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weblog archives
eXTReMe Tracker
Friday, October 29, 2004
A post all about Spring Heel Jack, the mysterious 'terror' who was the subject of a mass panic in 1830s England. Jack was variously rumoured to be an alien, a pervert who had devised a hidden jumping apparatus and even the devil himself. Interestingly, the eye-witness accounts were all very clear that 'Jack' was wearing some kind of costume, 'a large helmet and a sort of tight-fitting costume that felt like oilskin.' His stomping ground was South London (although the only reference to a former Cut Throat Lane in London puts it in Notting Hill, not Lavender Hill).

From around about the same time comes the tale of the Devil's hoofprints (scroll down), a set of apparently cloven hoofprints that appeared across Devon one snowy February day in 1855 (and which were written about by Charles Fort himself). Devils naturally brings us to the enduring stories of the Jersey Devil and the Chupacabra. These legends have survived intact into the present day, enhanced by reports in mass media and dramatisations (all of the above remind me of the character of Tash in C.S.Lewis's allegorical The Chronicles of Narnia, although the religious implications of the books were lost on me as a child. Wikipedia's mention that Tash's followers were, by implication, Muslims to Aslan's Christians, is also a new one).

Other flaps pre-date Jack, including the The London Monster of the late eighteenth century. The Monster was certainly no figment of the popular imagination - he would stab and slash at women, seriously injuring them - but the panic created was so great that ladies took to wearing copper petticoats to safeguard themselves. In more recent times there has been the strange flying Mothman, who hasn't created panic so much as spawned an entire industry.

Such legends can never now be undone; however much empirical evidence is presented to explain away what were once considered anomalies, there will also be those who dispute that evidence, adding fresh layers of theory and speculation (a bit like Patricia Cornwell's obsession with Jack the Ripper). Old myths are clung to and enhanced. Yesterday's post about Denver Airport's alleged underground city doesn't really help matters - it just adds more static. Bunkers are very real and very interesting (see Iron Mountain, in Pennsylvania, home of the Corbis photo archive, or the extensive archives of Subterranea Britannica), but the idea of still secret bunkers is more fascinating still.

Other things. World changing, a weblog / that's how it happened provides a handy guide to Amazon's Associates system / bootlegging / modding. Why is it that when designers and product designers do this to computers and other tech equipment it retains an element of cool, whereas when kids 'mod' their cars it's a little bit naff (Max Power might have a lot to do with it).

Avni Patel, contributor to things 17-18 / Rithmomachia: photos / mendelicious mendelusions, the weblog of Rich Lafferty / 16th and mission, a flash overview of the city, created by Stamen / Ivar Hagendoorn's website features excellent architecture and cityscape photo galleries.

Some publications. Esopus, a biannual arts magazine / the Contemporary Music Network / a10 is a new European architecture magazine, launching on 10 November. 032c is on its 8th issue and will appear at the end of next month. The index is full of classic subjects for an art and photography-biased publication, e.g. Lewis Baltz / 34 magazine is a snappy lifestyle magazine, based in Istanbul.

Theme park brochures (via i like, which is alive with great links at the moment) / Protect and Survive, 'an archive of UK civil defence material' / Design in Site, all about things and what they're made of / it's time to re-visit the vast George Eastman Archive, for historic photographic equipment, magic lanterns, vintage auto racing and more.

Photographs by Lars Tunbjork: 'Oman' and 'Offices' (part of a trilogy with 'Home' and 'Country') / Scientific Identity, 'Portrait Prints of Men and Women of Science and Technology in the Dibner Library', reminiscent of Gerhard Richter's 'For 48 Portraits' (1971) / Cioran63, an excellent art weblog / like you, a guide to contemporary art culture.