Final Curtain | Bleader

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Final Curtain

Posted By on 02.17.10 at 09:30 AM

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The Daily Inter Ocean, May 6, 1889. No more burnt cork and tambourine for this poor guy. "Paralysis" here may be a code word for paresis, aka dementia paralytica, aka the pox, aka "Old Joe," aka "the French disease," aka syphilis.

Harry Robinson was a big deal performer in his prime, and also something of a class act as minstrels went. For a while, one of his gimmicks was to loudly forgo slapping up posters and bills all over town, because respectable people saw that kind of advertising as the moral equivalent of graffiti. It worked for a while but once the novelty wore off, he had to go back to doing his publicity business as usual. But at least he tried.
Morphine overdose was an efficient and painless way to ring down the curtain, and convenient too, since you could buy opiates for a song at any crossroads apothecary. When I think about it, it's bizarre how many people opted for more strenuous methods of self-dispatch at this time. More on that later.

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