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In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . ..Number 9. . .September 11


Emotional Chaos
Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

September 14, 2006


While the desire to communicate with the dead has been around since ancient times (the Greek scholar Eucalyptus frequently had conversations with his long dead brother. His brother was still in the room at the time and not getting any fresher, so the authorities finally had to step in), most scholars believe that the modern Spiritualism Movement began with the Fox sisters of Hydesville, New York. In 1848 the girls claimed to hear "strange, rapping sounds" in the night. Since rap music wouldn't be invented for many decades, they soon attracted a wide following. The clairvoyant Andrew Jackson Davis took it a step further. While in a trance he foresaw the coming of the spiritualist movement, which is rather like your contractor foreseeing that you're going to be paying for his new boat. Even the citizens of Hydesville wouldn't fall for that one. Although the Fox sisters later confessed to fraud, the Spiritualism Movement swept the nation. There were so many psychics, mediums and clairvoyants around that in order to get noticed, you needed a really good hook.

The era saw the appearance of such personalities as The Flamenco Dancing Prophet, The Spoon Playing Seer, The All-Seeing Albino, Tourette's Syndrome Tommy, Count "Count the Spoons" Orlov, Hornblowing Horatio, The Finder of Lost Luggage, The Cat Slammer and Hersey Waddell, known as "The Nostradamus of the Tri-Cities Area". In 1929 he made the shocking prediction that "A major Wall Street figure will get a splinter, and it will become infected". Many later felt that this foretold devastating Wall Street Crash, but it was discovered that he meant it literally. In October of that year J. Waldo Bismark, head of the prestigious brokerage house of Bismark, Waldorf, Ringworm and Sheepshank, did indeed get a splinter, and a painful one at that.

Some of the most famous psychics of the time included:

Hercules Biggerstaff, the world's strongest tarot card reader. Biggerstaff was able to bench press any client while reading their fate in the cards. Often he would bend iron bars to impress clients who were unhappy with their fortunes or just reluctant to pay.

Madam Domino, who promised to read your future in thirty minutes or less, or your reading was free. Often, to build suspense, she would wait twenty eight or twenty nine minutes and then blurt out the client's fortune. Most customers soon realized that it was a gimmick, but they got free breadsticks, so few complained.

Maurice La Merde, the Penalty Box Prophet, took advantage of the superstition of hockey players in the early days of the NHL. La Merde would walk through the locker room and "read the aura" of the players, predicting who would get penalties and who wouldn't. He gained fame in 1933 with his uncannily accurate prediction that Montreal Canadiens star Aurel Joliat would get "two minutes for tripping" in the second period of a bout between the Canadiens and the arch-rival Maple Leafs. His reputation suffered somewhat when he failed to predict the rash of penalties that led to a 10-0 drubbing by the Boston Bruins, but came back when he predicted the famous penalty shot by Teeder Kennedy on Bill Durnan (the actual prediction was "a man in blue shall be wronged, and wreak his vengeance on a man in red", which, since it was a Toronto-Montreal game seemed like a pretty safe bet, but it was a simpler time and people were more trusting). His downfall came abruptly in 1943 when he was caught "reading the aura" of the stickboy in men's room. Plus, he confessed that he was making predictions for the sole reason of "seeing games for free".

The Fortune Cookie Reader would go with his clients to Chinese restaurants and read their fortune cookies for them. Why anyone would pay for that is still a mystery.

The Wildly Inaccurate Millicent who prided herself that her predictions were never right. Being the jazz age, when pleasure reigned and the public craved the novel and the absurd, people flocked to her door to hear such predictions as "You will soon be elected President of Luxembourg", (even though every schoolboy knew that Luxembourg was a constitutional monarchy), or "I see eating seven hams in your future", even though the the client, Rabbi Chaim Braunstein, was well known to keep kosher. When the stock market crashed people no longer had time for such frivolity and Millicent faded from the scene. Her fifteen minutes of fame had expired, but ironically, her last public prediction that "Someday a man named Andy Warhol will coin the phrase 'in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes'" turned out to be uncannily accurate.

The Screaming Prophet of Doom, who was not just inaccurate, but really annoying



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Surf Our Site

Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
. .
Ginger & Shadow. ..Writer's Block.. ..Cool Links . ..More Cool Links .
Oddities ..Link To Us... Guest Comics . Online Store..
In The Zone. ..Number 9. . .September 11