FrankenNorton: A ForShame! Halloween imagination-sensation.

This isn’t super relevant, I just think it’s the best jack-o-lantern ever to grace the pages of the internet.

LHB here about to make a big statement, sure to incite a frankenstorm of “opinions” from all you boys and ghouls.  (And I’m not even talking about that tired seasonal pun that I just made but I love that shit, too, so shut up.)

Okay, here it is, straight from me to you: Halloween is the greatest holiday in all the land.  Admittedly, All Hallow’s Eve has got some stiff competition; Christmas with its one day of presents, Chanukah with its 8 days of socks, and let’s not forget Ramadan; who doesn’t love fasting for weeks at a time?! I know I do!  But for realz y’all, Halloween is not just my favorite holiday, it is objectively the greatest holiday in the Universe and by the transitive property of the time and such of the science things as this, October 31 is the greatest day of the year.   It involves candy, scary stories, fabulous costumes, candy, glitter, more candy, PUMPKINS, Butterfingers, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and candy.

Yes, I do think Halloween slutty memes are funny and not old yet.

But cozy on up to the fire and let me tell you the true meaning of Halloween.  (I love it when I sound like the wise person at the end of a Christmas movie.)  Halloween is really about imagination.  I mean, isn’t it?  It’s about believing that the itchy poly-blend poodle skirt that came in that creepy plastic bag that looks like it has been opened before will really make you feel like you’re in Grease.  It’s about letting your 12 year-old daughter go to her elementary school’s Halloween carnival dressed as a vampire (even though it’s going to be kind of awkward since the other girls have already figured out the dressing-like-a-slutty-fill-in-the-blank thing) because when a kid wants to be a vampire, you let her be a vampire.  (I was way ahead of my time.)  It’s about really believing that you’re a princess for just one night while all of your neighbors try to make you fat.

And this whole believing you’re somebody else for a night thing is actually really important.  Because there’s a point somewhere along the line where kids stop using their imagination on a daily basis.  It’s not cool anymore, you know?  But somehow, as if by magic, one day every year, on Halloween, playing pretend is cool again.  For everyone!  And this annual act of widespread collective imagining is, like, really fucking special.

This post might not be about the Emperor’s sexual history, but I bet he lost his clothes more than once ifyouknowhatimsayinnnnnn!

Joshua Abraham Norton, known to his peers as “Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I” never stopped being really good at using his imagination.  For today’s Feature (sure, let’s call it a feature) we’re going to talk about a dude who embraced the spirit, the true meaning of Halloween, throughout his every day life. I’m sorry, no: he didn’t do much that was sexually scandalous.  That’s why it’s a feature, mmK?  But he is perhaps history’s greatest pretender and so today seems like the perfect day to holler at our boy.

I know this intro has been excruciatingly long as it is, but I should add one more thing:  this “scandal” was “suggested” by our resident web-expert (wexpert) DMK, who saw a link to the emperor’s wiki page on Reddit a few days ago.  (Reddit is a website that is apparently a big deal amongst people who understand the “Internet.”)  But anyway, we kind of fell in love with Norton and we hope you will, too.

Norton was way ahead of his time with the cycling=hip thing.

Norton was born in England in 1815ish (no one really knows…mysterious, huh?) and shortly after his birth, moved with his Jewish mother and gentile padre to South Africa where people were real tolerant of diverse marriages.  HAHHAA.  When his dad died in like 1850ish, he inherited $40,000 which was like, a BOATload of cash back then, and moved to San Francisco.  He played the real estate market for a little bit and wound up with about $250,000 to his name.  (He was still going by plain old Josh Norton at this point, for those keeping track.)

Then, something bad happened in the Orient.  China had a severe famine and placed a ban on rice exports.  That shit was cray for California because they were all, “Shit, where our rice at?”  But Mr. Norton, business man, that he was, got wind that a ship with a bunch of Peruvian rice was on its way to California.  He bought up all the rice and was like, “DAMN, IMMA MAKE A FORTUNE” because obviously the price of rice in SF had skyrocketed.

