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Sunday, February 1, 2015

They Put the "Art" in Fart: A Brief History of the Flatulent Arts

Joseph Pujol, "Le Pétomane"


While toilet humor may seem like a relatively new phenomenon when viewed through the spectrum of human culture, it may be safe to assume that cavemen went around asking fellow Neanderthals to pull their finger. While history fails to document primitive man's opinion on farting, historical records show that mankind's fascination with flatulence dates back to at least the 12th century, when King Henry II hired as his jester a man known as Roland le Petour, or Roland the Farter.

In medieval England, no holiday season would be complete without a performance by Roland, whose contract as a jester obliged him to perform Unum saltum et siffletum et unum bumbulum (one jump, one whistle, and one fart) each Christmas before the king's court. Roland the Farter was paid handsomely for these services; the jester was given Hemingstone Manor in Suffolk and thirty acres of land. While Roland the Farter was not the first person to entertain a crown by passing gas, he was the first to make a full-time career out of it.


Saint Augustine

Until Roland came along, farting for laughs was a less-than-refined amateur endeavor. In the 4th century A.D., Saint Augustine wrote of Algerian street performers who had "such command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at will, so as to produce the effect of singing." By the time of Roland the Farter, this time-honored art form had flourished all over the civilized world. For example, the braigetoír of medieval Ireland entertained crowds by breaking wind. But, unfortunately for the braigetoír, the general consensus among the Irish was that these flatulists ranked pretty low on the entertainment scale, well below bards, pipers and harpists. In other words, they were the medieval Irish equivalent of a Def Leppard tribute band.

Thanks to entertainers like Roland, the reputation of flatulists soon soared like the very wind that was expelled from their intestines. In William Langland's famous allegorical narrative poem "Piers Plowman" (written between 1370 and 1390), the poet describes the qualities that make an entertainer exceptional, with farting on command nearly topping the list. In his poem, Langland laments: "As for me, I can neither drum nor trumpet, nor tell jokes, nor fart amusingly at parties, nor play the harp."

Remarkably, the reverence toward farting performers extended to lands far and wide, even in the most isolated of forbidden kingdoms. During the Edo period, a time in Japan's history marked by strict social order and isolationist foreign policies, these performers were known as heppiri otoko, and held in the same esteem as the geisha and performers of kabuki and bunraku theatre.

While flatulists ostensibly made (foul-smelling) waves from London to Tokyo, it should be no surprise that history's greatest fartiste hailed from the same country that gave the world such cultural icons like Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Coco Chanel and Pepé Le Pew. This man, of course, was Joseph Pujol, better known by his stage name Le Pétomane.



Born in Marseilles in 1857, Pujol was the son of a sculptor who discovered, while still a young boy, that he possessed a most remarkable talent. Little did he know at the time, however, that this unique talent would catapult him to superstardom all over the world. Pujol discovered his talent while swimming in the sea. When he held his breath and put his head under the water, young Joseph felt an icy cold sensation in his bowels. He ran ashore and was startled to see water gushing from his anus, the result of an accidental enema he had given himself by "inhaling" water through his rear end. He was scared shitless (no pun intended).

Pujol was unique because, unlike other flatulists, he did not expel gas from his intestines. His farts were the result of sucking up air and releasing it by contracting his anal sphincter muscles. Through years of practice, he was able to produce a staggering variety of sounds. He first demonstrated his talent to fellow soldiers while serving in the French army, and when he left the military and found work in a bakery, he would entertain customers by standing behind the counter and imitating an impressive variety of musical instruments. Before long, Pujol turned his attention to the stage.

His debut performance took place in Marseilles in 1887 and was so well received that he decided to move to Paris, adopting the stage name "Le Pétomane"-- a combination of the   French verb péter, "to fart", with the suffix -mane, or "-maniac". Thus, Le Pétomane translates to "the fartomaniac".

