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21 March 2013

Edgar Allan Poe: an inspired gift

Oh today I'm so happy I could die! :)
I've just received this Edgar Allan Poe inspired journal which I had ordered from Amazon.com and it's just wonderful!! Even more beautiful then I expected.

As you can see from the pictures (sorry for the bad quality) it's all purple and has Poe's signature and part of his "Tamerlane" poem in handwritten in gold on the cover.

Also inside there's a very nice description of Poe:

"Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) is widely considered the darkest and most gothic of American writers, a pioneer who explored and settled entirely new literary landscapes including the short story and science fiction, as well as detective story. His personal life was characterised by tumult and passion.
He was orphaned at young age and his fortune plunged and soared over the course of his career. The cause of his death remains a mystery but his reputation continues to grow. His dark romanticism and fascination with the themes of violence and death and the macabre have combined with his fearless innovation as a writer and critic to make him one of the most revered prose and poetry writers in the world

The cover of the journal portrays a fragment from the manuscript of his first book "Tamerlane and other poems"

Now I should buy a proper pen to write in it! A fountain pen with a black feather could fit. Don't you think?

20 March 2013

The Black Dahlia Murder: beyond macabre.

The case remains one of Hollywood's long-running mysteries and one of the most gruesome of the 1940s. A pretty young woman was found cut in half and posed in a sexually explicit pose in a vacant lot in would be sensationalized in the media as the "Black Dahlia" murder.
In the media frenzy that followed, rumors and speculation were published as fact and inaccuracies and exaggerations continue to plague accounts of the crime until this day. Here are the few real facts that are known about the life and death of Elizabeth Short.

Who was Elisabeth?

Elizabeth Short was born on July 29, 1924 in Hyde Park, Massachusetts to parents Cleo and Phoebe Short. Cleo made a good living building miniature golf courses until the Depression took its toll on the business. In 1930, with his business suffering, Cleo decided to fake his suicide and abandoned Phoebe and their five daughters. He parked his car by a bridge and took off to California. Authorities and Phoebe believed Cleo committed suicide.
Later, Cleo decided he made a mistake, contacted Phoebe and apologized for what he had done. He asked to come home. Phoebe, who had faced bankruptcy, worked part-time jobs, stood in lines to get public assistance and raised the five children alone, wanted no part of Cleo and refused to reconcile.

Despite her parents' difficulties, Elizabeth continued to correspond with her father. She was growing up to be an attractive young girl and like many teenagers, enjoyed going to the movies.

Elizabeth was not academically inclined earning average grades in high school. She left high school in her freshman year because of asthma which she suffered with since childhood. It was decided that it would be best for her health if she left New England during the winter months. Arrangements were made for her to go to Florida and stay with family friends, returning to Medford during the spring and summer.
Despite her parents' difficulties, Elizabeth continued to correspond with her father. She was growing up to be an attractive young girl and like many teenagers, enjoyed going to the movies. Like many young pretty girls, Elizabeth developed an interest in modeling and the movie industry and set her goals to someday work in Hollywood.

At the age of 19, Elizabeth's father sent her money to join him in Vallejo, California. The reunion was short lived and Cleo soon grew tired of Elizabeth's lifestyle of sleeping during the day and going out on dates until late at night. Cleo told Elizabeth to leave and she moved out on her own to Santa Barbara.

There is much debate about where Elizabeth spent her remaining years. It is known that in Santa Barbara she was arrested for underage drinking and was packed up and returned to Medford. According to reports up until 1946, she spent time in Boston and Miami. In 1944, she fell in love with Major Matt Gordon, a Flying Tiger, and the two discussed marriage, but he was killed on his way home from the war.

In July 1946, she moved to Long Beach, California to be with an old boyfriend, Gordon Fickling, who she dated in Florida before her relationship with Matt Gordon. The relationship ended shortly after her arrival and Elizabeth floundered around for the next few months.

Friends described Elizabeth as being soft spoken, courteous, a non-drinker, or smoker, but somewhat of a loafer. Her habit of sleeping late in the day and staying out at night continued to be her lifestyle. She was pretty, enjoyed dressing stylishly and turned heads because of her pale skin contrasting against her dark hair and her translucent blue-green eyes. She wrote to her mother weekly, insuring her that her life was going well. Some speculate that the letters were Elizabeth's attempt to keep her mother from worrying.

Those around her know it that over the next few months she moved often. Elizabeth's last known address in Hollywood.

In December, Elizabeth boarded a bus and left Hollywood for San Diego. She met Dorothy French, who felt sorry for her and offered her a place to stay. She stayed with the French family until January when she was finally asked to leave.