But then, as shipments go, several other boatloads (literally) of rice showed up in SF harbor like the day that he signed his contract with the Peruvian rice ship captain.

So, Norton was SOL as they say.  He had the rice people tied up in litigation for a long-ass time, but eventually higher courts ruled against him so he filed for bankruptcy and left California for several years, licking his wounds.

No one really knows what he was up to during that San Francisco hiatus of 1858-1859.

But when he returned, he was a changed man.  First thing he did after he unpacked his newly aprehended sword and scepter was to issue documents to all of the Bay Area’s major publications and civil offices declaring himself “Emperor of these United States.”  The whole press-release (if you will, will you?) went like this:

At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.
NORTON I, Emperor of the United States

Later on in his imperial career he added “Protector of Mexico” to his title.  Which, I gotta say, I think is nice.  Cuz, you know, he cares.

To be fair, I’m pretty sure that Wishbone plays Sancho Panza.

He seems to me like a sort of real-life Don Quixote.  So much so that I wonder if Cervantes had time traveling capabilities and just straight up stole this shit.  Like, no one really knows if he was insane or just had the most powerful imagination in history.  (I’m a subscriber of the second opinion in both this case and with DQ.)

As good ol’ Wiki points out, even though his tenure has emperor was marked by his debatable insanity, Norton was also kind of a visionary.  His declarations involved demanding the formation of a League of Nations, the construction of a bridge connecting San Francisco and the East Bay (hello, we have that now), an under-water tunnel connecting the bays (we have that, too), and he forbade religious conflict.  And he once stopped an anti-Chinese riot by positioning himself between the rioters and the the railroad-builders (the Chinese people) and recited the Lord’s prayer until the meanies GTFO’d.  I mean, don’t you kind of love him now?

He printed and distributed his own currency, which local businesses honored as real money.  Those local businesses included some of the fanciest, schmanciest restaurants of the day.  Because he was dressed to the nines all day e’ry day, so it’s not too surprising that he was dining with San Francisco’s best.  Norton’s daily garb included a royal blue uniform complete with gold epaulets and a beaver hat.  The uniform was given to the Emperor by the US Army.  On purpose.

That’s my favorite thing about this guy; people fucking loved him.  And maybe it is the sort of thing where, like, every town has its kook.  (Sidenote: My hometown had a homeless cross-dresser who pretty much became a tourist attraction.  Seriously, I think he was in guide books.)  But I think there was something a little more special about the emperor. Once, a police man had Norton apprehended and sent to a mental hospital without his consent and San Franciscans went ape shit and got him out of there real fuckin’ fast.

When Norton died in 1880, the SF Chronical reported:

“Norton I, by the grace of God, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, departed this life.”

San Franciscans were so enamored with him that he sold imperial bonds at 7% interest and people bought them!  And then when he died, the newspapers talked about his reign as emperor.  I mean, people, I think we’re talking about the largest act of communal imagination, of collective pretending, in all of history here!!

So tonight, if you don’t have any better ideas, dress up as the impoverished, fiercely beloved fake emperor of San Francisco, and do some really good pretending.  That is, after all, the true meaning of Halloween.

Just please don’t dress like a prostitute.

LHB


In Like Flynn? More like……huh, no that actually works fine.

One of the miracles of autumn/having MRG’s brain is that if you picture male models in each of those sweaters, this very bland photo becomes EXTREMELY EROTIC.

Ah autumn. The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and men in spectacular knitwear. Of crunchy leaves and pumpkin-flavored foodstuffs that shouldn’t be pumpkin flavored. Ol’ MRG fucking loves the fall, and as such, she couldn’t think of a better way to welcome Autumn 2012 than to regale you with the story of an Old Hollywood swashbuckler’s FALL from grace and public popularity.

Nailed it.

