1903 – Thomas Edison films ‘Electrocuting An Elephant’

Topsy is the only elephant in world history to have been convicted of murder and deliberately executed for it. The animal was owned by the Forepaugh Circus at Coney Island’s Luna Park, and was approximately 28 years old at the time of her death.

A notoriously foul-tempered animal who had killed three men (one of whom, admittedly, was a sadistic trainer who had fed her a lit cigarette), the decision to execute Topsy was not taken lightly, and electrocution was chosen as a more humane alternative to hanging. Thomas Edison, who first suggested the method, also filmed it, producing a short feature entitled ‘Electrocuting An Elephant’ which has been used in a number of films and music clips over the years. Even a few seconds of the film will be sufficient to convince you that humane must have meant something different in 1903.

Referenced in:
Coney Island Funeral – Piñataland

1960 – Albert Camus dies

Albert Camus was not an existentialist. He’d have been the first one to tell you that. He was mates with quite a few members of that tribe, but he never considered himself one of their number. Nevertheless, his works – especially “The Stranger”,”The Plague” and “The Myth of Sisyphus” – are often considered to parts of the existentialist canon (insofar as such a thing can be considered to exist).

Camus was only 46 when he died, in an unfortunate car accident that also claimed the life of his publisher, Michel Gallimard, who was driving the car at the time. His death was a great loss to the development of philosophy in the twentieth century.

Referenced in:
Done Too Soon — Neil Diamond

1964 – The Boston Strangler strikes for the last time

The Boston Strangler – assuming it was only one man – was a serial rapist and murderer who terrorised Boston from June 1962 and January 1964. He killed thirteen people, all of them single women (ranging in age from 19 to 85), and all but three of them he also sexually assaulted. Despite his nom du crime, not all of his victims were strangled.

Although a man named Albert De Salvo later confessed to and was convicted of the Strangler’s crimes, there remains some doubt that he was actually responsible for all of the crimes – although he knew many details police had not released to the public, there were some inconsistencies in his testimony. To date, however, no one else has been charged with any of the crimes attributed to the Boston Strangler.

Referenced in:
The Boston Strangler – Macabre
Midnight Rambler – The Rolling Stones
Dedicated to Albert De Salvo – Whitehouse
Boston Strangler (Albert DeSalvo) – Church of Misery