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.
Mindy said on August 29, 2011 at 1:23 pm
Just the thought of Mitch writing about Steve Jobs pegs my stupid meter. So I can’t read it. I’ll wait for everyone’s comments.
Bitter Scribe said on August 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm
That is all.
nancy said on August 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm
I should probably add that J.C. says there’s informed comment online that the Jobs photo is likely doctored and maybe an outright fake. It does seem out of character. So many grains of salt on that one. I’d delete it entirely, but I want Albom’s dumbassitude to stand.
Hank said on August 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm
The nuclear family drove to Crater Lake in Oregon. It is a bit remote, and we did all our planning at the last minute, so I wasn’t surprised that the lodges in the park were all booked up for our window. But I did notice that they were booked solid for all of August and September. So we stayed in Lovely Klamath Falls a bit over an hour away from the park.
Dorothy said on August 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm
Someone as prominent as Jobs would probably not release a picture like that. It just seems so far out of the realm of possibility. Still… whoever it really is, it’s a sad picture.
Brandon said on August 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm
Nancy, have you ever considered putting up a FAQ on Mitch Albom and Bob Greene, especially for the benefit of newcomers to this site?
Cliff said on August 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm
My wife and I hit a national park this summer. We spent the last week of July touring and hiking the Tetons and Yellowstone. We lucked into finding a great place to stay in Jackson, after discovering, as you did, Nancy, that you can’t book into the park properties on any sort of short notice. (And it’s expensive, too, because that’s the high season for tourism.)
Staying in Jackson makes for a long commute to Yellowstone,
but it’s incredible country, and my wife fulfilled her longtime dream of seeing wild bears. The grizzlies were far in the distance, but the black bear and her two cubs were only about 25 yards away.
Connie said on August 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm
I have an annual pass to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, does that count? And I didn’t even go to the dune climb or the scenic drive this year, but it was, as always, well worth it just for Glen Haven Beach and Bohemian Road beach where we spent most of our afternoons during our cottage week.
Nance, if you’re looking for another cottage experience our downscale place on Little Glen is always for rent. This week is in fact the not rented week. Lake’s too shallow to swim in at our place but there are great Lake Michigan beaches in three directions.
basset said on August 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm
His “birthright,” huh? Must be quite a family.
James said on August 29, 2011 at 2:11 pm
Here’s something I saw live, and wanted to share with y’all. Someone was nice enough to post this on YouTube.
CNN Fake News™ reporter Rob Marciano on Long Island, pretending to be blown around by Hurricane Irene. Watch the people calmly strolling by, biking, and walking their dog in the background. They must have some special hurricane shoes they don’t give to CNN reporters. Shameful. http://t.co/xewvVlC
baldheadeddork said on August 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm
“Nancy, have you ever considered putting up a FAQ on Mitch Albom and Bob Greene, especially for the benefit of newcomers to this site?”
I imagine the Kickback Lounge would have to deliver something 80 proof or higher to make that job tolerable.
nancy said on August 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm
I would, but no one’s ever asked me a question about them, other than, “Have you taken your meds lately?”
coozledad said on August 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm
The article on Dian Hanson demonstrated to me, once again, my poor reading habits. The only time I’ve ever run across a reference to Kraft-Ebbing is in a piece of doggerel by Kingsley Amis or Robert Conquest (can’t remember which)that goes something like
The man who just fucked poor Sophie
has just won the Kraft-Ebbing Trophy
and despite not getting the joke, I never bothered to look Kraft-Ebbing up. In fact, I thought it had something to do with the processed cheese people, and there might be an actual trophy.
I learn so much here.
Bob (not Greene) said on August 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm
Summary of Albom column: “We all die.”
Deep-thought subtext, catering to the yahoos: “Why we die when we do is all part of a divine ‘operating system’ which will be forever unknown.”
Thanks, Mitch “We Live in Heady Times” (he actually wrote “we live in heady times”) Albom.
coozledad said on August 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm
I guess ‘We die when the brain stops getting oxygen.’ was too prosaic.
Mr. JoodyB said on August 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm
What is the first rule of Ball Club?
Bitter Scribe said on August 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm
What’s the opposite of “heady times”?
Body times? Footy times?
Susan said on August 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm
At Back to School Night last week, I was interested to hear that my freshman daughter’s honors lit class will be reading “The Odyssey” and several other classics … along with “Tuesdays with Morrie.” The teacher said that it was “new this year.” I’m still stumped as to how it made the cut.
Dorothy said on August 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm
She’s a high school freshman, not college, right Susan? High school would be bad enough, but Lord help us if it IS college.
LAMary said on August 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm
If someone likes Mitch, what do they get from a column like that? I mean, what do they take away and what do they like about it?
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm
Reaffirmation of pre-existing assumptions. With chewy, flavorful adjectives.
april glaspie said on August 29, 2011 at 3:59 pm
Bob, we die so we can meet people in Heaven whose lives we messed up somehow, or didn’t, and at some point, the chaos butterfly that set it all in lugubrious motion. Percy Bysse Shelley did a rather more artful job with this somewhat prosaic theme in Ozymandias, or Thornton Wilder in The Bridge of San Luis Rey, that ends with this:
“But soon we shall die and all memory of these five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
Stick that in your pipe and suck on it Mitch.
Believe it or not, I actually know somebody who is supposed to have Bodkinned his ownself. I’ve no idea if it’s true, kind of a touchy subject to bring up directly.
alex said on August 29, 2011 at 4:45 pm
Can’t find it now, but after the Bodkin scandal in Indiana there was a web site that included an interview of Bodkin and pictures of of bodily modified folk. If I could find it, I’d link to it; it’s SFW. The peoples’ genital areas are all smooth just like a Barbie doll.