Robert Manley was 25 years old and married, working as a salesman. According to reports, Manley first met Elizabeth in San Diego and offered her a ride to the French house where she was staying. When she was asked to leave, it was Manley who came and drove her back to the Biltmore hotel in downtown Los Angeles where she was supposed to be meeting her sister. According to Manley, she was planning to go live with her sister Berkeley.
Manley walked Elizabeth to the hotel lobby where he left her at around 6:30 p.m. and drove back to his home San Diego. Where Elizabeth Short went after saying goodbye to Manley is unknown.

This is only part of the brutality that was done to her. I decided not to post the picture of the full body in respect to this poor woman. If you want to see the rest, Google it.

The Murder Scene

On January 15, 1947 Elizabeth Short was found murdered, her body left in a vacant lot on South Norton Avenue between 39th Street and Coliseum. Homemaker Betty Bersinger was running an errand with her three-year-old daughter when she realized that what she was looking at was not a mannequin but an actual body in the lot along the street where she was walking. She went to a nearby house, made an anonymous call to police, and reported the body.
When police arrived on the scene, they found the body of a young woman who had been bisected, displayed face-up on the ground with her arms over her head and her lower half placed a foot away from her torso. Her legs were wide open in a vulgar position and her mouth had three-inch slashes on each side. Rope burns were found on her wrists and ankles. Her head face and body was bruised and cut. There was little blood at the scene, indicating whoever left her, washed the body before bringing it in the lot.

The crime scene quickly filled with police, bystanders and reporters. It was later described as being out of control, with people trampling on any evidence investigators hoped to find.

Through fingerprints, the body was soon identified as 22-year-old Elizabeth Short or as the press called her, "The Black Dahlia." A massive investigation into finding her murderer was launched. Because of the brutality of the murder and Elizabeth's sometimes sketchy lifestyle, rumors and speculation was rampant, often being incorrectly reported as fact in newspapers.

Close to 200 suspects were interviewed, sometimes polygraphed, but all eventually released. Exhausted efforts were made to run down any leads or any of the several false confessions to the killing of Elizabeth by both men and women.
Despite efforts made by investigators, the case has remained one of the most famous unsolved cases in California's history.

Source: crime.about.com

19 March 2013

Haunted paintings: "the Crying Boy" and "the Hands Resist him"

Another creepy story for our "mystery section".

In the last years in England, there have been many fires. In each scene, there was nothing left, but a painting of a crying boy.. Here's the story:

From around 1985 onwards, (meaning there are still cases like this) a series of mysterious house fires were brought to the attention of the general public, following the discovery that in each case, the buildings and all their contents were completely destroyed apart from a painting - the "Crying Boy", which remained unscathed. In the years that followed, some 40-50 cases were recorded in which a housefire had destroyed everything except for that same picture. It became known as the "Curse of the Crying Boy", and even made headline news at one point.

The Crying Boy is a mass-produced print of a painting by Spanish painter Bruno Amadio, also known as Giovanni Bragolin. It was widely distributed from the 1950s onwards. There are numerous alternate versions, all portraits of tearful young boys or girls.

The picture itself was a portrait of an orphan painted by an Italian artist called Bruno Amadio. It is said that his studio burnt to the ground, and the, supposed, boy was later killed in a car crash, in which no one claimed his body. This is why it's "supposed". Since no one claimed or identified the body, police suspected it was him. Before he died, the boy became known as Diablo, because everyone who had taken him in, found bad luck as their homes burned to the ground. The picture is one of the first to be mass produced in the UK. There are several thousand of them in circulation and the curse still appears to apply to all the copies. It is said that the curse will only effect someone if the owner of the painting becomes aware of it. Some psychics have claimed that the painting is haunted by the spirit of the boy it depicts.

By the end of November 1985 belief in the painting's curse was widespread enough that The Sun was organising mass bonfires of the paintings, sent in by readers.
To lift the curse it is said you must give the painting to another or reunite the boy and the girl and hang them together.

Steve Punt, a British writer and comedian, investigated the curse of the crying boy in a BBC production programme. The only conclusion reached by the programme, following testing at the Building Research Establishment, was the reason why the painting would never burn during the fires: apparently the prints were treated with some varnish containing fire repellent, and that the string holding the painting to the wall would be the first to perish, resulting in the painting landing face down on the floor and thus being protected.