By 1892, he was performing at the Moulin Rouge, where his act included such impressive feats as playing "'O Sole Mio" with an ocarina connected to his anus with a rubber tube, replicating the sounds of cannon fire and thunderstorms, and extinguishing a candle from several yards away. Now a celebrity, Le Pétomane's fans included the likes of the Prince of Wales, King Leopold II of Belgium, and Sigmund Freud. After a contract dispute with Moulin Rouge management, Pujol decided to create his own traveling show, which he named Theatre Pompadour. Joseph Pujol retired as a performer during World War I and resumed his career as a baker. He later opened a biscuit factory in Toulon, which he ran until his death in 1945 at the age of eighty-eight.

There are many flatulence artists still performing today, but none of them can hold a candle to Le Pétomane (much less extinguish it from across a stage). These self-described fartistes may appear regularly on shows like Howard Stern or Jackass, but they'll never be able to enthrall an audience like Le Pétomane or attract the attention of kings and nobility like Roland the Farter. History is fond of repeating itself, and once again the prestige of being a flatulist, like those braigetoír of medieval Ireland, has evaporated like gas in the wind.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Newtown plans to demolish Lanza home

The Sandy Hook conspiracy continues to live on



Earlier today, the Newtown Legislative Council voted to tear down the Yogananda Street home where Adam Lanza lived with his mother Nancy, whom he allegedly murdered on the morning of December 14, 2012, before allegedly murdering 20 students and 6 educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Yes, we say allegedly because, more than two years after the event, very few of the persistent questions involving Sandy Hook have been answered, while strange doings continue to take place in this otherwise sleepy and unimportant Connecticut town. For instance, the powers-that-be have yet to produce even one frame of video surveillance footage placing Lanza at the school on the morning of Dec. 14, nobody can explain why no one ever heard the shots that killed Nancy Lanza, why Sandy Hook hired fake teachers, or whatever happened to the girlfriend of Adam Lanza who was referred to by numerous media outlets on the morning of the shooting. No one has satisfactorily explained why local officials deemed it necessary to patrol school grounds with armed guards until the "crime scene" was destroyed, why Lanza's SSDI records originally listed his date of death as December 13th, why older brother Ryan seems to have mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth, why FEMA and DHS funneled millions of dollars into the Newtown area months before the shooting, and why nobody has held the media responsible in spite of the web of lies which constituted "journalism" in the days following the incident-- an incident which millions of skeptics around the world continue to believe was a "false flag" event staged in part, or as a whole, by the government.

According to the Associated Press, the reasoning behind the decision to demolish the Lanza home is the laughably generic sentiment skeptics have come to expect, with residents stating that the house is "a constant reminder of the evil that resided there." One neighbor, Dave Ackart, stated "Not only is the property a constant reminder of the evil that resided there — those of us who walk, run, drive, ride or otherwise must pass it multiple times a day, are having a hard time moving on."

Sorry, Dave, but us skeptics are having a hard time moving on as well, since it seems that just about every story that has come out of Newtown since 2012 contains enough conspiracy talk fodder to set off the bullshit detectors of every single Sandy Hook "Truther" from Alaska to Zimbabwe. You could even say that it appears as if every decision made by Newtown officials is a blatant, ham-fisted attempt to systematically destroy any possible shred of evidence that might exonerate Adam Lanza, or cast doubt on the official narrative of what took place. Take the demotion of the elementary school, for instance, in which demolition workers were forced to sign draconian confidentiality agreements prohibiting them from talking about what they may have seen on school grounds. Likewise, everything inside the Lanza home, including rugs and lighting fixtures, have been removed and incinerated by authorities.

Of course, Newtown has every right to do whatever it likes to the Lanza home. The point is, however, that this decision will continue to stoke the fires of conspiracy, rather than to answer any of the questions which have been long ignored by the mainstream media. To prove this point, allow us to provide you with a list of the following landmarks that continue to stand today, in spite of being "a constant reminder of the evil that resided there". And, just like the Lanza home, these landmarks continue to haunt those "who walk, run, drive, ride or pass by them".


1. Dachau Concentration Camp



On March 22, 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler had been appointed Reich Chancellor, a concentration camp for political prisoners was built near the Upper Bavarian village of Dachau. In its twelve years of operation, over 200,000 were imprisoned there. Of these, 41,500 were murdered- most after being brutally and inhumanly tortured.

Yet, even though the butchery at Dachau was 1,596 times more terrible than Sandy Hook, Dachau is still standing. The Memorial Site on the grounds of the former concentration camp was established in 1965, by request of the surviving prisoners.


