimentation ( Ivanov experiments, Unit 731, Josef Mengele)
Auschwitz, the holocaust, the liquidation of the Krakow ghettos. Just the mention of these events should send chills up ones spine. The further one digs into WWII history and these types of events specifically, the more grime and grimace they will uncover. The war in question boasting Dr. Josef Mengele, 'the Angel of Death' as he would be dubbed, and Unit 731, a human experimentation camp that was located in Japan from 1937 through the end of the war. The cruelty of man exists far beyond experimentation and can be seen in Pol Pot and the prison camps of North Korea. Blaine Harden's book about these camps, Escape from Camp 14 sums it up: “High School students in America debate why President Roosevelt didn't bomb the rail lines to Hitler's camps. Their children may ask, a generation from now, why the West stared at far clearer satellite images of Kim Jong Il's camps, and did nothing.” 

12. The Judge
My favorite villain in all of fiction. Whereas Lecter, Kreuger, and had their own two feet firmly planted in their own worlds, Judge Holden takes on a mythic persona and transcends. He embodies the philosophy of evil. Which is  really the type of villain we've been waiting for since The Joker.

13. Haunted houses, ghosts, orbs
An early childhood memory goes back to me ordering books on haunted houses through Scholastic Book Orders. That's really what got me started and I have become transfixed ever since.

14. Medical oddities (Joseph Merrick, Myrtle Corbin, Mademoiselle Gabrielle, sideshows)
Tod Browning's Freaks opened the public's eye to circus freaks and sideshows but the mystique of the traveling sideshow was best captured in the books Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes and the freaks themselves in Katherine Dunn's Geek Love. Of all them, Joseph Merrick is the most illuminating.

15. Heavy metal culture

"It's like a lifestyle, this music. Everything else people are like, "Oh yeah, I like it, I've liked it for a week." But metal, metal fans love it forever. No one's ever like "I was really into Slayer one summer...". I've never met that guy. I've only met the guy with Slayer carved into his chest."

-Rob Zombie on the genre of metal

16. Mummification
The Mummy will go down as the one Hollywood monster that has not yet been capitalized on. Well, if you disregard the 99 Stephen Sommers remake which was fashioned more after Indiana Jones than anything else. Mummies have never really been scary on screen. Just by digging (no pun intended) into ancient mythology and discovering the method and tools for embalming is enough to create an unsettling chill.

17. Salem Witch trials
Again, the bizarre nature of these trials really makes you question the people charging these women with such conduct.

18. Prisons and mass incarceration
Being that the Land of the Free has the highest number of prisoners, it is only natural to be interested in such topics. Do your homework boys and girls and read New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

19. Black holes, Supernovas, wormholes, nebulas, etc.
2001: A Space Odyssey is responsible for this. Though the interest in space goes further. As a kid I did go through a 'wanting to be an astronaut' phase. The sheer vastness of space always kept me in awe.

20. EC Comics
The thing that got me into horror. Yes boils and ghouls, the EC comics of the 50s contained some of the most gruesome art and cleverly crafted tales of the genre. And lest we forget...it spawned the creation of the beloved Cryptkeeper.

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