The Hands Resist Him

Another curious painting (which in my opinion is even creepier) is The Hands Resist Him, also known as the eBay Haunted Painting, is a painting created by Oakland, California artist Bill Stoneham in 1972. It depicts a young boy and female doll standing in front of a glass paneled door against which many hands are pressed. According to the artist, the boy is based on a photograph of himself aged 5, the doorway is a representation of the dividing line between the waking world and the world of dreams and possibilities, and the doll is a guide who will escort the boy through it. The hands themselves represent alternate lives or possibilities.

It became the subject of an urban legend in February 2000, when it was posted for sale on eBay along with an elaborate backstory implying that it was haunted.

The painting was first displayed in an Los Angeles gallery during the early 1970s, at which point it was reviewed by the art critic at the Los Angeles Times. It was then purchased by actor John Marley, notable for his role as Jack Woltz in The Godfather.

At some point in time after Marley's death, the painting was said to have come into the possession of a California couple, after being found on the site of an old brewery. The painting appeared on the auction website eBay in February 2000.

According to the seller, the aforementioned couple, the painting carried some form of curse. Their eBay description claimed that the characters in the painting moved during the night, and that they would sometimes leave the painting and enter the room in which it was being displayed. Included with the listing were a series of photographs that were said to be evidence of an incident in which the female doll character threatened the male character with a gun that she was holding, causing him to attempt to leave the painting. A disclaimer was included with the listing absolving the seller from all liability if the painting was purchased.

According to the artist himself, the object presumed by the eBay sellers to be a gun is actually nothing more than a dry cell battery and a tangle of wires.

Stoneham recalls that both the owner of the gallery in which the painting was first displayed, and the art critic who reviewed it, died within one year of coming into contact with the painting.

Also, a few months ago I saw this very cool SUPERNATURAL episode called "Provenance" featuring an haunted portrait. If you like this kind of things you'll surely want to check it out. Here's the plot:

After a young couple is found brutally murdered in upstate New York within a locked house, the brothers investigate, and learn from their father's journal that similar deaths have occurred in the area over the past few decades. All of the couple's belongings were taken to an auction house, so they check to see if a spirit may have attached itself to an object. After asking Sarah, the daughter of the auction house's owner out on a date, Sam is able to get copies of the provenances of the items. Dean discovers that a painted portrait from 1910 of the Isaiah Merchant family had belonged to all of the other murder victims, and that Merchant had killed his entire family and then himself. Realizing that the painting is haunted, the brothers burn it, but it later repairs itself..

info taken from:

07 March 2013

Curtains are falling on the Toronto Goth Scene

I found this interesting article online by chance regarding the Toronto Goth Scene (see previous article about it HERE). What I can understand out of this article is that through the years the scene has faded a lot and the "mall" goths have taken over making the original goth scene die.
On 27th February, landmark Goth - altenative shop "Siren" has closed. Another victim after the other alt shops and clubs like famous "The Vampire Sex Bar", which have been replaced by "normal" shops or even by Starbucks! (see list below).

Goth scene exits Queen St. W. with shuttering of Hell’s Belles clothing boutique

Alternative fashion boutique Hell’s Belles shut its doors today, marking the grim death of an iconic storefront that helped launch Toronto’s goth scene.

Hell’s Belles owner Sarah Khokhar closed the Goth clothing boutique Queen St. West 

Article by: Alex Nino Gheciu Staff Reporter, Published on Wed Feb 27 2013 on www.thestar.com

"Finding a pair of skull-buckle boots on Queen St. W. is about to get a lot harder.
Alternative fashion boutique Hell’s Belles shut its doors today, marking the grim death of an iconic storefront that helped launch Toronto’s goth scene in the early ’90s.
These guys were at the forefront of the goth movement,” says long-time customer Bob Daoust, now in his 40s. “But do they belong here anymore? Not so much.
When it opened at 463 Queen St. W. in 1988, the store — formerly known as Siren — was the first business in Toronto to cater to people with a taste for vampire coats and The Cure. Soaring rents created an exodus of goth businesses from the area and Hell’s Belles was one of the last of its kind. Some see its closure as a nail in the coffin of alternative fashion on Queen St. W.