Errol Flynn WAS. A. MAN. It’s probably not (but full disclosure, definitely is) a coincidence that “virile” and “Errol” contain similar ear-sounds when spoken aloud. At the very least, he was the manliest man ever to have to consistently wear tights at work. And if we’ve learned anything on this year-and-a-half blogride of sin and scandalosity, it’s that he who possesses much sexual gravitas gets into much sexual trouble. And thankfully, our Errol, that lean, blond, thinly-mustachioed, vaguely elfin mansteak, didn’t exactly break the looks-and-lewdness mold.

Errol was born in Tasmania, which is sort of cool in that I didn’t think people lived there, to seafaring native Aussies with hereditary ties to the country’s original convict population. This genealogy may prove important later. Young Errol started on the path to sexual badassery by boning inappropriate partners early and often; he was expelled from his fancyschmancy boarding school for fucking the on-campus laundress when he was FIFTEEN. Well done, young man.

If you stare into the eyes for 20 seconds, this photo has sex with you. True fact.

He bopped around the English and Australian movie business through the early 1940s, until he, like so many naive young girls with a dream and a cardigan, headed to LA to try to make it in Tinseltown. And make it he did, namely through the use of his aforementioned superior face genes and also his athleticism, the latter of which made him exceptionally good at that most red-blooded genre of choreography: cinematic swordfighting. If you had a buckle, young, lithe, tights-wearing Errol could swash it better than just about anyone else in town. Plus he very much looked like a gentle pirate or a strong-jawed coistrel. And that shit NEVER hurts. Plus the buildup to that that whole World War II thing really upped the public demand for medievalish/buccaneery movies (you know, nostalgia for the present, escapism, what have you), so Errol really was The Suitably Historical Looking and Sword-Confident Man For All Seasons.

Mother Wiki tells me that his most high-profile films were probably The Sea Hawk, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, and Captain Blood. I’ve never seen any of these but I imagine they taught a lot of boys how to be men and a lot of other boys that sometimes it’s okay to feel tingly about men. Also, you may be thinking that the nature of these roles and Errol’s face share quite a bit of crossover with a one Mr. Cary Elwes, Farmboy/Dread Pirate of my Heart, and YOU’D BE RIGHT. Pro tip: Mel Brooks called Cary “The Next Errol Flynn” while filming Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which was the #1 movie I rented from our local library (because SOMEONE wouldn’t let us go to Blockbuster) (MOM) from 1996-2003. In this way, I’m pretty sure I discovered an up-and-coming Dave Chappelle. You’re welcome.

Anyway, think of how you felt about Cary in The Princess Bride (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about WE ARE DONE), multiply it by about 1,000, and then maybe that’s sort of how people felt about Errol in his prime. He was extremely hot, perfectly suited to the trends of the moment, and also had an accent. Understandably, Errol fucking killed it in both the box office and the BOX office, ifyouknowwhatimean (I mean he made a lot of money and fucked a lot of ladies, because “box” is a euphemism for vagina).

ERROL COULD FILL MY QUIVER, HEYOOOO.

It was your classic money-cash-hoes occasion, and Errol ROSE TO IT, my friends. ROSE2IT. First, he coined the phrase “I like my scotch old and my women young,” which is more golden than an autumnal sunset (just like that, she brings it right back to Topicaltown, BOOM). Then he possibly made out with Olivia de Havilland, who was extremely beautiful and talented (and has excellent genes because SHE’S STILL ALIVE AT 96). Possibly had nasty, slappy, angry hate sex with Bette Motherfucking Davis. Also possibly/probably boned Carole Lombard (the future Mrs. Clark Gable), Marlene Dietrich, and Dolores Del Rio. All that’s speculative. But Errol DEFINITELY fucked a lot of non-famous Muggles, because DUH. You would too.