2. The Andrea Yates House




In 2001, Texas mother Andrea Yates drowned all five of her children in the bathtub of her Houston home at 942 Beachcomber Lane. Like Lanza, Yates was said to have grappled with mental illness. Unlike the Lanza home, however, local officials weren't hellbent on razing the property. Just three years after the heinous murders, the home was sold to Peter Muller for $87,000.

One thing the Yates and Lanza homes have in common is that they both attract their fair share of morbid curiosity seekers. Said Muller, who doesn't much mind the gawking tourists, "I don’t really care about [the home’s] history . . . It doesn’t really bother me.” (If only the whiny, overly-sensitive, self-entitled and easily-offended Newtown residents could be so chill).


3. Kamp Amersfoort




Amersfoort, a Nazi concentration camp located in the Netherlands, housed over 35,000 prisoners between 1941 and 1945, where beatings, rape, and sleep deprivation were the preferred tactics of the Nazis. But that was a walk in a park compared to the diphtheria, dysentery and tubercolosis which pervaded the camp and infected most of its inhabitants. Conditions at Kamp Amersfoort were so bad that Elie Cohen, a former prisoner, once said that "transfer from Amersfoort to Westerbork [another Nazi camp] was like going from hell to heaven." According to locals, screams from the death camp could be heard from miles away. Records do not provide an accurate number of those killed at Amersfoort, but it is easily in the hundreds.

While much of the camp was destroyed by Canadian forces, one of the original watchtowers still stands as a constant reminder of the violence which took place there. The ruins of other buildings, including the mortuary, can still be seen today.


4. Lizzie Borden House



After one of the most famous dual murders of all time took place there in 1892, the residents of Fall River, Massachusetts didn't clamor to have the Lizzie Borden house torn down. Instead, they turned it into a quaint New England bed and breakfast.


5. Vallisca Axe Murder House



On June 13, 1912, J.B. Moore and his family, consisting of two adults and six children, were murdered in their beds while they slept. All were butchered with an axe, making this home in Iowa one of the most gruesome murder scenes still standing in America. To this day, the murders remain unsolved. The Vallisca Axe Murder House is not only still standing, but is open to visitors year round.



Our nation, and every other nation on earth, is home to hundreds, if not thousands, of still-standing homes, mansions, businesses, schools, labor camps, and other landmarks which have been visited by evil. What makes the Lanza home on Yogananda Street so unique? Surely, Jews who drive past Auschwitz (still standing) must feel uncomfortable when they see the place where more than a million of their race were tortured and killed. Neighbors still live across the street from homes where innocent victims were hacked to pieces with axes and hatchets. People still live in homes where other innocent children were drowned by maniacal mothers. Why are these places permitted to stand, while the Lanza home is condemned for the wrecking ball?

There can be only two possible answers. Either folks in Newtown are the most sensitive, PTSD-prone  pantywaists in the universe, or Newtown officials fear that somewhere in the cracks and recesses of the Lanza home may rest the last shred of physical evidence which they have not yet destroyed.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saint Brendan's Isle: Finally found after 1500 years!

JOTB Exclusive: Google Earth Clearly Shows Mysterious Phantom Island of Legend


Delisle's 1707 map showing Africa and Saint Brendan's Isle



Named after the famed 6th century Irish monastic saint and explorer, Saint Brendan's Isle has been "missing" since 512 A.D. However, Journal of the Bizarre believes that the phantom island has finally been found, thanks to Google Earth satellite images which clearly show a submerged landform located west of the Canary Islands that matches the legendary island's depiction on a map from the early 18th century.

This island is named after Saint Brendan the Navigator (484-577 A.D.) who claimed to have landed on it in, along with 14 monks, in 512. The party reportedly remained on the island for two weeks, unable to be rescued because of a thick mist which obscured the isle. According to an ancient monk named Barino, Saint Brendan's Isle was a heavily-forested, mountainous mass of land inhabited by exotic birds and beautiful flowers.

By the 13th century, however, most scholars doubted the existence of this mysterious island paradise. In Planiferio de Ebstorf (1234), Spanish historian Marcos Martinez referred to the place as "the lost island discovered by St. Brendan but nobody has found it since".