“There used to be rows of goth clothing stores on the street,” says Hell’s Belles owner Sarah Khokhar, 36. “Independent shops like ours are just not able to survive on Queen anymore.”
In August, 463 Queen St. W.’s long-standing landlord sold the Victorian-style structure to the One Hundred Group Corporation, which owns several buildings in the area. Khokhar was forced to abandon shop after the rent was hiked to $10,000 a month; almost triple the current rate of $3,600. Still, it appears the storefront will retain its biblical theme: local fast-food chain The Burger’s Priest is slated to move in mid-May.
“It’s gone from the goth scene to the burger scene,” says Matt Cottrell, manager of Dusk, one of the few remaining alternative clothing shops on Queen West. The hybrid boutique-tattoo parlour has faced slumping sales since opening on the increasingly-gentrified Queen West two years ago. “People are spending their money very differently. You have a major player like Hell’s Belles closing and it’s not a good sign ... I’m nervous.”
Before Khokhar took over and renamed the shop in 2005, she worked as head clerk of Siren for more than a decade. Original owners Groovella and Morpheus Blak, who were inspired by increasingly-popular goth fashion in the U.K., saw their tiny shop spawn a local subcultural movement in the early ’90s, bolstered by the mainstream success of macabre films including Bram Stokers Dracula and Interview with a Vampire.

Suddenly all the guys wanted frilly shirts and frock coats so they could look like Lestat,” says Groovella, now known as Groovinda Dasi. “Similar shops and bars like Sanctuary started opening around us. West of Spadina became hip in a creative, non-commercial way.”
Eventually, the couple divorced and left the shop in Khokhar’s hands. By that time, chain stores had already begun moving onto the street and cramping the subculture’s style. Nevertheless, Hell’s Belles kept alternative fashion alive on Queen, mixing in pin-up and rockabilly styles with traditional goth, all while carrying local designers such as FashionWhore and Stop Staring.

With the store closing, Dasi worries about the future of Toronto’s alternative fashion scene.
Without Hell’s Belles now, there’s a bit of a void in Toronto,” she says. “Where do people go now to buy the fun wig, blue lipstick and spike-heeled shoes?
Customers like Daoust have found the answer in the Internet and its infinite array of cheap alternative gear.
To be honest, why am I going to spend $300 on an outfit here when I can find it online for a tenth of the price in Japan or the States?” he asks.
Others look to mall chains such as Hot Topic and H&M, which offer “edgy” styles similar to those found in local boutiques, but for much cheaper.
These chain stores have become very quick at seeing what local creative people are doing and making it in Bangladesh for super cheap,” says Kingi Carpenter, whose alternative Queen West boutique Peach Berserk was forced to close last year. “People have grown accustomed to buying a shirt for only half the price they’ll spend on a burger.”
Despite the challenges, Khokhar hopes to open another boutique in Toronto somewhere down the line. She is keeping the facebook page Hell’s Belles Clothings open and will post any future endeavours.
Khokhar says she wants to help Hot Topic shoppers remember the point of dressing alternative: to look different.
It’s a small goth scene in Toronto,” she says. “You don’t want to go out and see someone wearing the same crazy outfit you’re wearing.”

Toronto’s once-vibrant goth spots, now gone:

The Big Bop Concert Hall, 651 Queen St. W.
Closed: 2010
Then: A big purple building that served as home base to a slew of all-ages goth, punk and metal bands
Now: CB2 furniture

Sanctuary: The Vampire Sex Bar, 732 Queen St. W.
Closed: 2000
Then: A goth nightclub that featured parties thrown by some of the city’s best goth-industrial DJ’s
Now: Starbucks

House of Ill Repute, 469 Queen St. W.
Closed: 2003
Then: A boutique carrying Victorian, Gothic and fetish fashions
Now: Golden Beads & Craft Supplier Ltd.

The Vatikan, 1032 Queen St. W.
Closed: 2006
Then: A live music venue featuring some of the city’s hottest goth, industrial and hardcore shows
Now: Wicked, the swinger’s club

Nocturnalia House of Dreams, 372A Queen St. W.
Closed: 2005
Then: A popular store that sold goth clothing and pagan items
Now: A&W burgers


Other interesting facts about the fading Toronto Goth scene can be found on this site:

Any of you readers/followers are from Canada? 
We would like to hear live opinions and point of views about Toronto goth scene! Is it really going bad as said in this article?

05 March 2013

Preservation of body after death: The girl in the glass coffin.

A few days ago I attended a funeral and as always after such an event people talk about wheter it's better to be cremated rather than simply buried into the ground after you die. All this talking reminded me about something my mother told me some time ago. Many years ago she visited the catacombs in the city of Palermo in Sicily (the famous Italian island) and she saw the mummy of this little girl called Rosalia Lombardo whose body was fully preserved and she didn't look dead but more as she was just sleeping. My mother told me it was really impressive, not something you could easily forget. As she couldn't fully recall all the historical fact and exactly who Rosalia was, I made a little research on the web and I share with you what I found about her:

 "One of the last bodies laid to rest in the Catacombs of the Capuchin monks of Palermo, Italy, was Rosalia Lombardo. Her preserved corpse is the most famous of the 8,000 bodies once found in the catacombs. Only two years old when she died on December 6, 1920, apparently of a bronchial infection, Rosalia has gained fame because of the excellent preservation of her body. She is often referred to as "The Sleeping Beauty".