Errol was Hollywood’s most bankable and bangable leading man through the 1930s and 40s, which is impressive enough, but CONSIDER THIS: his career was COMPLETELY FINE after HE WAS TRIED FOR STATUTORY RAPE IN 1943!!!!!!!!!!!1

I like to call this the Beautiful Face-Major Fuckup-Career Resilience Paradox. For a more modern example, please see R&B singer Chris Brown.

So here’s the long, icky, rapey story: Errol very quickly becomes notorious for his hedonizing, womanizing, boozing, swashbuckling, generally participlizing lifestyle upon his move to Hollyweeeeeird, but in a charming, “aw, Errol, you rascal” kind of way. By 1942, he’s got nine genre-specific films under his belt and a closet just for all the bras women are throwing at him. In short, our boy’s MADE IT.

And what better way to celebrate the height of your personal, professional, and sexual success by luring two 17-year-olds with some wine coolers and stories about backpacking through Europe? The answer is SO MANY BETTER WAYS. But here we are.

Now, I should also mention that the facts are weirdly fuzzy and vary from source to source. Even the victims’ names get mixed up a lot in different records. But young Betty Hansen and Peggy Satterlee both reported that Errol inflicted some not-okay touching upon them, so I’m just going to do my best here, because #GYRWYM (that stands for “gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” the #YOLO alternative I’m trying to popularize).

Here are Peggy and Betty comparing notes before the trial.

OKAY. So Errol supposedly met young Peggy one night and invited her on his yacht, The SS PoorDecisions, for a little trip to Catalina Island. I hope you’re remembering that seminal episode of Laguna Beach in which the kids camp on Catalina one night and Stephen pretends to be a bear and scares Kristin who DOES NOT think it’s funny. Anyway, Errol decided to call Peg “J.B.” for “Jail Bait,” because he was nothing if not an accurate nicknamer. You can imagine what happened next: Peggy drank a few Zimas, Errol touched her face a lot, and next thing you know, obligatory boat rocking-no knocking joke.

A mere week after Peggy reported this rapefest below deck, Betty Hansen came forward and alleged that Errol had met her at a party a few weeks earlier and danced his tried-and-true Bartles and Jaymes tango to loosen Betty up. She got trashed and threw up, and he stayed late to “help her clean up,” which I never knew was a euphemism for fucking. But I sort of like it? No I don’t. Do I? No. Right?

So from the previously mentioned extremely spotty records on this felony trial, it seems as though these two victimized (but let’s be honest, a little…adventurous) ladies brought suit on Errol jointly in LA county court.

I cannot fucking believe I made it this far without making a sword/dick joke. Is this growing up?

As you can imagine, this case was SO FUCKING BIG. About as sensational as a sensation and as scandalous as a scandal could be, partly (completely) due to Errol’s fame and reputation. Evidence was pretty heavily stacked against him, so of course HE GOT OFF. I mean he got off when he boned them, but also when he was acquitted of all charges.

How, you ask? Easy. His lawyer made sure the jury was stacked with nine examples of Errol’s fanbase: lonely, marginally pretty housewives. On the witness stand, he was sort of like, “Oh me, I just love pretty women, like you jurors! I’m such a lovable rascal. Did you notice I’m wearing tights in a lot of my movies? I’d like to sire children with any or all of you. Tell me more about your sewing projects.” BOOM, acquittal. Why don’t more defendants tamper with juries these days? Works like a charm.

Anyway, here’s the best and most illustrative thing about this trial: the press, eager to slander anyone, started spreading the phrase “in like Flynn” as a euphemism for easily/indecently gaining access to something (something like oh I don’t know, A TWEEN’S VAG). Errol was so indefatigably charming and endearing to the public that IT TOTALLY BACKFIRED because HE USED IT HIMSELF! FULLY aware of the sexual implications. God love that rapey, enchanting motherfucker. And years later, he tried very hard to title his autobiography In Like Me, which which I would have bought ALL of the copies of.

You never fucking learn, do you?