MichaelG said on August 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm
C’mon, Prospero. Just blurt it out.
Alex, I’m sure we’d both agree that disemballing is a pretty extreme step but what you’re describing is disemeverythinging.
Dexter said on August 29, 2011 at 6:19 pm
Scalpers … what a creepy ,shady business. Hell, the Chicago Cubs run their own scalp shop close to Wrigley Field, I’ve heard.
I’ve seen people arrested and hauled away in a paddy wagon right outside US Cellular Field in Chicago, too.
I have been screwed by scalpers, also, the night was in 1976 when I heard on the radio that World Series tickets were going on sale at the Riverfront Stadium box office at 9:00 the next day, and I abandoned my drive to work and pointed that pickup truck to Cincinnati to secure tickets to see my first World Series. I waited all night on concrete , and at sun’s first rays I was observing gangs of kids working with an operator who had a big old walkie talkie contraption . He was handing out wads of cash to these kids, who crashed every line and bought up all the tickets they could get. I figured it out really fast. I had just one guy ahead of me…I was going to get tickets!! SLAM went the goddam window…SOLD OUT. Motherfucking scalpers ruined it for me. The Reds could have handed out numbers during the night so those of us who waited all night could have gotten a couple tickets. I have yet to see a World Series game.
MarkH said on August 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm
Nancy, sorry you couldn’t make it out here this year. It would have been great to meet up with your family in the park, as we get up there once a month or so in the summer. However, your proposed visit would have coincided with Yellowstone’s second grizzly bear mauling death this year, ironically (proper usage?), a man from the UP while you were in vacationing in his territory:
And, his name was John Wallace. I am praying that this is not our own John G. Wallace. He’s not from the UP is he?
april glaspie said on August 29, 2011 at 6:59 pm
Anti-Power-Point Party. A party I can get behind. Unfortunately, the USA had a PowerPoint President from 2000-2008, who somehow missed the point about hair on fire, airplanes and buildings.
Along with the Massachusetts Pirate Party, which is largely about privacy and internet neutrality.
Bachmann can claim to have been making a horribly tasteless joke, but I watche the video, and there is nothing about her presentation and affect that indicates she was joking.
Suzanne said on August 29, 2011 at 7:55 pm
A girl from our neighborhood won the Lilly Scholarship a few years ago (for you non-Hoosiers, it’s a big deal–a full ride to any college in the state). Her mother told me that in her scholarship interview, they asked her what book most influenced her. She said Tuesdays with Morrie, because that is the only book she’d ever read. Can’t even imagine what the scholarship losers said.
Bob (Not Greene) said on August 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm
Suzanne, don’t even say that. It may put me over the cliff.
Connie said on August 29, 2011 at 9:05 pm
Lilly scholarships are tuition, books, and a stipend, but not room and board. My daughter’s best friend from early grade school won it, my daughter’s close guy friend from high school won it, and her close college friend and soph year roomie won it. In each case one of the criteria was that your parents had not gone to college.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 29, 2011 at 10:55 pm
Mr. Bodkin reminds me of the early Christian theologian Origen of Alexandria, who provides a salutary reminder of the limitations of biblicism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen See Matthew 19:12.
Jakash said on August 29, 2011 at 11:46 pm
That’s a very bitter story about the scalpers, Dexter. Not fair at all. What I find most annoying about the current system, at least around Wrigley, is that, if a regular fan has a couple extra tickets and just wants to sell them to another regular fan for face value — they will get rousted. But these professional scalpers patrol outside their storefront establishments hawking their wildly overpriced ducats and that’s evidently okay. And then, don’t get me started about Ticketmaster. How their brand of legalized extortion has been allowed to proliferate is beyond me.
Hattie said on August 30, 2011 at 12:12 am
I am privileged to live on the Big Island of Hawaii, considerable amounts of which are national park. So we’re up there all the time, hiking around.
On a recent trip to the wide open spaces, we did not even think of going to national parks. We stayed with friends or in cheap motels and had a great time! We visited state and county parks and saw petroglyphs old mining towns. You meet people that way and see stuff you would not believe.
ROGirl said on August 30, 2011 at 7:05 am
There was a case a number of years ago (less than 10) of a man who was caught doing amateur castrations in the kitchen of his house.
coozledad said on August 30, 2011 at 8:28 am
With the wide availability of hillbilly heroin and agricultural Penicillin G, I don’t know why these guys don’t just opt for testicle banding. So they chafe for a few days before neatly dropping off in your shorts, or the shower at the Y. Big deal.
The other way you can go is a ratcheting emasculatome. We bought one to wether the goats a few years back, and I wound up giving it to one of the neighbors, hoping she’d get her husband blackout drunk and pinch off at least a couple of the world’s woes.
brian stouder said on August 30, 2011 at 9:49 am
It is a strange world, isn’t it?
Lonely men, tinkering in the garage, as things get entirely out of hand (so to speak)
Joseph Vanhorn spent a lot of time working on science projects and tinkering in his garage. Vanhorn, 56, died Sunday from injuries suffered at his home in the 2900 block of Charlotte Avenue.
“That’s what killed him,” said his mother, Carol Vanhorn. “He was trying to make some kind of an energy creation machine.”
Carol Vanhorn called police after she heard a loud bang and couldn’t get into the garage to check on her son, according to a Fort Wayne Police Department report.
Police found Joseph Vanhorn lying on the garage floor, with a large amount of blood around him, next to a large spinning wheel in a wooden box, the report said.
brian stouder said on August 30, 2011 at 10:25 am
And by the way – here’s another thing that genuinely perplexed me yesterday: Which has the greater “ick” factor – Khadafy’s kooky crush on Condi –
or Cheney’s churlish (and more than a little sexist and condescending) harshing on her?