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"The past is a foreign country; shit is fucked up there."
So (approximately) wrote the English novelist L.P. Hartley in some book that nobody reads anymore yet still gets quoted to death by hack book reviewers, essayists, and historians. Hartley knew what he was talking about, which is only to be expected since, unlike us, he lived in the past. Yet the deep-dish profundity of this moth-eaten cliche can only be fully appreciated by those who, like me, waste a lot of time perusing ancient newspapers published long before the advent of our spotless glass-domed cities, fusion-powered monorails, perfected health-care system, and convenient boil-in-bag foods.
But I'm more than willing to spread the joy around. For the past year, I've been posting the fruits of my haphazard research at my The Hope Chest: Bad News From the Past. Now I'll be taking my obsessions public by posting my Chicago-themed discoveries to the Reader's Web site. The purpose of this exercise, to the extent that it is purpose-driven, is to relativize the miseries of the present by reveling in the horrors of past eras often misremembered as kinder and gentler than our own. Your questions, comments, compliments, and complaints are always welcome.
So let's get this funeral started:
For old-timey relief from the vapid, present-day definition of "vampire" as "dreamy teenage male with great hair and no libido," check out my vampirism thread at The Hope Chest.