Errol’s career didn’t really suffer from the trial, but rather from negative public opinion when he didn’t enlist during WWII (sidenote: not his fault, he wanted to, didn’t pass the physical, remarkable considering sword choreography prowess which you’d think the Army could use somehow). By the early 50s he’d really embraced a late-Kerouacian diet of cake and whiskey, resulting in alcoholism and weight gain.

But Errol, the scalawag, the rapscallion, had to go out with an inappropriately younger bang: at the age of 50, he met and fell in love with a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD whom he planned TO MARRY and with whom he planned to move to Jamaica. Very, very unfortunately, Errol died of a heart attack in 1959 before he could really love or marry his little island childbride. Sad.

NOT, HOLY SHIT ERROL FLYNN WAS REALLY GROSS, YOU GUYS. But also really good at wearing the tights and handling the swords and having the face. So it’s even?

MRG


Thoroughly Modern Maggie.

I know what you’re thinking. I’ve been thinking it too. Where are all the sexy Transcendentalists?

Well, of course there’s my No. 1 Literary Heartthrob Forever of All Time, Hank Davey Thurrow. But I’ve got another one for you right fucking here.

As an undoubtedly avid reader, I know you remember that I promised you a post on Margaret Fuller, nineteenth century America’s Ur-Authoress, a long, long time ago. On Leap Day, in fact. February 29th.

This is a movie that I watched on mute for to better appreciate Matty Goode’s beautiful scruffy face. But it’s about Leap Day, I think.

And you know what? I can make this relevant. I have found relevance. Listen. Shh. It totally works, because according to most Western folk traditions, on Leap Day we otherwise lowly ladyfolk are permitted to propose marriage to our male betters, despite our hysterical uteri, walnut-sized brains, and 77% human value. CRAZY, I KNOW. But Maggie Fuller was a  proto-feminist and was preaching for lady-equality all over the Union long before Suzie Anthony and Liz C. Stanton hopped on the suffrage gravy train. In other words, upon observing that gender-swapping Leap Day tradition, Maggie probably would have said, “Aw, that’s cute,” and then punched a dude in the balls.

For this and many other reasons, Margaret Fuller is one of my personal heroines. Girlfriend was DOING. IT. FOR. HERSELF. and would have fucking hated me for calling her “girlfriend” just then. I mentioned that she did a lot for women’s lib in its very, very early days, but she also essentially established academic scholarship as a viable career for women. Which is hella cool considering that in 1850s America, “career women” were hookers and “scholarship” for regular, middle-class, non-hooker women was basically your seventh grade Home Ec class, but with a greater emphasis on popping out male babies and less about making a shitty, ill-fitting pair of pajama pants. So I’m going to spend some time telling you how fucking great she was, and then I’ll get to the sex.

Okay, I know I’ve been doing a bit of man-shaming (which is almost man-shaving, but not quite), but Maggie really owed her intellectual prowess/streak of badassery to her dad, who taught her how to read and write by age three. He forbade her from reading the sentimentalist fiction (x = good girl + rakishly charming man + seduction + pregnancy and/or STD and/or the Tube + girl dies) that was SOFUCKINGPOPULAR among female readers, and instead forced her to learn Latin and read Virgil. Good man. By the time she was old enough for finishing school (because even geniuses need to learn how to curtsey), she’d learned more than most contemporary statesmen.

Naturally, such a badass bitch wasn’t really going to thrive in Silver Polishing 101 or Accepting Marital Submission 345, so 16-year-old Mag returned home to the Boston ‘burbs, where she just picked up that learnin’ thing right where she left off, mastering several modern languages and studying world literature. Know what I did when I was 16? Maintained a Xanga account with gusto, aggressively fantasized about making out with a few choice varsity baseball players, and listened to Dashboard Confessional unironically. Choices.

Sure, Maggie looks a little bit like a Victorian ladydoll here. But if you told her that she’d probably curb stomp you.