Interest in St. Brendan's island paradise began to grow again during the 1400s, when the King of Portugal was informed that a sailor had seen the lost island of "San Borondon", but couldn't land because of poor weather conditions. The king sent out an expedition, but it never returned. As late as the late 18th century, numerous other expeditions went out in search of Saint Brendan's Island, but none were successful.

Yet many explorers firmly believed in the existence of Saint Brendan's Isle, or San Borondon. Christopher Columbus believed in its existence, as did Portuguese prince Infante Dom Henrique de Avis (better known as Henry the Navigator). It was Henry who organized the ill-fated expedition to the island in the 1400s.



In 1707, French cartographer Guillaume Delisle published a map of Africa which shows the location of Saint Brendan's Isle, situated in the North Atlantic west of the Canary Islands and south of the Azores. Remarkably, a submerged land mass matching the island's shape and location can be seen on Google Earth, at the coordinates of 29.928676, -28.465576.

Although this particular landform, officially known as the Great Meteor Seamount, has been widely studied for years by scientists studying seismology and geology, no one has ever made the connection to Saint Brendan's Isle. This submerged land mass was first discovered between 1925 and 1927 by the German research vessel Meteor. At 4530 meters, this seamount would be the world's 345th highest mountain if it were on land (surpassing the Matterhorn, Mount Whitney, and Mount Ranier).

Satellite image showing submerged island west of the Canary Islands


Judging by the satellite images, the submerged island is part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which, although located underwater, is the world's largest mountain range. As you can see by the Google Earth pictures, Saint Brendan's Island, at one time, may have been the southernmost tip of a much larger "lost continent". Perhaps Atlantis?

Side by side comparison of island from 1707 map (L) and 2012 Google Earth image (R)


So what happened to the island to cause it to "disappear"?

Since the 1950s, it has been a well-established fact that the central valley of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (not far from Saint Brendan's Isle) is a hotbed of seismic activity and the epicenter of countless earthquakes. In fact, the Canary Islands themselves are a chain of volcanic mountain peaks rising up from the floor of the North Atlantic. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Due to plate tectonics, the average spreading rate for the ridge is about 2.5 cm per year. During periods of intense seismic activity, it is possible that the spreading rate could have increased dramatically. Since the early explorers had no knowledge of continental drift, it's quite possible that by the time of the 15th century expeditions, the island wasn't located where it was "supposed" to have been located, as nearly 1000 years had passed since Saint Brendan and his monks landed on it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Google is Pissing Us Off



We pride ourselves on keeping this blog updated, and since our inception we have devoted countless hours writing and researching, in order to bring you the Internet's most unique content.

However, due to technical issues beyond our control, we haven't been able to publish a new post for the past week. As this is a blog hosted by Blogger, the technical issues lie with Google. For some reason, the photo uploader function has not been working properly, formatting has been screwy, and it is beyond frustrating to spend several hours polishing a piece of fresh, new content, only to experience an error message every time we attempt to publish.

As all of you bloggers know, Google's ham-fisted fuckery in recent years has turned blogging from an enjoyable and somewhat lucrative pastime to an exercise in futility. Thanks to Google's constant barrage of Panda and Penguin updates, allegedly designed to weed out "low-quality" content, these changes to search result ranking algorithms have caused many blogs- including Journal of the Bizarre- to plummet in ranking, thus meaning a marked decrease in traffic and ad revenue.

This, of course, leaves us scratching our heads, as 100% of the content we publish on this blog is unique, exclusive, and original. You will not find it anywhere else online. We never try to sell you anything, and you will not be inundated with pop-up ads for penis enhancement pills when you visit our blog.

Sure, we have a couple of ads strewn about, but these are ads that are served by Google, and we're lucky if we get 0.000001 cents per click. In other words, we're not blogging in the hopes of someday being able to buy a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce with our pissant Adsense earnings. We blog because we love sharing stories and information. Yet, thanks to the aforementioned bullshit, blogging on Google's Blogger platform has become about as enjoyable as giving Betty White a sponge bath.