Her embalmer was Professor Alfredo Salafia, an Italian chemist who discovered a way to preserve bodies using a special formula. Starting first with animals then people, Salafia perfected his process. Eventually, he embalmed his own father. 

Once word spread about his special embalming abilities, the relatives of many famous people began to contact him. 

In 1910 he tried to launch The Salafia Permanent Method Embalming Company to assist American funeral directors. To demonstrate his technique, he went to the United States and embalmed the unclaimed body of a recently deceased man at the Eclectic Medical College in New York. The man had died some ten days earlier and his body exhibited black and green areas on the face and neck. Fifteen gallons of Salafia's embalming fluid were injected  distally into the right common carotid artery without draining the blood, treating the cavities, or carrying out secondary injections. Then the body was stored without refrigeration, though the exact location is apparently not recorded. It is safe to assume, however, that it would have been kept in a cool place.

Six months later, the body was dissected. Salafia's embalming technique had done the trick: his green and black patches on the skin had pretty much disappeared. What's more, the body was well-preserved, with the skin firm, and moderately hard and dry. No odor of decomposition, or fecal odor, was present, only the chemical odor of the embalming fluid.

Rosalia's father, General Lombardo, was sorely grieved upon her death, so he approached Alfredo Salafia, the noted embalmer, to preserve her. Her body was one of the last corpses to be admitted to the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo in Sicily.

In September 1910, a second body was embalmed in Syracuse New York. The deceased, however, had suffered from arteriosclerosis and the embalmer  (Professor Achille Salomone, a nephew of Salafia) was unable to inject more than six quarts  of the fluid. Six months later, when the body was dissected, attendees concluded that Salafia's method worked wherever it was able to penetrate the tissue (which wasn't universally possible). According to embalmers, this is still the case with injected fluid. In 1911, his company began to sell the embalming liquid to American funeral parlors. 

The details of his life from this point are vague. A year later, his fluid was no longer advertised, and Dr. Salafia was back in Italy. In 1920 he embalmed the body of Rosalia. Salafia died in 1933 without releasing the secret of his embalming fluid.

Researchers figured that Salafia's formula was most likely an arsenic-based treatment, which was popular at the time that Salafia was perfecting his embalming process. According to the Handbook of Death & Dying by Clifton D. Bryant, Salafia was a student of Dr. Tranchini from Naples who was a proponent of arsenic-based embalming. Tranchini's formula used one pound of dry arsenic dissolved in wine to create a two-gallon solution. It was then injected into the femoral or carotid artery. Many believed  that Salafia's method was a variation of this formula.

In fact, arsenic was not part of the formula. Recent studies state that the ingredients were: formalin (a mix of formaldehyde and water) that was used to kill bacteria; alcohol to dry Rosalia's body; glycerin to stop the body from drying out too much; and salicylic acid to stop the growth of fungus. According to other fonts, the formula used for Rosalia contained also zync but was not more used because it caused too much rigidity.

The Capuchin Catacombs in Parlermo Sicily, beside Rosalia, host hundreds of standing mummies of priests and rich people of the time all dressed in their "sunday" clothes. Definitely one of most macabre place in the world.

Rosalia Lombardo shares her name with Saint Rosalia, the patron saint of Palermo. Saint-to-be Rosalia spent the better part of her life in a cavern, where she died in 1170. Many subsequent miracles are attributed to Rosalia, the first and most important of which occurred in July 1624 when a plague was ravaging Palermo. Her well-preserved body was discovered at that time in the cave; this discovery coincided with the end of the epidemic. Many small shrines honoring Saint Rosalia are visible throughout Palermo, but the Santuario di Santa Rosalia is the ultimate shrine. It is in the cave where her preserved body was discovered. This connection makes little Rosalia, the "Sleeping Beauty," an even more-beloved icon.

Rosalia can be seen at the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo, Italy. Her glass-covered coffin is located in a small chapel at the end of the self-guided catacomb tour. During my last visit, her face was not visible through the glass and visitors are not permitted to enter the chapel for a closer look. The glass case appears rather grimy, and it is not possible to see Rosalia's face with any clarity.

info taken from: www.mummytombs.com

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