Within a decade, she was regarded by a lot of people as the most well-read PERSON (not lady, not twentysomething, but PERSON) in New England. I still aspire to be the best-read person of my parents’ two children, so SNAPS THE FUCK UP. She decided to pay the bills by very successfully doing a little freelance writing and translation, since she was a walking, talking SparkNotes/RosettaStone hybrid. Then she wrote a biography of Goethe. Then she taught in two all-male prep schools. Then she started a series of ladies-only “conversations” about scholarship in the humanities. Then Ralph Waldo Motherfucking Emerson, vainglorious pimpernel of my heart, invited her to edit The Dial, his Transcendentalist journal. Then Nathaniel Hawthorne met her, thought she was a pistol, and based Hester Prynne on her. Then she traveled through the Great Lakes region and wrote a fascinating anthropological/geographical tome about it. Then she turned 34.

I feel compelled to mention that around this time, Mag was involved in a little Lady-Poe-Lady scandal involving letters written in German and death threats. But I’m not going to get into that.

Instead, I’m going to GET INto the GETTING IN, ifyouknowwhatimean.

By this time, Maggie had developed a fucking sparkling resume, and therefore had no trouble getting a job as The New York Tribune‘s first female foreign correspondent. She spent most of her time in England and Italy, where she got to drink that sweet, addictive expat Kool-Aid, play Christiane Amanpour, and interview non-Muggles like George Sand and Thomas Carlyle. And Giuseppe Mazzini, an Italian journalist/activist or whatever, unimportant.

No verified photos of Giovanni out there, so it’s everyone’s favorite For Shame pastime: FUCKING PRETEND!

What IS important is that Joe Mazzini introduced Maggie to his BFF Giovanni Ossoli: a sexy twenty-six year-old rabble rousing disinherited marquis with kind eyes, a swarthy complexion, and a thing for older bookish ladies. Set phasers to FUCK.

And Maggie and Giovanni really did fuck. Like a lot. In the scandalous, premarital kind of way. They even moved in together in Florence after only a couple of months, just to better facilitate the scandalous sextimes. And also probably because they were So Crazy In Love. She called him “the home of my soul,” which makes my chest tight. Those charming, hirsute Italian motherfuckers. Melting exceptionally erudite ladyhearts into nothing.

But notably, they were not married, and it’s never been proven that they ever were. I mean, the Italian government was in the middle of being overthrown, so I guess they could stay under the scandal-radar (scandaldar?), but Giovanni was all for ball-and-chaindom. He’d managed to slam the genius-est slampiece in the Western world, and he knew he had a good thing going with Maggie. He wanted to lock it up. But Mag still had those aforementioned gender-equality morals, and as a Protestant, she was a little uncomfy marrying a Catholic. Hey, she was modern everywhere else, throw her a bone. Or a BONER (nailed it).

This, I think, proves how fucking good Maggie was at getting shit done — she just started calling Giovanni her husband, and people (including Emerson) were like, “OMG, so sorry I missed the wedding! What was your dress like? Did you get a DJ or a band? Did Uncle Larry get drunk?” If only that move could work today. I’d have been in the books as Mrs. Henry Cavill a LONG time ago. And remember, this was the 1840s/50s, a time when family life, and therefore, marriage, was essentially the center of a woman’s existence. Maggie threw that bullshit right back, AND NO ONE EVEN BOTHERED TO DOUBLE CHECK. Bless.

So, considering their penchant for living in sin and round-the-clock banging, it’s actually sort of a shocker that Maggie didn’t get knocked up for a whole year. Little Angelino was born in September 1848, and was the cutest, smartest baby in day care. But shit got real for the Fulller-Ossolis in 1850 when Pope Pius IX unleashed a Catholic-guilting campaign on the crumbling Roman Republic. Papal control of the country was bad fucking news for revolutionaries, many of whom were wanted for treason.

Here’s Mag being annoyed at how dumb men are and/or practicing soothsaying.