For instance, not too long ago, we had a top 100,000 Global Alexa ranking, and now we're somewhere around 13 million. We've seen traffic go from tens of thousands per day, to a few thousand per month. We could understand this penalization if we were ripping off content from other sites or putting out a useless product. But, as all of you faithful readers know, this is not the case. If anything, we have grown tired of seeing our own content plagiarized and posted on other websites (sites which, for some unknown reason, always appear higher in the Google rankings than our own). Since starting this blog, we have filed no fewer than 11 different DMCA takedown notices for copyright violations, under the erroneous belief that Google would realize that we were the originators of said content. Google claims to be against duplicate content and low-quality content, yet it seems like the only ones who are still making money blogging are the copycats we serve with DMCA takedown notices. Funny how that works.

As for the future of Journal of the Bizarre, we will continue to update this blog as often as we can, but we are actively looking at other blogging platforms.

We are also open to the possibility of partnering with other like-minded individuals. So, if guys like Loren Coleman, Nick Redfern, Whitley Strieber, Lon Strickler, Sean Forker, Stan Gordon, Chip Coffey, Jim Harold, Sarah Troop, Martin J. Clemens, Leslie Gunter, Alex Jones, or Jay Ailwass are out there reading this and want to team up and create a kickass twelve-headed hydra of bizarre, Fortean, unexplained, paranormal madness and/or conspiratorial crackpottery, give us a ring (not literally, of course, since we all know Big Brother is tapping our phone lines).


Yours truly,


Marlin Bressi
Editor and Co-Founder
Journal of the Bizarre
zendog64@yahoo.com



Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Incest Capital of the World?

If you resemble any of these people, you probably live in Kentucky.


At the far eastern edge of Kentucky, nestled in Appalachia, resides Letcher County. In spite of its isolation and poverty (approximately 30% of the county's population lives below the poverty line), Letcher County has managed to grow at an impressive rate, from a population of just 9,172 in 1900 to a present-day population of nearly 25,000. However, even if Letcher County tripled or quadrupled its present population, there's still a pretty good chance that virtually all of the county's inhabitants would be related to each other-- thanks to one particularly fertile family whose astounding rate of reproduction can put even the friskiest rabbit to shame.

Around the year 1900, Letcher County was the home of a man by the name of Jason L. Webb, who made national headlines for having the one of the largest families in the world. According to newspaper reports of the era, Jason had 19 children, 175 grandchildren, and 100 great-grandchildren. Perhaps even more impressive was his brother, Miles Webb, who had more than 400 direct descendants, of which 255 were grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Other siblings were equally as fond of "doing the horizontal polka" as Jason and Miles. Their brother Enoch had ten children, another brother named Wiley had seven, and sister Sallie had five. Another sister, Mary, only had two children. Apparently she was the prudish one of the family.

 

At any rate, the Webb's proclivity for procreation was single-handedly responsible for Letcher County's population growth spurt in the early 20th century; between 1890 and 1900, the county experienced an impressive 32.5% increase in population, with 9,172 people calling Letcher County home. However, by this time, the Webb clan alone numbered around 12,000. In other words, virtually 100% of the county had a Webb somewhere in the family tree.

Of course, not every descendant of Jason, Miles and Enoch remained in Letcher County. Many Webbs can still be found in neighboring Harlan, Perry, and Pike Counties. But because of the fact that most of Letcher County's railroads and highways weren't built until the 1920s and 30s, the vast majority of Webbs remained close to home. As a result, it's safe to assume that rural Letcher County in Kentucky is the unofficial inbreeding and incest capital of America, if not the entire world.

To put it in perspective, the Webb surname is proportionally more popular in Kentucky than in just about any other state. Findagrave.com lists graves for 4,030 Webbs in the state of Kentucky. Kentucky has a total population of 4,413,457 (26th in rank). By comparison, Colorado, which has a population of 5,355,866 (22nd in rank) only has 608 Webbs buried there, according to Findagrave.com. Only 434 Webbs are buried in Minnesota, which has an even larger total population with 5,457,173. Jason and Miles Webb, the two most notorious procreators of the clan, are buried in the tiny village of Mayking in Letcher County, where they rest in the same cemetery along with 132 other Webbs.

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