St. Nick of Time

Half-Patron, Half-Sales Pawn:
The Split Origin of Santa Claus

Just about this time of the year, stories about Santa Claus begin to peter out. It’s the culmination of yet another December ritual, along with the fight to control the holidays by Christians, atheists, Jews and everybody else: the retelling of Bishop Nicholas of Myra’s origins in the 4th century C.E., and how he became a patron saint for Russia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Norway and Greece.
It was when his legend was brought over to New York in the 17th century, though, on board of Dutch settler ships, that the image of a kind old man who’d grant gifts to children became forever linked to his name. What’s ironic is that it’s exactly such material connection to the so-called Christmas spirit what’s been deplored ever since the New World Puritans time.
Elements of this gift-giving attributes were already part, with variations, Continue reading

Police Blotter

Trafficking Tides, 18 Human
Heads & the Criminal Lennons

It’s Thursday, so this must be file-clearance day. And we get a big kick out of it. There’s always a taste of the unexpected, the gory, and the slightly jocose in those files, and we’re glad to share them with you. As for whatever happened to our sense of decorum, the hell with it.
Who knew, for instance, that there’s a black market for Tide, the laundry detergent? Or that heads are routinely shipped around the country, heaven forbid if they’d lack proper documentation. Plus: guess how many John Lennons have been busted by the Brazilian police?
There’s a reason why we insist in collecting and highlighting these news of the weird, these reports from the bowels of weary precincts, these tales of fellow comrades, caught red-handed doing what any of us could, or have in the past, or, brace yourself, may still have in store ahead of us.
Our method for this madness is simple: whenever the world threatens to drown us all yet again in heartbreak and grief, look desperately for a Continue reading

Sinking In

Something Else the Titanic Took
Down That We’re Still to Recover

When the world closed in on over 1,500 souls, at 2:20 a.m. a hundred years ago, and the R.M.S. Titanic started its final trek towards its watery grave, those who survived were left to face a brand new century, one where the deafening silent that reigned over that darkest of the hours would hardly have any chance to ring again in their ears.
They were about to board a world getting increasingly busy and much noisier, full of rambling planes and automobiles, of burning light bulbs and ringing telephones. Of talking movies and blabbering tabloids. Of a soaring Caruso singing through the airwaves, and the sound of massive crowds celebrating their sports teams.
A world where people would start taking elevators to go to work in big, tall buildings. A time where some would have everything but time, and most would dream about selling their own in exchange for money and power. An era when the stock market would hold more weight than the labor and sweat of millions, and only when it crashed would restore a temporary balance of fortunes.
The 705 people picked up by the Carpathia from the Atlantic’s frigid waters, would carry within them that ominous silence to their very last breath. A silence made even more taxing and disturbing because it Continue reading

Wrong Donkey

The Sun, Manya
& Brigitte Bardot

This story starts as a tragedy. Its second act is now a farce. And before anyone knows whether there’ll even be a third part, the British tabloids are already treating it as a comedy. All but one, that is.
Last month, a picture of a donkey, harnessed by a colorful parachute 50 meters above a Russian beach, caused outrage around the world. The stone-hearted owner of a small parasailing business who came up with the cruel stunt attracted almost universal scorn and, one hopes, must’ve lost a few customers too.
The curtain call for the second act of this unoriginal tale finds British tabloid The Sun allegedly buying the donkey for 70,000 Continue reading