In addition to being a ladygenius, evidence suggests that Maggie was also a Trelawney-level clairvoyant. In early 1850, just before fleeing The Land of Tomato Sauce and Paintings, Mag wrote this to a friend:

“It has long seemed that in the year 1850 I should stand on some important plateau in the ascent of life… I feel however no marked and important change as yet… I am absurdly fearful and various omens have combined to give me a dark feeling… It seems to me that my future upon earth will soon close… I have a vague expectation of some crisis—I know not what.”

Now, if I had a persistent and prolonged feeling of dread like hers, and I was forced to flee my adopted country as the consort of an enemy insurgent, I might ponder the fact that Europe has a lot of countries in it, and a lot of those countries would welcome asylum seekers, and then I’d just flee to one of those. Switzerland, probably, because it borders Italy, it’s accessible by rail, and they have fondue. But that really wasn’t Maggie’s style. She was ambitious. It was her thing. So she grabbed her husband and their little meatball and set sail for the US, passing dozens of equally safe countries JUST BECAUSE.

Remember Maggie’s eerie premonition? Grab a Kleenex.

Mag, Gio, and li’l Angelino boarded an American freighter carrying Carrara marble, large statues, and other especially heavy shit in May of 1850. There was a minor outbreak of smallpox en route, and Angelino got it but miraculously recovered. The ship’s captain didn’t fare so well, and died about halfway through the journey. But everything was going okay otherwise, so Mag probably thought she was out of the weeds with regard to her recent Miss Cleo tarot reading.

And for the first time in her life, MARGARET FULLER THOUGHT WRONG.

A daguerreotype of Mr. Bangs.

When ship captains die or are otherwise indisposed, first mates are put in charge. That’s what happened this time, except this first mate (whose name was Mr. Bangs, which somehow makes this all feel a little lighter) was essentially a 17-year-old man-child who had incidentally never been called upon to dock a giant freighter before.

So he drove it right fucking into a sandbar in rough water less than 100 yards from Fire Island. You may be thinking that that’s a totally swimmable distance, which it is, but recall that this ship was loaded with lead pipes and bowling balls and anvils and other comically heavy objects. It sank within minutes. A lot of the other passengers swam to shore, but Mr. Bangs reported seeing Maggie on deck, trying to convince Giovanni to take their son and swim for it. BUT. HE. WOULDN’T. LEAVE. HER.

The Fuller-Ossolis were some of the last passengers on board, and crewmen later recalled seeing a giant wave pull Giovanni overboard, at which point Maggie also disappeared.

The shipwreck was a huge tragedy for a lot of reasons (like locals ran to the shore to salvage the valuable cargo and just sort of watched people drown less than 50 yards away), but Emerson and his Transcendentalist friends went apeshit. Hanry Darnell Theroux, my sweet asexual dreamboat, rushed to the scene a few days later to try to recover any of the Fuller-Ossolis’ remains, but he could only find the body of little Angelino. Shit. Emerson and Horace Greeley pushed the publication of a lot of new editions of Mag’s writing, and even slapped together a well-intentioned but totally inaccurate biography that went on to become one of the decade’s best-sellers.

Emerson and Co. were pretty sure that Maggie’s work would just float into the historical ether and be completely forgotten but  turns out they were just a bunch of Negative Nancies. In fact, one of Mag’s biggest scholarly contributions was her call for the development of a distinctly American literary canon, and almost immediately after her death, the American Renaissance gained serious steam. The Seneca Falls Convention was heavily based on her writings. Summer on the Lakes is taught in American lit classes everywhere. James Cameron made Titanic, which is not about her but I’d argue that the last thirty minutes of that shitfilm parallel her last thirty minutes of life, so…Margaret Fuller was and is TRAILBLAZING and RELEVANT, dammit.

Moral of today’s story: get all the book-learnin’ you can, work hard on important things, and love will find you in the form of a delicious Mediterranean boytoy. And fucking listen to the fucking Delphic Oracle in your head next time.

MRG