Well, no wonder I have no comments yet today. Another glitch in the WP interface, I think. And I think I’m the glitch. Sorry.
I’m still catching up on this and that from my time away, and one has been the resurfacing of Edward Bodkin, aka the Mad Castrator of Huntington, Ind. His arrest 12 years ago in Dan Quayle’s hometown was said to have monkeywrenched a campaign event for Quayle himself, who was launching his own (very) short-lived presidential campaign around the same time and had to reschedule. It almost certainly would have been a distraction, to have an insane man-gelder competing for the limelight in Family Values City. The contrast would be too irresistible for the New York Times not to point out. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
You Fort Wayners remember Bodkin, and the 1999 case that hit the city like…well, like an extremely weird story, that’s what. Bodkin was arrested for castrating men. So he assaulted them? No, they underwent the procedure — on a kitchen table in Bodkin’s apartment, which appeared to be in a scuzzy roadside motel — willingly. While he videotaped the procedures, which he sold online. Oh, and he kept the testicles. In jars.
No wonder cops drink.
Anyway, this arrest drew the expected reaction — the morning-radio morons had fun with it, while the rest of us stood around and went wow and weird and whoa. It was left to my colleague Bob Caylor, who somehow hunted down a fetishist in Indianapolis who had the best set of guesses: Some of the “clients” may be transgender, but unable to afford the surgery, so they turn to a guy like Bodkin to either a) do whatever he can do; or better, b) leave them with a mess down there, which they can use to plead for Medicaid to finish it off and tidy things up. Or, the guy said, it’s possible they’re simply very strange body-modification types who have decided that in their true, real lives they are eunuchs, like the people who claim to be amputees, even though they have all their limbs and extremities, and set out to make it so.
I think he directed Bob toward a magazine for enthusiasts. Ball Club, maybe? Bob found some excerpts online that left him a little pale and shaky.
Long story short: Life makes for a very crazy salad of humanity, and Bodkin was one strange crouton.
Because the cops couldn’t get any victims to cooperate with a more traditional charge, prosecutors went for practicing medicine without a license, maxed him out at four years, went home and took a long, hot shower. Bodkin never responded to any pleas from journalists to discuss his fascinating hobby, and he more or less slipped beneath the waves of time.
Until he surfaced, in the comically named Wetumpka, Ala., charged with the very unfunny offense of possession of child pornography:
Sheriff’s officials said they confiscated pornographic materials from Bodkin’s Alabama home, along with devices used to perform castrations and photographs depicting human castration.
There was no immediate evidence he was up to his old tricks, but it suggests that, like your first love, you never really forget it.
Bodkin grew up on a farm, as I recall. After reading, years ago, Dian Hanson’s very cogent thoughts about how fetishes form, I imagine there’s a story there, but I doubt Bodkin will ever tell it.
Best he’s off the street more or less for good now. He’s 68, and the next prison he enters will likely kill him, one way or another.
So. How was your weekend? Ours was lazy enough, probably the last big one of the summer, as fall term at Wayne begins Wednesday and I have a day of orientation between now and then, and of course, Kate starts school the day after Labor Day. Before it slips away, however, I have to ask: Anyone been to a national park this year?
I ask because our original plan for summer vacation was a drive out to Yellowstone. Alan started looking in April for lodging availability in August. I expected it to be tight, but I didn’t expect to hear that every room, in every venue throughout the park, was booked for every night of the summer season. Every single one. I know Yellowstone is popular, but 100 percent? And then I read this, about scalpers dealing in Yosemite campsites, and wondered if there’s something else going on.
If you go to the No. 1 Google site for Yellowstone lodging reservations, you find this disclaimer:
US Park Lodging provides lodging and activity reservations both inside as well as in the gateway communities of the United States National Parks. US Park Lodging is not an authorized concessionaire of any National Park nor are we in any way affiliated with the National Park Service of the Federal Government.
The park’s own affiliate is something else entirely. The last time I visited Yellowstone was before the Bush administration, so who knows? Maybe this is yet another improvement by the Invisible Hand. Is something fishy going on?
Via Eric Zorn, a recent photo of Steve Jobs that suggests
the end is drawing near some people — probably Windows users — are happy to have grim fun at others’ expense. Let’s hope he can live the rest of his life without reading Mitch Albom’s extra-stupid column about him.
And with that, Monday awaits. Enjoy it.